On Wednesday, April 1, I hopped on board a plane and flew down to Virginia Beach, VA. I was there not to enjoy the warm weather (though it was pretty nice out), but to enjoy another training session with Tony Blauer and the team at Blauer Tactical Systems. I've said good things about this team so many times that I often fear I'm repeating myself, but I can't let it go either.
Wednesday night included an informal business meeting, headed up by Tom Arcuri, the director of the PDR team and a hell of a nice guy. I'm always impressed by Tom's ability to articulate ideas, and also to spark conversation within a group of people. He put together a really nice discussion, coupled with some great suggestions for all of the team members.
The advanced training session formally started on Thursday morning, with an in-depth review of the Cycle of Behavior lead by Coach Tony Torres.
Coach Torres used that discussion to move into the main theme of the course: Weapons Protection (dealing with an armed assailant, when you yourself are unarmed). After reviewing some fundamental concepts, we moved right into the drill session, which kept us occupied for the rest of the day. During the first day, we examined scearnios where the weapon was being used as a tool of intimidation, and worked through a number of very valuable, and at times, very unneriveing, drills. I can't lie...there is something very uncomfortalbe about being threatened with a weapon, even wehn part of your brain knows that the weapon is fake, and the threat isn't entirely real.
Thursday night, the new PDR coach candidates arrived, brining the total number of seminar participants up to 39, making this the largest PDR session in BTS history. It was a wild and wonderful range of individuals that included LEOs, teachers, martial arts instructors, and some die-hard crossfitters. Everyone, new and old, was filled with enthusiasim and energy--it was an amazing thing to see.
Friday was the second half of the Weapons Protection course, whchi dealt with an assailant who is in motion with the weapon. Again, the day was filled with intersting, exciting, and at times frightening drills. Coach Torres also ran the team through some interesting drills for close quarter tool development, and offered some great insights into the value of slow speed training.
Always gluttons for punishment, I teamed up with Steve Wakefoose of Providence Combatives for a "short" Crossfit workout. Twenty minutes later, my arms and legs were not happy with me, but I still somehow got roped into the octogon to move around with Leon Bayer of Crossfit Empower (Go Surrey!) a bit while Daragh went to go get his High Gear suit adjusted.
Needless to say, I went home tired and sore.
Saturday started out with a large team training session, where we all had the opportunity to review and brush up on some of the fundamental drills of the system. I got meet and work with a couple of the new coach candidates, which was really cool. The level of organization in these training sessions has changed so much since PDR #1, and the new coaches are coming in with an amazing amount of knowledge and understanding already preloaded. This program is at an entirely different level from where it was nearly a decade ago, when it first started out.
Saturday afternoon, the returning coaches got a meeting with Coach Blauer, in which we got an even more in-depth examination of the Cycle of Behavior. If that sounds repetitive, it's not; if anything, spending more time with it allowed me to get a better (though far from perfect) understanding of this very important component of the PDR program.
Once again, Wakefoose and I ended the day with a Crossfit workout, which left us both sore, and Steve short some skin on his hand...
That Saturday night was the team drinking...er...dinner. During this, I learned that, his t-shirt to the contrary, Freddy Comacho's (Crossfit One World) diet does not consist of just meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds. I also got to spend some good time hanging with Ger O'Dea and Daragh Bolton, who had both travelled from the UK for the session. Both awesome guys (or blokes, in their parlance), who are doing some very cool stuff across the pond.
Sunday morning was another team training session, which consisted of teachbacks of fundamental drills in large groups. This was a new addition to the pgroam, and a very valuable one. Not only did I get to meet a bunch of the new coaches, but I also got to work on refining my teaching skills with some feedback from the energetic Carlo Profico (Budo-Full Range Martial Arts), along with the other senior coaches there.
Sunday's session wrapped up with the traditional Ballistic Micro-Fight demo by the returning coaches. Carlo, his business partner Aka, Tom Arcuri, Jason Dury and I all got grouped up to work through a home invasion BMF, involving four people, at least two weapons, and some furniture. INTENSE, but very exciting.
My head is always spinning when I come back from these things, and it will take several more days before I've got all of my thoughts in order. There are notes to type up, and ideas to follow through on. Tony Blauer has created something amazing in the PDR program: a constantly evolving training method that supports and empowers those who participate in it, and those who teach it. Absolutely fantastic stuff.
For those interested, I will be uploading more pictures to my Picasa album in a day or two.
More as it develops. I'm off to teach!