I was fortunate enough to attend Tony Blauer’s SPEAR System and PDR 2009 Summer Camp which was held on August 14th through the 16th. Three days of fun, sweat, and a few minor bruises. I would like to say I was well rested when I hit the camp on Friday but a combination of an early flight and issues on checking into my motel meant I was a little tired. Thankfully this didn’t impact me on Friday.
Camp opened on Friday with a registration and a chance to mingle and check out the pro shop. I managed to say hi to a few people I’ve met before and also had a chance to meet some FaceBook friends face to face finally. Friday’s session officially started with a presentation from CrossFit founder Greg Glassman. I first heard of CrossFit through Coach Blauer speaking about it and had done some research into it so I looked forward to hearing Coach Glassman speak. The audience was given an overview of CrossFit’s philosophy and what hey see as their goals in the in the world of fitness. The geeks in the crowd also got an X-Y plot of power against duration with the area under this curve being your total fitness. Coach Glassman brought forth some very interesting concepts, especially in how the CrossFit philosophy ties in the philosophy of Coach Blauer in the area of self-defense. After hsi presentation a Q&A session was held and that wrapped things up for the night.
Saturday started where Friday left off, with CrossFit. Only this time we weren’t listening we were doing. After a warm-up our ten minute CrossFit began with a 400 meter run, not jog, run. After that we moved to the barbells where you did seven reps of thrusters followed by 7 burpees. You then repeated the thrusters/burpess till the ten minutes were up. I still think the stop clock was running slow.
After people picked themselves off the floor Coach Blauer gave a presentation on Personal Defense Readiness (PDR) and the SPEAR System. This a good overview and of the concepts and Coach Blauer’s philosophy when it comes to personal protection. The crowd had some good questions and we had a chance to do some quick exercises to show us how the SPEAR system works. I was working with Steve, an EMT from Colorado and more then once I heard a phrase such as “f’ing amazing”Â (edited in case by son reads this)when the exercise we were during re-enforced what Coach Blauer had spoken about. We even saw how a small lady could support the full weight of Coach Blauer using the SPEAR concepts. This induced what Coach Blauer refers to as a “holy f&*$” moment. A a side note, if you are offended by strong language don’t attend a presentation by Coach Blauer. After these brief drills we had a chance to break off into three groups based on if you were in the military, a PDR coach, etc. This gave us a chance to work on more SPEAR drills with a partner. For these drills I hooked up with Robert from North Carolina and we actually ended up partnering up for the rest of the exercises throughout the course.
After these drills we broke for lunch then came back for Coach Blauer’s presentation of weapon protection (defending against a firearm or knife). We were actually the first class where Coach Blauer had taught this information with civilians present as this is a topic he usually only covers with the military and law enforcement personal. A course on weapons could cover days so we got only a brief insight into what Coach Blauer knows about this topic, but more then enough information to make my brain swim. Coach Blauer covered firearms in this session and we then had a chance to do drills to practice what he was preaching.
After the SPEAR training for the day we had a chance to listen to a presentation by Brian MacKenzie of CrossFit Endurance. Coach MacKenzie spoke on the topic of endurance athletes, those crazy people that do the Iron Man competition or 100 mile foot races, and how CrossFit can make them better in their sport. He provided some examples of how CrossFit training has helped him and others actually get better at endurance events while actually doing less traditional endurance training. For example Coach MacKenzie told us that while training for a 100 mile foot race the most he ever ran at one times was about 13 miles.Â A collective “what?” went up from the crowd when he mentioned that. I would like the chance to learn more about his running techniques, not that I’m going to go run 100 miles, but I know my current technique is bad and hard on my body. Always something to improve. This ended the day for us and I welcomed a nice cold beer with dinner before hitting the bed, sire and tired.
Sunday started off with a presentation by Kyle Maynard of No Excuses Athletics. I have seen videos of Kyle speaking before so knew a little of his background, but hearing him in person was a great experience. Kyle is a good speaker and he comes across as humble in his nature and with a good sense of humor. Hearing Kyle speak reminded me of a line from a book I read a long time ago: “Argue for your limitations and they are yours”. If you ever get a chance to hear Kyle speak in person, don’t pass it up.
After Kyle’s presentation Coach Blauer reviewed the concepts we covered yesterday and went into defense against the knife, As I mentioned I again teamed up with Robert and we spent the morning going over the drills and seeing how much pain we could induce without causing serious damage. This may not be everyone’s idea of a fun time but I really enjoyed it.
We then got together for final lecture by Coach Blauer and him and his team fielding questions from the group. After this a drawing was held for door prizes, which it seems many people lost their tickets or had left early. Which worked out great for me as I ended up winning the grand prize, a High Gear “ground and pound” kit. I’m looking forward to some chances to use it in training.
To wrap up the day the PDR coaches put on a High Gear demonstration. They covered some of the same scenarios as we did in our training but with the gear on they could go faster and harder. This was fun to watch and showed why the High Gear is great training equipment.
After this camp wrapped up for the day. Said good-byes to old and new friends, and most of us headed for home. A few were staying behind for the PDR Coaches Certification course that was starting the next day. I have this course as a goal for next week, just have to wait and see. The camp was a outstanding experience and I’m really glad I had the chance to attend. Coach Blauer and his staff were all helpful in whatever questions we had or issues we needed resolved. I would recommend this camp to anyone looking to learn more about personal protection.