David Trimble describes the Executive Protection (Professional Body Guard Skills) course as an introduction to crucial skills for anyone who wants to develop muscle memory for combat. While it’s designed for the security professional, it’s also just as useful for the family man who wants to develop these body guard skills necessary to protect his family. The following article is excerpted from the full course Executive Protection, available exclusively through the Science of Skill store.
Building Body Guard Skills: Muscle Memory and Situational Awareness
Understanding how to do a move or execute a drill in your mind is one thing, but training your body – your physical response – is a whole other matter. Creating that muscle memory takes time, and Dave has tried to provide good, effective, combat-proven drills that allow a person to develop muscle memory for combative situations.
Forward thinking and situational awareness should be some of the first skills you start to use and develop. Using your imagination, playing out realistic scenarios your head – these are (believe it or not) important habits to start to cultivate. Being a good security professional is boring, and it should be. “That’s because you’re doing your job right. If you’re doing your job right, you’re preventing the situation from ever happening in the first place,” says Dave. If you’ve learned how to prepare a safe home and a prevent violent encounter, then these are things that matter.
Again, one of the best ways to prepare and prevent is to cultivate habits of mind. Start assessing people and situations wherever you go; however, there’s an important difference between becoming paranoid and tuning into “false alarms” and developing safe situational awareness. For example, Dave always has his wife and daughter walking on his left side, so that if an emergency situation does arise, he can guide them to where he needs to with his non-weapon head. He’s developed code words and phrases to use with his principals and family to use to indicate if there’s a threat nearby and which serves as a call for help or a warning. Dave also has a habit of surveying a room and sizing up its occupants, surveying all possible emergency exits – these are the kinds of things to get into the habit of doing, not necessarily developing a fear that every other person is out to get you.
You don’t have to necessarily be put into extreme situations to learn these skills, says Dave. There is material out there, from literature to qualified experts and instructors to relevant conferences. One of Dave’s top tips is to invest in your education in this arena. To start, he recommends any literature by Gavin de Becker – a reputed figure in the field – starting with “The Gift of Fear”, as well as “What Every BODY is Saying” by Joe Navarro.
In addition to developing mental mindset, you need to prepare to go physically from zero to 60, and develop the skills necessary to deal with an adrenaline overload in an emergency situation. “Fear is there for a reason, the hackles in the back of your neck are there for a reason. That gut instinct is there for a reason, and people who don’t listen to that end up getting themselves into a lot of trouble,” explains Dave. Learn to listen to those signals and start training in the combative moves necessary to handle those situations.
Combat Training, NOT Training for the Range
When handling weapons, you need to know every aspect of that weapon – whether it be a firearm or a blade. Dave advises really taking the time to get to know your firearm before you even use it; know how to clear a feed jam, how to break it down and maintain it; and also how to holster and re-holster a weapon; these are actions that can all to often be overlooked, and they can be just as important as knowing how to shoot your weapon. For example, Dave notes that a common mistake he sees in the range, and also a big “no-no”, is to cross your weapon over your limb or hand when you’re reholstering.
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When training in hand-to-hand or in using a weapon, it’s important to train for combat i.e. combat shooting not target shooting, says Dave. He highly recommends the Filipino martial arts system as a combat-proven fighting system. “The drills that you use, and the muscle memory that you develop, is extremely effective,” he states. But any training is better than no training, and you don’t always have to be at the range or gym (though disciplined and continuous training is important). If your schedule is packed, Dave recommends using something like the LaserLyte system, an interactive and safe target practice set, while watching television. But he also emphasizes that a person is only going to get out what he or she puts in; if it was easy, everyone would do it.
Dave notes that it’s also essential to understand your strengths and weaknesses and develop a “bag of tricks” i.e. moves and techniques that are second nature to you and that “you own”. For example, one of Dave’s “tricks” is carrying and using a bladed weapon, something he knows how to use effectively as an impact or edged weapon, with one or multiple attackers. “You’re going to have the signature moves that are in essence your bag of tricks. They’re the things that you’re rock solid on…you may be strong when it comes to disarms, or you may be strong when it comes to long-range attacks….They’re your bag of tricks, and they can save your life.”
In the end, you have to develop your own safeguard, something that many of us have fallen out of touch with in the modern world. “If that instinct is not cultivated and directed effectively, it’s going to come out in the wrong moments,” says Dave. Learning the combat skills and mindset needed to protect yourself, your principals, and or your loved ones is all about channeling that energy into what many might call a lost art.
About David Trimble: David Trimble is a security consultant with OPSEC Executive Protection and and has provided personal protection and threat assessment services for a number of high-profile executives and principals in the Silicon Valley area. He was trained as a Paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, and also served with the Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons, skills that have transferred into his career in security. He transitioned into the private sector and received advanced training within Executive Protection in 1999. Trimble trains and instructs those interested in combat proven martial arts and, as an NRA certified Pistol Instructor, offers core training within the fundamentals of marksmanship.