The Problem with Most H2H and Tactical Training: You only get one chance to see if it works

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fbc I was recently coaxed (bribed) by a friend into attending a H2H (Hand to Hand) seminar in a fighting style that I won’t name here and I've never trained in before. It was taught by a nice enough fellow who confidently spouted out the benefits of learning a “street proven” way of defending yourself at the beginning of the class.

Throughout the seminar he was very attentive to all the students and made sure everyone understood what to do after he showed us a bunch of techniques to fight and/or disarm people.

And then we started practicing all of the moves he taught us at 1/2 speed.

With no actual contact when punching or kicking.

After the seminar I asked the instructor how many real fights he has been in, only to be met with a blank stare…

It reminded me of another class I was coaxed (again, bribed) into attending a year ago that was led by an instructor teaching a tactical pistol class. Like the H2H seminar above, it was also taught by a nice enough dude who was not a bad instructor, despite being somewhat inexperienced (but he was an NRA certified instructor!). Now, before you hear me complain, let me make it clear this was not an entry level “how to shoot” class, it was supposed to be a class that would teach you how to shoot in a shootout.

And then we started running through all of the drills he taught us at 1/2 speed.

At paper targets.

After the class I asked the instructor how many real gunfights he has been in, only to be met with a blank stare…

My issue with the above way of training is this: the only way you will find out if what you learned will work, or if you will even be able to remember it under stress – is when you get into a shootout or some meathead comes at you with a broken pool cue the first time.

And despite my smart-ass comments to the instructors I hardly expect every instructor out there to have killed people in shootouts or had been in a bunch of fist fights. Quite the contrary, I believe if someone is taught by a skilled professional instructor who has killed people in shootouts, and has been in a bunch of fist fights then that instructor is good to go and able to effectively convey the skills from his instructor to you.

And then after you've learned the fundamentals from whatever instructor, that instruction is then put into practice against a real person(s) at the same speed and level of violence (or as close as you can get) that would happen in the real world. And then you do it 100 more times until you reach a level of acceptable proficiency from experiencing the stress, pain and mistakes made. Just like if you faced someone who wants to kill or hurt you or your loved ones.

Herein lies the problem, the second half of the above is missing in most people training.

This is not necessarily the instructor’s fault either – in my opinion it is 99% the students own fault because they choose to only get ½ of the instruction they need to realistically survive a fight.

In the tactical firearms training world I have talked to instructors who have tried to convince their students to take Force on Force training (with Sim Rounds or Airsoft). But when they announce a class for airsoft Force on Force training, where a student will have the chance to get into a shootout with another person who wants to “kill” them they only hear crickets, while at the same time, the live fire class where all people do is blast away at stationary paper targets fill up.

The same is even more prevalent in H2H or Martial Arts training. I see a ton of people flocking to so-called “Reality Based” H2H training where there is virtually zero contact. And what little contact is never full on. So basically people “learn” how to fist fight without ever actually knocking someone out (or at least trying to). But unlike in tactical firearms training, you will rarely see a martial arts instructor telling a student to seek out full-on training at another Boxing, MMA or Muay Thai Gym where they will have a chance to eventually jump in a ring and punch a guy in the face full-steam or choke a fool out.

I don’t know when this “learn everything, but omit actually doing it” way of learning and teaching started or why it is practically the standard of defensive/offensive training these days. Today I see this mostly being perpetuated by students choosing to get ½ the training they need by voting with their wallet (why would a school or instructor have a class that never fills?). Combine that with the years of disciplined training it will take to become proficient in a H2H skill where you actually beat people up like the above mentioned Boxing, MMA or Muay Thai. It’s no wonder people choose to take the easy way.

How do you train so you can use the fundamental skills you know and test yourself against another person who wants to kill you at the same time? Easy, get in a shootout or a fist fight – over and over and over again; Repeat.

Obviously you cannot go down to the local 7-11 at three in the morning with your pistol stuffed in your pants, hoping someone comes in to rob the joint so you can get into a shootout. Nor can you walk up to some random fool in a bar and slap them across the face so you can get in a fist fight.

And if you did not get into 100 fist fights before you were 16 because you were the only Asian kid in your entire Grade, Middle and High School classes in some boondock Southern County in the late 70’s, who then later went into the Security Contracting Industry, Shooting and Looting his way across the 3rd world like I did, it is OK. You still have some great training options available to you.

Here it is:

After you have learned the fundamentals in the first 50% of the training you need, take as many Force on Force classes as you can where they use Sim Rounds or Airsoft (that is hopped up so it hurts) and also spend the next couple of years in a Boxing, MMA or Muay Thai Gym. Have some amateur fights or sign up to be a sparring partner (punching bag) for a pro. Hell, they even might pay you 50 bucks.

Fortune, Glory and knowing you will Survive a Fight is right around the corner and all it will cost you is some money, sweat and a shitload of bruises.

Or you can forget about all the above and just join the Army Rangers, both should get ya about the same results.

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~~James "ARCHER" Price Founder – Editor in Chief DVM

James P. is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Southeast Asia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and getting into fights at night clubs despite being way to old to still be going to night clubs in the first place.

SURVIVAL MINDSET: Dealing With FUCK-UP'S

SURVIVAL MINDSET: Dealing With FUCK-UP'S

Too many contractors and adventurists tend to dwell on the mistake in front of them and lose the immediacy demanded in combat or crisis to recover in swift fashion. They dwell on the ‘oh shit’ moment too long giving a decided advantage to their adversaries. This negative distraction and self talk invites disaster.

10 Skills Every Operator Should Have: Part 1 (of 10) - The Stick Shift

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To Everyone under 25 – This is NOT an Xbox 360 Controller

*Note: I use the term “operator” loosely here

When the subject of “what are must-have operator skills” comes up most people spit out the obvious answers of guns, Ninja-fu and other shooter type tactical skills that first pops into mind when thinking about leaping out of a chopper in some 3rd world shit-hole.

But as much as being able to fire an AT-4 naked or reloading an AK with one arm blown off may be great skills for shooters, they are actually some of the least used skills unless you are some sort of Tier-1 SF or OGA guy.

When I first started in the Overseas Security Contracting biz back in the day I thought the only skills I needed to know was how to shoot, loot, chew on cigars and say cool catch lines like "Its gona' be a long day".

But after working in places like Iraq, Indonesia, Thailand and Kurdistan for the past decade I ended up using way more mundane skills like sewing my clothing than the exciting shit like strapping C4 under a bridge while wearing a black stocking cap.

So I put together a list of some of the less obvious skills that every operator should have, no matter if you are running the roads in Iraq or Afghanistan or surviving a natural disaster with your family, this is the shit you really need to know how to do.

10 Skills Every Operator Should Have

#1 Know How to Drive a Stick Shift

I was on a contract in Iraq a few years ago when the boss came to me with the usual “we got a new guy, wet behind his ears like a mother-fucker, learn him up cuz’ he is on your team”.

This dude was 24, ex-Army (no trigger-time) but a pretty bright kid and seemed Non-Douchebagey so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and put him through the usual routine of the 'new-guy' BS errands. Seeing it was lunch time I threw him some bread, the keys to the Hilux and sent him on a Taco Bell run for everyone”.

taco belll Iraq
taco belll Iraq

About five minutes later he wondered back into the team room with a bewildered/embarrassed look on his face.

I was like “what’s up kido?” - he said “I don’t know how to drive a stick”

Being an Old School guy who learned how to drive on a stick shift with his pop yelling at him the whole time the very concept that a man can not drive a stick has never entered my mind. So I was like “are you fucking serious bro?”.

Yep, he could not drive a stick shift, I have no fucking Idea how someone who was in the Army never learned how to drive a stick. And I have even less of an Idea how a Man does not know how to drive a stick. Anyway, I told him to grab one of our TCN’s and learn how to drive a stick by Thursday. To his credit he did, but we gave him shit about it everyday until he went to the Philippines on leave to marry some bar-girl and was never to be heard from again.

Reality Check:

Pretty much all the money gigs, military deployments and humanitarian aid volunteer work are gona' be in some 3rd world dump-hole. That means the Contractor (or Mil/Government Agency/State/UN) you work for will buy a stick for non-mission getting around (and sometimes even for missions if they are especially stingy bastards) to save a lousy 500 bucks. Unbelievably in the 3rd world they still have brand new cars where airbags are an option, so the chances of you getting behind a manual car is pretty dang high.

And think about this scenario: What if the guntruck (or your car) you are driving gets disabled and you have to snatch some local dude out of his car (or just hot-wire a parked truck during a Hurricane when you minivan can't go over a twig) and you sit down behind the wheel, it's a stick and your ass does not know how to drive a manual? Well, you are fucked you pansy.

The Moral of the Story: Even if you are not shootin’ and lootin’ in some Tin Pot Dictatorship you are still a man, and men know how to drive a stick.

The above also applies to Motorcycles: Seriously, if you do not know how to drive a motorcycle and you are a man then take your skirt off and take a course

Part 2 Coming Soon Pimps…

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~James G Founder – Editor in Chief DVM

JamesGrey
JamesGrey

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and grinding gears

COMMENTARY: Skill Based Tactical Training VS “Lets Have fun Training”

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skill

I Like Sandwiches and Tactical Training

Why are people more interested in taking classes where they get to dress up in full kit as apposed to non-shooting classes (or with less shooting) where they will learn an actual skill? Now I understand that I come from a background where I pull triggers for a paycheck and work in the 3rd World as a job, so in my mind I am thinking "why take a class if I don't learn how to do something, I only have a month off this year?"

One example is EP/PSD Courses - I have had several top EP/PSD Instructors tell me I am crazy to offer an EP/PSD course that only teaches Classroom based Academic training and does not have tons of shooting in it (despite the fact that the base EP/PSD skills are non-shooting skills), one buddy that is a Rock Star in the PSD/EP business said “Just add a day or two of shooting on your course and you will sell out – pander to people”

Also Combat Causality Care or Tactical Medicine, I have been told that I wont book a class with non-contractors/cops/mil unless I throw in a couple of day of shooting in the air while students are supposed to be learning. But Combat Lifesaver and Field Medicine are classroom based skills.

This makes me want to eat my 1911 – Do people really deep inside just not want to learn an actual skill VS doing something “cool” where they can post pictures of themselves on Facebook wearing full kit?

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~James G Founder – Editor in Chief

JamesGrey
JamesGrey

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and

TACTICAL TRAINING: Maintain the Ability to Shoot With Iron Sights

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M4

During some pre-deployment training I was going through for a gig some time ago I had to qualify at the range with a pistol and rifle along with a group of other guys.  None of the guys I was with were worried about not qualifying, they were all ex-‘this and that’s’ so doing a simple “loot and shoot” weapons qual was a 'no biggie' for them.

That is until we go to the range, and 30% of them flunked the rifle quals like a mo-fo, I am not talking about not qualifying by a few rounds – most of their targets looked like someone blasted it with a shotgun full of buckshot from the hip.

Even after retrying a couple of times less than half of them passed, the other half, took the “slow plane of shame” back home while waving bye-bye to a six-figure job. And the guys who passed on the first try didn’t do a hell of a lot better; about a quarter of them still had targets that looked like Helen Keller was shooting at it.

Like I said above, all of these guys were former military, law enforcement, contractors and a few greener guys with some solid weapons training under their belts.

So why did they do so miserably at the range?

Simple – Iron Sights

Most of these guys have been using some sort of optic for so long they had completely forgotten how to shoot with iron sights – and when they had to run and gun with iron sights it was just pitiful.

You should have seen the looks on some of their faces when the instructors started handing out M-4’s with straight-up factory iron sights. The mumbling started right away; “open sights, are you serious?” and “fuck man, I didn’t know we weren’t using optics”, one guy even asked “who’s issuing the ACOG’s?”

Not much more I can add to this article except these two things:

1. If you are considering a career in security contracting learn (or re-learn) how to shoot without optics. As Bubba M. would say “there are no golden connex’s in the suck” so don’t expect to get issued a rifle with a shiny new EoTech.

2. Even if you are not planning a career in security contracting you may want to spend some time on the range or in a training course shooting from open sights. Just saying.

And how did I do? Well, I have never used optics on my rifles so “top of the class on the M-4 baby”

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~James G Founder - Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns with iron sights and writing poorly written articles

TACTICAL TRAINING: Train Like You Would Fight

Not How You Would Fight Zombies

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train

I was chatting online with a buddy of mine yesterday about some of the firearm classes and training we’ve both done over the past year. As we were chatting we were sending each other pictures of ourselves while training (you know, the Ninja Action shots everyone takes).

The first thing I noticed was he was wearing a chest rig at the rifle class and a drop leg holster at the pistol course. The second thing I noticed was he was wearing the 5.11 tuxedo with knee and shin pads.

After looking at my pictures he asked me: “dude, why are you wearing a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, chucks and a concealable belly pistol holster – and are you carrying your spare mags for your M-4 in your back pocket? – you own tons of tactical gear, why didn’t you use it for that training?”

I said: “I was honing my stateside civilian gun skills, and that’s how I would fight with a pistol/rifle stateside as a private citizen – my tactical gear and Ninja clothing is for when I am training for overseas high risk work”

So in return I asked him: “why are you dressing up like a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan hunting Osama bin Laden when you train – don’t you work at a bank? – seriously dude if you ever end up using a gun you will probably be wearing Dockers, a golf shirt and wing tips”

His answer: “I never really thought about it that way”

Sure, wearing a MultiCam 1000D chest rig with 12 mag pouches snapped on the front, exposed tactical holster and a pair of 100 dollar TAD pants will make you look almost as cool as an extra in the next Transformers movie.

But by wearing gear that you would never be wearing if you (as a regular guy) ever had to use your gun to defend yourself is silly, and it could be deadly.

As most of you know when you train you build up muscle memory. If you are used to drawing your pistol from a drop-leg holster or drawing M-4 mags from your chest what do you think will happen when you are under stress with adrenaline pumping through your body and you reach for your pistol or spare mags?

Yep – you will grab a big handful of air.

So train like you would fight – if you wear a suit everyday then train in a suit, if you keep your rifle by your bed with a few mags laying beside it then train with your mags in your back pockets in your PJ’s, if you carry your pistol in a paddle concealable holster wearing a windbreaker then… well, you get the point.

So the moral of this article? It’s in the title man - Train Like You Would Fight

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~James G Founder - Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and training to kill zombies.

TACTICAL TRAINING: Examine Your Combat Power

To produce effective results on the ‘X’ takes the refined use of combat power by all those involved – drivers, gunners, and leaders. Everything falls apart in the friction of the moment when you’re under fire and your team has not been effectively trained in the arts of fire and maneuver, and then drilled to the edge of failure on its relative importance to your individual and collective survival.

TACTICAL TRAINING: If You Are Fat You Are Not a Warrior

Every time I see some fat ass at a training class, online, in uniform or working as a contractor I want to walk up to him and yell “STOP EATING” The most annoying ones are the fat bodies who claim to be some sort of “bad-ass” or even worse - are actually working or teaching in a warrior related profession. And it not just the fact that these guys are disgusting blobs of blubber, it’s the shitty tough guy attitude that just about every fat “warrior” has.

SURVIVAL MINDSET: RISK .vs GAMBLE

If you carry a gun for a profession, then you’ve entered the world of risk management at the deep end. Traveling the semi/non-permissive zones of the world is what I share in common with Contractors, Soldiers, Jihadists, militiamen, criminals, and terrorists alike. The thing I’ve noticed is that some do a better job at managing risks than others.