13 November 2014

How MCS was created Part IV- Paul Castle

Like every other American, I was deeply impacted by 9/11.  That grim day however put into motion a chain of events that would put me in contact with two individuals that had it not been for 9/11 I would not have met; Dave Williams and Paul Castle.

After 9/11, a Military Police unit out of the Tennessee Army Reserves were mobilized and sent to of all places Aberdeen Proving Ground where I had served as a young MP, and now policing on the other side of the gate.  At the time, the DOD had a police academy on APG and I was an adjunct instructor.

Our SWAT teams used to do joint training days and on one of these days I would meet a man who would soon become one of my closest friends.  David Williams family has been serving this country since the civil war.  If my numbers are correct David's wife has sent her husband and sons off to war 9 times since 9/11.  One a Ranger and the other a Marine.  David himself has had an amazing military career including a CIB, and serving as a Black Hat at the US Army Airborne School at Ft Benning GA.  His accomplishments are too many to list here.  When we met, he was a robbery/homicide detective in Decatur AL.  We hit it off right away and became fast friends.  While he was on APG and our schedules would line up, he would spend entire weekends with my family.  When I was working, he would often ride along.  For some time he also studied at the dojo.

During one of our conversations ranging from everything from the bible to military history, he told me about an instructor and a system that I had to look into.  He told me about Paul Castle and Center Axis Relock.

After he spoke so highly of Paul, I reached out to him about doing a class.  Within a few weeks, Paul was in town doing a basic Center Axis Relock hosted by APG DOD Police's SWAT team. Our SWAT team attended.

From my first conversation with Paul I knew we would also be lifelong friends.  Having already been through several firearms instructors courses, I immediately recognized that Paul understood what I did, and that was that the way we were training officers how to shoot was not based on how our bodies actually respond to stress.  Paul, like me, was addicted to understanding how the human body responded during life and death situations, and that this knowledge was key to training people how to survive.

Not that Paul's typical courses were not intense enough, but the fact that we were
Paul Castle.
all SWAT guys caused him to turn things up a bit.  The basic course was three days.  Paul recruited a handful of us for a two day instructor's course the following two days.  That class was a think tank like I had never seen before.  He wanted to make sure that if you were teaching it you knew the how and the why.  Something that I had found desperately missing in all my previous training.  Since Paul created CAR, it was like drinking water from the spring where it came out of the ground.

People who have trained with me will tell you that I am a very physical trainer and I believe that everything is connected.  When I am teaching pistol, I will go right to open hand or stick.  This is something I learned from Paul, smooth transitions between all tools based on a common mindset.

While Paul was in town, I introduced him to Sensei.  They too hit it off.  Paul was to the gun what Sensei was to the open hand.  What made it so amazing was that Sensei had pistol skills and Paul had open hand skills.  What I teach is a hybrid of what I learned from these men.

A year later Paul invited Sensei and myself to the CAR Master Instructors Course at FT McCoy Wisconsin.  Once again to my surprise my agency sent me.  Arriving there made me think of a movie where the best of the best are assembled for a specific mission.  As I would find out, we were.  That was the only Master course Paul would ever hold.  He certified others as Masters but never held another class like this.

Over that weekend I met other SWAT cops, SEALS, boat team guys, people who could not say where they worked.  What I recognized in all of them was that they too thought outside of the box and recognized Paul and CAR as being well outside the box.

When we were not in class, we were sharing.  That is where I got my first real introduction to what some would call knife fighting.  There was a fella there who came off as kinda goofy, but it was a front.  He schooled me on the offensive use of the blade.  He also introduced me to the knives of Al Polkowski, which turned into another amazing friendship.

The week was both intense and fun.  I have to admit I came back feeling like a Jedi.  But I also understood until this day, that regardless of how you try to explain it to them, most people want to train in a way that makes them feel good, not in a way that forces them to react to the worst possible scenarios they could end up in.

There are many people who had a hard on for Paul.  In my opinion, the biggest reason for this was that he was teaching something new and unique.  If you wanted to teach it, you had to go through him.  It was not open source like all the other gun stuff out there.  But what many firearms instructors fail to understand the one thing that Paul harped on, it was about the fight, not the gun.  Sadly in 2011, Paul finally lost his battle with cancer.  I miss him all the time.  In his memory I drive on.  In his honor I will continue to "evidence it".

Before I knew it Dave was back in AL and before long enroute to Iraq.  I was back working the street and dragging myself to the dojo and getting beat on by Harold.

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