I've been very fortunate that every time I do something like this I learn something new. Something that I may have never learned with out going on these adventures.
This week's blog will focus on what I learned in Edmonton and some of my experiences there.
Playing your people
On the tactical team, Mike was usually the strategists. All the team leaders were good at strategy and knew the principles of planning an operation. However, Mike usually took point in that area. Donny handled reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. Everyone knew how to scout a location, but Donny seemed to be the guy on the spot getting it done. We all had confidence his information was accurate and timely, so Donny took point in that area. More often than not Jim handled logistics. Making sure we had the equipment and vehicles that we needed. Making sure we had a place to stage and brief. All these guys were / are great at their jobs. What did that leave me? How can I contribute? My niche was personnel. Playing your people. I knew my guys, and made sure that their assignments matched up with their greatest skill sets. I also checked them the day of, to make sure they were on their game. Your best shooter isn't your best shooter if they are hung over, sleep deprived, have the flu etc. Then they get assigned van security or some such, and your next best shooter is put on point. Maximizing their performance.
Edmonton was the first time I applied this idea to the teaching staff of Violence Dynamics
I have had plenty of opportunity to compare and contrast past Violence Dynamics Seminars and I wanted to try something different this time.
Also Edmonton was a unique experience in that I was "The Talent"
Look at that. Top billing. Picture prominently displayed. Kasey "The Talent" Keckeisen.
I set out to maximize my performance. Making sure that I was presenting the best possible version of myself to the students.
The talent isn't the talent if they are hung over, sleep deprived, have the flu etc.
How does one go about maximizing their performance?
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Know yourself. We set up the schedule in such a way that allowed me to do what I needed to do to be at my best.
We woke up early enough for me (all of us) to get decent work out in, and to eat a good breakfast before class
Boom! I am feeling great
Train for a couple hours during which make sure to stay caffeinated.
Remember know your self.
- Diet Mountain Dew
So make sure I am also drinking a lot of water so my kidneys don't shrivel up and turn to rocks.
Train all morning
Make sure healthy food is available and can be consumed in the time allotted for lunch
* logistics - none of this would have been possible with out Amy, Sam and Michele
Train all after noon
Make sure I am drinking a lot of water so my kidneys don't shrivel up and turn to rocks.
Immediately after training debrief in private away from students. Have a social gathering they can enjoy while we knock out business
What went well?, what needs improvement?, can we fix it tomorrow? Even if it went great what would you change if you had to do it over again?
Any peer arguing / come to Jesus talks done here in maximum 2 hour time limit. No 6 hour up all night deep life discussions while shit faced after everyone else has gone home.
8 - 9
Meet up with students
Socialize / eat, make sure healthy food is available and can be consumed in the time allotted for dinner. Make sure there is a place big enough for all of us. Some of the best learning, most fun is had in these informal social gatherings.
All work and no play make Kasey something, something...
That was a rough first night. Canada is WILD!
11 - 7
SLEEP!!! at least 6 solid hours
I feel the plan worked well. I was at my best and this was the arguably the best VioDy I have been part of.
The feedback from students also seems to reflect that idea
I have to imagine that not many little girls have their father's quote Sun Tzu to them. However, besides changing my approach to Viody, that particular quote has come up a few times this summer with my daughters.
So please bare with a few proud dad stories, I promise they relate to the rest of this blog post.
We took the girls to Valley Fair (An amusement park in Minnesota) for the first time this summer. They were very excited. So excited in fact that the oldest wrote up a contract. Very professional looking. It read something along the lines of :
We the undersigned do here by pledge to ride every ride we are tall enough to be allowed on, no matter how scary it may appear.
If I recall correctly there was also a sub-clause about keeping your hands up.
The girls and I signed it, and we kept to our word. We pushed hard through the day and hit every ride. Every ride except the tower of terror because cousin Ben said NFW (no fucking way). That was fine by me, I'm not a huge fan of that one either but I wasn't going to back down to the girls.
It had been a long day, we were tired and about to leave, but there was one more ride we had to hit. We waited in line, finally it is our turn, we were strapping our selves in when Lauren looked at me. She said Dad I don't want to ride this and walked off to the exit.
The ride cranked up, and it was pretty scary. (See pictures below)
Afterwords I asked her - what about the contract? She replied she didn't want to be a wimp, but she didn't feel comfortable. She doesn't like feeling weightless and watching the ride while we were waiting in line creeped her out.
I told her if you know the enemy and you know yourself you need not fear the outcome of 100 battles.
I explained that I was proud of her. That she knew her self and was brave enough to do what she felt was right for her even though I might call her a wimp for backing down. I encouraged her to trust that gut instinct.
When I got back from Edmonton we took the youngest to the Mall of America to make a teddy bear at the Build -A-Bear workshop for her 5th Birthday as is tradition. Just by chance that particular day it was buy one bear get one free. The middle child spotted a Wonder Woman bear. Hey, it's free, it's Wonder Woman, why not?
The oldest got kind of mopey. Mom asked sarcastically - you are going to be 13 and go into 7th grade soon, do you really want a teddy bear? Lauren answered, well there is a pretty cool Bat-Girl bear.
It's Bat-Girl why not?
That at least got a smile. I told her that I was happy she was in here having a moral dilemma over a toy as opposed to down the hall a few stores trying to decide if she should buy sexy under wear because society pushes 13 year old girls to act like 31 year old women.
This is form a Victoria Secret ad campaign targeted at 11-14 year old girls
I told her to enjoy being a girl. Don't be in any rush to grow up, or be cool, and if need be to keep her out of Victoria's Secret for a couple more years I'd buy her every god damned bear in that store.
Know your enemy, know yourself, be true to your self.
OK - Off the proud Daddy soap box back on point.
I usually write up an extensive after action review. However, Randy "Multi Media" King is the entire Internet. So here is his Talking to Savages Podcast featuring an after action review from all of the Viody Next Gen Instructors
What else did I learn and experience in Edmonton?
KPC is great! Clearly I knew the instruction would be outstanding because I have known and worked with Randy King for years.
The facilities are very cool. Every thing you need for this type of training, nothing you do not. I took some notes for the Skill Mill and Harm Farm projects.
As good as the instruction is, and as cool as the facility is what really stands out at KPC is the people.
I mentioned it on the pod cast. I don't like many people. Also, invariably at a seminar of this type there is always "that guy". As in fuck that guy. Ugh, I've had enough of that guy.
Maybe because of "playing your guys" I mentioned to start this blog, I was in a better head space, and generally more patient. Maybe Myron and Randy know me well enough to see when I am getting inpatient and intervened, but there was really no "that guy". Everyone was very cool.
There are a few of those cool people I want to mention specifically.
Amy - The hostess with the most-ess. Was very gracious in letting me stay with her and Randy and was very valuable making sure I was comfortable and fed. Only down side was she forced me to watch "The Vampire Dairies". Ugh, so lame who would ever like that show?
Michele - The Hand of the King. Everything that needed to get done for this to run smoothly. Every thing I do in Minnesota but say wow I wish I could just show up and teach, Michele did. All I had to do was show up and teach. That was fantastic
Myron - I have written about Myron before. I have acquired his assistance in some up coming cross over blogs. We will be discussing Life Dynamics. Training to make your life more enjoyable, and to perform better at what you enjoy doing, and being the best version of your self. Stay tuned.
Myron turned on a light bulb for me when I was in Edmonton. Or more accurately gears clicked together. I saw mobility work as a bridge between what is achieved in the gym to what can be accomplished on the mat.
Myron is opening a gym in early 2017 everyone should check out what he and his partner are putting out.
The night is dark and full of terrors.
Sometimes those terrors have names.
One of those names is Thor. A coach at KPC. Another is named Heath. I called him the mountain that rides.
The good folks at KPC simply call him the nightmare. Thank God they are both actually really nice guys. But they are tough guys. They opened my eyes a little bit.
It is very easy for me to say don't rely on size and strength...when I am the biggest and strongest guy in class. It is very different when your size and strength don't really mean anything.
Who is your nightmare opponent?
OK, how much bigger?
– 3 weight classes up
UFC weight classes:
Heavyweight - Over 205 lbs. to 265 lbs.
Light Heavyweight - Over 185 lbs. to 205 lbs.
Middleweight - Over 170 lbs. to 185 lbs.
Welterweight - Over 155 lbs. to 170 lbs.
Lightweight - Over 145 lbs. to 155 lbs.
So 60 to 100 pounds heavier
OK, How much stronger?
For the sake of argument let's say you weigh 200lbs and can bench press your body weight. The nightmare would bench 300lbs.
- Meaner – disregards the rules, wants to hurt you.
Will never surrender, may not recognize signs of surrender in others (won't stop fighting until you are broken or worse).
Fighting this guy would suck!
Now let’s give him the 1st attack by surprise from behind.
Do you have anything that can handle this nightmare?
Playing with Thor and Heath refined my nightmare tool box. Things I thought were my top notch stuff they laughed off. I had to rely on stuff that I usually don't teach any not named Keckeisen.
Bottom line is...This nightmare is what women face every minute of every day.
If you don’t have anything that can beat that nightmare opponent, what are you teaching as women’s self defense? What are you teaching cops?
Reminds me of this clip from the show "Banshee"
This whole clip is entertaining, but the part I am talking about starts around 2:35
"You are trained, but are a woman, so not dangerous"
To all the female readers - don't get pissed at me, I didn't write it. However, I think it does illustrate issues women have, no matter how well trained.
Do you have anything that can handle this nightmare?
If you want to see what worked for me. Come to Viody Prime in October
There we will discuss operational disciplines. Training required to make your skill sets and previous training viable for personal protection and professional use of force.
Including high end use of force. Side note - The slang term for this class is wreck - a - neck. However, no department is going to send it's people to a class called wreck -a -neck. You go to fire arms training, not shoot a fucker in the face class. So pro tip when you are introducing the class and you say to yourself don't call it wreck-a-neck you might accidentally call it high end wreck a force. Which sounds cool but doesn't make any sense.
Regardless high end use of force and force law / force articulation are vital operational discipline classes that were refined in Edmonton and are part of the upcoming VioDy Prime in October.
That is a good place to find your own answers to the question - Do you have anything that can handle this nightmare?
Because the night is dark and full of terrors, there are nightmares out there.
It is up to us to find the best way to deal with them.
Train hard, Train smart, Be safe