PDR 28 was a very different experience for me; an awesome, amazing experience, but a different one nonetheless.
I arrived slightly late on Friday, which meant I missed a little bit of Coach Blauer’s “State of the Union” address to the returning coaches. I caught enough, however, to be very excited about some of the directions that PDR program is moving in. There are a lot of cool things on the horizon, and I’m looking forward to all of them.
After lunch, the returning coaches were treated to a session with Coach Blauer, where we reviewed a number of the systems fundamental drills. Among other things, Tony did a really detailed breakdown of the close-quarter form, including some nuances that I hadn’t quite picked up before. It was interesting to be able to dig down to that level of detail, but it was also interesting to see how Tony went about coaching the material. In truth, if I had to pick out a single thing that I found myself focusing on over the weekend, it was how Tony and the other senior PDR coaches went about, well, coaching. It was a different perspective than the one I’ve taken in the past, and I felt like I gained a lot of insights that way.
Friday night, the new coach candidates arrived. The bulk of the evening session was devoted to the Performance Enhancement Psychology that the PDR program is (justifiably) known for. This is always my favorite part of the course; while the physical drills and tactics are always cool, the psychological material is the most universally applicable. I rarely have occasion to SPEAR anyone (thankfully), but I use things like the Cycle of Behavior just about every day. Again, it was enlightening to see how Tony presented the material, handled questions, and kept the flow moving. It was not a short session (none of them were), but it was a great one.
Early Saturday morning, new and returning coaches came in to review the fundamental concepts behind the SPEAR system before working on the physical drills. I found myself in a different role this year, helping to organize and mentor some of the new coach candidates and some returning coaches as well.
After a day of drilling and teaching, the returning coaches split off to work on some advanced drills, and to trash around in High Gear™. Carlo and Aka of Budo FRMA led the team through some SPEAR for MMA drills, and then put together a Ballistic Micro-Fight, which we used as the traditional High Gear Demo for the new students. I teamed up with Alessandro Padovani and Steve Wakefoose, which gave me the questionably fun opportunity to engage in a two-on-one fight with two guys bigger than me. Also, clinching with big guys? Sucks even in High Gear.
Saturday evening wrapped up with pizza, beer, and a bit more presentation by Coach Blauer.
Sunday was the day for final teachbacks, evaluations, and the new written PDR test. Yes, there’s a test and I was glad to see it. One of the things that I’ve admired from day one with Coach Blauer is that he holds himself and those who represent him to the highest possible standard. Which is as it should be in all teaching, but particularly in the teaching of self-defense. A bad self-defense instructor can ruin a person in ways very other few people can.
When I finally staggered onto the plane on Sunday night, I crashed out hard. In point of fact, it took my brain about 48 hours to recover from the info dump. It was awesome.
Still have a lot of thoughts about this rattling in my brain. For me, the session was (to borrow a Thai expression) the same, but different. I found myself looking at the PDR more as a coach than I have before, looking for details in the way that drills are explained or difficulties approached, than I had in the past. Lot of useful insights, and ideas.
Can’t wait for more.