July 21st, 2009 09:42 PM
Course Review: Shivworks ECQC I/II
I recently (June 12-14) had the opportunity to attend a course from Shivworks entitled Extreme Close Quarters Concepts I & II (hereafter: ECQC I-II). The class was taught by "SouthNarc" (internet forum username), a law-enforcement officer with experience in undercover-narcotics, SWAT operations, patrol, and corrections. He also has served in the US Army and is a long-time martial-artist with experience in a variety of systems including Kali and BJJ just to name a couple.
The description of this course from his site can be found here:
The weekend session began on Friday night, after everyone introduced themselves, with a 4-hour block of instruction on what SouthNarc refers to as "Managing Unknown Contacts" (hereafter MUC). An "unknown contact" is anybody we don't know. Not all of these "UC's" are hostile, in fact the majority of UC's we encounter in our daily lives are not. Nevertheless, we have to have a system in place to deal with these encounters so that we won't be caught off-guard when we run across the one that is a threat.
Obviously, the first step in being able to proactively deal with a potential threat is seeing it coming--being aware of our surroundings. Many people, however, fail to do this. Now, it's not that they make a conscious decision to turn off their awareness; it's that they get busy with "stuff" and don't pay attention. The term SN uses for this is "task fixation. Examples of task-fixation include texting on your cell-phone, digging through your purse for that receipt (or whatever women keep in those things), or even putting your kid in the car-seat. Basically any tasks that commands so much of your attention that you aren't aware of what's going on around you. The obvious danger here is that you are leaving yourself vulnerable to attack since the bad guy can be on you before you know they're even around.
From here, the discussion moved on to actually dealing with an UC when the need arises. We've been aware, seen the individual approaching, etc. Now what? We know that "distance equals time." The more distance we have between us and the threat, the more time we have to react. Conversely, the closer we allow the person to get, the less time we will have to respond if he/she does turn out to be a threat. This being the case, it makes sense to issue some sort of challenge to let the UC know that we do not want them to continue approaching.
Just as we can modulate our physical response to fit the threat, we can, and should tailor our choice of words and body language to fit the situation. When we see the UC approaching, our choice of words should be such that we make it clear that they need to stop. However, we don't want to be too "hostile" or insulting as that might actually be counterproductive and elicit a response opposite of what we want.
Examples of a good phrase would be something like "hey, hold up a minute" or "can you stop there for me?" We also want to combine our verbalization with a physical "stop sign." Basically, arms in close to the body, palms facing outward, hands up near the head. This is commonly referred to as "the fence". In addition to being a gesture that is probably universally recognized as meaning "stop," this arm positioning also gets our hands up near our head where they can be used to protect us from an incoming blow. You also want to move (a hard circle towards 3:00 or 9:00) so that you can scan your environment and avoid being caught between the UC and any accomplices.
At this point in the class we spent a while working this with a partner, taking turns being the UC and being the "defender."
We next moved on to dealing with the UC when they do not stop approaching. Basically, if they refuse to stop and continue encroaching on you, one can assume that they have some ill intent. Responses to halt this encroachment include "amping up" your verbiage, possibly including the use of profanity to reinforce your command and, if the UC still refuses to stop, pre-emptive striking to create the ability to escalate further, to control, or to escape.
It was during this portion of the class that we also discussed "pre-assault cues." That is, behaviors that people unconsciously exhibit that can indicate that they are about to attack.
Once again we worked this quite a bit with partners.
The next topic covered was the importance of having a non-diagnostic "default response" in case we are attacked. As the name implies, the idea of the "default response" is having one technique that will protect your most vulnerable parts (head, neck, etc.) from most of the common "sucker punch" type attacks. The goal here is to remain on our feet, and avoid being knocked out so that we can counterattack. Southnarc teaches a technique wherein the weak hand is used to perform a vertical-elbow shield, and the strong hand is formed into a horizontal shield or cover. This technique does a great job of protecting the head from impact, covering the neck and jaw-line, and stabilizing the head so that it does not experience the snapping that can lead to a knockout.
The "non-diagnostic" part comes into play because we don't know what attack may be coming in. The idea that we will be able to "read" a full-speed attack that we weren't expecting, select an appropriate response, and then execute that response, all before being hit by the incoming strike is extremely optimistic. (A basic familiarity with Col. John Boyd's "OODA-Loop" model will increase one's understanding of the reaction time/decision making cycle).
More partner drills. At this point, the boxing gloves and FIST-helmets came out and one partner would feed various attacks (building in speed and intensity as we got more comfortable with the technique) while the other partner worked the default-response. After working the default-response in isolation, we wrapped up for the night by integrating it with all the other components (verbal challenge, movement, preemptive striking).
The MUC portion of the class is really the most critical. As SouthNarc said several times, "the stuff we do Friday night can keep you from needing the stuff we do Sat. and Sun." In other words, if you manage the pre-fight situation effectively, you may be able to avoid the fight itself.
The morning of both Saturday and Sunday was spent on the live-fire portion of the course.
On Saturday, after the safety briefing, we began by running through a couple of basic drills to make sure everyone's gunhandling was acceptable.
This done, SN introduced the 4-count drawstroke as he teaches it.
Count 1 is establishing a firm, locked-wrist grip on your pistol while it is still in the holster. The thumb will be flagged. Establishing a proper grip is extremely important...this became abundantly clear in the latter part of both days when we were doing the FOF evolutions.
Count 2 has the gun high, flagged-thumb of the shooting hand indexed on the pectoral muscle, and the elbow high to give the muzzle a downward cant. If not needed for fending off an incoming attack, the support hand will be flat on the chest, ready to establish a two-handed grip.
Count 3 is the position at which we first have the pistol in our cone of vision. The gun is high, indexed on our centerline and the slide will be level. It is here (and only here) that we will establish a two-handed grip if we have the ability to do so.
Count 4 is simply the appropriate level of extension or compression based on proximity to the threat. Don't extend the gun too far if the threat is close to you.
We spent a considerable amount of time on the #2 position as this was the position we used for retention shooting. As previously stated, the thumb/pectoral index combined with the high elbow give the muzzle a downward cant. This muzzle orientation allows us considerable freedom to use our support hand for fending off incoming attacks and manipulating/controlling our opponent. It was emphasized that we should not get lazy about keeping the elbow high as dropping the elbow results in raising the point of impact of our rounds and endangering our support hand or other body parts depending on our position. If one is particular about hitting the index points--thumb to pectoral, high elbow (sufficient height indicated by tension in the shoulder)--it is possible to be very consistent in one’s shot placement.
The flagged thumb of the shooting hand also provides some "stand-off" from the chest so that there is less chance of the slide movement being interrupted by clothing or contact with the body.
We also spent quite a bit of time shooting from the #3, shooting while driving the gun out to various levels of extension, and shooting while compressing back to the #3. It was constantly emphasized that we wanted to be sure that the level of extension/compression was appropriate to the proximity of the threat. In other words, don't put the pistol out there where the other guy can reach it.
We want our #3 to be high so that the gun gets into the eye-line as soon as possible. This allows us to continually refine our sight-picture as we drive out to whatever level of extension is appropriate.
Sunday was more of the same, in addition to reviewing and spending some more time on the #2, we also incorporated fending with the support hand using the horizontal and vertical elbow shields. We then integrated the fending with the rest of the presentation. By the end of the morning, we were shooting from the #2 while fending, moving up to the #3 and firing while pressing out to extension while moving away from the target. We also reversed the process, starting from full extension several paces from the target, moving in while compressing the gun (firing the whole time), and moving into a fending position as the gun returned to the #2.
The afternoon of both days was spent working on the empty-hand material and then pressure testing it via use of the FIST helmets and Simunition guns with marking ammo.
If you've ever watched very many fights from the video sites or from dash-camera footage, you'll see that while the fights may start at striking range, many of them quickly collapse to a grappling/wrestling/clinch range. The term SouthNarc uses for this situation is being in a "Fouled-up tangle" (hereafter: FUT) as terms commonly used in martial-arts circles like "clinch range" tend to have a rather technical connotation. In reality, the situation is generally just a chaotic mess.
The ability to successfully negotiate this FUT in order to access a weapon, respond with effective strikes, or break range and escape is dependent on our abilty to regain the initiative and to obtain and maintain dominant position.
Saturday afternoon, we began with some drills to help work on maintaining a stable base so that one can maintain forward drive and not be driven back by the attacker. We then started working various techniques for controlling the opponent to facilitate weapons access and/or prevent the opponent from accessing his tools. Some of the techniques covered included underhooks, collar, wrist, and bicep ties, and overhooks. We also worked a series of techniques to allow us to get to the attacker's back which obviously leaves us in a good position for weapons access. The "duck-under" and the "arm-drag," both common techniques, were a couple of the ones used to pass and take the attacker's back.
In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there is a saying "position before submission." Basically this means that before you can successfully execute a submission technique (choke, joint-lock, etc.), you must obtain dominant position. Along the same lines, when dealing with what SouthNarc referrs to as "Infight Weapons Access," (hereafter: IFWA) we operate under the philosophy of "position before acquisition." In other words, before you attempt to deploy a tool (gun, knife, sap, whatever), you must achieve positional dominance. Fixating on drawing a weapon before dominat position was obtained typically resulted in either a fouled draw, a malfunctioning weapon (because the "attacker" grabbed the gun causing it to malfunction when fired), a disarm, or some combination of the above. It is critical that you don't go for your weapon too soon. A general rule of thumb for IFWA is that you have to control the attacker's limb that is closest to the tool you are trying to access.
At this point, we moved on to some ground-fighting drills. Topics addressed included keeping an attacker at bay by using your legs to kick and "shrimping" to get to the guard position after the attacker has passed your legs. Once again, the goal is to control the situation long enough to successfully deploy a weapon.
We ended the day by incorporating the FIST helmets and Simunition guns into the above drills. One example of this would be a drill in which two students, one with a holstered sim-gun, clinch up and fight for dominant position. The goal for the student with the sim-gun is to control the other guy long enough to make a clean draw and get rounds into him. The goal for the "bad guy" is to prevent this either by preventing the draw, controlling the weapon once it is drawn, or disarming the "good guy." It should be noted that the "bad guy" was not cooperating at all (in fact, their lack of cooperation was just downright irritating! ).
Sunday afternoon, we began by working on weapon retention with the gun both in and out of the holster. In conjunction with this, we also worked handgun disarms as the same techniques that allow us get someone off our gun allow us to take theirs if they are threatening us with it.
We ended the day with several more FOF evolutions. One was a "scenario-based" evolution that incorporated all the topics address throughout the duration of the weekend (MUC, default response, obtaining dominant position, IFWA, etc.). Two student role-players acted as the Unknown Contacts/threats while a third student had to deal with the situation as it played out. The importance of the MUC portion of the material really became apparent here as ending up in a close-range fight with two attackers makes for a really bad day.
The "Force on Force" (FOF) evolutions that we participated in over the two days are extremely eye-opening. The emphasis on the drawstroke from the live-fire portion of the class really paid dividends here. Establishing a solid grip and having a consistent #2 position are critical when you are dealing with the dynamic nature of what is basically a free-for-all performed at full speed and resistance. Having a sloppy retention-position can easily result in either having your weapon taken away or having the weapon fouled by someone grabbing it. As I mentioned earlier, if you don't have a consistent #2, you also run the risk of shooting yourself with your own gun as I did during one of the ground-fighting drills (putting a round into your own leg is kind of a sobering experience...just glad I didn't have to learn that lesson in a real fight).
One of the most common problems I observed was people that went for their gun too early. As I said before, if you attempt to access your weapon before you have established some sort of positional dominance your chances of success are extremely reduced.
Another issue I noticed was that there were several instances where someone would shoot their attacker and immediately relax (going to low-ready or whatever), thinking the fight was over even though the "bad guy" was still trying to attack them. I would imagine that this is a result of being so conditioned by range drills and courses of fire (e.g. "draw and fire two rounds center of mass") that they tend to assume, at least subconsciously, that the fight is over as soon as they fire their weapon. The lesson here, obviously, is that the fight ain't over 'till it's over and it may take more than just the double-tap or mozambique-drill that you're used to doing at the range.
I would, without hesitiation, recommend this class to anyone who carries a gun. The Friday night MUC portion was excellent and is the best breakdown of the "pre-fight" that I've ever heard.
The FOF "laboratory" does an incredible job of letting you know what will and won't work. If we're honest, very few martial-artists (empty-hand guys, knife guys, gun guys, whoever) ever test their methods against a truly uncooperative training partner--someone who is really trying their best to prevent your success. Why not? because this type of training is a humbling experience. Most people would rather stroke their egos (practicing only what they're good at) than expose their weaknesses. It's also hard work...we all walked away with bumps, bruises, welts, and sore muscles.
We had a diverse group of students. Several medical doctors, a few of whom were also cops, a lawyer/reserve-cop, an accountant, a real-estate guy, etc. Great group of guys who were a pleasure to train with.
Overall, this class was an excellent experience and I intend to take it again when I have an opportunity to do so.
For more information or instructional DVD's that introduce quite a bit of this material, go to ShivWorks - Sound, simple and tested self defense products and techniques
For discussion on this material and a lot of other good information, check out www.totalprotectioninteractive.com. SouthNarc is one of the owners of this forum and it is a wealth of information.
"Being a predator isn't always comfortable but the only other option is to be prey. That is not an acceptable option." ~Phil Messina
If you carry in Condition 3, you have two empty chambers. One in the weapon...the other between your ears.
July 22nd, 2009 01:20 AM
I've taken this course myself and really enjoyed it. It is very eye opening in that it will show you real fast just how worthless a pistol is when someone is right on top of you. Your description is pretty dead on. This is not a class for the faint of heart. You are going to be winded and have the crap knocked out of you more than once. We fought one on one and against multiple attackers for an extended period of time. The part I liked best was when we fought in the confines of a Surburban. We had guys literally start in the front seat and wind up in the rear cargo area. I have to admit that it is a bit humiliating how easy Southnarc an throw you around (I'm 6'4", 350lbs and he is a runt). Take the class and learn what you really don't know, train, and then take it again and really improve your skills.
July 22nd, 2009 09:29 AM
I am planning to take this course next year when he comes to Manassas, VA. I know several people who have taken this course and they all have the same high praise for it.
SouthNarc is one of those "been there, done that" guys. He is not teaching you some theory on stuff, he is teaching what has actually worked for him on the street.
From what I have heard, it is a fairly physical class and shows why it is important to have a reasonable level of fitness.
Man! Is it next year yet??
fortiter in re, suaviter in modo (resolutely in action, gently in manner).
July 22nd, 2009 12:29 PM
It sounds like a great course and the Managing Unknown Contacts portion would be key whether we're talking about handgun, knife or empty hand self-defense.
August 4th, 2009 10:32 PM
Good on you !!!!!!!!!!!!!
I cant wait to take this course!!!!!!
I did the CQT class at USSA and man it was very good...
But like ECQC, the CQT class is hard on ya...
I really think that every one that carry's a gun should take at least the
"Managing unknown contacts" from South Narc..
August 4th, 2009 11:14 PM
This class offers the most transferrable skillsets for CHL holders. It's not a character boosting class, but a character building class; one to be proud of completing.
Prdator- The CQT class is another outstanding class that I highly recommend.
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