I'm back from San Diego and Combative Concepts, Inc. I'm in one piece but... sunburned, two bruised shoulders, sore muscles, and a bloodied hand from paintballs (PAINTBALLS?!?!?!). It was quite an experience. Actually, I'm not sure how to put it, but I was definitely impacted (no pun intended) in a big way.
The instructor to student ratio was good: two instructors and me! Typically these guys have 10 to 20 SEALs or SWAT members or cops, but not this time. My instructors were Ken Good (CO-founder and senior instructor, ex Navy SEAL, 37 years old) and Mike Sneen (senior instructor, 31 years old).
CCI is not a shooting school. These guys make sure you know how to handle your gun and to shoot it okay, but what they teach is HOW TO FIGHT. Whether you've got a gun or a knife or just your hands (they recommend against having just your hands), they teach fighting. I had dinner with Ken on Sunday night and he had with him 1) a gun, 2) a knife, 3) pepper spray, and 4) a baton.
This weekend was really just a taste of what they offer. They've got a 7 day tactics and firearms course that goes much deeper and wider. I'm planning on going back and taking that course. I learned enough to get me excited and to make me want more.
I learned several cornering techniques, weapons retention, weapons take-aways, tactical lighting techniques, and some techniques of deception. They study and teach how to deceive the enemy. How to get the advantage. How to cheat. They teach that if you've got a 50-50 chance, get out of there (or GET the advantage).
They told me that all these things were just tools. The person is the weapon and has a big bag of tools from which to choose. Whether it's a gun or a knife or a psychological trick or a throw or a gun snatch or whatever. They gave me a few tools from which to choose (and to PRACTICE and master).
The martial-art-type tools they showed me were not flashy or visually impressive but they gave impressive results. They were designed to throw the bad guy off balance. Ken likes to get in close...REALLY close. He'll get in close, take your gun, put you on the ground, smash your face, and shoot you and your buddy with your own gun. This guy is a fierce fighter.
The thing Ken told me over and over and over again was to "maintain the shooting platform." If I'm cornering with my Benelli or sliding down a dark hallway or taking away the bad guy's gun or if the bad guy has just grabbed my shotgun with both hands and I'm throwing him off balance and to the floor or whatever...MAINTAIN THE SHOOTING PLATFORM. Be balanced. Be aggressive. Be IN THE FIGHT. You've got to be IN THE FIGHT.
We ended the weekend Sunday night in a dark warehouse. That's where they do a lot of their hands on tactics stuff. This is where we put what we've learned about cornering and moving (etc.) to work. We also learn about tactical lighting here. It was black in there (especially after being hit in the face with a bright tactical light). This is where we used the paintball guns. I got killed as the aggressor AND as the good guy. I guess I've got a lot to learn. It REALLY SUCKS when someone shoots at you. The first two times, I was the aggressor. I went in a room in the depths of this warehouse and hid. Ken and Mike were the good guys sent in to flush me out (or kill me). They cleared rooms and found me and killed me. The second time we did this little exercise, I was actually scared. I suppose this sounds ridiculous. Oh well! Then Mike and I were the good guys going in to find Ken. Mike wasn't a very big help! I moved into the structure and ran into Ken. I shot. He started moaning and groaning. I stood still for a couple of seconds to decide what to do next. Ken then proceeded to riddle me with bullets. I had never hit him!! At this point, _I_ was moaning and groaning and _I_wasn't_ faking it!!!! I was in pain. I told Ken and Mike that I wasn't having any fun at all and asked rhetorically why I had paid these guys to do this to me. Ken used this warehouse stuff to teach me to be ELUSIVE. At this point, Mike reviewed some lighting and cornering techniques with me and then we left.
When I start thinking about this warehouse scene, my heart starts racing and I just sit there thinking and thinking and thinking "what could I have done differently? What could I have done to survive or at LEAST to HIT one of those guys??!!" WOW!!!