30 December 2015

MCS Correspondence Course Lesson #001, Mindset, “Comfortable in Chaos”

As promised I am going to start sort of an MCS Correspondence Course.  This will be by way of blog posts and videos.  Before we begin you need to know that I am ADD, and not just one of the people who says they are.  I am diagnosed.  Therefore it is likely that these posts will sometimes be random and unrelated, but at least entertaining, and hopefully prove a useful resource for you.  To keep me on track and organized all of these posts will be titled first with MCS Correspondence Course, lesson number, subject will be mindset, training, or tools, along with the topic.  This will make things very search friendly.  The more feedback I get the more I will post, including things you would like to see covered, and answering questions.  So now for the first post.

MCS Correspondence Course Lesson #001, Mindset, “Comfortable in Chaos”

All the training and tools in the world will not do you any good without mindset.  If you have decided to train or reassess your training needs, you mindset should lead you to sort through all the bullshit and fairy dust, especially when it comes to training and tools, because those things are what sucks time and wastes money.  When considering your training and needs, you need to do so using just that, “your” needs.  Not the needs of a soldier in Afghanistan, or a cop working in the ghetto, unless of course that is where you find yourself.  If that happens to be the case you still need to be critical of the training you are given, and where deficiencies are realized, fill the gaps.  This mindset will provide a filter when deciding if something meets your needs.  If not, move on.

The next most important part of mindset for the average Joe is to make a conscious decision to ensure that your head and ass are wired together at all times.  This is where the first level of awareness comes in, personal awareness.  What are your mental and physical limitations in the moment?  This is also key for off duty law enforcement or military.  You are the same person with the same training but when off duty do not have luxuries of the same buddies, weapons, and options that you enjoy on duty.  You need to do your very best to live in the moment, and see everything while focusing on nothing.  Train yourself that as you realize you are focusing on something, automatically begin to look for secondary threats.  This leads us to the meat of this lesson, being comfortable in chaos.

Many people are not familiar with interpersonal conflict, much less violence.  “Normal” people have an emotional response when someone yells at them to go fuck themselves.  This emotional response leads to fixation, as these two things blend together simple options like walking, or driving way, disappear.  There is a train coming down the tracks at them but they don’t move.  After several months in the police academy I have had trainees respond to being told to go fuck themselves like someone hit them with a flash bang.  Keep in mind that though they were inexperienced, they were acting under the color of law, and had defined options available to them.  As a Citizen that is not the case, you are not acting under the color of law, your force options are foggy at best.  My point is that if you as a Citizen think you will deal with emotion and fixation better than the police recruit you are kidding yourself.

The most chaotic environments you can think of are not chaotic to those who are familiar with that operational environment.  To a young man in his early 20’s my advice would be to try to find a bouncing gig for at least a short time.  As a cop I would rather work with a cop who is a former bouncer, than a bouncer who is a former cop.  A good bouncer avoids force for two reasons, the first are legal issues, that second is that the place you work will not be in business long if bouncers have a reputation of beating up the patrons.  At least not a place that pays decent.  You learn to constantly recognize and evaluation options and solutions to dealing with people who deserve to be throat punched.  But a good bouncer knows when force is the only option and does not hesitate to use it because all other options have been exhausted.

Unless you are a bouncer, CO, or street cop, it is probably not common place for you have to use force stemming from a verbal altercation.    It stands to reason that the more stressful situations you are involved in, the more comfortable you will become with those situations.  This goes for paramedics, doctors, nurses, and pilots etc.  The difference is that there is no substitute for the stress you experience when you are face to face with someone that wants to cause you physical harm.  Nowhere is this more evident than with those whose only skill set for dealing with violence is a firearm.  On the range not only do you not experience the threat of physical harm, there is zero expectation of it.  Some people that don’t realize that physical stress and emotional stress are two very different things may have students do something silly like skip rope or jog before engaging targets.

So what if you are not military or law enforcement, even though their training often lacks in emotional realism as well?  The first thing you need to do is recognize this deficiency, the second thing is to correct that deficiency.

This is absolutely the missing link in personal protection training of all types, as well as being the most inexpensive and easy to train for.  The hardest part is finding a few likeminded people to play with.  Sit down and write down a few common scenarios, start with 3-5.  To make it easy take them from your local news.  Robberies, car jacking’s, even a plain old aggressive pan handler.  During this training there is to be no physical contact.  This is the first place a blue gun comes in handy. 

No matter where you train, especially outside, be sure to define the training area with cones, tennis balls, caution tape…whatever.  It is imperative that NOBODY enters this are without being searched for live weapons like guns, knives, or OC etc.  That means if you walk out to take a leak you have someone search you when you come back.  Scenarios get realistic real fast and things happen. It is up to you to keep your training environment free of live weapons….is this thing on. IT IS YOUR ABSOLUTE RESPONSIBILITY TO KEEP YOUR TRAINING AREA FREE OF ALL LIVE WEAPONS.

Make scenarios as realistic as possible by the way you dress, the training weapons you carry, the way you talk and act.  Try to get the wife and kids involved.  They will enjoy the role playing.  One person acts as a safety for every scenario.  This person should be equipped with a whistle.  During this an all training it should be understood that when anyone hears a whistle or “STOP”, everyone whether or not involved in the scenario and drill FREEZE, that does not mean finish what you were doing and then freeze.  As you progress in training you will realize when you are hands on with people the time it takes for you to process the sensation or sound of someone “tapping out” is just enough time to snap and elbow or fall off a curb.  You need to be verbal.
Now you can begin your “Comfortable in Chaos” scenarios.  Get close to each other, yell and scream the most antagonizing things you can think of.  Just do not touch each other.  A training phone is a great tool, because it shows you fast how deluded it is to think that you will have the time and opportunity to use a cell phone when someone is in your face.

Be aware of the feelings that rush over you, what you focus on, what you do and what you fail to do.  You can draw a training knife or pistol, but keep in mind that afterwards you will need to justify your actions. Did you effectively use verbal commands? Try writing down what happened right after the scenario, watch how the “fake stress” has your hands shaking and distorts your recollection of what happened.  How your story, when compared to others, or better yet video makes it look like you are lying.  Take your written statement and compare it to the video, you will be alarmed with what you find.  Have another person act as a 911 dispatcher and ask the “good guy” questions.  Things like address, physical description of suspect and direction of travel.

Try getting together once a month for four hours and run through new or old scenarios.  Critique each other and yourself.  Overloading yourself with stress and verbal confrontation and then being questioned about it will take you to a whole new level of training and personal preparedness.


  1. Definitely going to need to give this a try...if I can convince certain people to get off their asses and play along

  2. Excellent. I used to do jumping jacks and push ups (max out) before any training to add that muscle stress. Good training.

  3. The truth is that it is hard to find training partners to do anything physical.

  4. The truth is that it is hard to find training partners to do anything physical.