PDR Seventeen Review

On Wednesday, April 2nd, I shipped off to attend the first Personal Defense Readiness Instructor training at the new Blauer Tactical Systems headquarters in Virginia Beach. I have been involved, on and off, with the PDR Team since it’s inception in 2000, and have lost track of how many PDR events I’ve been to. Each time I’ve gone, it has been a powerful and amazing experience, and this time was no different. My head is still whirling with thoughts, and it’s going to take me a couple of weeks to process everything, but I also wanted to get down some first impressions while they were still fresh.

The first two days of the seminar were devoted to covering the fundamental of the BTS Groundfighting Curriculum; while I had seen some of this material before, on video and at earlier PDR sessions, this was the first time I experienced it in a complete, focused, setting. As I said, I’m still experiencing complete information overload, but the quality of the presentation was simply fantastic.

I’m making a big stink about that because very few people
that I’ve seen in the martial arts/combatives/combat sport community really pay attention to developing a solid pedagogy for their material. They stumble along, either teaching a lock-step format that they haven’t abandoned, modified, or thought about for years or decades, or just randomly modify and alter their pedagogy with no particular rhyme or reason. Coach Blauer and his team have clearly made a serious effort to consider not only what they are teaching, but also how they are teaching it. The result is a system that not only evolves from a curriculum standpoint, but a pedagogical standpoint as well. Amazing stuff.

Speaking of amazing pedagogy—a huge amount of credit for the fantastic teaching this weekend goes to PDR Core Coach Tony Torres: Coach Torres lead a number of the training sessions for the returning PDR coaches, and presented the material in a clear, understandable format that really allowed all of us to get a great deal out of his training. He is the sort of coach that I find myself wanting to emulate, and those coaches are few and far between.

One of the things this session really helped to illuminate was the depth and simplicity of the BTS system. Throughout the session, Coach Blauer and Coach Torres were able to show how the concepts, drills, and tools that we were learning were really just extensions of concepts, principles, or tools that we had learned previously. It was really illustrative, and got me thinking about the power of a system where a few concepts and ideas can be used to address a multitude of problems or concerns. I suspect/believe this ties into the Power of One concept that Coach Blauer talks about so often, but I haven’t had the chance to really think deeply about it yet.

What I have had a chance to think about a lot, though still not as much as I would have liked, is the power of the Ballistic Micro-Fight, and how it can be used to dissect and analyze an incident, and to build a students confidence from that scenario. During the last day of training, Coach Torres guided us through the creating of a series of ballistic micro-fights based around the real world murder of a young woman in Europe. Because he had actual footage of the murder (a horrifying, yet illuminating, thing to be able to see), we were really able to dissect and create a series of drills based around the incident.

What I found after doing those drills was that I not only felt more confident and empowered in my own abilities to handle a similar situation, but I felt more confident and empowered in the idea that I would be able to find ways to help address student fears about similar, or even completely different incidents.

On a much more personal note: part of the drill series involved doing emotional climate training against an attacker stomping you on the ground—it created such an amazingly powerful mental blueprint for me that as I was sitting on the plane home, I could close my eyes and still clearly picture my partner attacking me in that fashion.
While I would never, ever, want to face such an attack, I feel much safer for knowing what it looks like, and how it might feel.

If I keep trying to catalogue all of the fantastic moments and experiences I had at this session individually, this post will never, ever be finished. The whole thing was just amazing, and the quality of the people who attended was amazing as well. The returning coaches all brought a great deal of passion and excitement to the training, and the newer coaches all seemed fantastic as well. There was a genuine sense of camaraderie throughout the entire event that stemmed from the meeting of a number of people who were all committed to a single goal: finding the best way possible to make people safe.

Which brings me to the final observation or memory I’ll share for now: the last drill of the PDR session for new coaches involves an exercise designed to illuminate the power of the startle/flinch response, and the problems with focusing on complex motor skills as a methodology for countering the ambush; when the drill was over, Coach Blauer explained it’s purpose to those who had just participated. At one point, he said “you all have years, or even decades, of martial arts training, yet you weren’t able to accomplish a reasonably simple movement inside a scenario where there wasn’t even any real danger. If you couldn’t do that, how DARE you ask your student’s to do the same thing?”

It was the passion in his voice that really clicked with me at that moment, and resounded ever since. It reminded me, once again, that the teacher is there to serve the student, not the other way around, and that if something isn’t working for a student, before you blame them, you should check your own teaching first.

As always, an absolutely fantastic experience—I can’t wait until the next one.

Thank you to Coach Blauer, Torres and the rest of the team for an outstanding course.

As always there was so much to learn, refine, re-frame, experience as a student and as a coach.
It's very inspiring watching the PDR team grow and evolve.
As for being at and seeing and hearing the plans for the new training centre... Wow! Amazing! Top draw stuff!

The Groundfighting aspect was just what the doctor ordered... been very eager to experience this component of BTS for some time after having a taster in England a couple of years ago. It certainly satisfied that curiosity, for sure. Personally, I loved the way the whole subject is addressed on the difference of Sport vs Street and how by preparing and training the most dangerous off balance positions on the ground gave you a healthy respect for trying to prevent it from going that way, but also that there are so many stages that one can intercept the BG taking you down to the ground, and how it creates better awareness and mental blueprints. 'The how did you get there?' The Stimulus, before the Stimulus, before the Stimulus, Response model... brilliant!
Also because it is all based on physiology and gross motor skills it makes no major difference from standing. God forbid you teach us anything new at this stage right! Still got the image of Coach Blauer in a completely upside down Combat Stance... and still managing to throw serious shit at the Bad Guy!!
As a security operative I've seen some good friends get hurt/injured because they wanted (consciously or subconsciously) to take the fight to the ground and grapple there, due to their 'Sport Model' of training. This provided an amazing formula and rationale to coach someone for prevailing in 'Streetfight'.

I absolutely enjoyed the BMF (Ballistic MicroFight) scenario replication on the last day. It was awesome observing how to take such an emotionally charged real life scenario (watched by all on video) and learning how to turn it into a truly positive experience for an average student... the formula, the process, the ECT breakdown, the coaching/mentoring nuances and how the COB/Fear Management is so important and how it connects and reflects with the ECT/BMF.

Seeing so many people in High Gear suits in a small stairwell replicating a violent explosive incident and the benefits gained from that experience, always brings a wide smile to my face. Very cool!

Thanks again everyone! Looking forward to the next time...

If you want to enhance you and more importantly your students survivablity on the street, then do get on a PDR/SPEAR course. Coach Blauer is truly pioneering the field of Self Protection, through the Dymystifying process, the Fear Management tools and Street applicable drills and skills... making an average person, way more dangerous for the Bad Guy!


I've written so many of these reviews over the years I struggle to come up with new ways to convey just how personally paradigm-shifting BTS seminars can be, each and every course, which even after this amount of time never ceases to amaze me.

But let's cut to the physical nitty-gritty of what we covered in the Groundfighting Seminar: SPEAR System responses and scenario-development for the Haymaker, Tackle, Transitioned Lateral Assaults during a tackle, Diving Tackle, Single Leg Grabs, Ankle Grabs, Ankle Grabs to throws, Being encroached while in a grounded position, Being assaulted by a standing opponent while in a grounded position, defending against Cross Sides and Mounts, SPEAR System Combat versions of same as well as Guard, Tactical Indexes out from these compromised situations, various permutations of all the above, and A LOT more, underpinned by the same repeatedly-proven behavioral, psychological, and physiological principles that we use throughout all the ranges of the System, following and improving upon what our bodies naturally do under high-stress, surprise attacks. Whew.

But I don't want to give the impression that, despite the aforementioned principles, the course was merely collection of technical details. Because that is not is what BTS is about. Along with the above, came solid training in the Art of the Science, the rationale behind it all, how and why we got to that particular position, and training in how to look at an incident in the news, etc., dissect it, and turn it into a gradated force-on-force lesson to make everyone safer. And there was more, but you get the point.

Add to that the new headquarters in Virginia Beach. I think this is going to be a great time for BTS and the members of the PDR Team.