A Few of My Favorite Films

During the holidaze it’s not unusual to experience a bit of the blahs. Here are a few documentaries I like to watch for inspiration. Most are fight sport related. Check them out if you need a little boost.

Choke – (A Rickson Gracie Documentary) is mandatory viewing. I watch this at least twice a year if not more.

 

 

ROLL: Jiu-Jitsu in So Cal which features my coach Chris Haueter is easily my favorite. I watch this or parts of this film twice a month… at least twice a month.

 

 

Jiu-Jitsu VS The World which also features Chris Haueter. You can learn more about Chris  here.

 

 

Anything featuring Karelin will get you motivated. The Experiment was on another level.

 

 

The Highland Games and strongman competition is near and dear to my heart. I simply love every aspect of the games. Stoneland inspires me due to my Scottish heritage and some of my earliest memories are seeing the men in my family participate in feats of strength.

 

 

The Rogue Series contain some real gems, and I get a lot of inspiration and motivation from watching these.

 

 

Anything featuring Ramon The Diamond Dekkers makes me want to throw hands.

 

 

Steve Prefontaine set a standard that others can only strive to attain. Pre’s mental approach to the sport inspires my mental approach to everything I do.

 

I hope you found some inspiration if you needed it, if not just keep it in mind for the time when you do. Happy holidays, enjoy the time with your family and friends.

Embrace the Debrief

I’m in my 20th year as a Peace Officer. During that time I’ve been involved in quite few debriefs, and I’ve noticed something… most people don’t like to honestly, and ruthlessly seek the truth in performance.

 

Before we go further let’s take a look at something I found on Wikipedia regarding the debrief;

Ernesto Yturralde, experiential trainer and researcher, explains: “In the field of experiential learning methodology, the debriefing is a semi-structured process by which the facilitator, once a certain activity is accomplished, makes a series of progressive questions in this session, with an adequate sequence that let the participants reflect what happened, giving important insights with the aim of that project towards the future, linking the challenge with the actions and the future.”

Debriefing sessions can be made directly without the use of “props” or with them as support tools, achieving highly productive sessions. The skill levels of professional facilitators and their visions for each process, will be essential to capitalize on the experiences of experiential workshops, in moments of inspiration, teachable moments that become Debriefing sessions, into commitments for action.

“Emotional Decompression” is one style of psychological debriefing proposed by David Kinchin in his 2007 book by that name.

Experiential learning debriefing is the basis for debriefing in Medical Simulation, used widely within healthcare.[3]

 

See, here is the thing; in every profession where potentially life changing decisions are made there needs to be a systematic approach to the debrief. The debrief must be honest, and most of all ruthless in pursuit of anything that will improve future performance. Now, most folks will say they are down with this approach. They will swear that they want to hear feedback. How to do things better, to have mistakes highlighted so they can be better prepared in the future. After all, our mistakes help us develop training plans. Yet, I’ve been in debriefs that would lead one to believe everything was perfectly executed. “Nobody got hurt”, is heard frequently during those debriefs, as if that means everything was done right. I think it would do some folks well to remember the only reason “nobody got hurt” is because the opponents they faced sucked worse than they did. “You can’t judge my actions now”. Actually yes we can, and we should. You/me/we should embrace that judgement.

 

A debrief is essentially an opportunity for peer review. Our peers and mentors give us feedback. Why wouldn’t we want them to be as ruthlessly honest as possible? It is to our benefit. We must push back against our ego which will kick and scream telling us these people need to walk a mile in our shoes, or stop Monday morning quarter backing us. Crush that ego, don’t be a weakling. They have, and they are not.

 

We must embrace the debrief. After every roll ask your training partner what you need to work on. Every live fire practice, or match you shoot, ask your squad mates what you need to work on. And if you’re ever in a position where you sit in on an organized debrief,  and it is your turn to be in the hot seat? Embrace that moment, and the subsequent growth.

Shotgun Love

Doing some work recently on my home defense skill set. I was reminded of how versatile a shotgun can be as well as my life-long love of this beast. As a 10 year old kid I shot my first clay pigeon using a 410 single shot shotgun on my grandmothers farm in the heart of the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It’s a great memory of time with my dad, uncle, and great-uncles. Since then I’ve always loved and owned shotguns. Even this many years later there are few things firearms related that are as fun as an afternoon busting clays with friends and family.

The shotgun has maintained a significant position in the the defensive shooting world for good reason. However, it is interesting to watch things cycle through the defensive firearms world.

This month shotguns are out! Wait, because it is a month later and now shotguns are in! Sometimes it is like the weather in South Florida; don’t like it? Wait ten minutes, it’ll change.

Regardless of what’s hot at the moment, an ounce of lead moving at 1,600 feet per second is always going to make the shotgun a viable home defense option. Particularly for folks on a budget. For less than $500 you can pick up a solid pump gun, and enough ammo to function test your new shottie as well as a box of whatever defensive load you choose to run.

Of secondary interest are tactical considerations like backstops, fire lanes and such. This is just one choke point, and line in the sand in my home. The back stop is a concrete basement wall under the wood floor. A little higher is the tile and concrete entry way floor. Behind me are windows and an exterior wall so when I take incoming rounds I don’t have to worry about my family taking rounds meant for me. The walls on each side create a funnel, once in the stairs my opponent’s have two options: 1) come up the stairs into my muzzle or 2) go back down the stairs and away from my loved ones. There are no other options.

Home defense strategy and tactics is a fascinating study, and something I enjoy pressure testing on a regular basis. If you have neglected the shotgun and/or your home defense practice take some time to visit both again.

Simple =/= Easy

“It’s as simple, and as difficult as that…” – Jerry Miculek after a mind blowing demonstration of shooting skill. My downfall has been to expect simple things to be easy. After all, the explanation was simple; do these steps, (usually 2-3 steps at most). The execution proved to be anything but simple. It was like hard physical labor.

 

We all know shooting is as simple as holding the sights on the intended point of impact until after the round leaves the muzzle. Now do that 6 consecutive times in under 2 seconds from the holster on a target at 7 yards and keep all the rounds in the A zone. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

 

A sweep or throw is pretty simple. Load them on a leg/knee. Knock that leg/knee out from under them. Now do it against a resisting opponent. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

 

We all know this, and I realize I’m preaching to the choir but sometimes the choir needs to hear the message. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy.

 

A Few Resources

Hopefully this doesn’t come off as shameless self promotion. My intent is to share a few resources I’m aware of that will allow folks to see some of the material I teach. I get quite a few questions online and in person regarding things that are covered in these clips. I usually end up sharing these clips with folks to help answer the questions. I thought I would compile a few of them in this post to make things a little easier to reference.

 

This playlist contains clips from the Mitigating Recoil block I taught at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.

 

A few clips on my approach to blade work.

 

How I approach the problem of dealing with or defending against an edged weapon.

 

A few clips from my block on weapon retention and disarms at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.

 

A brief overview on how I approach some of the challenges found in close quarter shooting.

That’s it for now. Hopefully you found this to be helpful. I’ll continue to post information on my YouTube channel here. Let’s do work and evolve this multidisciplinary endeavor to the next level! Performance is out there, chase it!

Endure a Little More

There is simply no substitute for time on the mat, range, or in the weight room. One of my coaches told me that cranking the oven up to 800 degrees doesn’t reduce the baking time, it just burns the cake. There’s a lot of truth in those words. I can’t count the times I tried to go too far too fast, and paid the price in the form of injuries, frustration, and sometimes lost training time.

 

While there certainly are more efficient ways to train we have to fight the urge to succumb to the get rich quick mentality. There is no easy way. There is no shortcut. There is only consistent effort over time.

 

Sometimes it’s consistent, painful, bone-crushing exhaustion level effort over a longer period of time than we think it should take.

 

As one approaches a level of mastery it becomes even more difficult to measure improvements. The first few years of strength training it’s normal to put 200 pounds on our squat or deadlift, after 10 years of training a 200 pound increase on the squat or deadlift would be miraculous. There are a few things we can do at this point. We can radically change our approach, maybe switch to a new coach, or a new training strategy. Sometimes that works for a brief time. However, sometimes the best strategy is to keep doing what got us here while trusting the process. Focusing on small improvements, even as small as a 1% over a 4-6 week training cycle, is an improvement. Put enough of those together, and we end up with a 10-15% increase over the course of a macro cycle.

 

Regardless of your stage in this game know this, there will come a time where you will simply have to choose to endure a little more. There is no way around it, you will want to quit, you will be frustrated. You will see friends, and training partners that started at the same time as you or even after you surpass you. Keep on keeping on. There really is nothing to it but to do it.

 

IMG_6230As my coach Chris Haueter says, “It’s not who’s good, it’s who’s left… it’s hours on the mat… and if you put in that time, natural athlete or not, you practice the art, you’ll be a black belt. You’ll be somewhere in ten years… imagine someplace ten years from now I’m gonna be somewhere why not be a black belt too? You just can’t quit.”

 

The Power of Three

When developing or refining skill the challenge is to focus our efforts. We tend to get caught up in trying to work on too many things at once. That is a fast track to frustration. This endeavor can be physically, and mentally taxing enough without additional obstacles of our own design.

 

Covering all the bases is a never-ending challenge. However, it’s not impossible. The trick is to keep the focus to three or less performance points each practice session.  Whether it is strength training, conditioning work, boxing, or vehicle operations we can’t focus on everything every time. There is no mythical power of three however, there is a power in focused effort. Before each practice session take a few moments to write down 1-3 performance points or cues that you will focus on during the practice session. Other things might come up however, stay the course. Remember the focus of this practice session, and don’t waver. If you don’t know each performance point for the various disciplines don’t worry, we’ll cover that ground in future blog, and YouTube posts. For now, here is an example of 3 performance points to focus on in our next pistol practice session.