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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Gun Fighting Learning Explosion! And Other Amazing Stuff

First blog post in a while. . . .

Not that a lot hasn't been going on. Lessons with John, Tim, Al and others have yielded tips, tricks and breakthroughs too numerous and, in some cases, "deep" to enumerate and explain in a blog post. Suffice to say that the more experience you gain in GC, the more you realize you have left to learn, and then some.

Some recent random thoughts:

Knife "fighting" (i.e. using a knife to protect yourself):

While there are general guidelines, strategies and tactics that can help, it really comes down to Balance, Looseness, Sensitivity and all other standard GC principles and subprinciples, whether standing or on the ground. Plus, of course, being able to consistently access your knife while under attack and keep the damn thing in your hand no matter what happens!

Free-form or Sloppiness?

Attention to detail: Because GC places no emphasis on standard "form" for form's sake, some people assume that GC is "sloppy" and they need not pay attention to detail in movement. Well, this ain't the case! While GC shuns standardized fighting techniques and positions independent of combative context, precision WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE FIGHT is most certainly important! Moving precisely with what's going on will defeat moving "generally" or "approximately" with what's going on. I've often demonstrated this to students by taking a position during contact flow, then changing my center of gravity by just an inch or two, and showing how this completely changes the possibilities in the movement (spelling the difference between life and death for the student). Tim showed me this on a far more precise level when he took the time to break down and explain what his body was doing moment by moment during a contact flow session we had. The subtlety and deceptiveness were mind-boggling. Slight rotations of the forearm, tweaks of the finger
s and complete loosening of the wrist (allowing the hand to drop), for example, at the precisely correct times and places, spelled the difference between deadlock and my losing my head (literally). Tim suggested increased use of the wobble board and wooden ladder during contact flow, as they force more concentration (conscious and subconscious) on exactly what's going on, and are less forgiving of bad movement. In regular contact flow, if your training partner is not skilled enough to punish every mistake (like Tim!), it's easy to ignore (due to ego) or miss mistakes and hence set back your training. With the wobble board, if you're not reasonably "on" in terms of the principles, you know it, because you fall off the board. Similarly, with firearms, you know when you're not spot on, because your shot misses its intended target. Firearms and wobble boards don't have complex emotional stuff going on and will not lie to you. They'll do what they're designed to do and if something messes up, it's on you, and you can't deny it. . . .

A Gun Fighting Learning Explosion

. . . Which brings us to a "new beginning." I recently had my first firearms training session with John. I had many years previously received a session of standard target handgun training from a range officer, and had done fairly well by his standards. Since then, though, I'd been able to practice only about once per year (average), and had never received any combat-applicable training. (Let's make it clear right now that "front sight focus, slow trigger squeeze, follow through, repeat" is NOT typically applicable to the split-second close quarters reactive combat that civilians interested in self-defense must deal with. Sorry to burst any bubbles. . . .) I had read a lot about training methods used by various trainers, including those with a lot of gunfight experience and including various point shooting and target focus systems. I expected, however, that John's approach would be different. . . . And I was right!

Can't go into too much detail in a public blog, but suffice to say that John has some ingenious methods for training a student's mind to "trust" its ability to shoot accurately by feel and subconscious peripheral visual weapon alignment. I consciously used my sights for only one shot during the whole session, yet in retrospect I consistently made very accurate shots, many at speed and all without conscious aiming. I don't think I realized how well I was doing during the session because I basically just did what John said, not concerning myself so much with the results. I think there may be a lesson here that transfers over to general GC training. . . . (Between the two of us, with John demonstrating the drills before I ran them, we went through 100 rounds of .40 and 100 of .22.) This from a guy who previously got frustrated at every annual self-directed "practice" session at his inability to shoot consistently no matter how hard he concentrated on the conventional fundamentals of shooting. I was getting far better results using John's combat-applicable point shooting methods, in my very first training session! Note that I'm NOT talking about mere "on the paper" accuracy. I'm talking about target areas ranging from six inches down to an inch across, just like what you need to hit to achieve reliable stopping power with a handgun. John mentioned that as with the GC unarmed training, with practice, combat shooting ability will absorb into the subconscious to the point where I'll be able to pick up any reasonable handgun and place bullets exactly where I need them without conscious effort, and with additional training, while moving dynamically and shooting dynamically moving targets (i.e. aggressive people). Looking forward to more training!
--Ari Kandel

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