Thursday, November 9, 2017

The blog I'll probably never post

This blog started as a discussion of the practical application of Japanese martial arts.  Since then it has evolved into other things.  Sometimes it serves as a place for me to work out some things running through my head.  If things go my way that process can be worth reading to other folks.  This will be one of those blogs, and I don't really care if it is worth reading.  I feel it is worth writing.

I lost a friend last week.  We didn't "break up".  We didn't get into a fight.  He didn't move far away.
He suffered a tragedy, then killed himself.

Boom kick in the balls.  Right in "the feels" as the kids say.

I am thankful for the training I have received, especially things like Conflict Communications that inform you of the effects of emotion, and prepare you to "ride that wave" for lack of a more eloquent term.

In Rory's big seven from "Facing Violence", what I think of as Operational Disciplines, the seventh is AFTER.  Now here I am in the after.

One of the most powerful lessons, is that it is ok, to be ok.  If you are ok don't let anyone talk you into not being ok.  If you are not ok that is equally as natural a reaction and there is nothing wrong with that.  You are not weak.  Ok and not ok are not fixed points.  Sometimes you are ok until you are not, and you have to work back to ok.  Sometimes you are not ok, until you are.

I was at work, my phone was blowing up.  I looked it was Facebook messenger requests from Denis Long.  Ok, Jeff's dad you can be my friend, just later I don't have time for that now, I'm at work.

My phone continues to blow up.  Lise is calling me.  If it is important she will leave a voice mail.  I'll look at it later.  I am at work.

Later I needed to use my phone for something.  It has this feature where it translates voicemail to text.  So when I grabbed my phone I read:
Denis Long, Jeff's dad is trying to get a hold of you.  Jeff was napping with his daughter, somehow she suffocated.  When Jeff realized he could not revive her he shot himself.  Denis needs your help contacting Jeff's friends and letting them know.

Holy Shit!

Take a breath do something to affect the world around you - that is how you break a freeze, that is how you mitigate the effects of emotion.

I still couldn't really process, but I had a job to do, and I am the guy that gets things done...
Jeff's little girl is dead...Jeff is dead...

Boom kick in the balls.  Right in "the feels" as the kids say.

In law enforcement one of the duties you have to perform is death notifications.  Like all parts of law enforcement the training for that duty is inadequate.  However, I recall it is inculcated into you that you are of no use to the grieving family if you are a bundle of emotion.  Be hard, be a rock, be the strength that they need while the world is breaking apart.  You can cry and drink when no one is watching.

So I became hard.  I was ok mostly because I couldn't comprehend it yet, and I had work to do.
However, "being hard" apparently took up most of my cognitive capacity, so I laid a lot of that burden on my wife Jes.

Jes was a champ!  She started a contact tree, and soon everyone that should know, knew.  Without a spectacle.  Without involving people to whom this was non of their business.

My Chief had overheard some of my conversations and called me in to see how I was doing.  He earned a lot of respect from me that day from that conversation.  That conversation is for us.  However, I will share that talk ended along the lines of I think I'm ok to finish my shift today, but I realize I might not be ok and I might not be able to recognize that I'm not ok so, I'm going to take some days off starting tomorrow.  He made that happen.

Greg taught Judo that night.  Many times the Judo fight club works as therapy, but I felt that I needed to be with the girls that night.  Also, someone had to tell them what happened.  Jeff was like an Uncle to the older girls, and misinformation about the incident was already spreading in the media.

We went out to eat.  It was snowing and the day after Halloween so of course we listened to Christmas music.  When we got home we sat them down.

Fuck this is hard, what am I going to say? are of no use to the grieving family if you are a bundle of emotion.  Be hard, be a rock, be the strength that they need while the world is breaking apart.  You can cry and drink when no one is watching.

Guys, a couple of things, first there is nothing you could possibly do that is so bad that you can not be forgiven for.  Your mother and I love you very much and we will always love you no matter what.  Second, sometimes I joke about the stress of the job, just know that I will never leave you.  No matter what happens to me, even if I become broken I will never leave you, I will find a way to become whole again.
The reason I am telling you this is...
Fuck this is hard, what am I going to say? are of no use to the grieving family if you are a bundle of emotion.  Be hard, be a rock, be the strength that they need while the world is breaking apart.  You can cry and drink when no one is watching.

You guys remember Jeff, you were flower girls in his wedding.  He was napping with their baby Aubry, and she suffocated.  Jeff tried to revive her but he couldn't.  When he couldn't save her he shot himself.

Tears.  Lots and lots of tears.

My daughters and I have a lot of fun and we share a lot of interests.  Sometime I forget that they are not also crusty old cops, with decades of training and life experience, but very young girls with no training and still capable of the full array of human emotion.

So many tears.

The next day we played hooky and just spent time in each other's company.  That helped.  Me probably more than them. 

Through the contact tree Jes made people started coming together.  Friends I haven't seen in years were all gathering Friday night.

Friday morning I had a chance to hit the gym
Heavy Metal
Heavy Weight

Burning some of the angries off felt good.  But, I was not ok.  Things had started sinking in, I was no longer in shock, I was angry.

I'm not sure the source, but I remember back in the day at Mankato State Dr. Lewinski discussing grief saying - pain shared is pain divided.  Joy shared is joy multiplied.

That night we gathered and divided our pain.  You can cry and drink when no one is watching.  This was the time and place.

In the garage smoking with Jimmy away from other friends we were able to say things we couldn't say anywhere else.  Divide our pain.

I can't imagine waking up to a dead child.  I can't say I wouldn't do the same thing in his place.  But....
But, as much as I love him I am pissed at Jeff for leaving his wife not only to grieve for their child alone, but to have to grieve for him at the same time.  There I fucking said it.  I'm not proud of it but that is the thought screaming in my head.

I love you, I forgive you but I am angry with you.

Sharing that felt good.  But, I was not ok.  I was angry.  Sometimes angry is useful, or at least more useful than other "negative" emotions.

Emotion is just the firing of synapses and the release of hormones and chemicals into the blood stream.  How we perceive this process leads us to label the result negative or positive.

Being angry is more useful than being sad or afraid.  For me being angry is like wearing a well broken in shoe.  I am familiar.  So I embraced being angry.  I can be angry so I don't have to be sad.  I can hide angry.  I hide angry all the time.

Saturday was the funeral.  Saturday was rough.  I was a pallbearer, and honored by the sentiment.  As a pallbearer I was allowed and expected to spend time with the family in the private viewing room.  I wasn't sure where to go and somehow unwilling to find out.  Because I knew that the baby would be in there.  I knew when I saw her I would lose my shit.  Because then it was real.  It wasn't a sad story I had heard.  It wasn't a call I went to at work, then just turned it off - updated my facebook status or figured out what 90% of my one rep max for deadlifts is for tomorrow's workout.  That is the corpse of your friend's infant child right fucking there...Next to your dead friend.

Jes helped me find the room.  She asked me if I wanted to go in.  I was like a petulant child.  In my mind I was yelling "I DON"T WANNA!".  What the fuck fella?  I am Kasey Fucking Keckeisen.  How many times have I been the first guy through the door?  How the fuck am I afraid to go into this room?  Jes was strong for me when I could not be strong.  She knew I didn't want to,  but she also knew I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if I didn't.  So she took me by the hand and helped me get into the private viewing room.

I didn't want to be sad so I put on angry like an old shoe.  I can hide angry.
I continued to be angry until I saw Jeff's wife Andrea.  She was holding the baby.  I can barely hold my shit together.  How is she not a puddle sucking her thumb rocking back and fourth in the fetal position on the floor?

She placed Aubry next to Jeff and we moved them into the chapel for the ceremony.

I was numb.

There was an opportunity to tell stories about Jeff.  They were passing a microphone around.

I thought maybe I could talk about that time at the dojo, Lauren patted Jeff on the stomach and said your tummy is just like Kung Fu Panda.

I started to raise my hand.  I got a lump in my throat.  Nope, no fucking way.  I was terrified.  Kasey Fucking Keckeisen, host, M.C., and one of the founders of Violence Dynamics.  Kasey Fucking Keckeisen who wants to have a retirement gig traveling the world public speaking and teaching large crowds.  Kasey Fucking Keckeisen who has never seen a microphone he didn't pick up and start rapping or doing wrestling commentaryinto.  That guy was afraid to speak.  That guy hid afraid by being angry.  Angry is easy.  Afraid feels weak.

Andrea was brave.  Andrea was strong.  Andrea stood in front of everybody and told her story.

She said that she knew that Jeff could not go on with out their daughter.  She also said that he knew
she could handle it.  Jeff knew she would be ok.

As much as I love him I was pissed at Jeff for leaving his wife not only to grieve for their child alone, but to have to grieve for him at the same time.

I was angry, then I was ok.

Earlier, I was ok until someone asked me how I was doing, then I had to focus on not crying
[Be hard, be a rock, be the strength that they need while the world is breaking apart]
So, clearly not ok.

After seeing Andrea and listening to her (pain divided) people asked how I was doing and I was ok.

Ok is not a fixed point.  Sometimes I am not ok.  Apparently I have... lets call it an emotional control reservoir.  When every thing is honky dory it is easy.  When things become more difficult the reservoir gets used up.  If I use up that reservoir forcing ok, I get mean fast.  Mean Kasey is far from the best version of Kasey.

Sometimes I am not ok, but getting back to ok becomes easier. 

What is done can not be undone, but we can learn from our experiences
I was afraid to go into a room.  I was afraid to talk.  I am not afraid to write.  I hate keyboard warriors but I see how one can be braver from behind the protection of the keyboard.  I hope none of you reading this experience the loss of a loved one.  If you do I hope having read this can help you in some way.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A rose by any other name

Violence Dynamics Prime 2017 just wrapped up. 

 To use terms from Myron Cossitt's presentation, I have been running catabolic for over a week.  So when all my responsibilities were complete I kind of got hit like a ton of bricks.  What ever cold  / flu that has been floating around kicked me right in the crotch.

But now it is time to straighten up in the saddle.  I can finally get to putting some of my thoughts from the week "on paper".

So (pause) first and foremost.  {Because apparently that is how I talk :)}Fantastic week!  
The best we have ever done.  
With out dislocating my shoulder to pat myself on the back, I would argue that anyone can teach martial athletes.  It doesn't take much to spoon feed tacti-nerd wannabes exactly what they want...but will most likely never need.  It takes something special to deliver this material to the people that need it the most in a way that doesn't turn them off, make them feel less than, or ostracized.

I am proud to say we have created something special.

WE being the most important word in that sentence.  I can't do this by myself.

I can't list everything that made me think, smile or on the rare occasion put dust in my eye.  So the challenge to me is to use this blog to noodle out what affected me the most in a way that is beneficial to read for anyone.

What "clicked" for me this week can be summarized as - Affordances and the power we give things

As the program has developed I have noticed a tendency to "fail up".  Meaning something incredible came about organically, or just happened and we have been able to capitalize on it to give the appearance that incredible thing was the intended outcome the entire time.  Then incorporate that something incredible into all future seminars

Tammy used the term turning subconscious success into conscious success.

(Observe the look of joy on Tammy's face as Randy suffers at Terry's hand)

However, because of this appearance we project, sometimes silly or trivial things become  heavily weighted - unintentionally.  Like code names.

The code names came about because I am a self actualized comic book nerd and I really like case you couldn't tell

So code names were just a goofy thing I do because I'm a nerd.  However, they are fun, and started a bonding process, so they became part of the program.

If I take pride in delivering  this material to the people that need it the most in a way that doesn't turn them off, make them feel less than or ostracized, I should have been aware how powerful a name could be.  Especially if given to you by people you respect.

At Violence Dynamics we discuss affordances quite a bit.
An affordance is a quality of an object, or an environment, which allows an individual to perform an action. For example, a knob affords twisting, and perhaps pushing, while a cord affords pulling.

Being able to see past the obvious, to discover other qualities is a useful skill.  Because you can't use what you can't see.

I couldn't see the names as anything but a goofy thing I did because I'm a nerd.  I had blinders on.  I should have seen it.  Rory Miller is the star of the show.  I gave him the code name Whispers.  1) because I think it sounds cool, and 2) because he has a notoriously quiet speaking voice.

Rory preferred Old Skool for a code name.  So he is the only Agent of ODIN with two ID cards because Lise was nice enough to make him another one.  That became a ongoing joke between us, like the video above with Fumbles.  "Whispers, it was always Whispers".  Which is now his Fenrir code name so it works out for everybody.

So if Rory Fucking Miller wants a name he better self associates with, how much more so, someone who traveled across the country to train with him.  To train with all of us

You can't use what you can't see.  Now I can see.

Conscious success, to help address this, one of the questions of the day was,"If you gave yourself an ODIN code name what would it be and why, or if you already have one would you change it and why"

Some of the answers made it far too dusty at the Community Center.  Something I did because I am a nerd had profound effect on people.

Now I can see.  I see that if unchecked I could inadvertently turn people off to this type of training, make them feel less than, or ostracized.

No one wants to be code name: Huge Forehead, or code name: Acne Scars

Therefore my goal is to consciously succeed in this aspect.

Affordances - you can't use what you can't see.  A perceived flaw / weakness can be made into a strength if you allow yourself to see it.  If you help others see it in themselves.

Sometimes silly or trivial things become heavily weighted.  Like code names, or self depreciating humor.

I received a couple of awes, and some people asked me if I was OK.

Apparently I referred to myself as old, broken and fat quite a bit last week.

First and foremost I am confident to the point of arrogance.  I mean look at the picture above, clearly I am sexy as fuck.

I use self depreciating humor, to not come off as a prick.  You can take the job seriously or yourself seriously  - never both.  I take the job very seriously.

When I feel like I am slumping in the saddle my self talk is to call myself  old man, or fat boy.  Because I'm competitive.  I'm competitive with everyone, but no one more so than myself.
Old man / Fat boy are the enemy that must be defeated.

But believe me...that is not my name...

There is a reason I wear those stupid shirts

Affordances and the power we give things.

Along those lines, I spend a lot of time on training programming.  I give that a lot of power.  Another thing I couldn't see was as much effort and planning I put into that, it is only 4% of my day.  Thanks to Myron I now realize that the most bang for the buck comes from the 96%.

I'm tempted to type up my notes from his presentation.  However, I'm learning not to give it away for free.  Come to Viody Prime 18 and experience it for yourself.

I have plans, we have plans.  Lots of people are working very hard to get the Violence Dynamics team in front of as many people as possible.  I am very blessed to be surrounded by these people.  I owe it to them to be the best version of myself. Hell, Jimerfield didn't even start working out until he was 50 and he didn't have professionals that knew him well customize training for him.  You haven't seen anything yet...

Ok, no one wants to read a blog about how bad ass I think I am.  I just wanted folks that were concerned to know that I feel good now, very smart people are helping me train smarter,  and I will be doing this for a long time to come

Thanks to everyone who attended Viody Prime 17 you were a joy to spend a week with.  Which I don't say lightly because I generally don't like people.

As easy as it is to slip into a fuck the police attitude if you don't know any cops, it is equally easy to slip into a fuck humanity attitude if the only people you see outside of your family are on calls for service (when no one is the best version of themselves).

Thank you for reminding me that people can be very cool.

Also, thank you for your effort and consciously pushing your boundaries.

One of my favorite things I heard this week came from Tammy I believe
"This is safe place to practice dangerous things - that does not mean it is a comfortable place"

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Monday, September 25, 2017

Violence Dynamics 2017 (FAQ)

I have received several questions about the upcoming Violence Dynamics seminar, so I decided to post a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) blog.

The Mermaid Convention Center 2200 Mounds View Blvd - Bay Ballroom.
The majority of the training will be at the world famous Mermaid.  For the last few years we have been in the Atlantis Ballroom downstairs.  This year we will be back on the main floor in the Bay Ballroom.

Some of you may remember Marc MacYoung was presenting an edged weapons class and describing in vibrant detail the biological  process and resulting viscera of stopping a threat using an edged the same time Carol the even director at the Mermaid was trying to encourage a young couple to use the room for their wedding.  Well, that is the Bay Ballroom, and that is where we will be this year.

Mounds View Community Center 5395 Edgewood Dr
Saturday's classes will be held at the Mounds View Community Center.  It is only a few block walk from The Mermaid
Some classes will be in the Spruce Studio (home of the Keishoukan Dojo Mounds View).  We are expecting a large turn out, so space will be at a premium.  Please leave your bags in your vehicles.  Also there is a locker room you can secure your belongings in, or the storage closets.  That way we can maximize floor space and mitigate potential trip hazards.
Other, more academic classes will be in the Cedar classroom

Thursday 10/19/2017 (Day 1)

Time     Class                                                 Instructor                     Location

0900     Daily Brief                                        Keckeisen                    Mermaid - Bay Ballroom
0930     Introduction to the drills                   Keckeisen                    Mermaid - Bay Ballroom
1040     Context of Violence                          King                             Mermaid - Bay Ballroom
1150     Structure and Power Generation       Yard - McCracken       Mermaid - Bay Ballroom
1400     Targeting and Effect                          Trahan                         Mermaid - Bay Ballroom
1510     Violence Dynamics                           Miller                           Mermaid - Bay Ballroom  
1620     Counter Assault                                 King                             Mermaid - Bay Ballroom

Friday 10/20/2017 (Day 2)

Time     Class                                                 Instructor                     Location

0900     Daily Brief                                        Keckeisen                    Mermaid - Bay Ballroom
0930     Conflict Communications                 Yard - McCracken       Mermaid - Bay Ballroom
1400     Logic of Takedowns                          Keckeisen                    Mermaid - Bay Ballroom
1510     Pre-attack cues                                   King                            Mermaid - Bay Ballroom  
1620     Edged Weapons                                 Trahan                         Mermaid - Bay Ballroom
1800     Creepology                                        Valdiserri                     Mermaid - Bay Ballroom

Saturday 10/21/2017 (Day 3)

Time     Class                                                 Instructor                     Location

0800     Chasing Excellence                          Cossitt                          MVCC Cedar Classroom
0900     Daily Brief                                        Keckeisen                    MVCC Spruce Studio
0930     Plastic Mind                                      Miller                          MVCC Spruce Studio
1040     Force Law                                         Trahan                         MVCC Cedar Classroom
1150     High End Use of Force                     Keckeisen                    MVCC Spruce Studio
1400     Ground Movement                            Miller                          MVCC Spruce Studio
1510     High Speed Problem Solving            Keckeisen                   MVCC Cedar Classroom
1620     Environmental Fighting                    Yard - McCracken       MVCC

Sunday 10/22/2017 (Day 4 Evaluation / Qualification)

Time     Class                                                 Instructor                     Location

0900     Daily Brief                                        Keckeisen                    Mermaid - Bay Ballroom
0930     Travel to training location
1000     Advanced People Watching              All
1700     Goodbye Dinner

For my OCD friends I am sorry that was all lined up when I typed it but it goes crooked when I post it.  A printed, correctly lined up version of the schedule will be available at class, and posted on teh wall.

Less stress seminar advice:

In order to make your experience as rewarding and memorable as possible we have included this Violence Dynamics “Less Stress Seminars” guide.

Every morning with start with a safety brief and break down of the day’s training objectives and time line.

We will have new and different people every day, therefore every day will have an intro portion. Student introductions – you will be asked your name, where you are from, and a different question of the day.  Questions of the day could include what do you want to get out of this training, what was your favorite thing about yesterday, etc.
Drill introduction – The basics of the one step and other commonly used drills will be reviewed every morning to ensure that everyone can safely and successfully participate in the day’s training.

These daily briefs will contain multiple redundant safety protocols.  You will check yourself, you will check the person to the right and left of you, and a safety officer will conduct a final check.

It will be said many times in the seminar that violence happens: Closer-Faster –Harder –Quicker than most training accounts for.  Besides ensuring that the training area is clear and no participants have anything on them that could hurt themselves or others, this is also a method to help people become more comfortable with close contact.

One of the most outstanding elements of this program is that it is a safe place to practice dangerous things, both physically and emotionally.  Close contact, physical engagement, violent situations may cause injury, may become emotionally overwhelming, or trigger memories of traumatic events.  That may sound scary, but also has the greatest potential for personal growth.  If you experience any of those things, you are responsible for you.  Meaning it does you no good, and is probably the last thing you want, to have 30 students all come up and ask you what is wrong?, how are you doing?  If you need to leave, leave that is fine.  Do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

Cabot Welchlin will be the overall safety officer in charge (SOIC).  The SOIC will check you to make sure you do not have a physical injury or condition that requires medical treatment.  It does us no good if you go off and have a coronary incident because you were embarrassed  to seek help.  After that brief check you will are responsible to take care of yourself.  Feel free to rejoin class whenever you are ready.

There will be many people taking pictures.  If you do not want to be photographed that is fine.  It will be noted and we will do our best to keep you out of pictures.  However, it is your responsibility to move to the back of the group and away from Instructors to help insure that you are not photographed.

Lunch menus will be provided at the first break so food can be ready and waiting for us at lunch.  If wish to bring your own food, the training area will be kept secure and you can eat there.  On Friday 10/20/2017 the Creepology will be a working dinner.  Dinner menus will be made available.  Also Saturday 10/21/2017 Chasing excellence is a working breakfast.  Take out menus from RJ's will be available on Friday (or feel free to bring your own breakfast, or go hungry - I'm not your dad)

If you are staying at The Mermaid and do not have your own vehicle, you will need to make arrangements for transportation to the advanced people watching class on Sunday and various social activities that will be happening after classes.  I'd suggest making friends with some one with a car fast (just like sophomore year).  We will discuss "loan sharking" in depth in Conflict Communications.  However, for now just know that rides are more easily obtained through the generous gifting of alcohol, tobacco, and baked goods.

Shane "Fat Knees" Murphy (Lucky Charms) will be in charge of logistics.  If you have any questions about the schedule, accommodations, social activities, basically any questions not directly related to class content please direct them to him.

Also if you encounter anything offensive, unsafe, or that just doesn’t feel right, please notify Shane so the issues can be addressed immediately.  Violence Dynamics reserves the right to remove any student from further participation without refund.

The following are a few general seminar guidelines to help make your experience more enjoyable.

1) Be a little early. This gives you time to get orientated and complete any necessary paperwork/payments.

2) Be punctual for all other timings given, especially breaks. You don't want to wait for the instructor. The instructor and other students do not want to wait for you.

3) Be clean. Bring fresh clothes for each day, especially if it is a multi-day seminar.
Wear lose comfortable clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty or torn.  Bring extra clothes each day.  On Friday for the High End Use Of Force class be sure to bring a thick durable top like a Judo Gi Jacket, BDU blouse, or hooded sweat shirt.

4) For sensitive or personal questions consider waiting for a break or when the instructor is alone before asking.
There will be time set aside for Instructor interaction and one on one questions.

5) Combined with 4. THINK about the suitability of your questions. If unsure begin your question with 'Is it OK if I ask about..... Some instructors are happy to talk about profound subject (e.g. Killing. MOST are not...)

6) ASK before taking photos/video footage, unless this is clearly covered in the opening brief.

7) Keep the questions relevant to the discussed subject.

8) Realize that this is a learning event for everyone, attendees and instructors alike. Be patient, try, and be there for the right reason.

9) If you're confused about etiquette it's ok to ask a more experienced person.

10) If you don't want to participate in a particular activity it's fine to sit it out and observe, as long as you don't disrupt the class.

11) Don't think you know more than everyone else in the room, or persistently question the instructor's techniques comparing them to something else you saw in another seminar.

12) Be responsible for your own safety and welfare.

Finally, where appropriate, specific guidance should be given on the carry, use and handling of weapons (and training weapons) Ensure students are aware of the ‘Weapon Rules’.
-Look but don't touch.
-Don't handle without the owner's explicit permission.
-Don't draw a blade without telling people that you are drawing.

I hope that answers all your questions, and I hope to see you soon
Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Monday, August 28, 2017

Violence Dynamics PRIME 2017

IN this blog I reference Violence Dynamics often.  If you have never experienced it, you may be curious to what exactly I'm talking about.

Violence Dynamics refers to two separate things. Rory Miller has been presenting a Violence Dynamics lecture for years. It's an important part  of the Intro to Violence seminar. So important we named the entire seminar after it (well that, and it sounds pretty cool).  Self-defense is about avoiding, mitigating and surviving violence, right? And managing any risk requires knowledge of that risk. Too many martial artists and self-defense enthusiasts have spent years or decades training for the dark day when they will have to deal with a bad guy, and yet have not spent one day studying bad guys. There are systems that will give you answers, yet have never studied the problem. Does that make any sense at all?

Of course not. Would you go to a doctor who had studied surgery and drugs but refused to study injury, disease or basic anatomy? Of course not.

The second is the Violence Dynamics series of seminars. In 2010, I  invited two authors, Marc MacYoung and Rory Miller, to teach a week-long seminar at the Keishoukan Dojo.

It was a blast, and a very unique synergy occurred.  Good Instructors provided better presentations working with and off of each other.  The result provided students with principles and concepts in a week long seminar, that usually take force professionals years (and scars) to comprehend.

That grew into VioDy*, an annual seminar held in Minnesota with spin-off seminars (so far) in Edmonton ABc Ashburn VA and Oakland CA.

Multiple days, multiple instructors. The cast has included the original three (Rory, Marc and myself) Randy King, Dillon Beyer, Rick Wilson, Myron Crossitt, Terry Trahan, Kathy Jackson, Ed Calderon, Tammy Yard-McCracken and the crew from Querencia Fitness.


Each one is a little different, depending on the instructors and what the students need. We also tend to run multiple tracks-- the instructors not on-deck teach advanced classes or semi-privates to the "OGs" or students who have attended multiple times.

These are the classes that we agree make up the core:

Introduction and Safety Briefing, paperwork as necessary.
Introduction to the drills                                      
Context of Violence Talk
Basic Power Generation
Counter Assault
Violence Dynamics
Leverage and Leverage Points
Conflict Communications
Force Law
Ground Movement
Environmental Fighting
Advanced People Watching

We have been doing this for nearly a decade now.  In that time we have worked very hard to refine the product.  Every class builds on the one before it and sets up the classes following it.  A Violence Dynamics Seminar may have more classes than listed above, but will always contain those core classes.

That makes each Violence Dynamics unique.  So much so that we have begun to develop a following of people that travel to the different VioDy host locations to experience the different variations.

The next VioDy is in Minneapolis MN Oct 19-22

Minnesota is the home base for VioDy. As you know I am a competitive guy, I always want to provide the best possible product.  I also try to learn from every experience.  So you know when we bring the show to my home town, I'm going to have some special surprises not available anywhere else.

This year, Instructors (everything is subject to change without notice) include:

Me obviously

Terry Trahan, who personifies combat as weasel-craft. The thinking man's bad ass.

Dr. Tammy Yard-McCracken, lead instructor at Kore Krav Maga, head of Krav Maga Global's women's division and experienced trauma counselor.

Randy King, head instructor at KPC Self-defense, and experienced doorman. Also Canadian, so you know he'll be very polite.

And a former jail guard who wrote some books.

Former jail guard. And cowboy.


Session                            Title                                    Time    
1.1              Introduction/ Safety Briefing                  0.5 hr      
1.2              Introduction to the drills                          1 hr
1.3              Context of Violence Talk                         1 hr  
1.4              Structure and Power Generation              1 hr
1.5              Targeting and Effects                               1 hr    
1.6              Violence Dynamics                                  1 hr
1.7              Counter-Assault                                       1 hr
1.8              Debriefing  

Session                           Title                                  Time    
2.1                Daily Brief                                          0.5hr      
2.2                Conflict Communication                    3.5hr  
2.3                 Logic of Takedowns                          1 hr    
2.4                 Pre-Attack Cues                                1 hr  
2.5                 Edged Weapons                                1.5 hrs
2.6                 Debriefing

Session                           Title                                 Time    
3.1                 Daily Brief                                        0.5hr      
3.2                 Plastic Mind                                      1hr    
3.3                 Force Law                                         1hr      
3.4                 High-End Force                                1hr
3.5                 Ground Movement                           1hr  
3.6                 High-Speed Problem Solving           1hr        
3.7                 Environmental Fighting                    1 hr
3.8                  Debriefing      

Session                           Title                                 Time    
4.1                 Daily Brief                                        0.5hr      
4.2                  Advanced People Watching             All Day


VioDy is a seminar, but it is also a tribe. Returning students are called OGs, and they get special recognition and privileges.

This all started informally to recognize the effort that returning students have put in and the growth they have made.  As the seminar grows, to keep organized and to continue to progress it has become necessary to formalize the process a bit.

At the end of your first full VioDy you get your ODIN codename.
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he doesn't exist.
The greatest trick I ever pulled was to convince grown ass folks to play GI. Joe with me

At the end of your second, you get your ODIN card and are officially an OG.

At the end of your third, well, some of you will find out in October...

OG privileges:
•     A discount. E-mail me with your ODIN codename and dates you attended and I'll send you the discounted PayPal link.

     •     Breakout sessions and private lessons. We have extra instructors. Most of the time one or two will be available. If you've already attended a class and would ike to go deeper or do something else completely, as an OG you can request a free private lesson.

(There will be a sign up sheet for the Instructors when they are available for private instruction)

     •     As an OG, you have access to Day Zero.

Traditionally, VioDy includes a special day for repeat students. The OGs. You know who you are.
In the past, one of the unique aspects of VioDy prime has been the opportunity to train with (against) the Ramsey County SWAT team.

This VioDy prime we will be working on both the handgun and rifle range with Cabot Welchlin of Chameleon Survival 

If you enjoyed Day 0 in DC, Cabot is the guy that me.  Most returning OG's will recognize Cabot

He has been our (SOIC) safety officer in charge, and providing training for the advanced people watching course for years now.

Tentative Schedule:
0700 - Meet at RJ's Breakfast
0800 - Drive to not publicly listed training location
0830 - Set Up (Divide OG's into two groups of 8 shooters)

16 shooters is the most we can have.  If you have never trained with Cabot before I suggest you take advantage of this opportunity.

0900 - Safety Brief - Nomenclature
1000 - Group A Handgun Range / Group B Riffle Range
1300 - Lunch (Brown bag or left overs from RJ's)
1400 - Group B Handgun Range / Group A Riffle Range
1700 - All OG Social Event.  Bonfire and BBQ at the Harm Farm.  Ramsey County SWAT will provide food.  All money raised will be to buy new helmets and communications for the tactical team

If you have no interest in firearms but would like to catch up with old friends returning for another VioDy please join us at the Harm Farm for this pre-seminar event.

Addendum Classes
Viody has a core curriculum, presented by a rotating group of core Instructors.
Viody Prime also has addendum classes.  These classes enhance the Viody experience, but is not directly related to to core curriculum.

For example, last year Randy King presented - Selling Out To Your Level Of Comfort.  A class about marketing your business, and promoting his book.

This year I am excited to offer two addendum classes

Friday evening working dinner featuring: Creepology - self-defence for your social life

Class Description:
To a lot of women, creeps are a serious, ubiquitous, pervasive problem. To a lot of men, creeps are like unicorns: they hear about them a lot but they never actually see one. This class aims to explain the nature of creeps, how and why they manage to infiltrate our social circles, and how we can best deal with them in a safe and timely manner

Taught By:

Anna Valdiserri

Saturday morning working breakfast: Life Dynamics - Chasing Excellence
Class Description:

No matter what you want in life, your chances of success are greatly increased if you clearly define your goals, devise a plan, asses your progress and adapt as necessary.

Taught By:

This is what Myron looked like when I first met him

This is what Myron looks like now

Myron actually has 9 abs like Batman, so as much as I love him I also kind of have to hate him

Myron Cossitt
Myron's is the poster-boy for the transformative power of training. He'll help you be better, and without all the injuries the rest of us have.

Myron is a owner / coach at Crossfit Movement Lab

He has been a CrossFit athlete for 4+ years and a CrossFit/strength and conditioning coach for 2+ years. His current training endeavours, in addition to CrossFit, are in self defense (through KPC Self Defense, an Edmonton area reality based self defense training facility), and parenting. Prior to coaching CrossFit full-time, Myron was a financial crisis counsellor for a not-for-profit agency, security logistics advisor, and personal banker.

Myron’s coaching is special for one very powerful reason – he cares. You can truly see that he does what he does to help others, this makes him a master communicator and amazing coach. He can find the way to communicate what you need to hear in the moment, be it for motivation, or conceptualizing new skills. His unyielding service to others causes him to constantly grow as a teacher, so that he can give it all back to the community.

Because of this outstanding line up, and training slots reserved for people that travel from state to state to attend, this seminar will sell out fast.

Sign up today.  Click HERE to sign up.

For local hotel information click HERE

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

See you in October.

Winter is coming

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Win or learn

Tactical (and I never misuse that term) Proficiency = Training + Field Experience.

The best in the world train well, and frequently.  They are also busy.  They acquire real world experience and modify their training accordingly.  Assuring that training exceeds the needs of application.

NTOA standards encourage tier one tactical teams to train at least every other week.

Teams that gain Tactical Proficiency through a balance of training and field experience are running warrants or responding to call outs on the weeks they are not training.  

If a team is very busy they may not have time to train as often.  However, they maintain a high level of Tactical Proficiency because they are gaining so much practical experience.

Therefore, teams that are not very busy need to train more often, and train better to maintain Tactical Proficiency.

This is where we live in regard to personal protection.

You do not want to be busy.  If you are continually gaining personal protection field experience see also surviving criminal assaults you really need to change your lifestyle.

If you are consistently gaining social violence experience (which Randy King summarizes as High School tough guy bullshit) you are probably a prick and don't read this blog anyway

So, if you are not "busy", clearly you require frequent, quality training.

However, even regularly scheduled technical training does not necessarily ensure Tactical Proficiency.

Not being "busy", is a good life.  How does one become Tactically Proficiency in a safe and reasonable manner?

Don't let anyone sell you on training as real life experience.

However, smart force on force training can come as close as is safely possible.

A historical perspective:

In 1886 Mr. Mishima, Chief of The Tokyo Metropolitan Police held a tournament to determine which martial art was superior in a true fight, and therefore to be taught to his Police Force.

On one team you had  four or five Masters from various schools representing Koryu (martial arts that predate the Meiji restoration  -1868) Jujutsu.

On the other team you the young upstart Jigoro Kano's crew that were trained in the new Kodokan Judo method.

The Kodokan team won 12 of the 15 matches.
The final match was between Shiro Saigo and a much larger and more experienced Jujutsu master who later became head of Yoshin-ryu Jujutsu. 

About 15 minutes into the fight Saigo perfectly executed his trademark Yama Arashi, which ended the match with such force that his opponent retired with a concussion.

This match firmly established Judo as the superior form of  Jujutsu, and Judo was subsequently adopted as the official training style for the Tokyo police academy. This also  led to widespread acceptance of Judo as the most effective form of hand-to-hand combat in Japan.

The world recognized that Jigoro Kano had created training methods that were superior to those traditionally used in older forms Jujutsu.

What was the defining factor?  Were the Kodokan fighters technically superior?

No, in 1886 the Kodokan was only like four years old, so a majority of the Kodokan fighter's training was the same as the Koryu team.  

Kano's big stud Saigo was trained in Aikijujutsu.  All the best Judo fighters start with some form of Aikijujutsu.

What made the Kodokan method stand out from other Jujutsu schools was it's intelligent use of force on force training. 

Koryu Jujutsu had competitions.  However, as described in Darrell Max Craig's "Japan's Ultimate Martial Art: Jujitsu Before 1882 " Jujutsuka would write letters saying goodbye to their families before leaving for a tournament because there was a high likelihood they would be maimed or killed in the competition.

Kano took all of the most dangerous elements of Jujutsu and preserved them in kata.  What was left could be trained at full speed against highly trained and fully resistive opponent.

In my most humble opinion, being able to train hard, and safe is what led to victory in the Tokyo Police tournament.

*Grain of salt* Granted, Kano in known as a great martial artist.  However, for as good as he was he was a much better teacher.  He was a literal (and I never misuse that term) professor.  Also he was just plain smart.  He recruited talent from other Jujutsu schools, helped further develop them with his training methods, and made sure the Police Jujutsu Tournament followed Kodokan competition rules.

For personal protection you don't want to become Tactically Proficient through surviving multiple criminal assaults.

The apple pie life - doing what you want with those you love in a comfortable environment is the goal.

Therefore, to become Tactically Proficient I feel that you must engage in some form of force on force training.

It is often said in Judo you win or you learn

What does that mean?
How do you learn from loss?
How do you turn loss into a positive experience?

Jamie Lanister: One can learn quite a deal from defeat
Olenna Tyrell: You must be a genius 

First you must survive the loss.  Originally competitions like Judo were safe ways to practice much more dangerous things.  Life and death battle.

A little game to improve the BIG picture.

If you lose a little game, who cares?  Especially if you learn something that will help you survive a large battle.

However, many times when one is not "busy", when people are enjoying an apple pie life the large battle becomes abstract.  The little game becomes the entire picture.

People become afraid to lose a game.  Fear of losing becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

How do you learn from loss?
How do you turn loss into a positive experience?

One way is to use it as an exercise in overcoming fear
 - Fear of loosing
 - Fear of being injured

Fear of loosing

Fear of losing inspires "gaming" of the rules.  No longer the original intent - little game to improve big picture.  No longer are you striving to win, but you are altering your entire training so that your skill set revolves around "not losing" in a very specific environment and rule set.

Things that would get you killed anywhere outside of that rule set.
You can't be afraid to lose.  That is easier said than done. How does one overcome fear of losing?

First and foremost, it just doesn't matter.  No one cares if you lose.

I was afraid of losing.  My brothers were great wrestlers, and I put a lot of pressure on my myself to measure up to them.  Fear of losing becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.  I didn't start winning until I was able to put that shit aside.  I wasn't able to put that aside until I started focusing on smaller things.

Performance goals

How does one eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  Winning a competition is an elephant.  Performance goals are bites.

For me, in wrestling my performance goal was to hit a double leg take down.  That was all I had to focus on.  After I got a takedown, confidence began to rise.  Confidence made getting the next performance goal that much easier.  Another bite of the elephant.

In the coming weeks I will post a blog on the chemical cocktail that pumps through your blood under the stress of interpersonal conflict, and it's effect on physical performance.

Performance goals, goal oriented focus, helps mitigate the negative effects of the chemical cocktail.

Before I knew it the match was over.  I didn't always win, I didn't always hit my performance goals. However, if I didn't, I knew exactly what I needed to work on the most the next week at practice.

Most importantly I was no longer afraid of losing and could strive to win...until I dislocated my knee...again

Fear of being injured

I can't get hurt.  If I get hurt I don't work.  If I don't work my bills don't get paid.

Life is a contact sport, and sometimes shit just happens.
How does one minimize the possibilities of being injured?

A balance of intensity and safety.  Just as Kano put aside certain aspects of Jujutsu so others could be focused on at full speed.  Find good people (people that care about others, even their competition) and find a sensible competition system.

As I have mentioned before I am a huge supporter of USA Combat Wrestling.
To review that blog click HERE

Recently members of Katamedo Jujitsu had an opportunity to try out for the USA Combat Wrestling National Team and a chance to represent America at the International Championship in Japan

And, as you can see they were fairly successful.

The aspect of their success that I appreciate the most, and how this is applicable to personal protection, is that the Katamedo doesn't even train for competition.  

Katamedo St Louis only trains twice a week.  That doesn't leave much time if any for competition prep.  Yet, Katamedo produces champions in a wide array of combat sports.  Beating people, that focus solely on competition!

Katamedo focuses on the big picture.  Using competitions as a little game to improve skill for that big picture.

Training for adaptability, especially through the use of progressions, just happens to work really well in competition as well.  Plus all the added benefits of the full spectrum of Jujitsu including personal protection.

How do you find this balance of intensity and safety?
What if you train in a system that has no form of competition?

Be creative, take a page out of Kano's book.  You will need to develop your own games, and develop you own people.

  • Determine your training goals
  • Develop methods to add pressure
  • Create a positive learning environment

Determine your training goals: 
What are you trying to achieve? For personal protection force on force training logical examples include escape, disable, control (the last one for force professionals with duty to act).  How the student achieves one of those logical goals doesn't matter as long as they found a way that works for them.

Develop methods to add pressure:
This portion deserves a blog in and of itself.  In the coming weeks in a blog post entitled "Make a friend of the wolf" how to develop methods to add pressure will be discussed in depth.  However, for our purposes here lets look at the "building codes" the methods you develop will need to meet.

Force on Force building codes:
  • Provide adequate negative stimulus
  • Prevent training scars
  • Develop your people

Provide adequate negative stimulus.  Mental and physical discomfort, not injury

A rule of thumb for this, if the person receiving the stimulus froze and did nothing they should receive the negative stimulus, and continue receiving it until they break through the freeze and actively stop the threat.

However, they should not receive a broken nose or swollen shut eye.
Mental and physical discomfort, not injury

Prevent training scars

The negative stimulus has to be some variation of the students regular offense training.
Take boxing for example.  Mit work is different from heavy bag work, which is different from sparring, which is different from an actual match.  All working different angles of the same skills. Small games to develop skills for the big picture.

If your negative stimulus attacks ineffective targets or ingrains "pulling punches" one half of your training time will be devoted to ingraining bad habits.

Develop your people
In sport competition you can scout the opponent, watch tape and develop a specific strategy.  Not so for personal protection.

There is a school of thought that an athlete can only be as good as who they train with.
A wrestler who can easily pin everyone on his team near his weight class is not getting the same level of training as a wrestler on a team full of tough guys where everyone has to bust their balls each week to make the varsity team.

Personal protection is not a sport.  However, we owe it to the people we train with to be the best "bad guy" we can be.  Able to push our friends to their limits.  Assuring that training exceeds the needs of application.  So that God forbid if they ever had to use these skills, if they became "busy" they will have the feeling that they have already faced worse and triumphed.

Being a good "bad guy", being the devil takes practice as well.  You, and your training partners deserve / require a legitimate skilled threat.

Create a positive learning environment:

Win or learn, an example of this is - tap rewind.  If a student just gets tapped they don't learn a whole lot from the experience.  If their partner can easily tap them they are not benefiting much either. 

However, if after the tap you rewind and one student coaches the other on how to prevent being tapped in that way or how to escape that situation, then learning is enhanced for both partners. 
Drilling that scenario makes one student better at defense.  Because the defense is better the other student has to work harder / learn more efficient ways to achieve their goal

A tap signifies that I am defeated, see also dead.
Don't practice dying!  Never ingrain that habit.  However, not tapping equals getting hurt.

Things like tap rewind allow you learn with out getting hurt or ingraining giving up. 

Focus on performance goals.  Performing and focus also become self fulfilling prophecies increasing your odds to win

Confidence is gained through competence.
Competence is nurtured through tactical proficiency.

Unless you are a prick, or living a deliberately dangerous lifestyle, tactical proficiency has to be earned in training by successfully accomplishing what a skilled opponent is actively preventing.

May the odds ever be in your favor.

Train hard, train smart, be safe