I had heard about Southnarc a while ago and after seeing some YouTube videos for his classes became really interested in the ECQC class. I hollered over the desk to Nate (Co-Owner and training Czar here at Unity) "Do you think we can get Southnarc here in 2013". Immediate response "If you would have checked your calendar, you would know you are going in January". Problem solved.

I had'nt been working out for a while and enrolling in this class gave me the motivation to get to it. I had about 4 months until the class and started at a local crossfit gym to get back in shape. My only regrets are:

1. Letting myself get so out of shape (I don't put on weight, just generally out of shape); and
2. Not taking ECQC much earlier.

First off, thanks to Craig (Southnarc) for coming over here and teaching the class (More on this in a minute)
Thanks to Nate for getting everything setup and moving smoothly
Thank you to everyone who showed up, it was a really good group of guys with very diverse backgrounds.

The class started TD1 at 6pm on a friday, just the lecture portion was worth the class fee. If you havent met Craig, he is the epitome of a humble professional. He was very grateful for the opportunity to teach us. You can tell he takes the teaching very very seriously. The course framework is structured very well. The lecture - practice - competition - breaks and everything in between is perfectly timed. He articulates very well and set the atmosphere from the minute we sat down.

I feel its a little bit like stealing. He has an incredible amount of hard earned knowledge, and for the price of the class makes it all available. The value is insane.

I won't cover all of the topics as that is available on his site as well as in other AAR's, suffice to say even the most basic portions of it were eye openers.

The criminal assault paradigm, managing unknown contacts, and the rest of the lecture were very useful. And I believe these are the portions of the class that are most difficult to master in the real world. As I learned participating and watching the 2 on 1 evolutions there are so many variables to consider.

We moved from lecture to some basic posturing and body mechanics exercises as well as control exercises that quickly demonstrated the importance of body posture, head control, and building solid technique. This evolution really pointed out some things I need to work on. I am 6' 5" 200ish pounds,

The night ended with a lot of lessons learned for me and gave me a lot to think about.

TD2 turned out to be 50 ish and overcast. We started the morning with a detailed safety briefing and then moved to live fire. Again, the coursework was laid out very well. I just started carrying appendix about a month ago so I used my M&P9 FS in a secret City AIWB holster. I was very happy with it, even though I did not get to run it through any FoF. I plan on working that on my own time.

I have drawn to a "Retention" position and pressed straight out at a 90 for a while now, but I had not been indexing the weapon for shooting from position "2". I am going to train that drawstroke now. The progressions were spot on. While shooting isnt a huge part of the course, the time is used very well integrating it into close quarters use.

After a good lunch we set out for some T-gun FoF work. We worked standing evolutions with partners jockeying to control space and hands. Sometimes getting shot, sometimes doing the shooting. The techniques from the night before were used and tested as well as the shooting positions. We did some more technical drills and some basic groundwork. We finished the day with a "Validation Exercise"

This validation exercise started with one person on his back (With a T-Gun) and the second trying to best him from a standing position. For me, the end of this exercise was probably the most valuable lesson I learned about myself. We struggled, but I couldnt get to my feet and eventually was too exhausted to resist much more. I drew the gun (At a poor time) and got one round off into his side, the weapon malfunctioned, I tried to clear it to no avail. By then he had gotten control of it and discarded it. I feel like I handle stress well. I have been in airplane crashes, in air emergencies, SCUBA failures, small boats in BAD atlantic storms, and never felt anxiety or panic. None of those situations involved a thinking human being with a vote and advantage. I didnt realize why the panic started to set in until Craig made a comment on TD3. It was helplessness. I was completely worn out, no weapon, and maybe he was bleeding from my contact shot, but that wasnt going to stop him from bashing my face in. Its a terrible feeling. The close second was pulling the trigger a second time with no shot fired.

So, I learned a couple of things from that evolution in particular.

1. Work as hard as possible to keep the advantage. Its easier to hold it than regain it.
2. Improve my technical application of the skills learned so if I do lose the advantage I can fight for it back without exhausting myself.
3. Continue to improve my fitness so I can give myself a larger envelope to be patient with the technical skills, timing, and IFWA.
4. Never ever let that feeling of hopelessness enter my head again. Maintain mental control. He may take me out of the fight, but I am not going to take myself out. - Easy on paper, hard in practice.

I learned far more from my MASSIVE failure than I would have if I had won or it had been a stalemate.

The night ended with everyone having learned a lot.

TD3 was 50 and rainy. Not comfortable at the time, but a blessing in disguise.

We started again with dry fire building on the lessons from the previous day. As with the rest of the course, Craig has designed a GREAT progression scheme.

Immediately after lunch we move to 2 on 1 scenarios. Craig has this evolution dialed in really really well.

He keeps it open ended and allows students to role play at will. No scripting. I saw some really odd, unexpected situations. And I learned from every single one. He also removes the easy way out (leaving the area). Things like sight and visibility arent important to him as evidenced by the fogged head gear. Even after meeting Craig for a few days I know its all by design, not coincidence.

So while I am not getting hit with a baseball bat, I can't see, can barely hear, and cannot run. Its a good tradeoff. This was a good test of my failures from the night before. I did a decent job of maintaining space and talking to de-escalation. Unfortunately for me my assailants werent interested in negotiation. I did a much better job of quickly and aggressively attempting to get to my feet. As I was my helmet came off and the evo was called. I was confident at that point I could have stood up, got some distance and drawn.

I learned just as much if not more from watching 15 more evolutions.

From there we moved into some more groundwork and then moved to weapon retention. The pace was spot on as was the timing of every element. Its a very academic, proven approach to teaching, especially this content.

The final evolution was the car. Nate was kind enough to find an ample station wagon with a nice comfortable bench seat. From the previous night and 2 on 1 evolutions I was going to make DARN sure I got the advantage early and held onto it as violently as possible. I had the benefit of watching 5 or 6 groups go before it was my turn, so I got to see how to get that advantage before the fight even started. Both as the aggressor and defender.

Again, I learned a lot from watching the other groups, Craigs breakdown of each run, and the comments from the participants. Its a great learning environment.

The class ended up with a hot-wash and we all shook hands, traded business cards and headed home. Fortuntely for me, home was 8 minutes away and I came home to my beautiful wife, kids, and a huge Tuna Steak. It couldnt have ended any better.

My take-aways

  • I saw a 92F with a lot of FTF and FTE issues.
  • I also saw a Glock with ammo issues
  • During the 2 on 1 evo as an aggressor I snapped a Injection Molded holster off the defender.
  • Secondary retention definitely works, and while I got his gun, it took me 15 seconds longer to do it. And I knew where the release was.
  • The clinch pick is an awesome, well thought out, well designed knife. I want one.
  • An RMR on my gun was fairly useless as an aiming device during live fire. It would have been invaluable during the ground portion as a slide racker. The iron sights werent cutting it. It may have made the difference between 1 round and 5-10 in my assailant.

1. Work as hard as possible to keep the advantage. Its easier to hold it than regain it.
2. Improve my technical application of the skills learned so if I do lose the advantage I can fight for it back without exhausting myself.
3. Continue to improve my fitness so I can give myself a larger envelope to be patient with the technical skills, timing, and IFWA.
4. Never ever let that feeling of hopelessness enter my head again. Maintain mental control. He may take me out of the fight, but I am not going to take myself out. - Easy on paper, hard in practice.
5. I just read "Social Engineering" and had been flipping through "Non-Verbal Communication" - These are some really valuable tools and the proper use of this knowledge can be powerful. I didnt realize the gravity of the material at the time, but its immense. I have 3 young children, and worst case scenario for me is being approached by Concrete Pirates with my children. De-escalating the situation (Or gaining a very strong pre-emptive advantage) through verbal and non-verbal communication is huge. Being able to determine moods, intentions, cues, and adapt my speech, posture, etc is huge. I woudnt have linked the two without this class.
6. I will never think about self defense or shooting in the same way again.
7. I carry a fixed blade appendix fairly often. I need to get some better training under these conditions. And a clinch pick.
8. As a designer "In the Industry" I am going to incorporate what I have learned into our designs. And Craig will be getting boxes of parts to run through evos for shakedown.
9. I got a copy of his DVD and plan on reviewing that and all of the youtube videos to disect what happened and learn from others.
10. There are a lot more, I need a few days/weeks/months to process and apply it.

I cannot say enough about Craig. He takes teaching very seriously and is truely grateful for the opportunity to teach. No ego, he entertains thoughts, suggestions, and scenario questions with real life application. His paradigm is open and he makes everyone fully aware of how fluid these encounters are. He demonstrates techniques in worst case scenarios. The amount of technical material is kept concise, but correctly applying the techniques in chaos is difficult at best. He has compressed all of the experience into techniques that are proven to work across multiple scenarios. He is a first rate dude and I look forward to training with him again. Just a nice guy.

Craig was kind enough to agree to return in October for AMIS, and we hope to have him back in 2014 for ECQC again. I am interested to see how a year of focused practice will translate into more validation evos.

Craig, thank you for the hard work, instruction, and genuine concern. Nate, thanks for keeping it all together. And thank you to everyone who participated. I got to meet some great guys whom I hope to see again.

If you havent taken this class. I strongly suggest you do it. I strongly suggest it becomes priority #1 in the training schedule.