I received an email from one of our training group guys the other day with this title. He was immediately post event and just sent me a short note that something had gone down, he was OK, and that the training was effective.
I suggested he write an AAR (after action report) to share the details with the group and see what we could learn from it. What follows is that AAR, scrubbed of any of his personal information as per his request.
This post is an AAR of an encounter I had today. I mentioned it to Shawn and we both thought it was a good idea to write up what happened so all of us can learn from what went right and what I did wrong. It is a very long post so make sure you have some time to read it. Also, for some reason, I was pretty detached during the entire event and felt like I was in some kind of auto pilot. I have never done that in a fight before and usually can’t remember anything that happened. As described – I really think that was because of the training that Craig and the Pittsburgh Training Group have made available to us.
I have taken all four of Craig Douglas’ (aka Southnarc) classes. At 53, I have finally gained a fairly decent sense of how to stay out of trouble and take Craig’s classes because I really like his no bullshit, no chest thumping training style. I have said numerous times that Craig is a highly gifted teacher that is perceptive and has validated his methods through real world experience that makes you say “holy shit”. I now believe that statement more than you could ever imagine.
I never really expected to use those training lessons as I stay away from getting into rodeos. However, I have also learned that the rodeo sometimes decides to include you in its plans whether you want to be there or not…
I had two meetings in town this morning and managed to find a sweet on-street parking space on a well-traveled street within the main business district. The only issue was that there was a solid 12 inches of snow piled up around the entire space. Not a big deal as I have a four wheel drive SUV so I plowed into the spot. I grab my shit from the truck, do the meeting thing and end up back at the truck with 45 minutes before my next meeting.
Now this next meeting is a big deal – there are a bunch of tight assed, out of town attorneys attending and I am the main attraction. If I didn’t show up there were a lot of billable hours being charged with nothing to show for it. I kill a portion of the wait by reviewing the reports we are going to be talking about and at some point have my head jerked backward a few inches. The truck is also now a few inches further from where I originally parked it. I look in the rear-view and see an older car sitting on my rear bumper. Shit – I don’t have time to deal with this.
I hop out and walk back to the rear to see how bad the damage is. I have a hard time seeing what happened as the guy that hit me hasn’t backed up yet. I look at the driver but can’t really make him out due to glare on his windshield. He finally gets out of the car and I see some guy that is my height (5’11”) but has to weigh 250 to 275 pounds. He also has that douchie look that I equate with trouble. Well, Mr. Douche Bag proves me right…
The guy immediately starts screaming “How the fuck didn’t you see my car? How the hell could you not see me and back into me. What the fuck is wrong with you?” I just look at him and respond “dude, really”. Mr. D then starts moving as fast as his 275 pounds can let him towards my 160 pounds. I’m pinned in a shitty spot as I have traffic moving at 35 miles an hour on one side, the guy’s front quarter panel on the other, and a shit pile of snow that has a traction level that ranges between just really slick to glass-like I am going to put you flat on your ass in a microsecond. I happen to have leather soled dress shoes that don’t provide much traction when they are dry and am wearing a suit as I have to look pretty. I also have to be at this next meeting in about 25 minutes so I am desperate to make this shit just go away.
Anyone that has taken one of Craig’s classes is drilled on a concept known as Managing Unknown Contacts. MUC gets pretty boring but Craig really drills you on it so you know it has to be important. Well, guess what – it really is important. Mr. D is now very close and I fall into MUC role without thinking about it by yelling “dude, back the fuck up” as loud as I can. D slows down a bit but keeps on rolling in toward me. Again, without thinking about it, my hands are up by my face and my fingers splayed as Craig has taught us.
D mother fucks me again and starts to deliberately move on me. The weird thing is that he is keeping his hands down at his sides. I stare at him for a few seconds and kind of catch his right hand moving around a bit. A switch kicks on in my brain and I start watching his hands while leaving my hands by my face so I can start feeding him fists if I have to. Even though we had just had the pleasure of meeting one another, I am getting bad vibs from where he was keeping his hands. Those fucking third degree contact burns from ECQC and all the stabbings from EWO have taught me what is coming when you lose track of a hand. I am also trying to make space between us but can only take tiny, tiny baby steps backwards as that is the only option I have to ensure I don’t fall flat on my ass on the snow.
At this point, D moves toward me really quickly for his size but I can’t move fast as I nearly tripped over a chunk of ice. Mr. D. is an absolute bully and now thinks he is seeing either fear or a total pussy in front of him and is starting to get even more aggressive with his attitude. What he was reading was me trying to get the hell away because it was a mathematical certainty that if this thing went live that I would miss my next meeting as I was certain I would end up in the back of a cop car as they tried to sort out what was going on. I was also pretty sure I wouldn’t be getting my one phone call anytime soon so I could let the stiffs know I was a bit detained at the moment.
D still has his hands down by his sides and I am getting increasingly uncomfortable with the hand thing and have thought to myself several times “dude, get your hands up to your face or you are going to be swallowing some teeth”. I don’t want to go hands on with the guy and don’t want to get into a clinch (I am still worrying about getting dumped and the suit getting torn up). I finally decide I really want to tie this guy’s hands up as I have been stabbed or shot more times than I care to think of during ECQC and EWO and I am certain that this is where this rodeo is headed.
I slowly reached down and grabbed his coat sleeves to use them as a wrist tie. The guy didn’t really react other than to keep his mouth going and just moved his hands around a bit. He is also really close and belly bumps me because I still have to move really slowly and can’t make space from him. For whatever reason, the guy slows down, shuts up, and goes pretty slack. I then let go of his sleeves, put my hands back up by my face, and assume things are over. Ahhh, wrong assumption as the Rodeo Gods still haven’t been feed.
I am still moving back with baby steps and watch the guy pick his front right pocket once and then do it again in the span of maybe a second or two. I almost laughed and yelled out “QUE” but didn’t because I knew things had all of a sudden gone very live. The guy then does a really bad imitation of a Clint Eastwood eye squint, does this funky nose snort, and screams “I teach karate and am going to make you my bitch, mother fucker”. His entire body tenses up and I was pretty sure his next move was to either try and pull whatever is in his pocket or put me on the ground.
I wasn’t really interested in finding out what his decision was going to be so make one of my own. I reflexively slammed out my right hand towards the guy’s eyes as hard as I could and in slow motion watched as my index finger hit the bridge of his nose and landed directly below his right eye while the other three fingers landed under his left eye. Just as I hit his face, I flicked my fingers straight up and into his eyes as hard as I could. I also threw my left fist into his face but didn’t connect very hard as he was jerking back while trying to protect his eyes with his hands. He stood there whimpering “you mother fucker, you mother fucker” while keeping his face covered with his hands. At that point, I knew that the dick head was finally out of the fight and then lost track of what happened for a few seconds.
I don’t remember jumping into the truck and driving away. All I remember of that exit was one very quick look in the rear view when I was a good 50 yards away. He was still standing at the front of his car shaking his head with his hands over his eyes.
So in hindsight, what did I do right during my meet-up with Mr. Douche Bag?
– Most of how this played out went pretty well. Pre-ECQC/EWO/AMIS/VCAST, I would not have thought it was weird for the guy to keep his hands down at his sides and would not have understood what was coming after the guy picked his front pocket. I simply would have tried to have a stare down with the guy and would have lost track of his hands.
– I handled the “initiation” phase ok but was really limited by one of the “bads” I will mention below.
– The guy was a pure bully used to getting what he wanted simply by being loud and huge. He had no training or I suspect things would have been far more difficult.
– I “knew” the guy had a weapon and didn’t wait until he pulled it out to react to it. Had Craig not hammered us on learning those signs, I wouldn’t have known what was coming until I had some type of hole in me.
– Interestingly, I was confident during the entire encounter. It wasn’t because I think I am some super-secret ninja killing machine. I am far from that… Instead, I was confident because I understood how the process was playing out and actually anticipated what was coming up next.
– The ultimate good here was that even though this encounter was sloppy on my part, I walked away without taking a single punch and made it to my meeting on time.
So what did I screw up? Well, a number of things.
– Most of my “bads” stemmed from the fact that I looked at the bumper on the traffic side of the car while standing on mixed snow/ice. Not a good choice when you have a guy that is 2x in weight, wearing work boots with deep cleats in snow, and can easily out muscle me just based on size. I should have looked at the car from the sidewalk side of the cars.
– I clearly let the guy get too close at one point. Had the guy simply grabbed me and taken me to ground – I would have been the meat in a shit sandwich between the slices of moving cars and the clear weight advantage of the guy.
– I couldn’t make use of my better speed and reflexes because I was severely constrained in my ability to move. I am not particularly strong or very big and I had lost my only advantages.
– I knew as soon as the guy got out of his car that he was very comfortable using his weight and mouth to get what he wanted. Therefore, I knew I should have nailed him as soon as he came into me instead of playing footsie but didn’t want to commit as I wanted to avoid the rodeo at all costs. By doing that, I simply allowed him far more opportunities to use his advantages than were prudent. Mercifully, the guy didn’t use those opportunities.
In any case, bottom line: those training classes paid off in a way I couldn’t begin to measure.