Scenario training provides you with a situation you need to resolve or react to so you can defend yourself. I have done a few small scale scenario training sessions in the past but nothing like what I was about to experience at W.O.F.T. I would describe it as applying book smarts to the actual world. I would be using what I have learned from my many hours of firearms training and putting it to work when adrenaline is flooding my senses. Being able to hit a stationary target without the rush of hormones through your body is easy compared to doing it when you are under stress. After spending a weekend at W.O.F.T. this class has become a very import part of my training schedule
Some benefits of scenario training are:
- Provides a safe place to fail
- Triggers memories from the past so they can be dealt with
- Feel empowered as you learn to trust yourself and your abilities
- Starts making actions more automatic, causing reaction time to be faster
I had no idea what to expect, that weekend in February, when I started my drive to the facility other than it would be three full days of intense training. Before I even got there, I started feeling the effects of adrenaline. I had second thoughts about going. I began questioning myself. Why I was doing this? What would I experience? Would I feel emotions I had stuffed for many years as I recalled the time I was held against my will and wanted to flee? This was the fearful side of me kicking in and causing me to not want to go and just take the easy way out. I fought the urge to flee and retreat to the comfort of my home and kept driving while experiencing the fight-or-flight response to the release of the hormones, adrenalin and cortisol. I was stepping outside my comfort zone and going to a place of unknown feelings and reactions to outside stimuli.
Three and a half hours of me doubting my decision was about to conclude as I pulled into the driveway of W.O.F.T., otherwise known as Tactical Disneyland. I knew a few of the people that would be there and when I got out of my car; they greeted me with open arms. It was reassuring to see those familiar faces, and I started to relax. Some knew my story of surviving an abusive situation with an intimate partner and others I would meet knew nothing about me.
That first evening there was a meet and greet for the students and instructors. The students were from all walks of life and there were families, single parents with children, and single men and women. It didn’t matter what they did for a living or what happened in their past; we were all there for the same purpose, to learn how to deal with stressful situations and better equip us to face life on life’s terms.
I was slow to let down the wall that still rises as a protective shield when I am around unfamiliar people or trying something that takes me outside my comfort zone. The sequence of the classes I was scheduled to take could not have been more perfectly thought out. The first day I started out learning the SPEAR defensive system. Tony Blauer created this form of self-defense. It uses the body’s startle-flinch reaction to counteract an attacker’s moves. The classes were small and the instructor ratio averaged one instructor to two students. The SPEAR lead instructor, Kyle, went into detail explaining how the body’s normal reactions to threatening stimuli can be used to turn the tables during an attack. Kyle was very patient and understanding when I started feeling emotions surface during the class. He like all the other instructors understood how emotional this training can be if someone is dealing with past trauma. At the end of the class, I didn’t want to move on to my next training session. I was starting to understand how SPEAR works and wanted to keep perfecting my movement. I already started my journey to feeling more empowered than when I first arrived.
The afternoon session of my first day was doing low light scenarios with Philip Toppino, the owner and person responsible for designing this incredible training facility and these classes. This training consisted of using a flashlight to disorient a person by shining the light in their eyes and UTM (Ultimate Training Munitions). UTM is using non-lethal ammunition for realistic force-on-force training. Philip is very detail orientated and customizes your training to your capabilities. Sometimes it was as if he could read my mind and knew how to push my buttons and get me to react. He gets you to dig deep and pull out your inner warrior as you fight to defend yourself.
The next two days involved drawing from concealment and more scenarios that incorporated SPEAR and UTM. Each day I practiced SPEAR and learned other self-defense moves. I felt my protective wall break down as I got to know the students and instructors. I felt safe there, physically and emotionally. There was a time in each session that an emotional surge rose from the depth of my being and resulted in tears welling up in my eyes. Never once did I feel judged by students or instructors. Instructors helped me every step of the way. It didn’t matter to me why something I was doing was causing me to react emotionally as much as what was I going to do about it. Was I going to let it control me for the rest of my life or was I going to face it and feel more confident and empowered. Each time I went eye to eye and toe to toe with my feelings and worked through them. Everyone was understanding and encouraging. The instructors had seen this many times in the past and understood it and knew how to handle the situation. I wasn’t the first person who had a life threatening or traumatic experience in their life and came here to add more tools to their tool box to defend themselves. There were other students in the class working through their own life experiences.
As I completed each session, I felt myself get more into the scenarios. My body’s normal reaction to situations came through and I experienced the tunnel vision from the effect of the adrenaline rush. I let myself react to situations without hesitation as I defended myself against whoever was attacking me. After each day of training, I felt exhausted. I was emotionally and physically drained and grateful for what Philip and his carefully selected instructors, from all over the country, were doing for me and every person who showed up that weekend. Each morning I thought about taking the simple way out and just observing the class. That was an option if you were feeling tired or uncomfortable doing something. I fought that urge and went out there each day and gave everything I had into what I was learning and doing. At the end of each class, despite how tired and sore I was, I would get my second wind as I saw how I was automatically applying what I had learned without hesitation.
I continue to relive several events from the time I was held against my will. There was an instance when I was on the ground with my attacker on top of me and I could not get free. After one of the classes I asked the instructors how could I have fought my way out and escaped. I knew the only way to deal with this was to find a solution that gave me the upper hand. I described where I was and how I was being held down and what was around me. They reenacted the event and resolved the situation and demoed it for me. That wasn’t good enough. I needed to relive that memory and change the outcome this time. They did just that. One of them became my attacker, and I fought my way out. Since then I have not even thought about that one moment in my past when I felt helpless.
Some benefits I got from scenario training at W.O.F.T. (Tactical Disneyland) are:
- It provided me with a safe place to fail and fix my mistakes.
- It triggered memories of my past and helped me face them and deal with them.
- Prepared me so I am more apt to act instead of getting stuck in the emotional turmoil caused by stress.
- Feel more empowered because I trust myself and my abilities.
- My reaction time became more automatic when defending myself.
- Found my inner warrior is there for me when I need it.
The time to make a plan if a life-threatening situation arises isn’t when you are in fight-or- flight mode and the adrenaline is pumping. It is before that. When you are at a restaurant, theater, or standing in line at a store, look around and be situationally aware. Know where the closest exit is; know where you could find concealment or cover. Have a plan in mind, just in case. Another way to prepare is with scenario training. You can learn how to defend yourself under the body’s reaction to a rush of adrenaline. See how you will react while in a safe environment so that in the event you have something happen in your life, your body and mind will be ready to act with confidence.
When I left W.O.F.T. that weekend I knew I was a different person. I was better prepared to face life on life’s terms. I was confident and empowered. If you ever have the opportunity to take classes with Philip at W.O.F.T., do so. It is the best training ever!
Thank you to Philip, Kyle, Michael, Jeromy, Melina, Drew and Josh. My time with each of you was priceless. You took a beating from me and the other students as each of us worked on learning how to defend ourselves. You pushed me to my limits and when I had an emotional breakdown and I faced demons from my past; you were there to help me up. The next time I train at W.O.F.T. I expect to deal with more emotions from my past and I know there isn’t a safer place for me to do that then at Tactical Disneyland with you guys. Thanks to this class, I realized I no longer feel the need to trust outside sources for my sense of safety and security.
My next blog I will discuss things I believe are a False Sense of Security.