Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Extreme Close Quarters Concepts

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Extreme Close Quarters Concepts class taught by Craig Douglas AKA SouthNarc. I have been wanting to attend this class for two years and finally my schedule worked out. Mr. Douglas did not disappoint. First I want to say Craig Douglas is a class act. Knowledgeable,professional but encouraging and approachable. That's a great mixture for an instructor. ECQC is described thusly at the Shivworks website:

The Shivworks Extreme Close Quarters Concepts (ECQC) course is a two-and-a-half-day (20 hour) block of instruction that offers a multi-disciplinary approach to building functional,combative handgun skills at zero to five feet. The course is designed to instill core concepts of seamless integration and provide a platform for aggressive problem solving during a life or death struggle at arm's length or closer. We emphasize the common body mechanics that apply across different skill sets. That way, all combative software is reinforcing. Once student skills sets are ingrained, they will be stress inoculated with force on force drill using marking cartridges and protective equipment.

The course was being held at a large range complex west of Faribault Mn. It was about a 4 hour drive from where I live in Iowa and I planned on car camping at the range. The first half day started on Friday evening so I left about 1200 to drive up and make the 1800 start time. Upon arrival I checked in and waited. Shortly after my arrival others joined me. Craig showed up shortly before 1800. There was another pleasant surprise as my friend Michael Anderson of Shoot The Gun  would be co instructing. I have helped Mike as a role player during his phenomenal Landing The Plane course on multiple occasions and knew him to be a top notch instructor.

The first evening was devoted to developing our skills in managing unknown contacts, Due to previous reading and courses such as Landing the Plane I was familiar with many of the techniques but putting them into practice was not always as easy as expected. Craig said our goal was to remain on our feet and remain conscious. De escalation and avoiding confrontation are very necessary skills to accomplish this mission. We also talked about body positioning. One of the drills we had to do was, from what I gathered, a right of passage in this course. I gather this, because out of all my friends and acquaintances that have taken this coursework not one person mentioned it! This drill was called the Billy Goat drill. The purpose was simple, go forehead to forehead with another student and using only the leverage from your head gain a dominant position. This will definitely teach you balance and squaring up your base. The other thing it does is give you a large raw spot that turns into a huge scab on your forehead. I will be wearing a lot of hats the next few weeks.

Day 1 ended about 2200 and I retired to my Jeep to sleep until the 0800 showtime next day.

After a decent yet hot night of sleep I woke up and brewed some instant coffee and ate a few PBJ for breakfast. Day 2 would start with range work.

We spent the morning shooting in close proximity to the target. We worked on the adaptive presentation of the firearm. The thumb pectoral index and appropriate extension based on distance from our attacker. The drills enforced the need to not "float the gun" and to place shots relative to our distance from the target.

The afternoon consisted of the unarmed skills and in fight weapons access. Craig uses wrestling and jiu jitsu as the "operating system" for this instruction. As I am familiar with both I felt I caught on to the material well during this phase. We talked about and drilled, under/overhooks, wrist/bicep ties and infight weapons access. The afternoon was incredibly hot and very physical. We took frequent short breaks for water. Despite this we had one gentleman that dropped from the course due to heat related issues. At the end of the day we experienced our first "EVO". These are designed to pressure test the techniques learned in a force on force environment. Despite my comfort with the material I found putting it into action against a motivated attacker half my age was not easy. This EVO was very instructive in showing me what I can expect to accomplish in an environment such as this. If you don't want to rely on magic fairy dust and rainbows you need this kind of pressure to validate your techniques and choices.  I retired to my spacious accommodations tired and sore at the end of the 11 hour day.

Day 3 dawned bright and early for another range session. We worked on Vertical and Horizontal shields. These reminding me of my training in Krav Maga. We also incorporated techniques from the day before in a more fluid fashion.

In the afternoon we worked weapons disarms and retention. We culminated the day with some 2 vs 1 Evos, which required you to combine all the elements of MUC and the techniques we had learned earlier. These were not scripted and turned out how they turned out. Some ended in gunfights some ended in wrestling matches. Some like mine ended peaceably. At the end of the day we used a vehicle as a platform to use these techniques in a cube or restricted environment.

A thorough debrief was conducted with Craig thanking each and every student for their attention and attendance..classy. Here is what I took away from this course:

1. I will definitely attend again at my earliest opportunity and will recommend to others. If you carry a gun or any other tool for self defense this training is essential.

2. Accessing weapons during a fight isn't as easy as it sounds. I got exactly one shot off during my evos. Timing is everything. If you are someone that counts on that gun as a magic talisman then when you are denied its use what will you do?

3. You need to train until you can fight and problem solve at the same time

4. There are some great people in this world that take responsibility for their own safety. So be nice to people you never know who can kick your ass. 

5. Never camp in MN in June. I am springing for a hotel next time

There ya have it. Get to a Craig Douglas class if you can.

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