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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

PDR 30 and Combatives Camp Recap and Review

Spent the last week in Las Vegas, participating in the latest round of the PDR Instructor Development Program, and this year's Blauer Tactical Combatives Camp. My brain was already reeling, and following it up a day later with a late night conversation with Rory MillerErik Kondo and Bill Giovannucci (which I will write about another time) means that my brain is completely fried. Traveling again this weekend for my sister-in-laws wedding. I have no idea how Coach Blauer does this on regular basis and stays sane.

I actually landed in Vegas Monday night, which meant that I had Tuesday to pow-wow with Jason Dury, the director of the PDR Team, and a generally all around good person. Jason and I kicked around a few ideas about PDR related things, and also took the opportunity to travel over to SinCity Crossfit for a quick workout. The Sin City folks were very welcoming, and working through their WOD gave me the opportunity to push myself a bit harder than I've been pushing lately. I actually held up pretty well, and it seems that, despite my fears about my piriformus, I can actually push my body a bit harder than I have been lately. Coach Blauer likes to say that you "never know how much you can do until you try to do more than you can." That pretty well sums it up.

Wednesday the PDR got underway in earnest. The morning and afternoon sessions were for advanced coaches. Coach Blauer took us through some multiple assailants and counter-knife concepts, and Jason, along with Cliff Byerly, the lead instructor for BTS's military and LEO courses, helped shore up a lot of our fundamental drills. (As long as I'm giving shout-outs: Travis White and Dom Rodrigues, two other members of the Mobile Training Team, offered a lot of great feedback as well--and a few choice comments about guys from Boston...).

Wednesday night, the new coach candidates showed up. It was a pretty impressive group--all told, seven different countries were represented there, with people from military, LEO, and martial arts backgrounds. From Wednesday through Friday night is a bit of a blur; PDR sessions are always intense, and I felt the intensity more this time because of the added coaching responsibilities I was given. As I keep returning to these courses, I've found myself more and more conscious of how different coaches teach and move people through the drills, and I spent a lot of this course focusing on the pedagogy as much as the content. Coach Blauer and all of the MTT were really helpful in this regard, offering positive feedback coupled with sound advice about how to improve my teaching.

Which, for me, highlights one of the things I really love about the PDR (and dovetails into part of last night's conversation). The PDR program is one of the few programs I've experienced where coaches are actually taught how to coach. A lot of martial arts will teach you how to perform the art, but there is often a false correlation made between being able to DO the art, and being able to TEACH the art.

In addition to the extra teaching responsibilities, I also had the honor of being part of the team that put together the final High Gear demos for the new coaches at the end of the courses. Sadly, the only videos available are on Facebook, so if you're not connected to me on there, I'm not sure how to show them to you.

Saturday and Sunday were the Combatives Camp, which packed almost 100 people into The Pit Vegas/Sin City Crossfit. In addition to getting to watch how Coach Blauer presented some of the material to an end-user audience, I also had the opportunity to do a lot more coaching throughout the camp. Again, a very cool experience.

More name dropping, but with a point. PDR Coach Allesandro Padovani and I ended up taking the "martial arts" group of participants when the camp divided up into training units. Among the people in that group turned out to be Bill Kipp, the man behind FAST Defense, and Richard Norton. Yeah, that Richard Norton.

Why the name drop? Because both Bill and Richard are incredibly accomplished instructors. Either one of them could have approached the course with attitude, could have ignore Ale and I in favor of chatting up Coach Blauer on the sidelines, or dismissed us because we weren't the man in charge. They didn't. They were friendly, approachable, asked questions, and were genuinely curious to expand their knowledge. If I hadn't known who they were, I would have never guessed that either of them was "someone special" in the field. They were just cool, humble guys, who were a blast to work with. I wish I'd had more time to chat with both of them.

There were two guest presenters at the camp this year: Tim Larkin of Target Focus Training did two one hour presentations, though I missed the second one because I was suiting up and prepping for a high gear demo (note: High Gear demo in un-air-conditioned building in Vegas in summer...rough). His first presentation, on Asocial violence, was interesting...similar to some of Rory's ideas about asocial violence, but presented in a different format. Honestly, I kind of wanted the presentation to be a bit longer or more in-depth. The ideas are interesting, but I felt like Tim was just scratching the surface. I missed enough of his presentation on injury that I don't really feel like I can comment on it honestly.

Greg Glassman of Crossfit had an interesting discussion on the concept of Virtuosity, which I think was actually really valuable and relevant for athletes of all kinds, particularly those in combative activities. He writes a bit about it here. I'll do my own writing on it later.

There's so much still swimming around in my head that I don't think I can recap it all in one post. More will probably filter out over the coming weeks. As usual, the training was an amazing experience, and I can't wait to do more.

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