View Full Version : My experience with Gabe...

Jack Rumbaugh
10-06-2003, 09:00 PM
I had the opportunity to train with Gabe recently and was really at a loss as to what to expect in class. I was familiar with Gabe and his style from numerous postings on GlockTalk and from reading several of his books, which I recommend highly. Even with this exposure, I wasn’t totally sure what I was getting myself into. As a “savvy” consumer I try to go into any training situation with an open mind and moderate expectations as to what I will take away from the training experience. I have trained at a couple of the big name schools and with some very small ones and I have to say, bigger is not always better.

The training days are 9 AM - whenever on Saturday to get in the low light training and 9 AM-5 PM or so on Sunday with ample time for lunch both days and dinner on Saturday. Keep in mind this was September in Southern California and the weather tends to be hot so be prepared for whatever weather conditions your region might hand you the days you are training. Hydration is key no matter what to keep your focus throughout your day and I recommend bringing something like Powerbars to snack on.

When you arrive, you gear up and Gabe gives you the safety lecture we have all had a million times before, For this class, safety is paramount and Gabe makes sure you understand what is expected of you as a student. He also makes you aware of what you can and should expect from him as your instructor. My first impressions were that Gabe is a confident and competent instructor and also the consummate professional. I was immediately comfortable and felt right at home which is important to me for a constructive learning environment.

I’m not going to go over the entire class cirriculum but instead touch on the techniques I found particularly interesting and useful.

Movement. The opposite of standing in one place. Simple enough concept. But do it when trying to accomplish the highly skilled task of firing a semi-automatic pistol and it really puts a different spin on it. A gunfight is not a static environment. On the contrary. By nature it is a very dynamic environment. Gabe emphasizes this throughout the 2-day course. It isn’t like at the range where you stand in a perfect stance and fire at a stationary target. You must be able to move and shoot, shoot and move, and move some more. During the course, we moved forward and back, laterally, and diagonally with relationship to the targets. All this while maintaining decent sized groupings on the targets. I know now when going through my dry practice, I will be incorporating movement into each presentation.
Gabe introduced us to the Sul position. Sul is one of the more controversial ready positions in use. It positions the pistol in a close contact position on the sternum area of the chest with the muzzle oriented downward, perpendicular to the ground. I have heard a ton of arguments for and against it and I have made up my mind that it is a useful tool for anyone practicing modern pistolcraft to have in his or her toolbox. It is a very low-key way to have a pistol at the ready to bring into a fight, and is the only way to assess your environment in all 360 degrees without covering innocents with your muzzle. It quickly becomes as natural as low ready and in no way compromises muzzle awareness when done properly. I felt perfectly safe "checking my 6" with 11 other guys on the line doing the same with loaded guns. In my opinion, “Sul is cool”.

One of the more helpful parts of the class for me was the lesson on sighting principles. Everyone knows the old adage, front sight, press. I have heard it over a million times in classes and repeated it to myself in training. We learned to narrow our focus on the sights as the accuracy you require increases. For extreme close quarters, for instance, you may only need to superimpose the silhouette of your hands on the chest to get good hits on the target. As distances increase, you need to narrow focus to insure the accuracy of your shots. This is not point shooting but refining your sighting method as the need for accuracy increases. The best part of all is it works very well.

We spent the better portion of one day blending hand to hand techniques with the pistol to better equip the student for the possibility of a CQB type of situation. For the martial artists that may take a class from Gabe, you’ll quickly become aware how well this blending of the pistol and hand to hand combat works in a close quarters environment. Being able to transition smoothly from gun to hands back to guns or even to blades is a priceless skill to acquire and practice regularly.

All in all the two days went by far too quickly. I was impressed with the level of knowledge and skill Gabe Suarez brought to the class. He has been in the trenches and seen the Elephant and collected the ivory. He uses that experience to bring a different perspective to combat training. His techniques are well thought out, logical progressions of natural tendencies and physiology of the human body. His skills and credentials are never in doubt from the first moment of class. He is extremely approachable and friendly, which makes for a very enjoyable learning environment. I would highly recommend anyone take one of his classes and see for yourself. Buy a couple books. His personality will come through in his books and will give you a bit of insight before you attend a class. My best personal praise for Gabe is I would not hesitate to plop down several hundred of my hard earned dollars for the price of admission to another class. And I plan on doing just that.