Stonewall Tactical Adaptive Response Method
The S.T.A.R. Method is a law enforcement defensive tactics program focusing on counter assault and situations critical to officer survival. Many programs out there today don’t really help officers because they are not formatted correctly. They focus on memorizing instead of learning. We believe this course solves many of the problems that has plagued defensive tactics training for years. Please read below for more information.
1.The Current State of Defensive Tactics
2.The Science Behind S.T.A.R. & Why It’s Unique
3.How We Can Help Your Department
4.What You Can Do To Help
The Current State of Defensive Tactics
In this I want to speak directly to defensive tactics instructors and administrators. As our program grows and we move across the country I can’t help but notice how many approach the newer programs with alot of trepidation. Frankly I don’t blame you and I can understand exactly why. As a former special projects director for the International Combatives Self Defense Association(ICSDA) I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on alot of demonstrations and see alot of programs. While ICSDA was a great organization with great quality control and many of the programs were fine in the context they were presented for police they all had the same gaping flaws. Now many had some great tactics but they were done more as a martial art designed for long term training. Martial arts is martial arts and defensive tactics is defensive tactics. Just because someone takes a martial art and slaps combatives on the end of the name doesn’t make it so.
Being a 6th Dan black belt in Jujutsu myself I appreciate martial arts and enjoy it but it’s apples and oranges. LEO’s do not get alot of follow up training time and many of these programs require huge amounts of follow up training to become effective deeming them pretty much useless to law enforcement. I know that sounds like a nasty thing to say but it’s the truth. Even the programs with good gross motor tactics have problems because of the format they are presented, but I’ll talk more about that later. Then you have the so called awesome commando programs from other countries that are the next big fad. They offer these big week long programs and show almost 200 tactics. In the end your lucky if you can remember 5 of them.
This once again goes back to an improper structure. Programs like this are not even conducive to be learned by officers they are really geared towards memorization. You end up going back to your department trying to remember from a written outline every little thing you did. More often than not these programs are not re-teachable with the same quality not to mention how expensive they can be and budget blasting. The reality is there are only so many ways to take a person to the ground. There are only so many ways to hit someone. There are only so many ways that an arm will bend. There is never going to be much innovation in these areas unless we start growing extra arms or something. The real innovation that needs to take place isn’t something physical. It’s not something you can see in a video. It’s in the structure and format of programs that focus on actual learning and retention of knowledge.
The Science Behind S.T.A.R.
In this section I want to tell you a little bit about how our program works and give you some of the data behind it. As you’ve probably gathered by now we don’t work straight down a checklist when we teach this course. It has proven over time to be outdated and ineffective to our objectives. These courses tend to be overly focused on just teaching a bunch of tactics. Instead of that we teach sequences. You see when you learn a tactic in our course it isn’t just a tactic it’s part of a sequence. Those sequences are started by obvious visual cues that will become apparent to the officer by taking this course.
These cues start a series of infinite loops that all revolve back to a single point. That point being the assailant on the ground being cuffed. Now that may sound complicated but I promise you it isn’t. It’s the easiest thing in the world once your on the mat seeing it. You see there’s a problem with all tactics. That problem being that no matter how good they are they all have the possibility of failure in a given circumstance. Now of course there are some tactics better than others and our tactics are very proactive and decisive but that isn’t the real answer. Any tactic can be beaten. However, if I can stay 3 moves ahead of you mentally during an altercation your gonna lose. The point here is that this course teaches an officer how to flow and adapt under stress with scientifically proven ways of bettering reaction time. This course is geared towards learning not memorizing.
Now let’s talk about some of these scientific methods.
The first one I want to talk about is Sequential Learning. This teaching method is most commonly used in music. We have taken this methodology and successfully applied it to defensive tactics. Here’s how it works. Let’s say I was teaching someone a chord on the guitar. They know a chord….big deal. They can’t really do anything with that. Just like if I teach you a tactic. If someone attacks you the way you trained it then sure your good but if not you may be in trouble. Let’s get back to the metaphor. So let’s say instead of teaching you one or two chords I taught you a song. You’d be more likely to remember all those chords in the song because they are relevant to something you are trying to do and they have a purpose. They are cohesive and they flow together. They are interrelated. If I’d taught those same chords without the song you’d probably forget a couple of them. But with a song after you get it down you can play all the way through it without even thinking about the chord changes.
Once an assault has started and triggers your sequence you start chaining tactics together. Mentally in the process the assailant gets overloaded and can’t keep up with the changes simply because an action is faster than a reaction. In accomplishing this your officers become proactive instead of reactive. On a side note some make mistakenly compare this to the OODA loop. This is incorrect. Without going into too much detail they are different. The OODA loop unfortunately has been used out of context for many years and been confused with other things for a long time. This was something that annoyed John Boyd(inventor of the OODA loop) greatly. I was lucky enough to meet him in the early nineties.
The next thing I want to talk about is Implicit/Procedural Memory.
To me this ties in with sequential learning and they go hand in hand. Implicit memory is like riding a bicycle. When your riding your not thinking about your legs moving up and down to move the pedals they just do it because it’s part of the overall function. This is kicked off by the visual cues or triggers that we mentioned earlier. You see the bike you know what to do. So how does that apply to our course. I’ll use one of our tactics as an example. We have a certain tactic that bypasses a clench and moves directly into a control. We do this because honestly clenching is a neutral position and why would I fight to get to a neutral position when I can be in one more advantageous. It’s also a proactive measure to cut off access to my gun.
Anyway once in this position the head position of the assailant will be affected. Depending on which way his head moves while in this control it gives us a visual trigger on the most efficient takedown to put him into cuffs. Instead of wrestling with this guy and struggling to get him on the ground a visual trigger accesses that implicit memory and they guy is down quick. How quick? From the time he attempted to assault you when sequential learning and implicit memory are properly applied he is face down on the ground ready to be cuffed in 5 seconds or less from the time the assault started. On top of that since it was done so efficiently there was no injury to either person. Which means no officer injury and no litigation either.
So all this talk about sequences must mean there’s alot of tactics in the course right?
Wrong….this course barely contains over 20 tactics and is taught in 2 days as opposed to other courses that can teach up to 200 in a 40 hour course. Is that too little? Nope…it’s just right and here’s why. Certain tactics require certain body traits to perform them successfully. In a 200 tactic course not every tactic will work for every officer. The idea is that the officers will gravitate towards the tactics that work for them. That isn’t always the case, plus if they have to reteach the program it’s very hard to do so. It’s hard to remember and quality degrades. This can work in theory but it’s a very inefficient way to go about it and it wastes alot of time with filler. In the 16th century William of Occam developed what is now known today as the Law of Economy or Succinctness. It’s often misinterpreted to say when offered two solutions to a problem all things equal the simplest solution is the right choice. Once again this is a misinterpretation.
What it actually says is when two answers can solve a problem a third answer is irrelevant. The Law of Economy is also commonly known as Occam’s Razor. It’s called that because it’s like a razor that shaves away the irrelevant and what doesn’t belong. How is this applied in our course? Well there is a takedown that we do using head control from the side. Now I know alot of officers that like to do a leg sweep from the side like in Judo. Now that’s all well and good I hold a 4th Dan black belt in Judo and I’m very familiar with that tactic but we don’t teach it. Why? Because if I have head control and the person is already falling it would be pointless to sweep the legs of a falling person. Many courses today have alot of pointless tactics that have no reason to be there other than to drag out a course and make it longer so they can charge a department more money. We believe in all thriller and no filler. Every tactic we teach is relevant to what we need to do.
They were carefully selected so that they could be adapted to every bodyshape,size, and fitness level. Every officer that attends our course can use every tactic we teach. Our tactics adapt to the needs of each individual officer not the other way around. In the past year we’ve taught patrols, jailers, state police, hospital police, college campus police, state corrections, federal corrections, SWAT, and even security patrols and it works just as good for all of them. It not only works for every shape of officer but every type as well. So what you have here is a program that’s:
1. Easy to learn.
2. High rate of success
3. Easy to reteach and maintain quality
4. Helps with reaction time
5. Cuts down on officer injury and litigation
6. Benefits all officers
How Can We Help You?
Well other than the obvious of making officers safer there other benefits to this course.
It’s only 2 days- Depending on the time of year or the size of the department it can be hard to lose an officer for a week. You may have officers sick or injured making you shorthanded. A week is a long time to be shorthanded on the street.
It’s a Instructor Course- Sometimes with smaller departments you may only be able to send as little as 1 person to training at a time. If your state policies allow for it you can send that one person to our course and they can become an instructor and come back and train your department. This can also make scheduling easier so your department can get the training that it needs. I know of some departments that don’t get training at all because they can’t schedule someone off work for a week or it doesn’t benefit the department as a whole to send one officer to a practitioner course.
It’s affordable- I’ve seen instructor courses that cost as much as $500 an officer. This is ridiculous. Alot of states are in a budget crunch right now and there is no legitimate reason for an unarmed course to cost that much. Anyone who travels alot like I do knows there’s alot of ways to trim overhead. There’s no reason your department should have to pay extra so some guy can eat steak for a week to teach a crappy overpriced program while your officers have to eat hotdogs from a gas station. This course is only $150. We do everything we can to make sure it’s accessible to any LEO that needs it. Furthermore, for departments that host us for training the cost is FREE. The hosts get anywhere form $450 to $750 worth of training for FREE.
The only thing we need to do the course is floor space. Outside of that we require absolutely nothing. We even handle the marketing and contact the departments in your area ourselves.
Credit Hours- We work with states to ensure that officers attending our courses will receive continuing training credit in every state we do business where applicable. I only say applicable because alot of states in the northeast don’t require accreditation or departments to report anything. Before we teach our course in your state we make sure our course is reviewed and meets all state guidelines for use of force.
What You Can Do to Help
It’s very simple. The state of defensive tactics will never improve as long as you accept less. As long as they make money at it outdated programs will always be there putting out low quality. One thing you can do to help is stop supporting programs that don’t give you what you need. If every department did that I promise you things would change. On the other end you can agree with what we are saying all day long but if you don’t support us when we are in your area we can’t help you. We make alot of bold claims on this page but we can’t back it up to you if you aren’t there to see it. As defensive tactics instructors and administrators you can make a huge difference in the lives of your officers and their families as well. If what we are saying is interesting to you then come check us out and give us a chance to prove what we are saying. I know there are 10,000 courses on the internet and you could throw an apple out a window and hit 500. What we are offering is something uniquely different and you need to see it. We have a very high quality course that is very affordable. We look forward to serving your department and your community.