Monday, April 25, 2016

I left my heart in San Francisco (and Oakland)

Violence Dynamics West Coast After Action Review.




After a training seminar I like to collect my thoughts, and review what I leaned.  I figured I would share it as a blog post for a couple of reasons.  I promised weekly posts and have been falling behind, to show folks what they missed out on, and to encourage folks to attend the next training opportunity.

Day 1 of the seminar I was at work in Minnesota, such is life.
I was lucky enough that guys came in early and stayed late to I could get on the road.

Meanwhile in the Bay area
Session 1: Registration, introductions, and familiarization with the 1-step drill / training method
Session 2: Violence Dynamics

Session 3: Counter Assault
Session 4: Leverage

Back at stately Keckeisen manor.
I finished packing (way over packing).  I grabbed a small suitcase from down stairs.  Jes told me to grab a big one.  Somehow my brain took that message as a challenge to test the structural integrity of the bag.

Jes and the girls dropped me off.  I checked my bag outside.  5lbs over.  I had my back pack with me so that I could have easy access to my laptop and note books to rehearse my presentation on the plane.  The agent said my bag had to lose 2 lbs so I jammed my back pack with as much stuff as I could fit.  Made it.

However, now I needed to get my computer out of that bag for TSA security check.  I did my best not to hold up the line.  The TSA agent asked why I didn't have a Batman watch.  I wasn't following.  He said well you have a Batman T-shirt, Laptop, Thumb drive, no watch?  I told him any watch I wear is a Batman watch.  He asked me what was my favorite Batman.  He must be checking if I was legit.  I told him Frank Miller's is my favorite.  He asked if I read DKIII  I told him I had enjoyed the first 4 issues but I haven't picked up the 5th.  That must have been the right answer, because he helped me repack my bags and expedite my trip through the check point.


It was a weird kind of late night flight.  It was only half booked and the pilot was either very chill or had something he needed to do in San Francisco.  Because there was an announcement that everybody that was flying had checked in so we will be leaving 45 minutes early.  Cool.  I had poor boy 1st class,  a row all to myself.

I spent most of the flight going over my presentation.  I wasn't on the schedule to teach many things, so I really wanted to blow people away when I had the opportunity to get in front of them.
When I had reviewed it for the umpteenth time and was starting to drag as I was on about hour 18 or 19 by this time I started watching Creed.  The movie was just getting to the big climax when we landed.
Ironically enough we were about an hour early and there was no gate ready for us so we were going to hang out on the tarmac for awhile.  I figured hey great I can watch the end of the movie.  But they turned off the in flight entertainment.  So I figured I better let people know I was in early.
I was expecting Keelin (who ran organization and logistics for Viody West Coast) to pick me up
I had never met Keelin in person before, but she was described to me as this.




So that is what I was looking for.
Instead I was greeted by this

Ugh, yuck :)  Marc was nice enough to pick me up, because he knew what I looked like.
The airline did not lose my bag, Yeah!  And Keelin picked us up.
Picked us up... and took us to some remote desolate location.  I don't want to use the term "secondary crime scene" but I mentioned to her if this was a foreign country and she was a cab driver, this would be the part of the trip that I choked her until she drove me to the hotel.

Turns out we needed to pick up her motorcycle and I needed to follow her with the car to the "cabana".

Good thing I decided to practice my presentation instead of investigating Delta Airlines collection of fine single malt scotch.

Keelin found a cool Air B&B high in the hills over Oakland.

Ahhhh.  I had finally made it.  Now I could just relax and drink Marc's whiskey.  As slick as my stealth skills are, we managed to wake up Terry Trahan

It was nice to get to meet him in person and start to get to know him




I got to bed at a reasonable time (last time I'd be able to say that for awhile)

I am a morning person in general and I was still on CST so I was up early and ready to go!

Day 1 (Day 2 of the seminar) Wednesday 4/13/16

The day started at Whole Foods in the Bay Area - Oakland.  Whole Foods in the Bay area is about what you would imagine.  So I grabbed a box and stuffed it with scrambled eggs, quinoa, and bacon.

We meet up with the crew.   Rory, was not feeling too good.  Apparently some bad calamari was trying to kill him painfully from the inside.

I got to meet Erik Kondo for the first time and some British guy.


That is Erik at the end of the table
I wasn't on the docket to teach in the morning

The morning session looked like this:
Day Two 
Session 1: ConCom 1 - MacYoung
Session 2: ConCom 2 - MacYoung





So I took the opportunity to practice sword fighting with Maija Soderholm and Dillon



Maija subtly reminded me that if I wanted to play I'd have to grab my huge breakfast and go.
In the car Maija mentioned that Toby had given her a English Toffee.

I replied,some English guy at the table was talking about how the clerk at Whole Foods gave him a Toffee because of his British accent.  He must of given it to Toby, and he gave it to you.  I wanted to meet Toby

Or maybe....just maybe that English guy was Toby.

Toby Cowern is the Co of So Mi Co knives.
In my mind rugged survivalist, Royal Marine Toby Cowern looked different.
The guy I met (this is a complement) could cos play as the 10th Doctor


Turns out they are the same guy.




Ok back to the blog, So I took the opportunity to practice sword fighting with Maija Soderholm.
Readers of the blog know what high regard I hold Maija in.  But it is hard to put into words just how good she is.

So I'll steal someone else's words



Ed Calderon is the is the South American representative of the Libre Fighting System, and he works hard to make opportunities to come and learn from Maija.  Here is what he had to say

"Maija Soderholm has been studying and teaching martial arts for over 20 years. She was a private student of Maestro Sonny Umpad for 6 years and is an official lineage holder of his system. She is also my personal teacher of the sword and close friend."

So if a guy who spends a lot of his time training knives comes to the US to train with Maija that is saying something.

Here is a video of her carving up Rory Miller

Ed's Facebook video

Maija took us to Kewesi Simon's gym KES
Click here to check it out

This place is awesome.  It reminded my of the gym from Creed that I saw on the flight down.  (That is why I even mentioned I watched Creed on the way down).  I took mental notes on how he maximized the space for the Skill Mill project I am working with my nephew Ben.

We worked the pendulum drill, focusing on getting offline after contact, especialy to their back (Ura)
Kewesi was fun to play with, I hope I get more opportunities to do so in the future.  This is also where I met Scott "The Mountain That Rides" Drengsen.  I am glad he is nice as he is big.

After that lunch

One of my "I'd like to do if it works out" for the trip was to eat Sushi.  I've only ever had Minnesota sushi.  As good as that is I have to imagine fresh caught has to be better.  And it was

Check out Mijori
Click here





After lunch I got to see Soja for the 1st time.
Click here to check Soja out



I was starting to get jealous about how many cool places there are to train in this area.
I caught up with the crew being taught targeting by Terry.

Really good class.  It was neat to see similar material approached from a different perspective.  As I have written on the blog before.  If you use the chisel of what works to remove all that is unnecessary what remains will look a lot alike regardless of the source.

My take away or my "one thing" from this class was - Also arranging targets by justification.
I like a model I took from Rory - A Targets.  Targets that you don't need strength or a lot of training to hit, that have a high percentage success in affecting the threat.

Another way to look at that is classed by justification.

Tertiary (Not A Targets) - Limbs, doesn't really even hurt, not great targets.  However,  clears obstetrical so range can be closed.  Perfect for when control, not pain / damage is justified

Secondary (Some A Targets)- likely to cause pain up through damage.  When damage is minimal amount of force required to safely end the confrontation.

Primary(All A Targets)  - Likely to cause damage up through lethal force.  High end use of force. When you  have to shut the threat down right fucking now!

That afternoon I got to participate in a series of interview by Erik.  It was a neat format.  Erik drove around and asked me questions.  It was a natural setting and set me at ease.  I feel it went very well. Look for these interviews from the CRGI group.

Click here to check out CRGI


Day 2 (day 3 of the seminar) Thursday 4/14/16
Day Three was range day with Kathy








I am very fortunate that I get to be on the range about every other week.  Not including training on my own.  So I took the opportunity to steal Maija's Kung Fu.

This time we went to The Suigetsukan
Click here to check out Mike E's Dojo


Exactly the place I wanted to open when I was 19.  So Cool.  I got to meet Mike E.  Another Aikido, Judo,  Jujutsu, Battodo guy.  I knew I was going to like him by looking at his book shelf before I ever met him.  I was not wrong.  That, and he was nice enough to let us play at his beautiful school.

Dillon has been learning Bagua from Maija and it has influenced out hits for Hits for Jits program.
In order for Dillon to learn the 2 man form he needs another man.  So I got to learn 1/2 of the form.

So that I can help Dillon help our program grow, and because it is fun.
If you use the chisel of what works to remove all that is unnecessary what remains will look a lot alike regardless of the source.



We returned to Soja and just missed the rest of the crew.  I had had about enough Whole Foods so Dillon and I found a neat burger joint.  I had 2 burgers.  Scientifically speaking that was exactly 1 burger too much.

After waddling back to Soja I met the rest of the gang which consisted of people that did not go to the range.  The afternoon was set for open classes to address student's questions.
Marc and Terry covered some points on situational awareness.


That is the back of Nick's head.  He put in a lot of work to make this seminar happen

I contributed how situational awareness can enhance counter assault training.  I got to play some Soja drills with some of the Soja guys.  Playing the role of a larger grappler.  A perspective they don't get to see as much.  I also may have inadvertently exposed the Soja's childern's class to the term "Random Blowjob Midget" but only history can judge me

Some other folks came back from the range.  Keelin and I had discussed working on takedowns so Dillon and I got to play with her.  It was fun to see a young woman toss larger stronger opponents (one of which was genetically engineered by the gods not to be thrown) with minimal effort.  After watching us play Terry asked if I had ever done any catch wrestling.  That one of the nicest things a guy could say to me.  That is also one of the things I love about Katamedo (The way of Grappling) the principles are universal only the rules differ.  Judo with out rules looks a lot like catch wrestling.

Tammy Yard McCracken (from Kore Krav Maga - Click here to check out Kore) had contact with some women from South Africa that were facing a particular method of attack.

The treat would take a high mount pinning their arms with his knees and choking them with both hands around their throat.  So a bunch of us knocked out some solutions.

Tammy's knee found my kidney several times and she was able to make it work

The days start to blur together.  I think it was that night that we went to an Ethiopian place for dinner and I got to meet Lisa Scheff and Lisa Abbott.  Apparently I was hogging one of the dishes, and clearly Lisa Abbot had enough of that bullshit.





Day 3 (Day Four the seminar) Friday 4/15/16
Threat Assessment   - Terry
Terry put on another stellar class.  Again, it was interesting to see similar material approached from a different perspective.  Surround yourself with smart people you can argue with.

After that class we had blindfold drills with  -  Rory.  Always a good time and ironically eyeopening.  I took the opportunity to to do the 2 man Bagua form with Dillon blind.  Not too bad for having just learned it.  I also got to cross hands with Maija.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.


 An Shen Pao amid the chaos of the one step 




I was up next with ground movement.  Here is my least favorite picture from the trip.



My new take away from this class is another way to describe the process. Learning to relax in what can be a scary situation and do the math. The threat is just a 3D meat math problem that needs to be solved. Also ground skills should be done at least twice a year on concrete and pavement. It is easy to fall in love with grappling. As such we need a reminder that the ground hurts.



The day ended with - Weapons Familiarization - with Kathy.
It was weird being around people to which guns were new and scary. Kathy did a great job taking the fear and mystique out of the tool.


Day 4 (Day Five of the seminar) Saturday 4/16/16
Finally I took "The Main Stage" with Self Defense Law.




I felt it went really well. Probably the best I have ever presented this material. I'm glad I put the extra prep time in.

My take away was how to manage time during the presentation. With stories, questions and debates, it is easy to go over time. I was happy that I was able to stick to the schedule, and that I exposed an entirely new crowd to the concept of the "JUSTICE FIST"!


My class was followed by - Weapon Defense - with Terry



Terry is arguably one of the best Silat guys around, who happens to live with another of the worlds best Silat guys and they keep each other sharp.  Side note -  I was very happy to meet Edwin Voskamp in person.  I am also very pleased that the number of my friends that could be legit Bond villains continues to grow.

It was great to bullshit check the weapons defenses I do with for Law Enforcement and hope to do for the Police Explorers in the not too distant future with these subject matter experts.

Bump the record, but...if you use the chisel of what works to remove all that is unnecessary what remains will look a lot alike regardless of the source.

A takeaway for this class related to ground skills is that knife training should hurt.  It is also easy to fall in love with knives, and thus lose a healthy fear of them.  If we as instructors leave out students with the feeling that knives are easy to deal with we have failed them.  There are no good, or best knife solves.  There are only the least bad solutions to shitty situations.

The next class was - Environmental Fighting - with Rory.
I ran a station in the corner of the East Bay Rats Motorcycle Club - Clubhouse.



My favorite part of this class, this time through was adding in a little plastic mind.  On one of the rotations, one of the players had to imagine that they were going through Chemotherapy.  They are weak and tired.  All of their size and former strength is worthless.  They had to rely on directing the momentum of the threats attack into the environment.  See also getting the threat to hurt themselves.

Wait, that was my second favorite part.  My favorite was when Tammy launched  a speed bag attached to the floor and ceiling by strong bungees into my stupid face.

The last part of the day was Q/A where I had an opportunity to address neck manipulation.  One of my favorite things.


Day 5 (Day six of the seminar) Sunday 5/17/16
The last day was advanced people watching at the farmer's market.


I focused my presentation on how angles and elevation can be used to hide and learning through play.

I was asked to provide some of the games I play with my daughters so next blog post will be ODIN games.


Anna Valdiserri was kind enough to give me and Lise a copy of each of her books
A Woman's Toolkit Buy Here and Trauma Aware Self Defense Instruction Buy Here
When I asked her to sign mine to make Lise jealous she smashed me in the face and yelled JUSTICE FIST

As I lay on the ground trying to snap my dislocated jaw back into place she pointed at me and said totally justified.

Also, speaking of learning through play, it turns out if you use the guy from Cyprus for your neck manipulation demo he kills you with sneakiness the next day.  Thanks Dan :)

Defeat has consequences

I wasn't the only one that got killed
Stephany Howard won a very distinctive award for "taking out" a guy that has survived some scary shit.





As I've said before as tough as we train to be we are all just 7 liters of blood in a skin sack.  Don't fight what you should hunt.


Good end to a good week



And I made a dream come true, Ben Cerasi finally got to meet me in person


I met so many great people and trained in so many fantastic venues.  If I forgot to mention you, please forgive me.  I get hit in the head a lot and am exposed to repetitive concussive force (things that go boom) so my memory isn't what it should be.

After training Marc, Rory and Terry had to leave.  So I said my goodbyes and headed to Maija's place.

That night sitting around the table with Maija, Ed, Toby, Keelin, and Dillon was one of my favorite memories from this trip.  Lots of laugh with new and old friends.

I still have George Michael's "careless whisper" stuck in my head.  Not my story to tell.

Day 6 (tourist day) Monday 4/18/16
Another of my if there is time I'd like to's was seeing China Town.
So we packed into Maija truck and headed to San Francisco.  As we passed the bay Maija pointed out how the cranes inspired the art director of the Empire Strikes Back to create AT - ATs




I got to eat Dim Sum on a roof top with Dillon and discuss the martial arts.  What else are we going to talk about the difference between 10th Street and 10th Avenue.  Clearly not.



I got big Coolie hat (can I say coolie is that racist?) I got a big China Town hat like "Bruce" Leroy Green


And Dillon and I got Kung Fu Uniforms for my daughters.  As a souvenir and to further encourage training.





That evening I said goodbye to Toby and practiced Kung Fu in Maija's yard.  Working on the 8 openings of Bagua (5 of the 8).  A very good way to safely transition from striking range to control.  Not all that different than Terry's tertiary targets.  If you use the chisel of what works to remove all that is unnecessary what remains will look a lot alike regardless of the source

Finished the night with fantastic pork stew at a Thai place, the rest of Toby's Vodka and Steven Segal's "Into the Sun".  Maija will not accept an honorific.  She does not want to be called Sensei, Sifu, or Guru, and she gets kind of pissed if you do.  However, I think I can now get away with calling her Dai Ryu or great Dragon.  I figure if I do it will make it easier for Dillon and Ed.  They can say - some call you by that name.

Turned out I had enough time before my flight to attend Maija's official Bagua class at Mike E's Dojo to get as much Kung Fu as possible before I left.

Maija dropped me off at the BART which took me right to the airport.

A successful week.  I checked off all of my if there is time I'd like to list.
I kicked ass on my presentation, and I learned how I'd like to run things in the future.



My wife was nice enough to pick me up while balancing three girl's dance, sports, pictures, and school schedules.

Things went well.  As I waited for my wife at the airport I thought how thongs could be done better in the future and I developed the VioDy Protocols.

One of which will be not putting my wife under that much stress again.  I felt the need to be at this VioDy as it was the first outside of Minnesota.  Now that the road show is established I can pick and chose which ones I'll attend so that I don't make things unnecessary hard on her.

Speaking of....

Viody will return in VioDy Next Gen in Edmonton Alberta Canada.  Hosted by and featuring Randy King, also featuring Myron Cossitt, Dillon Beyer, and as the crusty old man of this group - Me

I'm excited to take what I've learned in the Bay area and apply it up there.
You aint seen nothing yet....
Stay tuned for details

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

2 comments:

  1. Excellent post Kasey! This is a great group of people, most of which I 'know' and have gravitated towards due to their skills, knowledge, and now camaraderie. The short story is I found Marc first, and followed my nose...

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