Monday, June 20, 2011

Re-Thinking the Seminars

Lots to write about, lots to think about. One thing at a time.

I'm rethinking the whole seminar format. Some time ago, a friend said I was trying to do too much. I understood, but I had two defenses:
1) It all ties together. If I leave one of the big pieces out, the picture becomes incomplete.
2) It's all intuitive. There's a lot of material but there is almost nothing to remember. Just stuff to feel, things put in different places in your brain.

For those who haven't been to one, a typical one-day seminar flows like this:
  • Safety Briefing and teaching philosophy
  • Intro to the One-Step drill
  • There are a bunch of things that come out in even a short application of the One-Step, but the ideal is for the students to notice them and bring them to light. It usually works.
  • Violence Demo, if necessary
  • Specific One-Step Lessons
  • First Long Talk: The Context of Violence
  • Blindfolded Infighting
  • Leverage and Leverage Points
  • (Sometimes an extra building block class, if requested)
  • Second Long Talk: Self-Defense Law
  • Power Generation
  • Counter-Ambush
  • Last Long Talk: Violence Dynamics
  • Debrief
That's a lot, but it all integrates and the physical stuff is experiential, not technique driven. The Counter-Ambush is the only thing that comes close to being a technique and it's really about designing your own technique and the training method, straight Operant Conditioning.

The second day in a two day is the one I'm thinking about redoing. I'm thinking about dropping scenarios. Scenarios are a blast and they are important. Judgement and physical skills have to be trained and tested together. Good decisions have to be backed up by good articulation. Scenarios are the place for that.

But doing scenarios well and safely is time consuming and takes a lot of detail work. I'm reluctant to be both the primary threat and the safety officer. I'm equally reluctant to use untrained, inexperienced people in either of those roles. And, self-serving sniveler that I am, I don't heal like I used to. I can take care of myself and the armor is good, but being a bad guy for twenty scenarios in an afternoon (even if most of them are targeted at judgement and don't go to force) is still a lot of kinetic energy to absorb.

In addition, I'm adding new material. The Plastic Mind exercises are cited a lot in the AADs as very useful and the violence dynamics section keeps expanding.

The old Second Day used to go:
  • Safety Briefing, Safety check
  • One-Step refamiliarization
  • Ground Movement series
  • Ethics and Application of Pain
  • Dynamic Fighting
  • Wall Fighting
  • Environmental Fighting
  • Mass Brawl
  • Detailed, specific scenario safety briefing
  • Scenario Briefing
  • Area Check and Pat Down
  • Scenarios (each debriefed on the spot)
  • Class Debriefing
  • Clean up
Just adding Plastic Mind and removing all of the scenario stuff still nicely fills two eight-hour days. We can even take a short lunch break. (I usually forget to eat and just have any hungry students eat during the lecture parts of Day One and while setting up for scenarios on Day Two.)

So this is what I'm thinking. Four Programs:
  • Basics- The Day One by itself or both days above, but without the scenarios and with Plastic Mind.
  • Conflict Communications
  • Logic of Violence
  • Scenarios, basically just offer them as a special training to specific individuals.
Just thinking out loud, here. Any thoughts?


Dragan Milojevic said...

The last item - "scenarios for specific individuals", sound like a good solution. I have attended and conducted my fair share of seminars, and it seems that the scenario type work can be very well used as an illustration of ideas covered during the seminar. I believe, in a two-day event, you might actually note a couple of people who would be able to offer the level of performance on the second day in a way that would provide just enough understanding for the "general population"... This is just my two cents on the subject, although you certainly do not seem to be in the need of much advice :-)

Jake said...

Makes sense to me. I wouldn't want to be the bad guy (primary threat) for twenty scenarios in a row.

The Plastic Mind stuff is cool, and could use more time.

tv said...

Question: When can/will you come to Austin TX to run any program?

Maija said...

I thought the scenarios were hugely useful, but have no idea how you manage to recover from so many in one day ....!
Also, it seems that the greatest impact is from the first time when you have no idea what to expect.
Another thought is that I think it would be very useful for you to be able to observe from the outside, so having more trained bad guys would be a logical next step ... which then leads to having it as a separate event where that is an option, or a special training for individuals where you can be the BG, but tailor to the needs of the student ... and also keep the other scenarios up your sleeve ....

Josh Leeger said...

Seems like a really good way to ensure that folks have really understood previous levels. Only concern is the time-lag between levels. If someone hasn't been "practicing" or reviewing stuff for 6-8 months and wants to come to class #2, can you get them back up to speed succinctly?

Wayne said...

Sounds like a good format to me too. Scenarios can be fun, but I think it is quite a bit for you to handle byself in that type of setting.

Mac said...

Emotional content, context and expression. Seek to create, and allow expression of the opening moves of the monkey dance. If physical expression is needed, use the shoulder slap as that and the scenario end signal (like tapping out, only on the other person, not on your own leg, for instance).

Ask Rory sometime about boxing 12 people in a row. FUN!

Josh Kruschke said...

Just an idea.

Maybe at certain times, through out the year, we could rent out a space closed to your base of operations, and make a weekend seminar dealing with scenarios. This way you can have time to plan and insure that there are enough qualified scenario actors.

Just a though, I'm not sure if this would be something people would get behind.


Jim said...

I'd agree with what I'm seeing other say. Scenario training is invaluable and fun and all that... but it's hard to do right, let alone do well. It's impossible to do without a good team as role players and as coaches/instructors, which includes the safety officer.

Set that up as a separate specific seminar option. Maybe even put a team together so it's a package deal. I think any other way of doing any serious scenario training is an invitation for something to go really wrong sometime...

Scott said...

First thought: I'm glad I got to you before you knew what you were doing!

Back when I built and led Ropes Courses we had a saying which is a guideline for instigating change in the way participants view themselves, their group, and the world: 'maximum perceived risk, minimum actual risk.'

For you this is going to be a tricky line--scattering bullets and broken glass on the floor before participants get to the venue (which is actually a stage but they don't know that) has the potential to inspire...fear, awakeness, safety, craziness, passion, memories, depends how you facilitate it.

I hope you keep changing. But I would attend an all scenarios experiment class...especially if I get some 'bad guy' time!

Ben said...

Dont you dare take away the Jiujitsu broekn down in 15 mins bit.

and the stuff on self actualization i didnt know until the seminar. and still doin research on it.

keep it up.

thank being said, extra time for blocks wouldnt hurt in the long run.

Nick Guinn said...

I think we talked about this briefly some time ago but I still think you should approach your seminar series from the idea of beginning with the end.

What skills would you like every student to walk away with from a series of seminars. Think of it as a rubric or a sum of all curricula for you to hand over recognition of accomplishment.

Then you organize your seminars according to the level of the students exposure to your training methods. You could, to some degree quantify or qualify the skill levels as a person gets better skilled.

You could use the scenario training bit as a testing platform too. And the further people get along in the program the more they could be used by you for other scenario courses. The higher skill level classes would be a narrower crowd of people more than likely since they would effectively have prerequisites but I would pay a bit more for that.

Worried about producing a product like this, don't make it easy.

Of course the scenarios the related certificates of recognition could also be context based. That way you have law enforcement type with a context cert to help with that kind of programme.

Anyway, it likely sounds complicated but it would be a pretty easy flow chart or skill tree I think.

And of course, if you go with this idea I want to be first.

Christian Lemburg said...

I think it really depends on the participants. If they never did scenario work before and have not experienced violence first hand, the emotional value to them will be very high, especially with full armor, so the material should be kept. If they have already done scenario work, and know the general experience of it, it is just about the specific situations, and there might be more value in your other material. Since the effort for preparation is very high, make the choice early by talking to the host of the seminar, and decide with him according to environment and needs.

Jake said...

Been thinking about this a bit, especially in light of Christian’s comment.

I think he’s right about the audience matter, but you matter too. As an instructor, there is only so much abuse your body and brain can reasonably take, and the more scenarios you do, the more chance stops favoring you.

Balancing the benefits is hard. Honestly, I got way more out of the plastic mind drills than I did out of the scenarios. But I already had a lot of experience doing scenario work, and have access to the technology and the systems to run my own scenarios with students if I want to. Someone without that experience might feel differently.

I guess I still come down on the side in favor of taking them out; make ‘em a separate thing. If you have the interest, train up some other roleplayers so that you don’t have to do everything at once.