The Keeper – a must own holster

IAJJ endorses only two holsters: the Vanguard 2 from Raven Concealment ( ) and the Keeper invented and made by my good friend, Spencer Keepers. Not only is he a great holster maker, but he is one of the finest pistol shooting instructors on the planet. Here is a link to an in-depth review of his holster.

Do yourself a favor. Get a VG2 (if you shoot Glocks or M&Ps) and a Keeper (for most popular pistols), and never look back .

You can contact Spencer for info/ordering of the Keeper, or get info on his shooting courses, at:

Sacramento seminar AAR

On May 4 & 5, 2013, I conducted a seminar in Sacramento at Monster BJJ ( Here are some thoughts from some of those attending, as well as my thoughts at the end.

AAR Summary for IAJ/IAP NorCal

First, let me just say that for those of you miss out on training with Cecil, you are missing a great opportunity to put together your empty hand structure of the physical component of ECQCish training – but under Cecil’s very capable, real- time performance coaching. Wow that was quite the run on sentence.

Overall, the beauty of taking IAJ together with IAP is that you can see how congruent this platform of training is. From the standpoint of the importance of surviving the initial “ambush” or initiative deficit impact event and the importance of moving to regaining initiative from a solid defensive platform, the underlying concepts and even some of the physical structure expressions are consistent.

Having now taken this coursework three times, I have seen how each time I continue to learn and pick up additional tweaks and major pieces to augment my empty hands training. Cecil continues to refine his messaging and delivery all for the better. One of the big “light bulb” gems was how he communicated the structural similarity of the “default” structure and CM structure, as well as the ground survival structure.

One of the interesting circumstances of the weekend was that my coach came in and rolled during the end of the IAJ weapons portion. We discussed this a bit thereafter and during my private lesson last week. Needless to say, I’m personally going to truly benefit from his exposure to this material. He adapted very quickly to weapons- based and probably in two cycles he was really starting to get it. His take on it was that he thought of “weapons” as just another technique/submission – once he gained positional control, albeit with a priority to hand monitoring, weapons access was there – that is accessing his opponents weapons.

Same thing during IAJ, my coach came in and worked with me in a “moving” wall drill. He is a skilled attribute based boxer, but was unable to penetrate my defensive structure. He commented that he really sees the value of this structure, especially for guys like me that don’t train this for hours a day.

Because our class consisted of all ECQC alums and experienced jits or MMA guys, we were able to move along and cover quite a bit more material than from previous courses. We were then able to go thru a lot of cycles and evos with Cecil watching and giving us individual live performance coaching – which he excels in. I’m certain I speak for all the attendees that all of us benefited greatly from this course!

Thanks again Cecil, for putting together this material and flying out to NorCal!

I enjoyed Byrren’s comments, especially where he talked about the congruency between the standing default, the standing striking game, the vertical clinch, and the grounded game. It is one of the most important things I try to get across. The more congruent we are across all those elements, as well as when weapons are in play, we can streamline our training, while still maximizing it.

It was a great class, and especially the CM stuff was very eye opening to me and not what I was expecting based on the clips I’ve seen on YouTube. There’s a lot more to it than just moving your arms like that.


And my own comments:

It was great getting out there this year. As always, Byrren is a great host, as well as a talented and hard working athlete.

It was great to get some feedback about my evolution as a coach and the materials’ evolution. It is one thing to think I am on the right path and doing some good things, but it is something else entirely if other people don’t share that belief. To have such positive feedback was very gratifying.

I also enjoyed being able to go beyond my fundamental coursework and at least get a “taste” of the next level by being able to work some offensive stuff from the ground, and to go a little deeper into CM than I usually am able to, because of the attendees already having trained with me before, or had a good game already.

Thanks to everyone who came, and to Byrren for jumping through hops to put ti together, and to Seth for coming out and giving his deep insight and analysis not just to me, but freely to everyone at the seminar. I am looking forward to the video clips that will come out of it!

Same thing during IAJ, my coach came in and worked with me in a “moving” wall drill. He is a skilled attribute based boxer, but was unable to penetrate my defensive structure. He commented that he really sees the value of this structure, especially for guys like me that don’t train this for hours a day.

That was a pretty gratifying moment. Watching B deal with someone far younger, stronger, far faster hands, and an ungodly amount of superior experience. He really tried to amp up what he was doing to try to land even one clean shot and couldn’t, and you could see his frustration mount. Afterwards, he volunteered to write a testimonial for CM to put up on the CM main website. That’s how impressive Byrren’s performance was!

The following is an AAR of a course I co-hosted recently in Northern AZ, ECQC run by my friend and one of  my mentors, Craig Douglas. There are some really insightful comments by the writer, Jason. BTW, he is a really good dude who makes some solid kydex holsters and he stands by them 100% . He is going to make me a pistol mag carrier that is perfect for the ECQC environment(for info on pricing and availability, as well as custom work, contact him at :

ShivWorks ECQC 04/19/2013-04/21/2013
Flagstaff, Arizona
Hosted by Independence Training

Day 1- 04/19/2013 4 hours
Meet and intro. If you do not know of Craig and his history he is a former LEO with heavy Undercover and high impact/high risk work. We then went around the room and each gave a brief “who we are and what we hope from the class” intro.
Explanation of the reasons behind the course and the “why” of several of the techniques.

MUC- Managing Unknown Contacts
· Verbal
· Movement
· Hands
Basically a “how to” develop your own system of what do you say, how do you move, and what you do with your hands.
We did some drills with an encroaching individual. Several teaching moments developed out of this for us to learn as a group from individual actions.

If it cannot be handled verbally and with movement…consider initiating contact.
· Position, Posture, Pressure
· Drill of the eye strike
· Drill of “default position”
· Drill of “posture”- First Blood of the class from the “Mountain Goat” Drill

Indicators- Things people do before striking. (Amazingly when you look for this it is VERY evident and easy to predict) We drilled on this trying to spot the cues during MUC.
· Grooming
· Loading
· Picking
· Target Look
2 Goals of MUC- Stay Conscious, Stay Mobile
End of Class

Day 2- 04/20/2013 8 Hours
Safety brief including expectations and assignments.
· Baseline- We all shot on demand for the instructors to see and evaluate everyone’s current technique and skill base.
· Draw stroke. Craig teaches a 4 position similar to what most any shooter will be familiar with. The difference is the use of tactile positioning throughout the draw.
· Shooting from the 2 (second position). Think of using a high tang grip with thumb extended. Indexing your thumb, gun and hand on your pectoral. This is very effective and consistent
· Lunch- After lunch ALL weapons removed and verified. Sim guns and safety gear brought out. Safety brief and limits, expectations laid out.
· Some basic grappling and control techniques we had discussed the previous day are reviewed and practiced. (Always rotating to new partners)
· Basic movement and shooting from the ground practiced.
· Drill 1 on 1- Person one is armed and on the deck, person 2 is standing. On command fight until told to stop.* Reverse positions and repeat. Everyone participated.
End of Class

After clean-up we went out to dinner as a group. Good times with good stories. To try and give an idea of the impact of all this…I spent about 30 minutes trying to find a way to get out of the next day. Not out of fear or injury per se, but I so far had to question and apply almost every lesson I had learned in my life about weapons and violence (along with my own gut-check) and I had major doubts in myself. Thankfully between realizing this opportunity was too good to pass for any reason (real or imagined) and the next morning I was ready to go for the final day.

Day 3- 0/21/2013 8.5 hours
· Back on the firing line. Working shooting through all positions while utilizing defensive use of support hand or movement.
· Draw and shooting from non-standard positions and/or environments. The drills were all challenging mentally as application in the real world is stressed throughout this course. (My motivation was not “My training buddy/target is doing x”, but a mindset of “someone is coming to hurt or take my family.” The stress was as real as simulation can make it .)
· Final Shooting Drill.- Put all live fire drills together into one.
· Lunch- After lunch ALL weapons removed and verified again. Sim guns and safety gear brought out.
· Additional grappling/ground movements covered.
· Drill 2 on 1- Person 1 is armed, person 2 is not. Person 1 has to MUC, with an additional Person 3 (unarmed) entering into the drill at a random time. This is “role-playing” intensive with no script or teams. Some of it was funny, intense and some downright scary. Each person rotated through each position in the drill.
· Weapons retention lecture and drill. How do you maintain control of your weapon, or take theirs was covered. Again drill and rotate to a new training partner.
· Drill 1 on 1- Both armed guns drawn. Person 1 on ground, person 2 kneeling over in a side posture. You have the grip of your gun in your strong hand and the slide of your opponent’s gun in your support hand. On command fight until told to stop. Reverse positions and repeat. Everyone participated.
End of Instruction.
Range clean up.
Informal AAR from each student and instructors.
End of Class

My personal take on the ECQC Class.
Anyone who carries a gun regularly, for personal or professional reasons, should take this class. I am an advocate of training in general, but Craig’s take and class components will force you to at least re-evaluate if not question and change a lot of what you think you know. The class is very well laid out and staged in a way that you build off each lesson/drill and it becomes noticeable and valuable as each stage progresses. While there is no “one thing” I learned, and no epiphany that re-writes personal defense. There are many little lessons I learned however. Some lessons were about technique or position, some about gear or how you carry that gear; most of all the class was about me. This class will teach you more about your actual skillset and mindset than any other I have seen. This is not a “beginning” class, and after taking it I can say it is definitely not a final class. I was extremely lucky to be in this particular class, everyone that was there had a singular goal…to improve. Everyone to a man overcame something, and we all learned several things. Some of what I took away:
· Zombieland was right- “Cardio, Cardio, Cardio”
· The “Total Carry System” works outside of theory. ( … 4488446038 )
· If you say I can’t, you’re right. Hard work is worth every part of it.
· Train multiple techniques, the world is full of variable situations.
The experience is summarized best by quoting Craig’s closing lesson-
“Training should be bloodless battles, and battles should be bloody training”- Roman Proverb

This class, and several of those in attendance, has changed my life…for the better. I am humbled and honored to have been a part of it.

*This was a personal high/low point for me. I have been in fights both competitive and “street” before. I do not know if it was the helmet, my imagination or what…but I panicked. Tried to work through this and failed a second time. This was handled professionally and as an instructional point which really impressed me. Later in the class I can only assume Craig noticed this was wearing on me, as we had an odd number of participants I was called in for another round. Somehow hew either knew before I did I had worked through it, or that I would. While my focus was not on “winning” but simply completing the match I was able to overcome both failure and panic. The encouragement and opportunity to overcome was worth the class fees and time alone.