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Thursday, October 22, 2009

PDR 21: Ballistic Micro-Fights

There's not a typo there: this was PDR 21, not PDR 20. PDR 20 took place immediately after the Blauer Tactical Systems SPEAR and Combatives Camp, and I wasn't able to attend that session. Thankfully, I was able to attend this one, and it was well worth the trip.

PDR Team director Tom Arcuri promised before this trip that the Ballistic Micro Fight (BMF)was the "mother of all advanced training" for PDR instructors. While I had been exposed to the BMF formula in the past, I knew that my training in the methodology was pretty out-of-date.

I arrived in Virginia Beach on Wednesday night, where I met up with Keegan Taylor, a PDR Coach from Trinidad. Keegan wanted to get a workout in before the traditional Wednesday coaches meeting, so he ran us through a Tacfit style workout, which gave me the opportunity to same some interesting variations on bodyweight training exercises. Fun stuff, and a good warm up for the two days of hard training that were to come.

Thursday morning started with a bang, as Coach Torres began by leading us through a short discussion on some of the BTS core teaching concepts, and an overview of the Ballistic Micro-Fight concept. In short, the BMF formula is a tool that allows trainers to replicate violent incidents within a classroom setting, thereby allowing students to experience those scenarios in a safe, but alive fashion. It's the sort of thing that sounds incredibly simple until you start looking into it.

The course began with a group discussion and conceptual overview, as Coach Torres walked us through the stages of the Ballistic Micro-Fight formula. Once we had the concepts covered, we went down the to training area to begin the non-gear drilling portion of the training. The rest of the morning was spent practicing, discussing, and dissecting the various drills that make up the BMF formula, and performing many, many, repetitions of all of them. This phase of training took place without the use of any gear, but it was all in preparation for what came next.

When we came back from our lunch break, it was time to get into High Gear (sorry, the pun was irresistible). Coach Torres walked us through an overview of the gear, it's features and safety concerns, before putting us back to work on more drills, including a few new ones that could only be safely done with the gear on.

Of particular interest to me was the Threshold drill, which provide a lot of insight not only into the gear, but into the idea of developing efficient power. It's one of those drills that offers a lot more than it would appear to on the surface.

The day culminated in many, many, repetitions of actual BMFs. It was a lot of fun, but exhausting as hell, and everyone staggered out of the training center to get some food and drink in preparation for the next day.

Friday, Coach Torres put an interseting spin on the training by breaking our group up into two teams, each tasked with creating our own BMF based on the knowledge we had gained the previous day. My team consisted of myself, Keegan, Kelly Muir, and Leon Koh (who continues to set records by coming from Singapore to attend these things); together, we worked through many of the drills that we worked the previous day, modifying them to suit the scenario we had concocted for our own BMF. Coach Torres provided outstanding guidance and support as we worked our way through the process, which again, culminated in numerous repetitions of the BMF we had created. In our case, we took our final reps into the BTS fight house, so that we could have doors to open and walls to fight around. Coach Torres kept things moving along smoothly, and even threw a few curve balls at us as the scenarios went on.

Once both teams had presented and performed their BMFs, we came together, tired but accomplished, for a debrief.

Saturday, our group integrated with the new instructor candidates for some physical drilling, teachbacks, and an overview of Blauer Tactical Systems FEAR management concepts. This has been a practice of Blauer Tactical Systems for a long time, and I think it's one of the most under appreciated portions of the program; by integrating in with newer coaches, everyone has an opportunity to help each other learn, grow, and get some ideas about good pedagogy and training from a wide variety of practitioners. It's always a great learning experience, as is the FEAR Management lecture. Despite the fact that we often are covering the same material, I find myself learning something new each time we work through it, which speaks volumes in of itself.

Sunday, things drew to a close with another round of drilling and teachbacks, after which, the advanced team was separated with a new assignment; every PDR cert always ends with a demonstration of BMFs to the new coaches. Normally, Coach Torres creates and explains the BMF, but this time, it was up to Coach Eric Saladino and I to organize the team to create, demonstrate, and explain all the phases of the BMF training. Our team came together beautifully, creating a short, but very effective demonstration that culminated with me in the unfortunate position of either having to attack or be attacked by Daragh Bolton. Note to bad guys in Ireland--if Daragh cuts you off in traffic, just let it go. Seriously.

After the demonstration and "graduation exercise" (another BTS special), we wrapped up and headed upstairs for some final words from Coach Blauer. Sadly, there was little time for goodbyes, as Daragh and I had to do a sprint from the training center to the airport (so that I could discover my flight was delayed on account of the snow...oh well...).

So was this the "mother of all advanced training", as advertised? Absolutely. The BMF formula is an incredibly powerful training and teaching tool, and it underpins the entire Personal Defense Readiness system in a way I never properly appreciated until this course. This is a training and teaching tool that should be part of any serious self-defense instructors curriculum.

I can't wait for the next one.

More Photos from the course here.

Coach Robb Hamic produced an awesome video of the experience here (warning: sound, music, and bad language).

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