Gabriel Suarez
04-29-2019, 07:18 AM
I am sure some others will post their AAR but I wanted to add mine...a teacher's perspective, first. Brent Yamamoto and I taught this together.

Like most of my classes, this one was fully populated. We ranged from gulf war vets to retired ship's captains, and from SoCal surfer guys to spooky types who could not have their pics taken.

"If you carry a pistol, it is for self-defense...and you defend yourself by fighting well with it. Thus like it or not, you are gunfighters...and my goal...my only goal here is to make you better gunfighters". Truly, I think we did just that. Many people who carry guns equate gunfighting with gun-shooting. And while shooting a part (albeit a small one) of gunfighting, there is much more that is needed.

We discussed the proactive realm and how shooting and killing a bad guy is justified. No such thing as "self defense". There is attack and there is counter attack. And sometimes an attack is justified by the laws we live with. Examples given. But most of the training we conduct is for the reactive realm as this is more complicated. Those times when you are the attacked, not the attacker.

The process was discuss concepts and strategies, show the technical execution of those strategies, then drill them alone and with a partner with increasing degrees of pressure. We did something different this time in that we didn't have as many degrees of pressure and as many iterations of a given drill. Once everyone got it, we quickly moved to the next one. Once a block was understood, we memorialized it in solo drills using our templates of training (what we have begun to call the pistol katas*).

First block was simple. Counter attack against a projectile weapon attack. And the methodologies of changing the angle to your benefit to facilitate evasion of the gun muzzle and a swift counter attack. I will tell you that this stuff has been combat proven over and over. And it stands at a monument to why sport shooting and gunfighting are totally different animals with little in common.

Second block was like the first but for dealing with a contact weapon attack. Illustrated by two triangle diagrams touching in the center, we moved through the drills' template. Four lines of initial movement followed by secondary lines of evasion. And that followed by a quick after action scan and reload. The "Diagonal Lines" template made memorizing and understanding these lines easier. More on this later.

We added a block of training, which went very quickly, relating to an attack from behind. We explored various lines of movement and evasion when the attack comes from behind. Imagine turning to see what that sound was, and then realizing it is a pistol pointed at the back of your head. That was when the fight began. And then we added the "Watch Your Back" template of movement.

Finally we added something we have never taught before in this or any context. Using vertical displacement as a method of evasion and counterattack for situations where angular movement of any sort is compromised. Think narrow hallway, between cars in a parking lot, etc. This took sometime but when pressure tested, even with the compromises of environment, its value was evident. And then we taught the third template "Changing Levels" for the first time.

Yesterday evening sitting in the patio of Suarez HQ, Brent and I debriefed what we did and agreed that this is some ground breaking stuff. To see the students progress so rapidly in so many exercises so quickly is unprecedented. Few outside our group will get what we are doing, and invariably when it is publicized, the Elmer Fudds of the industry will denigrate it. But the guys that were there, and that will attend subsequent Suarez Force on Force classes (that will be "Template Based") will know and will have a confidence about their abilities to win the gunfight that no other training will provide.

*Brent and I discussed this Wednesday before the class and while the word Kata is easily understood by those with Karate training, it has some unwanted baggage outside that realm thanks to the fuckery of "Karate Kid" movies and the McDojos that infest the land. Moreover, Gunfighting - the name of this martial art - is a quintessential American fighting system and deserves its own terminology.


Gabriel Suarez
04-29-2019, 07:36 AM
A little more -

So after a class we usually grab a cold drink, take off stinky boots and debrief what we as teachers saw. This post will be a compressed version of our conversation. It isn't meant as a criticism of the students, but it would not be very constructive if we posted "all these guys were totally bad ass soul snatchers when the arrived and even more deadly when they left"...although that did describe a few there.

1). It is important to have a martial attitude towards life. That doesn't mean you stalk around like Inspector Clousseau careful of Kato...but simply that you take the predator's composure rather than the prey's complacency. Easier for some than others but the development of that warrior self-image is an important factor. Those that have it and are cultivating it will have an easier time with this in training and in application on the tsreet against those who would kill them.

2). This is in fact, a matter of life and death. Its not a game or a sport. And its not a political issue, a cause, or even a hobby. Many may have that perspective on their guns, and that is fine...but that has nothing at all to do with what we are doing. We are teaching you to kill as well as to avoid being killed. When the gunfighter expresses his skills, something will die.

3). We all become injured, we all get old. I myself at nearly sixty have had almost every limb repaired through surgery and have other ortho issues that will eventually need the same. I have disk issues and compression fractures of some vertebrae that were earned in the creation of some great stories of spectacular events. And I seem like a brand new "out of the box" model compared to brother Greg Nichol's injuries. But neither of us don those as an excuse for slothful physical habits, nor have we allowed ourselves to forget how to move.

I train with a local Karate group where I am actually junior in age to many of the guys there. The sensei is in his late seventies and still moves with the agility of a cat and I surely do not enjoy getting hit by him. He has bad knees and bad hips, yet he has not allowed those things to make him forget who and what he is. Examples to follow.

Greg Nichols
04-29-2019, 07:49 AM
Damn it, I wish work would have allowed for me to be there, this sounds great and I'm interested in what you've done with the Changing Levels since the last time I saw it. I missed fellowshipping with my brothers.

Ted Demosthenes
04-29-2019, 08:16 AM
I second that Greg, WIWT! You’ll love “Changing Levels”, it’s a workout in and of itself.

“Advancing the Art” really doesn’t do justice to the progress Gabe and Brent have made. Strategy, tactics, and fitness packaged in a robust form that can be practiced anywhere on gradients that support individual gains.
Well done gentlemen, and thanks.

Brewed a pot of Casi Cielo to salute your success. Salud!!

Brent Yamamoto
04-29-2019, 10:15 AM
Some thoughts while I wait for my plane...

First of all, thanks to all the students that worked so hard for three days in the Arizona sun. It was unseasonably hot and this was a challenging course. I think you are all more dangerous people now. For some of you, the class reinforced what you already knew and provided you some tools for reaching even further. For some of you it may well be a life changing event. I hope so, and wish you all success. Share your successes with the tribe because we all need inspiration.

Thanks to all the Suarez shop crew for being awesome at what you do...and for being such a cast of hilarious characters. “Start the motorcycle”.

And always, thanks to Gabe, Cheryl and family for such hospitality, friendship, and inspiration.

Winning the gunfight

1. Fitness - strength, flexibility, mobility, maintaining reasonable weight

A gunfight is a FIGHT...particularly if it is reactive. If you can’t run, or lift heavy things, or put a vicious hurting on another body, you will not fight as well as if you can. The gun is a great equalizer, but doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility to be as fit as you can. You owe that to yourself, and you owe that to the ones you love. Injuries and age will naturally diminish you, ultimately there is no avoiding this...but personal discipline, nutrition, skilled medical care and modern medicine can delay decrepitude. This will sound harsh, but it’s simply true - if you have lived a sedentary life, if you have over indulged, if you have forgotten how to move, you have made a choice to be less capable. You have chosen disadvantage, chosen to give the advantage to people who would harm you and everyone you care about. Don’t make excuses, that is the path of defeat. Decide now to begin making better choices.

Imagine shooting with your dream rifle. It’s accurate, light and handy. Imagine how easily it swings from one target to the next, how deadly you are with it. Now add five pounds of lead to that rifle...five pounds that give you no additional advantage. What happens to its handling characteristics?

Now imagine your body. How much better will it be when you shed five pounds of useless weight. Better yet, trade five pounds that make you weaker for five pounds that make you stronger.

Decisions. Start with small wins and build.

2. Working around limitations

Some injuries are unavoidable. Some diseases are unavoidable. Life isn’t fair. This will leave you with limitations, and there is simply no way to magically make yourself overcome those disabilities.

HOWEVER, there are often work arounds. Perhaps after doing your best, you decide you will never be able to perform a certain movement. Talk to those who are more knowledgeable, they probably know some work arounds.

Several students in this class asked for help, for work arounds to their limitations. They are on the right track, searching for solutions.

3. Gun handling skills

PRACTICE them. Make the gun an extension of your hand. What does that mean? When will you know you have mastered it? When you have practiced enough, you will know. If there is any doubt, there is no doubt. Practice more.

A simple answer, buy Gabe’s DVDs. Come to a class. Buy a SIRT pistol and practice til you’re sick of it. Look in the mirror...what most of you think is “good enough”, isn’t.

4. Paying attention

In class, are you the guy everyone is waiting on? Did you miss the point if the drill? Take out the slack in your mind and be ahead of the game.

How might this slack translate to the real world? It can be the difference between a missed appointment and a life changing meeting. It can be the difference between a lost relationship and a rewarding one. It can be the difference between a reactive fight and a proactive one. It is the difference between life and death.

As Musashi would say, reflect on this deeply.

5. Hustle

Related to #4. Always hustle. Get used to efficiently moving through the world. Apply it to all things. Rewire your brain so there is never slack in your reactions.

6. Taking initiative

Related to #5. The reactive fighting curriculum is about many things but perhaps nothing is more important than taking the initiative.

More accurately, about REGAINING the initiative after it’s been lost. We were focused on fighting but this happens always in life. No one is perfect and we can’t be 100% on the ball at all times, but we must constantly get back to retaking the initiative. The HOW of that may be difficult for different circumstances but it’s up to figure it out.

Make a habit of retaking the initiative. If you do this in every day life, it will wire your brain correctly and make you a better gunfighter. It will make you better at everything.

7. Building habits, wiring the brain, connecting the body

The templates provide you with a very adaptable roadmap for developing the ability to win a gunfight. Persistent practice will make you stronger. Make you faster. Make you more capable, more adaptable and more resilient.

They will build the habits for immediate, correct response to reactive situations (and this is applicable to many more things than gun fights). It hardwires the brain, so you know what to do, and it connects your body so you will be able to do it.

8. Being a good animal

Animals instinctively knowhow to move. They don’t have to think about HOW they move, they just do it. They move with balance, precision and good mechanics. They don’t cognate on it the way humans can, but they understand their body and its place in the universe. They understand the relationship between them and the beings near them. The predator knows exactly how far he has to lunge to reach his prey, WITHOUT need to measure it. And the prey understands how far he must move to avoid the lunge. They don’t think about that stuff, and they don’t hesitate. There is no slack.

Humans have many advantages over the animals. But animals know how to move. WE are animals too, but many of us have forgotten how.

We are capable of being the best animals on the planet. But only if we choose to do so.

There are many steps you can take to make yourself better, and we should all be doing those. But practicing the templates will address all the points above. They are practical for gunfighting, but persistent practice will improve your life.

04-29-2019, 10:17 AM
It almost feels like cheating; With just the name I already know all the major movements of changing levels. Though its not as I have been studying the Suarez Method for a long time.

Sounds like it was a good weekend for all.

Gabriel Suarez
04-29-2019, 10:30 AM

Brent Yamamoto
04-29-2019, 10:51 AM
Tick tock indeed. :)

We all have to pay the iron price.

edited to add: I just remembered the discussion on eloquence versus speaking in short hand.



Zed Stewart
05-04-2019, 09:57 PM
Gabe and Brent,
Once again, I can't thank y'all enough.
You have put together a very teachable/learnable system that takes gun fighting into the truly martial realms of old. It's not only about killing but also NOT getting killed while doing it.
Duncan and I are very dangerous, indeed.