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Protector Symposium 5.0 | RECOIL OFFGRID

Safety is a person proper and a person accountability. This assertion shouldn’t be controversial within the slightest, however lately, an rising variety of politicians and lawmakers have expressed a perception that safety is solely the accountability of the state. “Don’t take issues into your personal palms,” they are saying. “Simply name 9-1-1 and watch for assist to reach!” Fortunately, most of you may see the fallacy behind this assertion. Somewhat than resigning ourselves to helpless victimhood, each one in every of us ought to turn into a skilled protector and a primary responder, even when it’s solely to purchase a little bit time till regulation enforcement, paramedics, or different professionals arrive.

This mission assertion fashioned the spine of Protector Symposium, a multi-day coaching program that’s presently on its fifth iteration. In September 2022, we attended Protector Symposium 5.0 in Tucson, Arizona, with the objective of absorbing information from famend consultants within the safety trade. Attendees included members of the navy, regulation enforcement officers, EMTs, firefighters, govt safety specialists, cybersecurity analysts, and preparedness-minded civilians. The occasion’s web site explains, “The Protector Symposium is particularly designed for many who have a coronary heart for shielding others and perceive the super worth that comes from investing in life-saving abilities.”

The Mindset of a Protector

Earlier than we headed onto the coaching grounds for sensible workouts, the occasion started within the classroom with a gap assertion by Protector Symposium and Protector Nation founder Byron Rodgers. This was adopted by displays from every of the instructors.

Bryon Rogers gives opening remarks in front of a podium at the Protector Symposium

Craig “Sawman” Sawyer, a former Navy SEAL and founding father of Veterans for Baby Rescue (V4CR), opened with a frank dialogue of the often-uncomfortable realities of being a protector. Sawyer reminded us of the previous axiom, “evil prevails when good males do nothing,” however defined that merely doing one thing isn’t sufficient. As protectors, we have to be righteously motivated and decisive. He continued, “Evil doesn’t yield to delicate suggestion. It by no means does. It takes and it destroys.” In sensible phrases, which means those that are motivated to trigger hurt to others — rapists, murderers, and different ruthless predators — won’t be swayed by well mannered requests or pleas for mercy. To strengthen this level, Sawyer shared an incident that rocked his household to the core. In 2017, Sawyer’s teenage daughter was kidnapped at knifepoint whereas strolling out of a Subway sandwich restaurant in Tucson. Her abductor, later recognized as 32-year-old Johnny Angel Salazar, pressured her to stroll with him to a darkish and secluded space the place he sexually assaulted her a number of occasions. Regardless of this horrific, life-altering occasion, Aspen Sawyer turned a protector — a “proper fighter,” as Sawman places it. At this time, she assists in V4CR operations to arrest predators and assist victims of intercourse trafficking.

Sawyer left us with a robust message: we must always practice onerous to be higher protectors as a result of our lives depend upon it, however extra importantly, as a result of others’ lives do. “There’s a super alternative so that you can make an impression and defend the defenseless,” he stated.

Behind the Wheel

The following speaker was Rick Sweeney, President of SECFOR Worldwide and Director of the League of Government Safety Specialists. With practically 30 years of expertise offering security options for NGOs abroad, Sweeney has turn into an professional in vehicle-based operations in high-risk environments reminiscent of Bosnia, Iraq, Syria, and the war-torn Nagorno-Karabakh area.

Sweeney defined that many life-threatening eventualities, reminiscent of kidnappings and robberies, start with a automobile ramming assault or block-in ways. To show that this isn’t solely a menace in overseas nations, he performed a video of a 2022 armed theft in Manhattan that started with a suspect utilizing a stolen Mercedes to spin the sufferer’s automobile — not as soon as, however twice — with a law-enforcement-style PIT maneuver:

Sweeney says in conditions like this, your automobile can function a robust weapon in addition to your finest technique of escaping to security, however you’ll have to know the way to use it successfully. Each driver is conditioned to keep away from making contact with different vehicles, however you’ll have to get comfy with buying and selling some paint should you count on to flee such a assault. In excessive circumstances reminiscent of these Sweeney has skilled abroad, it could even be essential to PIT maneuver automobiles, evade obstacles at excessive velocity, and push by way of roadblocks.

A banged up four-door sedan used for training emergency vehcile manuevers.

Above: Coaching automobile used throughout the Protecting Driving Course.

Protector Symposium 5.0 provided a two-day Protecting Driving Course choice that allowed college students to apply evasive maneuvers and bumper-to-bumper “sparring” in specifically modified Crown Victorias. Nevertheless, this feature overlapped with the two-day Onerous Expertise Intensive coaching we deliberate to attend, so we’ll should take this course with Sweeney and the League at a later date. Keep tuned for an article about this program sooner or later.

Teacher Zero, a firearms coaching specialist and social media persona, additionally taught a coaching block associated to preventing in and round automobiles.


Ed Calderon must be a reputation that’s very acquainted should you’ve been following our journal for the previous few years. We interviewed Calderon about “Survival Classes from South of the Border” again in RECOIL OFFGRID Concern 25 and revealed a dozen articles about his coaching programs since then. He has additionally written a number of authentic articles for us based mostly on his expertise working counter-cartel operations in Mexico. At one level in his profession, his workforce was recovering 10 to twenty lifeless our bodies each night time, lots of which have been viciously mutilated or suspended from bridges as an intimidation tactic. Trying again at these nightmarish days on the streets of Tijuana, he recalled a quote: “enlightenment is a damaging course of.” These traumatic experiences helped him develop his protector philosophy and create programs to share actual life-saving abilities with different protectors.

Instructor Ed Calderon using drawings on a whiteboard to highlight vulnerable areas on human bodies.

Above: Ed Calderon used whiteboard drawings to point out weak areas on the human physique. Defensive knife designs have been additionally mentioned at size; extensive and ornate blades are usually ineffective, whereas easy paring knives and icepicks are brutally environment friendly.

Calderon’s onerous abilities coaching block centered on weapon-based combatives, a curriculum he refers to as Weaponology. In the course of the introduction, he defined, “There’s no such factor as blade combatives or gun combatives. Don’t separate sh*t. It’s a battle — you utilize what you’ve gotten.” In different phrases, throughout an actual life-and-death situation, you gained’t be involved with which instrument you’re utilizing since you’ll be utilizing each instrument you need to keep alive. That stated, there are some key traits for edged weapons that Calderon prefers. The deal with must be easy in its design and will match comfortably right into a full-fist “icepick” grip (tip down) or “hammer” grip (tip up). The blade must be roughly the size of the person’s outstretched thumb and terminate in a slim piercing level; Calderon has a robust dislike for karambits and different ornate blades. He considers an affordable Morakniv mounted blade to be among the finest knives on the planet — “it’s made as a instrument, and it gained’t break.” Paring knives from the grocery retailer are one other favourite selection for utilitarian self-defense; they are often acquired in non-permissive areas and tossed in a trash can whenever you depart.

For the sensible section of Calderon’s course, college students stepped right into a padded sparring space, and every was handed an aluminum coaching knife. In pairs, we labored numerous angles and focused weak factors reminiscent of the guts and femoral artery. Calderon additionally confirmed us some down-and-dirty methods for disrupting an opponent:

  • Grabbing a knee and lifting to throw them off steadiness
  • Stepping ahead quickly to pin their foot onto the bottom, and shoving to topple them backward
  • Pulling their shirt collar up over their head to fully block their imaginative and prescient
  • Shortly passing the blade from one hand to a different to make it tougher to entice the weapon

Ed Calderon demonstrating a defensive maneuver in which the opponents shirt is pulled over their own face, obscuring their vision during Protector Symposium 5.0.

Above: Ed Calderon demonstrating how a disorienting shirt seize can be utilized as a gap to go on the offensive.

We additionally lined what Calderon refers to as “parting presents” — assaults that can be utilized as you step previous an adversary with out slowing down, reminiscent of a fast eviscerating slash throughout the waistline. Some would possibly take a look at these methods and assume, “These appear awfully brutal, extra appropriate for road thugs than self-defense. Why would you even train this?” Calderon’s response is concise: “These methods are already on the market. Should you’re not conscious, you’re preventing yesterday’s battle.” Additionally, whether or not you propose to make use of these strategies or not, it’s essential to expertise them firsthand in coaching so you may formulate higher defensive methods. As for demeaning labels like “thugs,” Calderon provided one other essential lesson: “By no means make the error of dehumanizing the enemy. It blinds you to his capabilities.”

Lone Operator Techniques

Let’s make one thing completely clear. CQB — shut quarters battle, particularly room-clearing — must be a gaggle exercise beneath very best circumstances. Whether or not it’s a navy unit or a SWAT workforce, there’s a purpose you’ll see breaching groups stacked a number of members deep. While you’re trying to clear a constructing on their lonesome, you gained’t have the ability to cowl all of the angles fully, and should you get injured, there gained’t be anybody to return fireplace or drag you to security. There’s no delegation of duties or sectors of fireplace — it’s all on you. Figuring out this, there are a lot of who will say, “I’d by no means try and clear a constructing alone! That’s too harmful!” To those people, we’d wish to pose a hypothetical situation.

You awake within the night time to screams of terror coming out of your 8-year-old daughter’s bed room down the corridor. As you sit bolt upright in mattress, you hear an odd man’s voice shout “shut up, bitch” adopted by extra muffled screams. Your partner is out of city, so that you’re alone. There’s no method to understand how many individuals are in the home, or in the event that they’re ready round a nook to ambush you. Do you: A) seize a gun and transfer swiftly to your daughter’s bed room, or B) name 9-1-1 and conceal till police to reach, as a result of solo CQB is simply too harmful? There’s no query which choice we’d select. Because of this it’s essential to contemplate one-man CQB abilities — it’s removed from very best, however there are conditions the place it could be needed.

Kawa Mawlayee — an Afghan-born Inexperienced Beret and founding father of 2Alpha Coaching Group, who we interviewed in Concern 52 — has developed a Lone Operator curriculum to show college students the way to improve their survivability in a solo CQB setting. This talent is straight relevant to protection towards dwelling invasions, and it must be a part of a cohesive plan that’s mentioned upfront with everybody in your home. Sometimes, growing CQB abilities requires weeks or months of steady apply, so Mawlayee gave us a fast overview of the basics throughout his Protector Symposium section.

Kawa Mawlayee talks about his CQB experience in the front of the class.

Above: Kawa Mawlayee spent an unlimited period of time practising CQB abilities as a Inexperienced Beret, and he takes delight in passing that information to ready civilians.

We practiced three approaches to checking doorways — non-entry, shallow entry, and deep entry. For a non-entry method, we fastidiously walked as much as one aspect of the doorway and leaned near the wall to get as a lot view of the inside as attainable. Then we moved slowly in a 180-degree arc to “slice the pie” and test for threats; a lean-step-lean-step movement was used to restrict publicity. It’s vital to make sure the gun’s muzzle by no means protrudes previous the edge. We held our coach weapons barely beneath line of sight, prepared to fireside at a second’s discover, and moved our weapons consistent with our eyes — in CQB, there’s no sense in transferring your head to test an space with out with the ability to shoot in that course. Extra time and focus must be given to areas with lifeless area, reminiscent of massive items of furnishings somebody might disguise behind. Should you determine to not make entry, it’s best to preserve transferring as quickly as you’ve established that the room is obvious. Don’t get slowed down.

During CQB training, a trainee carefully checks the door before opening it.

Above: Opening a closed door is a harmful second. Push (or pull) it open in a single swift movement, utilizing the exact quantity of drive needed — too little and it’ll get in the best way as you enter; an excessive amount of and it’ll swing shut in your face.

With a shallow entry, you may set up a fast foothold within the room, shopping for your self a number of seconds to breathe and get out of “bullet funnel” areas like hallways. Mawlayee defined that bullets skip down halls like rocks on a lake, so it’s best to keep away from lingering there. We practiced arcing again to the middle of the doorway, positioned a number one foot simply exterior the edge, after which stepped swiftly by way of the doorway with physique and gun on the similar time, clearing the wall parallel to the edge. As soon as that aspect was clear, we made a rapid U-turn to clear the alternative wall and full the shallow entry.

Deep entry can be utilized should you’re on the lookout for a recognized menace or a selected asset (e.g., a trauma equipment, a defensible place to barricade, or a path to an emergency exit). The method is identical as shallow entry, however after the U-turn, we moved alongside the perimeter of the room to search for factors of dominance (POD; key areas you may management for a strategic benefit). Test for open and closed doorways — open doorways are a precedence and must be cleared first — and in addition word the hinge placement to foretell the entry/exit course. If it is advisable to open a closed door, keep near the wall, open it rapidly and fully, and instantly step again. Anybody inside could fireplace blindly into the doorway or the wall subsequent to it, so that you don’t need to be the place they’ll count on you.

Instructor and student face off on opposite ends of a hallway with airsoft guns during CQB training.

Above: Airsoft weapons could also be marketed as toys, however they’re nice instruments for practising force-on-force eventualities in shut quarters.

After practising these methods, we placed on masks and loaded up airsoft weapons. Every pupil was tasked with clearing a sequence of rooms, with randomized configurations of opponents and bystanders inside. If a bystander approached, we gave clear verbal instructions to remain again, present palms, and depart by way of a secure space, by no means permitting them to get shut sufficient to grab our weapons. Among the “unhealthy guys” in our eventualities have been instructed to cover for an ambush, give up instantly, fireplace blindly, or retreat additional into the construction after first contact. We discovered firsthand how solo CQB conditions are unavoidably harmful, however we additionally noticed that good visible consciousness, smart decision-making, and violence of motion can enhance your probabilities of survival.

Arms-On with a Handgun

It ought to come as no shock that self-defense shootings usually happen at “conversational distance” — lower than 7 yards, the space at which we often work together with different individuals. Most of us additionally understand how straightforward it’s for a motivated attacker to lunge ahead and shut that hole. This results in a excessive probability that an adversary will attempt to block you from drawing your gun, redirect the gun, or worst of all, try and take it from you and shoot you with it. Most shooters will not be adequately ready for this hands-on battle.

Raul Martinez is a U.S. Military veteran, former undercover narcotics officer with the Chicago Police Division, and founding father of Rogue Strategies, a combatives coaching group. He leveraged his expertise in Iraq and on among the roughest streets in America to show us the way to deploy, retain, and get better a firearm at contact distance. He made it clear {that a} hands-on battle with a gun in play is a worst-case situation, but in addition one you have to be ready for should you carry a gun.

Raul Martinez demonstrates how to incapacitate a handgun before a physical altercation.

Above: Raul Martinez demonstrates two “off-body holster” strategies to guard and management a firearm — thumb over bore and palm over bore — should you understand a hands-on battle is imminent.

Coaching started on a live-fire vary, the place every pupil discovered the way to intentionally induce a malfunction in his or her handgun. Why? Should you’re about to get right into a knock-down drag-out battle with somebody, it’s surprisingly straightforward to your opponent to shoot you with your personal gun — one thing we discovered the onerous method later with Simunition rounds — and placing it right into a non-functional state briefly would possibly forestall that. Moreover, figuring out the way to induce a malfunction in your opponent’s gun when you’re grappling can put them at an enormous drawback. We completed this by clamping the slide in a static place with our assist hand earlier than urgent the set off. If the slide is pressed barely out of battery, the gun gained’t fireplace in any respect; if it’s held in place, the gun will fireplace one spherical however gained’t eject it, leading to a lifeless set off. Racking the slide can clear the malfunction after getting management of the gun once more.

Apart from the power to induce malfunctions, gripping the slide together with your assist hand provides significantly better management over the firearm — Martinez calls this an “off-body holster” method. Two strategies have been demonstrated: thumb over slide with elbows tucked in, and palm over slide with assist aspect elbow up. The previous retains each arms and the gun tight towards the physique, making it virtually not possible for an opponent to wrench the gun out of your grasp. The latter permits you to use your elbow to guard your head from punches and create extra defensible area. In both case, the set off guard must be totally lined by your palms, and each palms ought to stay firmly on the gun. An analogous grip across the slide and set off guard can be utilized to forcibly “holster” an opponent’s gun throughout a battle, stopping them from getting a finger onto the set off.

Students practice defensive grappling with a disabled handgun.

Above: After a number of hours of grappling, each pupil was battered and exhausted. At this level, Martinez began including Simunition coaching weapons to the fray, dumping a complete new degree of adrenaline into every battle.

After our transient live-fire section, we headed inside and spent the following few hours grappling on padded mats. At first, we did hands-off, head-to-head drills to concentrate on footwork and learn to push an opponent off steadiness solely with physique weight. Subsequent, we placed on gloves and began punching our sparring companions as we grappled. Then, inert coaching weapons have been added to the combo, and college students have been pressured to battle to take care of or take management of the weapon. For the ultimate train, college students paired up, stood face to face, and began grappling. Sooner or later throughout the wrestle, a coaching gun loaded with Simunition rounds was tossed into the fray, and each college students dove for it. In some circumstances, the scholars struggled over the gun for an agonizing 30 seconds, however neither was capable of shoot it; in different circumstances, one pupil took management of the gun instantly and shot their adversary at level clean — a painful however memorable lesson. We completed the Rogue Strategies coaching block sore, bruised, and completely winded, but it surely was a stark reminder of how difficult a contact-distance gunfight might be.

Closing Ideas

With all kinds of classes on mindset, edged weapons, firearms, and ways, the Protector Symposium 5.0 lined a whole lot of floor in solely 72 hours. Extra importantly, we didn’t simply take heed to PowerPoint displays or talk about these matters within the classroom — we skilled the drills and classes firsthand. Should you take the accountability of being a protector severely, you owe it to your self and your family members to hunt hands-on coaching from certified instructors. It’s a worthwhile funding in a talent set that may depart you with much better choices when catastrophe strikes than to easily name 9-1-1 and wait.


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