Well, this course was a little bit different! One of my goals this year, when it comes to training, was to get out of my comfort zone (“get comfortable being uncomfortable!”). Starting with this first course of my training year, I can honestly say: mission accomplished! These two days of training took me, for the most part, far outside of my comfort zone and into a place where my prior knowledge, training, and practice could be integrated into a totally new (to me) paradigm.
Primary instructor for the class was Jason Kelly of C2T2 LLC. I have to honestly say that when this course was first listed on the Green Ops website, I had no idea who Jason Kelly was. Rather, I read the course description and liked what I read and had faith that Green Ops would not bring in someone of sub-par caliber to teach such a class. A few weeks later I discovered that Jason had appeared on the American Warrior Show podcast with Mike Seeklander not once, but twice (episodes 101 and 186), and those interviews helped convince me that I had made a good choice in signing up for this class. Those two interviews also proved invaluable in preparing me for at least some portions of the course content.
Jason’s biographical information as quoted on the Green Ops website:
Jason Kelly is an accomplished combative athlete with over 30 years of proven experience and instruction. Throughout his professional career, Jason has been recognized for his ability to turn athletes into world class champions and develop intuitive weapons-based/weapon integration combative programs (pistol/carbine) for law enforcement agencies and military. As the first American Top Team wrestling coach who teaches athletes how to integrate high level wrestling seamlessly with striking and grappling, a competitive shooter, and small unit tactics specialist, Jason blends proven techniques from each discipline into a holistic program that is difficult for others to duplicate. Jason conditions his clients to understand the human variables that normally dictate the close-quarters environment, and immerses them in unique and effective blocks of instruction to satisfy their specific needs. Whether it be an armed or unarmed circumstance, Jason’s programs are designed to protect against attack, while simultaneously generating options for his clients to control, attack, defend, or have the ability to disengage.
Jason Kelly’s programs and curriculum are catered to men and women in a working environment.
Jason is a certified Law Enforcement Defensive Tactics instructor with curriculums approved in multiple states.
Jason was assisted by the Director of Training for Green Ops, Chris Alvarez. The fast version of his biography is retired U.S. Army Special Forces Master Sergeant (plus Ranger, Pathfinder, Jumpmaster, and Parachute Freefall qualified) with a ton of real-life experience plus .gov and civilian shooting/tactics schools. Lucas B., one of the newer members of the Green Ops instructor team, was also present, but he was there more as a student and less as an assistant.
Location, Weather, and Cost
Training Day One was held at Crossfit Culpeper Fitness Center, while Training Day Two was held entirely at the Stone Quarry Range a few miles outside Culpeper, Virginia. As training on Day One was entirely indoors, weather was a non-factor. The weather on Day Two was perfect, sunny and unseasonably warm by mid-day (highs in the low 50s). Cost of the course was $500, but Mike Green did allow me, as a past writer of AARs for Green Ops courses, to register with a 15% discount. Thanks Mike; most generous of you!
Given the physical nature of this class, I was unsure what to expect in terms of necessary equipment. As it would happen, however, there really was not any special equipment needed. I did everything in the course in clothing and gear that I would wear/carry on a normal day. I used my OD Generation 3 Glock 19, modified as per this article. It was carried on a V Development Group Megingjörð-AIWB Specific-Conceal Carry Belt in a new-to-me holster, a JM Custom Kydex Wing Claw 2.0 with a homemade foam wedge. I used a combination of Glock OEM and Magpul magazines and used Federal American Eagle 124 grain FMJ ammunition. I would end up firing a total of 197 rounds in this course (all on Day Two). Side note: during this course I eclipsed 13,000 rounds fired through this Glock 19 since I “assembled” it from a new slide/barrel and a new frame.
First, other than the discount mentioned above, I will say here that I am in no way affiliated with Green Ops or C2T2 except as a paying customer. I will also say that much of this coursework was outside my wheelhouse, and the pace of the class was not conducive to copious note-taking in-the-moment. Accordingly, I will beg our readers’ collective pardon (as well as the instructors’) for any omissions, mistakes in terminology, etc. I have deliberately omitted some information for brevity, for OPSEC-type reasons, and due to incomplete notes prepared after the class. Other omissions or mistakes may be due to my “missing” part of the morning of the first day, as will be explained below. Thanks for your understanding.
Training Day One
As noted above, Day One began at Crossfit Culpeper Fitness Center. I arrived a bit early with a friend of mine (Tim, a police officer who works patrol in a fairly large metropolitan police department. This was the fourth class Tim and I have taken together, though his personal training resume includes a number of classes with nationally-known instructors.) and even got to exchange some pleasantries with both Jason and Chris in the parking lot. Class was to begin at 0900, but the instructions said to arrive a few minutes early in order to fill out and sign the usual waivers. I was a bit surprised to see that, although there were 14 students there to take the class, the gym was not all our own, and there was some sort of gymnastics/tumbling class for small kids going on in half of the gym. With small kids and parents present, Jason and Chris had to have their language filters appropriately adjusted throughout the morning.
Chris began by introducing himself and his own background and then introduced Jason, who then took over and covered his own background. While Jason’s biographical information is outlined above, I will add that he is a professional-level wrestler (and I do NOT mean WWE!) who then took the time to learn the gun side of things from some of the best instructors in the United States, including guys like Mike Seeklander and Frank Proctor.
My impression of Jason is that he is very “principles-based”, which might go far in explaining the many little sayings he has. After giving us a fast, verbal syllabus on where the class would be headed over the two days, Jason jumped right into the principles.
The first principle was that of position. Jason stressed the importance of maintaining proper positioning at all times. From a good position, we should be able to attack or defend. From a bad position, attack and/or defense may be impossible. Accordingly, some time was spent on what constitutes a good stance and good positioning (head up, back straight, knees bent, etc.).
Jason pointed out how fatigue can affect our stance/positioning, and to help illustrate this he had us perform 50 rapid, body-weight squats with feet parallel to each other, 50 more with the right foot forward, and 50 more with left foot forward. I was prepared for this mentally (thanks to the podcasts mentioned earlier), but worked up a good sweat getting going. The idea was to see who was looking down while doing the squats, whose backs started to lean forward, etc., and to then put us in touch with how we are affected by fatigue and, in turn, how to detect fatigue in others.
We then moved to a second movement activity where we started with feet even with our shoulders, then stepped forward with right foot, then forward with left, then back with right, back with left, then forward with left, forward with right, back with left, and back with right, over and over again.
It was at this point that I suffered some sort of an “episode”. Since December I have been working out more with primary emphasis on cardio work and with lots of body-weight exercises as well. And I had been enjoying good success, already losing close to ten pounds and seeing an obvious change in my body’s shape, especially around my waistline (my Glock 19 is suddenly concealable again!). However, for whatever reason, I suddenly started feeling faint. I excused myself from the mats and “walked” to the restroom just a few yards away. I say “walked” because those who saw me said afterwards that I looked drunk. I drank a bottle of water in the car on my way to class and felt the need to urinate. I took care of that, splashed some water on my face at the sink, and came back out, but my vision was still fuzzy. A fellow student and Jason asked me if I was okay, and rather than “tough it out” (and probably pass out), I was honest and said that I felt a little woozy. Chris stepped in and had me stand off the mats, raise my arms over my head to help open my lungs, and I downed some water. I sat for a few minutes and just watched the class, and after I would say about 5-10 minutes, Jason waived me in and I rejoined the class without another physical issue for the rest of the two days.
I will mention here that I was already scheduled for an appointment with my doctor a few days later, and I brought this episode up to him. He said it could have been dehydration, low-blood sugar (I did eat breakfast, but it may not have been robust enough), low blood pressure (something I have occasionally had, but my pressure at the appointment was 122 over 70, so ….?). He said it is hard to know exactly what happened, so he scheduled me for a stress test to rule out some things (scheduled for later this week). I will say that I worked hard for the rest of class, physically fighting for position with my fellow students repeatedly over the rest of the two days, and actually felt like my stamina was quite good. Weird. Back to class…
With the “worst” of the cardio part of the class out of the way, at least for that point, Jason moved into more principles and concepts. First, we went through the difference between contact and control. Grabbing someone’s wrist may give the illusion of control, but Jason was able to demonstrate how the person doing the gripping was not in any way in control of the other person. If our goal is to exert control over the other person, then that will require what amounts to a two-on-one, i.e. two limbs truly controlling one limb of the other person. Once a side is “taken away”, you want to stay on that side and break down your opponent’s position.
Jason showed us three different (what I will call) lead-ins to the arm-drag series. For simplicity’s sake, these were referred to as the #1, #2, and #3 control positions. He demonstrated each to us and then had us practice obtaining each grip on a partner. We then practiced shifting from one grip to another, and then practiced trying to obtain these grips against some resistance by our partners. The best way for me to describe these positions is to imagine two people shaking hands. However, imagine one of those people uses his right hand to not shake the other person’s right hand, but instead reaching slightly higher and grabbing that person’s wrist. The left hand then grabs that same wrist from either below (#1), above (#3), or instead grabs just above the elbow (#2). Included with these grips were a lead in with the outside leg alongside the other person’s leg and also some chest to chest/shoulder area contact as well. Once that control is obtained, the original hand that gripped goes up between the opponent’s arm and body (armpit area) and executes the arm drag like starting a lawn mower.
I am going to say right here that the difference between performing these tasks and performing them well might be very small, but the small micro-corrections that Jason put into action for us paid HUGE dividends. This would be the case throughout the weekend, where a subtle change in stance, arm angle, etc., could really make or break a particular technique. Such is the depth of Jason’s knowledge that he could identify such issues—and their corrections—often without looking and instead just by feel. It is amazing what 30+ years of experience can do for you!
We got to practice trying to achieve these arm drags from the #1, #2, and #3 control positions on our fellow classmates. Of course, we all knew what our opponents would be trying to do, and our opponents knew what we were trying to do, so it was not easy to always achieve good success. But it got us used to physical contact as well as the stamina that can be necessary when wrestling with fellow adults.
After a 30 minute lunch, and with the little ones gone from the gym, we had our handguns cleared and zip-tied for use as training aids. Now, we would work the arm-drag series but also have to disengage from our opponent (a good, properly executed shove to the lower back worked quite well) while drawing our handguns and preparing to fire. The point was to show us that we need to get a good and proper shove and then move so that, if the person we shoved came back at us immediately or drew his own firearm, we would be offline and have more time to draw.
Other concepts covered on this first day were a choke series that was brutally effective (especially when applied by Jason or Chris…..my larynx hated them both by day’s end!), with a small variety of ways to enter that move/position.
The first day culminated with each of us taking a turn standing in front of 6 of our fellow students and having to take each on one at a time. The instructor (either Jason or Chris) would yell out a number (#1, #2, or #3) and we would have to immediately utilize that control position, execute the arm drag and wrap, propel the student forward with a shove, then draw and move offline. If we did anything wrong along the way (pushed off the wrong leg, did a #2 instead of a #3, etc.) we had to perform 10 push-ups. I surprised myself by only screwing up once (doing a #1 instead of a #3), and therefore only had to do 10 push-ups. I think my friend Tim had to do 40 total push-ups, and others had to do even more. We ended Day One with a quick roundtable of takeaways from the day and broke up at around 1730.
Training Day Two
Day Two was held at the Stone Quarry Range outside Culpeper, where Green Ops holds many of their pistol classes. The day began with a review of the concepts of the day before, and then Jason went through a quick syllabus for this day. We began by spreading out in a large grassy area of the range and working on some new concepts, primarily the underhook. While on Day One we were primarily focused on outside positioning for control (outside is helpful because Jason emphasized repeatedly how, on the street, the ability to disengage from any entanglement is of vital importance), much of Day Two was spent on the underhook and inside positioning. The inside man can keep the opponent’s hands away from both his own as well as his opponent’s tools (typically worn along the waistline). Jason said many times that we need to be able to see with more than our eyes and feel with more than our hands. The backs of the hands, the forearms, etc., can detect what the opponent is doing and also feel for tools along the waistline of our opponents.
We switched partners numerous times this AM (I started against Tim, who was wearing much of his real duty gear, and gouged my hands and fingers many times on the various accoutrements on his vest: flashlight, cuff case, bodycam, magazine pouches, etc.), usually working three-minute rounds fighting for position. After each round some new techniques would be taught and demonstrated, and then we would switch partners and go at it again. During one of these I had to grapple with Jason, and this was a total joke. Jason was able to look right past me and coach others while still not allowing me a whiff of success.
One interesting note was when my friend Tim had to take on Jason. During their three-minute grappling round, Jason successfully lowered the hood on Tim’s pistol retention holster (for safety reasons no pistol was in the holster), disengaged his Taser holster (again, no actual Taser present), removed his flashlight, and changed the channels on his radio! Think these grappling skills might be useful for a police officer to have? I was personally disappointed that Tim was the only police officer in the class, as the skills being taught would appear to be vital to officer survival.
Along the way during this morning session we were introduced to the #4, #5, and #6 control positions, which were “variations on a theme” and worked fairly well in practice. I could actually see how some of these could be useful against some of my students at work in some very specific circumstances (more on this later).
Jason using the #6 Control Position to move a student
With most of the physical stuff out of the way, we moved into the live-fire portion of the day. We began by simply lining up in front of targets and dry-firing and performing other dry manipulations. Once satisfied with our performance dry, we moved into a slightly modified version of the classic Dot Torture Drill (the variation was on Dot #8, where instead of shooting it support-hand only, we did five separate strong-hand only draw-and-fire iterations). This was done at 3 yards and I surprised myself by not cleaning it (47/50 I think). I did not shoot particularly well on Day Two (perhaps the beating my hands and forearms took over the class to that point had something to do with it?), but I did not embarrass myself, either. I will say that some students struggled less-so with their accuracy than with their manipulation skills. I saw magazines dropped out of pistols when the first round was fired, lots of fumbling around, some Charlie’s Angels “ready positions”, and lots of racing to the holster rather than checking work through the sights.
After Dot Torture was complete and a 30 minute lunch consumed, we returned to the range with new targets set up (the Green Ops targets, which are basically USPSA targets with some additional 3×5 card numbered targets superimposed over some areas). During this afternoon phase we moved into some simple movement drills, incorporating elements of the arm-drag series (performed against imaginary opponents made of air). Much of this work was done in two relays in order to open up some space between us for a safety margin.
The movement drills we performed first involved moving and then shooting, but later progressed to moving AND shooting, often at relatively small targets (credit card in head of USPSA/Green Ops target from 5 yards and in). Jason focused on getting us to break shots when our feet were flat on the ground during the shooting on the move portion. This may be tough for me to practice live on my own, but I plan to figure out some way to incorporate more of this into my training regimen.
Eventually, excessive mud on one half of the range forced us to move the line targets a bit. With that done, we entered into the last few drills of the day, which involved taking turns one-at-a-time to grapple with Jason (using whatever numbered control position he told us in the moment), executing the arm-drag and wrap, and then moving with him, pushing him offline, moving the opposite way, and then shooting the numbered targets designated. Jason would tell us a number, for example, “232”, and we would have to execute the #2 control position, move as described above, and then shoot target #3 and target #2. For a look at what some of these drills ended up looking like, I would suggest viewing this short video filmed the day before our class:
Mistakes made during this segment had us carrying a large rock leftover from the range’s quarry days over to Jason’s vehicle and then back to the line. Almost all of us carried that rock at least once. Including me.
The final live-fire drill involved the same thing, only now we would have to hold on to Jason, maintaining as much control as possible while shooting the targets strong-hand only. To complicate matters further, Jason would do some wiggling to help throw off our aim. I must confess that even the slight swaying and wiggling that Jason did was enough to seriously compromise our accuracy. We had to fire ten rounds during this drill, and any misses outside the USPSA A-zone would cost us 10 pushups (we were shooting from about 9 yards away). I ended up having to do 40 pushups; I think my friend Tim had to do 70. Others had to do even more.
The last bit of training involved some knife work. “Armed” with capped Sharpies to represent a knife clipped to our pockets, Jason demonstrated a few ways to involve an edged weapon into the arm-drag series we had already been covering for the better part of two days. As someone who has spent at least a little bit of time training with edged weapons, I found his techniques to be brutally effective.
After another roundtable of takeaways from class and the awarding of certificates, we ended class again around 1730.
While the live-fire portion of the class would be considered “advanced” due to all of the movement involved, the grappling portion of the class would no doubt be considered very basic by anyone with real grappling experience. So it was that I was like a fish out of water for much of the class, as I have very little experience in unarmed combatives of any type.
Just as a fundamentals of marksmanship class might be lacking in the application of WHEN to use those skills, so it was that this class was largely devoid of context. This is not a knock against the class in any way. Rather, the class taught arm-drag, choke, and underhook skills largely for the sake of learning those skills, not to teach which situations such skills could prove useful. During individual instruction, as Jason and Chris made their way from one pair of students to another, some applications were suggested (especially for my friend Tim, who would probably be the person most likely to have to utilize some of these skills for real), but the overall emphasis was on learning the skills as well as possible in the two days we had together.
One thing that Jason emphasized several times (and he used great analogies throughout the class) was that this was all just ingredients. Just like a baker might have flour, eggs, yeast and other ingredients on hand does not mean he must bake a cake. He can also make bread, cupcakes, rolls, etc. In other words, it would be up to us to figure out where to use these skills. As Jason said many times during the class, lightly mocking those people out there who say they would “just shoot” a bad guy: “If you can’t do this stuff you may never get the chance to shoot the bad guy!”
In that vein, and in doing some pondering after class, I was able to come up with a number of scenarios in which the arm drag series—or at least portions thereof—could prove useful in my own life. Just days after class, my school ran an active shooter “roundtable” discussion, and as part of it someone asked, “What should I do with Carl (student) if he refuses to move and we need to evacuate quickly?” And suddenly I thought to myself, “That arm-drag series would work great on Carl.” Likewise, the arm drag would work well when needing to quickly move a spouse or other principal away from an incident. The interesting thing is that in neither of these situations would I be employing the arm drag on an “adversary”, but rather just on someone I need to move quickly.
Jason did most of the instructing, with Chris largely serving as his demonstration partner (Chris took a more active instructor role on Day Two). Jason is super high energy (I deliberately included some blurry photos in this review in order to help illustrate how he just never stands still!). He explains things very clearly, talks a lot (he says he does this because you never know when students will finally pick up what is being laid down), and is very much a subject matter expert when it comes to the skills he teaches (not only is he great at the wrestling, but he is also great with a pistol in hand, and I picked up a few things on the range that I am going to try out and see how they work for me….he explains things VERY well!).
One other note: you can tell that Jason is an athlete through and through. He is cat quick, has incredible attention to detail, and just sort of glides smoothly with or without a pistol in hand.
Chris was a great helper throughout the weekend as well. As noted, he took a more active role in instruction on Day Two. At times he had to be hard on students for either safety reasons or just for those students who were not performing at a high enough level. During the roundtable at the end, he emphasized that if he is a little hard on people it is because he wants to see them succeed in class and, most importantly, if they ever need these skills for real.
Jason said he plans to be back in the area, perhaps as soon as April, and so if it does not conflict with an already planned family trip of mine, I will probably return and try to grow and develop more in this, one of my primary areas of need.
My goals for this class included learning the course material and figuring out what my body can handle. The “episode” described earlier notwithstanding (and boy did I have the mother-of-all rallies!), I thought I did okay. No shoulder issues cropped up, which pleased me greatly, as this was my biggest physical concern entering the class. My other goal was, as noted earlier, to “get comfortable being uncomfortable”. I was curious how not only my body would respond to all the physical contact, but also the psychological side. I haven’t been in a real fight (in my book, restraining students doesn’t count) since 2002. Overall, while at times I was mentally stressed and other times physically tossed around by those larger and more skilled than myself, overall I felt pretty good. The fact that I am even considering future training along these lines should speak volumes in that regard.
Overall, I would describe this as a fantastic entry-level class into the world of grappling in a weapons-based environment. Jason Kelly is a gifted instructor who knows his stuff, knows how to present it, and can put his students at ease learning it. Another shout-out to Chris Alvarez for all that he added to the course, and for the entire Green Ops crew for hosting this class.
As always, thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, please post below or on our Facebook page, as we always welcome civil discussion. I can be reaching offline at firstname.lastname@example.org