Three years ago, I came across a post by Dr. Sherman House on his then titled “Revolver Science” blog. The post was called “Becoming the Civilian Defender.” (House has since renamed the blog “Civilian Defender.”)
House prescribed a curriculum that would amount to what he called “the undergraduate education of the civilian defender.” That is, “the education necessary to give the civilian defender the ability to better handle the MOST common situations they will encounter.”
The 8 subjects in House’s curriculum were: Criminology/Street Smarts/Physical Preparedness, Defensive Driving, Emergency Medical, Legal Preparation, Aftermath and Rules of Engagement, Less Lethal skills, Handgun Carry Course, Handgun Skills and Tactics Course, and Defensive Tactics.
The comprehensive nature of his curriculum impressed me, and since then I have thought of my own comprehensive wish list of personal protection knowledge and abilities. As I become more educated, the list grows and changes, but for now it includes:
- Awareness and avoidance, criminal de-selection, de-escalation, “managing unknown contacts”
- Other than gun resources (knives, pepper spray, flashlights, empty-hand fighting)
- Basic marksmanship and gun-handling (draw, presentation, basic reloads)
- “Advanced” shooting techniques (moving and shooting, target transitions, distance)
- Thinking with a gun in hand (target discrimination, no shoot/shoot scenarios)
- Field medical skills
- Self-defense law (including shooting aftermath, police interaction)
I have participated in and observed courses that cover a number of these topics over the years. (Some of my many posts on this are collected here, though I realize I need to bring the collection up to date.)
Over the past 12 months or so, I have tried to focus my participant-observation attention on training courses that fill in gaps in my hard and soft skills in these areas. Of note are the shoothouse course I took at Alliance Police Training, Craig Douglas’s Extreme Close Quarters Concepts (ECQC) course, and Concealed Carry: Advanced Skills and Tactics with John Murphy of FPF Training.
Most recently, I had the opportunity to take a 1.5 day “Force Readiness” course at The Complete Combatant in Kennesaw, Georgia. The Complete Combatant is run by Brian and Shelley Hill and housed at their Fusion Fitness and Mixed Martial Arts facility.
I have been wanting to observe Brian Hill teaching since I met him in Tom Givens’s Rangemaster instructor development and certification course in May of 2017. The Hills were generous enough to invite me to sign my wife Sandy up for the course at the alumni rate. I was supposed to attend as an observer but a spot opened up and I was also able to participate in the course as their guest. (In addition to Sandy’s tuition, I did purchase two PHLster Flatpacks and two Trainsafe disablers and Tap Rack Training aids for the course, as well as the mandatory t-shirt, for a total of $120.)
The course integrates videos from the Active Self Protection YouTube channel into its curriculum, and John Correia himself was at the course taking video for his Active Self Protection Extra channel (which has since appears in four parts: one, two, three, four). Correia had taught at The Complete Combatant the night before and his XO Stephannie Weidner took Force Readiness with the rest of us.
The goal of Force Readiness is quite auspicious, especially for a 1.5 day course: “to cover the entire personal protection process from beginning to end,” according to Brian Hill.
Remarkably, in just 12 hours, Force Readiness does in fact cover aspects of all 7 of the topical areas I listed above. I will say more about the specifics in a separate post, but I should be clear here that Hill recognizes this is not a specialized course in which students immerse themselves in any of these topics. Rather, he emphasizes that Force Readiness “is an audit of your skills in different areas.”
Not unlike John Murphy’s Concealed Carry: Advanced Skills and Tactics course, it shows you what you need to know, gives you a bit of training on how to do it, and lets you know how much more you need to be proficient.
The class was book-ended by a single idea: CHOICE. Hill began the course stating: “This is a class about the power of choice.” He concluded the course by reminding us, “The more robust your skillset, the more choices you have.”
Here the “mascots” of The Complete Combatant — Joe and Jane, the “Combat Ants” – are instructive. Although the idea of the Combat Ant was born of a kidding comment by a social media follower, Brian and Shelley Hill ran with the idea, holding a contest for the best artwork (won by Pam Wilson).
The Combat Ant has the power of choice, highlighted by its diverse skill set including pistolcraft, knife skills, and martial arts (black belt), as well as using a flashlight and phone when needed. 2019 Combat Ant would need a couple of extra “tools” on its skill belt, including pepper spray and a tourniquet in a PHLster Flatpack. And probably some running shoes to emphasize the defensive value of “Run Fu.”
More generally, the diverse and robust skillset encouraged by The Complete Combatant and represented by The Combat Ant reflects the overarching vision of Brian and Shelley Hill’s training company. As Brian told our class, “It’s not about guns or martial arts, it’s about you.”
In other words, as seen in the company motto, “You are the weapon.”