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Thread: AAR: ShivWorks ECQC Olympia, Wa 10/26 -10/28

  1. #1

    AAR: ShivWorks ECQC Olympia, Wa 10/26 -10/28

    There are already a metric shit ton of AARs on ECQC and honestly I don't think I could add much around the material. I just read TCinVA's which is great. My target audience is one less familiar with the course than most here. I also allowed myself a bit more drama/emotion since i felt that suited the coursework as well as focusing on the things that I was nervous about going in and things I took away. If it sucks, lemme know, it was kind of an experiment. I'm always happy to go back to bullet lists.

    Craig, aka SouthNarc, spent years as a police officer, many in narcotics. Having been on the receiving end of many assaults, Craig eventually realized 75-80% of the stuff he’d spent his life learning was wrong. ECQC was born of those experiences and has a well-earned status as one of the best ways to learn the realities of armed confrontation. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe not. If you watch any videos of ECQC on YouTube you might end up a bit nervous. If not, take a look:

    My first concern was my fitness level. If you haven’t been active at all, I think ECQC might prove tough. But my cardio conditioning is hardly great (I struggled to complete a 5K the weekend prior) and I did fine. Don’t use being out of shape as an excuse, most of the fights are more mental than physical anyway. It’s simply about refusing to give up.

    My second concern was that I’d spend the entire weekend having my ass so thoroughly kicked, I wouldn’t learn anything. ECQC draws a different crowd than your normal gun class, mine was probably 60-70% cops along with some experienced BJJ guys. But there were also regular guys like me, some with no combatives experience at all. Craig does a great job of pairing you up so you stand a chance. And to a man, every guy in the class was there to learn and help his fellow attendees out, not to be a douche or prove how ‘tough’ he was.

    The one thing you absolutely do need is comfort with a gun. While live fire makes up less than half of the class, this should not be your first gun handling class. You should be familiar with a 4-position drawstroke, being able to draw from concealment, and be competent at malfunction clearance, reloads, etc.

    The first evening of class took place at a BJJ dojo in Olympia, with Craig talking about ‘managing unknown contacts’. This involves verbal de-escalation and putting your hands up in a defensive position called the ‘fence’. This helps reinforce the verbal message to stay away and ensures your hands are near your head, so you can protect yourself if things go south. Craig stressed having an ‘ipod playlist’ of things to say so you can focus on pre-assault cues and tactics rather than getting caught up with interacting. This is the same concepts Insights training stresses in their gun classes, though there it’s more about influencing onlookers, who might otherwise assume the ‘bad guy’ is the one with the gun.

    If these de-escalation techniques fail, Craig demonstrated a quick eye jab as a good deterrent giving you time to get away or to access a weapon.
    The rest of the first night was spent on drills working on staying on your feet when you’re entangled with someone else via level changing as well as limb control to prevent your opponent’s ability to access a weapon while facilitating your own. Craig gave an explanation of how most skills in the class would be taught, namely starting with a technical, consensual practice of the technique. Often this is where other classes stop. Instead, Craig has his students move to non-consensual, but non-competitive where you’re not just letting the other person do the technique, and finally non-consensual and competitive where each guy is trying to beat the other. This is often where it gets interesting.

    On day two, the group met up on a rain soaked range to practice shooting from less than full extension, such as one might have to do in close quarters. Craig believes one should keep the thumb flagged and drag it up the body to ensure the weapon remains pointed in a safe position. He advises that you should feel tension in your shoulder at the top position which gives you a physical indication you’re far up enough. Keeping your hand and forearm in alignment (the hand should be neither bent nor canted), these combine to ensure a firing position that will prevent you from shooting yourself if you’re fending off at attacker, generally with a horizontal or vertical elbow strike. Additionally, Craig likes to roll the shoulders upward to help ensure that you punch out high when you go to extension. We practiced this with a barricade on the third day and it definitely did seem to help. Using the natural body index is also a concept Insights likes, though they are adamant about a full grip (meaning wrapping the thumb around) and about avoiding tension in the shoulders. So, that’s something I still need to reconcile between the two approaches.

    For the second half of day two, we went back to mats and practiced fending off attackers from the ground. The basic techniques were very similar to what I’ve done in Krav Maga so I was fairly comfortable. After a bit more work, we donned FIST helmets and simunitions guns for one-on-one competitions.

    Day three was structured similarly to day two with the first half of the day spent on the CQB drawstroke and the second half mostly in more complex fights including multiple assailants. We also spent a little time on gun retention and takeaways Here is my two-on-evo from day three. It’s extremely interesting to listen to the post fight commentary as well:

    These man-on-man competitions were extremely illuminating. I’ve watched the above video a number of times. I’m pretty happy with my initial verbal engagement, but I think I let myself move around too much. Craig told us to keep our hips square to the attacker and you see when I start walking more quickly that’s when my assailant lept at me. I don’t actually think I would have gone down though, but my ankle just snapped and folded under me (I want to be clear I don't fault ECQC or any participant for this, I'd fucked my ankle up before and it's very susceptible to injury now). Here’s what it looked like a few days later when I was barely able to walk:

    Another big mistake was I let myself get emotional. I wasn’t thinking tactically at all, the only thing in my mind was ‘FUUUUUCK YOU!!!’. Not good. The fact I was able to buck my opponent was a combination of my size and luck, because if you watch the technique is completely sloppy--and I’ve trained this a bit in Krav. It’s also interesting I spent a lot more time striking than most people in class, I think this is also from Krav. But my biggest failing problem, and this manifested itself in nearly every fight, was my fixation on the gun. I just got tunnel vision on the gun and wasn’t effectively controlling my opponent.

    The single most illuminating moment in the class, though, comes after I get up. You can see me pause. I’m trying to process what’s going on. Then I rush the guy who has my gun. I’ve mentally rehearsed this, I don’t care if I get shot. I have to get the gun. But there’s a problem…

    The guy who has my gun is bystander. In all my mental rehearsals, I’ve never considered this. I didn’t even consider any option other than attack. Is that a ‘realistic’ scenario? I don’t know. And I’m still nervous about getting rid of this ‘go signal’. The reason I’ve mentally rehearsed and committed to it is simple: how many events have we heard of, Aurora, etc where people just stood there? It happens in seconds. In my mind, if I stand there trying to figure out what was happening, I’d be dead. But then my answer doesn’t’ seem so great either. I’m still struggling with this.

    Now, I’ve spent enough time beating up on myself. What did I do right? I didn’t fucking give up. In any of the evos. I fucked up in every way possible, I got shot repeatedly with Simunitions at close range, I had brain freeze, I completely destroyed my ankle. At one point, I was being choked out, in fact I was thinking “I’m probably going to blackout in a second” But this was real and asking him to let go wasn’tan option. Fighting, getting him off was the only thing I was thinking. As it happened Mike, my opponent, heard “a weird gargling” and let go. I was honestly surprised. But even as I thought the lights were going to go out, quitting never entered my mind.

    I've lost count of all the firearms classes I've done, but if you’re serious about the realities of self-defense you owe it to yourself to go to ECQC. You will be expected to work hard (but it’s not nearly as bad as some make it out), will probably be embarrassed a few times, and will have to face the fact that you’re probably not nearly as prepared for a violent confrontation as you thought. I’ve had the privilege of training with a number of outstanding instructors and Craig is right there with the best of them. He is a genuinely good guy who cares about his students, and that’s I’m sure why he pushes them harder than most instructors. He’s not there to just collect a paycheck, but to make sure you are as prepared as he can make you in the time he has. The other thing that makes ECQC so special are the people. Even after just a couple days, they felt like family to me. The experience was truly something special.

    Side note: ECQC vs Krav Maga:
    I’ve done Krav Maga for a couple years now and have felt it far more realistic, practical, and applicable than other stuff I had done previously (mostly Budo Bujinkan Taijutsu). I haven’t even tested for a belt so take this with a large grain of salt. Krav focuses on a multi-disciplinary approach to fighting, incorporates weapons, multiple attackers, physical exhaustion and a lot of other things that ECQC does. Krav, however, is pretty heavy on striking which was mostly absent in ECQC. To be honest, I did not employ most of what I do in Krav. Partly because I wanted to practice the techniques I was being taught, but also because I was worried someone would get hurt or it’d cross the douche line. I do wonder how much this affected outcomes. In the absence of (significant) striking, most fights seemed to come down to grappling. Maybe that’s exactly what would happen in the real world too, you might get in a strike here or there, but would still end up in a tangled mess anyway.

    I emailed Craig about this and felt like his response should be shared:
    On the striking: I used to actually teach a hammerfist and an elbow strike, coming out of the default position. If you watch the old Practical Unarmed Combat DVD I did back in '06, that's on the video.

    What I saw with gun guys was the vast majority of them couldn't strike effectively when they were entangled and a technical vertical grappling approach gave them a much better chance of getting unentangled and getting to the gun. The evolutions bore that out to so really that's what drives the curriculum: What an average guy can realistically walk away with in 20 hours.
    The one area where I really prefer the techniques in ECQC to Krav was in its defense against blows. It is similar to what Insights teaches in their Unarmed Self-Defense course, a simple non-diagnostic defense intended not to prevent being hit, but rather to ensure you remain conscious. Krav Maga has a relatively diagnostic approach, what they call inside defense and 360-defense. Craig believes such techniques might work if you are well trained and in an equal initiative event (you square up ready for the fight) but are problematic in an unequal initiative event, when you don’t realize anything’s happening until someone’s throwing a punch at you. Craig uses what he calls the default position. The intention he explains is not to not get hit, but to remain conscious. One folds the non-dominant forearm to the bicep, plants it against the side of the head, and crosses the dominant arm in from of the face to form a shield around the vulnerable areas of the head. While, for example, an uppercut can get under this, if you’re doing it properly it will prevent the head rotation, which is what leads to an uppercut knock-out.

  2. #2
    Leopard Printer Mr_White's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    Gaming In The Streets
    Great training with you!

    What can I say about ECQC that hasn't already been said in all the existing detailed AARs? Maybe not much, but for me the class definitely lived up to its legend. It was indeed strenuous and difficult and demanded perseverance and mental commitment. It exposed everyone's skills and mental and physical attributes that needed improvement. It required not just gun skills, not just knife skills, not just grappling and combatives skills, not just strength and conditioning, and not just real-time decisionmaking, but especially it required connection, and further forged the connections, between those elements under some level of pressure.

    SouthNarcís material and teaching ability are indeed stellar as is universally reported.

    Many thanks to the class host, to all the other students for their great attitudes, camaraderie, and training partnership, and to SouthNarc and his AIs for their hard-won perspective and tutelage in this elusive area of study - the connective tissue between the multiple sub-disciplines.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by OrigamiAK View Post
    Great training with you!
    Great training with you as well. I just wish I was closer to your end of the firing line so I could have seen you shoot after hearing all the praise from others in the class.

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