Back home in Occuppied Territory (S.F. Bay Area). After much thought about my experience attending Suarez International’s Force on Force class as listed in the title, here is my AAR.

Instructors were Gabe Suarez, Brent Yamamoto, and Greg Nichols. I believe there were 19 students, from diverse backgrounds and with an average age of mid 40’s.

Spoiler Alert: This was/is one of the MOST beneficial trainings I have ever attended. I spent a little over 20 years in LE, and have had the opportunity to train with a number of different groups, including a bunch of CA POST Firearms, DT, and other weapon Instructor schools, a few trips to the “other place down the road,” and with several training groups formed by former SEALS, Delta guys, Spetznaz, etc.

I only list the above to give some background on my experience for when I say that this course (and the Suarez Complete Pistol Gunfighter Course I attended a couple of years ago) really are the best-developed, most thought-provoking, honest, and “complete” GUNFIGHTING courses I have been to.

Once you have developed your static marksmanship and gun-handling, THIS IS THE CLASS THAT MUST BE TAKEN if you want the ability to really fight with a handgun.

This course focused, with laser-like intensity, on what it takes to not just survive but win and likely dominate a reactive gunfight.


Day 1: On the range. A thorough chalk-talk on what the class would entail, a safety brief and equipment check, and discussion of how the format for the class was developed. The Instructors provided the foundational information on why they decided to develop “Gunfighter” Katas in the manner of traditional Asian martial arts Katas, and why they believed this approach to be beneficial. We also spent time going through the Suarez Flow Chart and how to apply it, and the difference between reactive and proactive gunfights.

Then it was out on the range for a warm-up and demos of the first Kata, “Diagonal Lines.” Every point of performance was thoroughly demonstrated and explained. We spent time on the take off, body positions, efficiency of movement, etc. All explained from the POV of why each point was included and how the complete Kata would give you the skills and mind-set to prevail in the reactive gunfight. The 3 Instructors worked hard to spend time with each student and coached through all of it.

The afternoon was spent working with a training partner on Force on Force drills to pressure test the movements and prove the validity of “Diagonal Lines.” By the end of the day, the proof of the Kata concept as applied to Gunfighting was readily evident.

Interspersed throughout the day were “mini-lectures” on what to do “after the last bang,” how to interact with responding law enforcement to ensure you are listed as the Victim, and significant information on developing the ability to communicate effectively and be your own best advocate throughout the intitial investigation.


Day 2: Due to weather issues, we relocated to Suarez International HQ. We started with an excellent, more in-depth lecture on the development, implementation, and practice of the Diagonal Lines Kata from both the “strategic” and “tactical” levels of concept. We were also introduced to the second Kata, “Watch your Back.” The same information on development, implementation, and practice was provided. It was really impressive to watch the 3 Instructors take questions and clarify points from so many students of different training experiences and backgrounds, and for them to do so in a way that improved understanding for everyone.

After lecture, we had a thorough safety brief/equipment check and then dug into the 2 Katas in the rear of HQ. We drilled down into both with focus and intent. And we were given the tools and information needed to recreate the movement patterns on our own, in a manner to ensure continued improvement when we get back to our “real lives.”

Because of the change in venue, Gabe provided lunch for everyone in class.

After lunch was another outstanding lecture on communicating/working with Law Enforcement/Legal System after the fight. Then outside for more work on the 2 Katas, with additional emphasis on improving and timing the draw.

The class ended with a great dinner and beverages provided by Suarez International. (Two meals in one training day. Very generous.)


Day 3: Back on the range. We reviewed information provided over the previous 2 days, had another thorough safety brief and equipment check, then went to work. We reviewed the 2 Katas with more great individual coaching on the specific fine points each student could improve on.

Then it was a number of Force on Force drills, with the Instructors making sure everyone was constantly rotating training partners so every student worked and “fought” with people of different age, size, athletic ability, martial art experience, etc.

The Force on Force drills continued until the end of the training day. A final review of the Katas capped it all off, just before the arrival of a torrential downpour.

Class ended with a lecture that tied all the work together, and information to continue our practice on our own.


TAKE-AWAYS:
1. Movement is life in a gunfight. Learning specific body mechanics to maximize the ability to move explosively off the X while positioning your body for both survival and the ability to draw your weapon and return fire is victorious dominance.
2. The concept of the traditional Kata applied to the art of Gunfighting is revolutionary and truly game-changing. The level of progress and improvement every student made from Day 1 to Day 3 was something that had to be experienced to be believed.
3. “Train like you Fight:”. We’ve all heard and read this so many times, but in a dynamic, physically demanding class like this it is absolutely necessary. Getting hit with Airsoft or UTM is painful, so of course a certain level of safety equipment is mandatory. But one needs to be careful that the protective gear does not have a significant negative impact on movement and the ability to draw and manipulate the weapon. It is also imperative that you experience the pain stimulus of being hit (repeatedly) with the Airsoft/UTM projectiles, as it really does reinforce Take-Away #1 in a way nothing else can.
4. Just the lectures from this class would have been worth the price of admission. The information was incredibly well-researched , vetted, and has been proven in a number of real-world incidents.


My thanks to everyone who attended, for being the best group of training partners you could ask for. Everyone worked hard, helped, hustled; and most importantly made sure that they not only worked on their own skills, but always gave their best to ensure that everyone they worked with could get the most out the training. The lack of ego and willingness to “take the hits” for their partners’ benefit was a critical component in everyone’s success.

And my most humble gratitude to Gabe Suarez, Brent Yamamoto, and Greg Nichols (and all the other Suarez Instructors who contributed to the development of this class.). Their dedication and determination to deliver the most fully-developed and relevant training was evident in every lecture, every drill, and every repetition of the Kata.