2018-02-20 training log

Another deload day.

Truly, nothing to report other than that. 🙂

RP Physique, Mesocycle 3, week 3

  • Front Squat
    • bar x 10
    • 95 x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 165 x 3
    • 185 x 4
    • 185 x 4
  • Seated Leg Curl
    • 110 x 6
    • 110 x 6
  • Stair Calves
    • 40 x 8
    • 40 x 8
  • DB Skullcrushers
    • 20e x 10
    • 35e x 5
    • 35e x 5
  • High Incline DB Press
    • 40e x 10
    • 60e x 6
    • 60e x 6

2018-02-19 training log

Deload time.

Go in, do a bit of work, leave.

Still, they are great times to focus on technique, which I did.

RP Physique, Mesocycle 3, week 3

  • Incline Bench Press
    • bar x 10
    • 95 x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 165 x 3
    • 195 x 3
    • 195 x 3
  • DB Bench Press
    • 60e x 10
    • 90e x 4
    • 90e x 4
  • Barbell Row
    • bar x 10
    • 95 x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 185 x 4
    • 185 x 4
  • Normal Grip Pulldown
    • 125 x 5
    • 125 x 5
  • DB Lateral Raises
    • 25e x 6
    • 25e x 6
  • Reaching Situp
    • BW x 6
    • BW x 6

RP Male Physique Templates – Impressions

For the past 13-ish weeks, my weight lifting has been following the Renaissance Periodization Male Physique Templates.

Why?

My bodyweight was rising, and not in a good way. I wanted to spend a few months on a weight(fat)-loss (cutting) diet to shed some fluff. To succeed in that, not only is diet (i.e. caloric deficit) important, but one must also strive to preserve as much muscle mass as possible. So the best way to lift during that time is in a hypertrophy-oriented manner. So instead of my preferred strength/powerlifting format (great for building strength, OK for building muscle mass), I needed to do something purely oriented towards building – or in this case fighting to retain – muscle mass.

I’m OK at assembling this sort of work, but I know I could do better. I have used RP for a bunch of things in the past with great success, and I know they know their stuff. So why not try their Male Physique Templates? Might as well see what I can learn from it and how it might go for me.

The other consideration is that I’ve been feeling pretty beat up. While I love to lift heavy, it’s been killing me. I’m trying to learn how I can still lift in ways I enjoy and cultivate the sort of progress I want, but not beat myself up so much. This seemed like a good deviation from the norm, with something I could learn.

And learn I did.

Things I Learned

Barbell rows. I typically did them pulling the bar to the upper-abdomen. MPT wants you to pull to your belly-button. Wow. That’s a massive difference! Can’t move as much weight, but it hits the lats like I’ve never experienced.

I can actually handle more volume (at moderate intensities) than I think. BUT, recovery must be on point.

When doing lat pulldowns, keep the torso more upright. It hits the lats harder. Think about the angles and body mechanics.  But yes, this can also be dependent upon the grip you use (e.g. a narrow underhand grip vs. a wide overhand – look at the plane of motion of the upper arm).

Front squats suck. I should do more of them.

Calf raises have been surprisingly productive. I use a bit of a cue from Paul Carter here of ensuring a good stretch at the bottom, which not only stretches but removes the bounce reflex. Then, hold/squeeze at the top. Make sure the movement is purely by flexing the calf muscles. You don’t need a lot of weight.

But really what was great about the calf raises? My feet feel better. It’s probably from the stretching under load, but the soles of my feet, my feet in general, standing, walking, etc. just feel better. I may not stick with so many sets of calf raises, but I think it would be wise for me to always have some amount of calf work in my routine.

The MPT really challenged my notion of how to get in volume. When I would do hypertrophy stuff, I tended to gravitate to one body part per day per week, the classic bro-split. But here I found more ways: x/fail, reps in reserve, more exercises, more sets, more work per week. Like it’s good to start with fewer sets in the early weeks, but over the weeks add more: more sets, more reps, more weight. Over time the volume goes up. But it’s also things like doing more work during the week, even if it seems small. For example, while “push” (chest, triceps, shoulders) may have been primarily focused on days 1 and 3, there was a little bit of work done on day 2. It wasn’t much, but it was something – enough to create some stimulus. Over time, it will add up. Yeah, it feels kinda weird to have “leg day” or “squat day” and then throw in a few sets of curls or pressdowns; but the break-up of dogma is welcome.

I did like the constant increase. I’ve found in the past that I start on a program, it’s painful at first, but after a couple weeks I’m used to it and it feels like I’m just going through the motions — am I gaining any more from it? But here? I felt like it was constant impact. I didn’t really have a chance to get used to it. So yeah, maybe some written program says to do 5×10; you can approach it by doing 3×10 the first week, 4×10 the next, then 5×10. Something like that. Allow yourself to work into it and gradually increase.

Overall I didn’t feel beat up, which is great! Yes, on that 4th week there was some serious overreach, but that I think that worked great because that’s what you want. If that level of work continued or increased for a 5th or 6th week, I doubt I’d be able to handle it. But constantly increasing as it did with the structure it did, seemed to be good for work and growth, but not making me feel beat up.

Another dogma buster was that my approach usually is to do the big movement first, then scale down to smaller, isolation movements. So as a rough example, bench press first, then incline dumbbells, then flies. Here? Not so much. It’s not so much that it was using the old Weider “pre-exhaustion” principle, because it wasn’t that sort of thing. Rather, it just broke the dogmatic approach. For example, the second upper-body day started with a bunch of back work, specifically lat pulldowns. Flat bench pressing was done until well after the back work. So not only is one of the big 3 movements saved until later, when you’re more fatigued, but lat pulldowns are almost never something I’d do as my first back movement. But by doing so I was able to go heavier on them, which has its own benefits.

Metabolite training is very different. You really find that the mind wants to give up well before the body gives out. It’s one thing to push for “one more rep” when you’re maxxing out at 5 reps. It’s another to push for it when you’re maxxing out in the 15-25 range. It’s not necessarily one is harder than the other, just a very different experience requiring a different mental approach.

I’m very curious to see how metabolite training will work when I’m on a “massing” diet. When I can be fueled by a lot of carbs, creatine, beta-alanine — things to help pushing into those higher rep ranges.

I found myself liking more and more dumbbell work. The freedom of movement has been much nicer on my joints. It’s also really helping to improve my grip strength. I tended to gravitate away from DB movements in the past; I’ll probably gravitate more towards them in the future.

Hex-bar/trap-bar deadlifts. Never did them before the MPT. They are quite a different beast that traditional deadlifts (regardless if conventional or sumo). Yes, more legs and less back. I often found lots of conventional deadlifts to be just exhausting and not necessarily good for me (e.g. Boring But Big 5×10). However, I could see doing hex bars for 5×10 and gaining much from it. I might even try putting Fat Gripz on them; not sure as I don’t want grip strength to be the limiting factor, but it’s a variation to consider.

Diet Learning

For about 10 weeks I cut, using the RP Diet Templates.

I started at 252, I ended at 236. I spent exactly 2 months (Nov. 27 to Jan 27) on the templates. Losing 16 pounds in 8 weeks is quite fine. The original plan was to cut for the entire length of the MPT templates, but I had some scheduling matters that caused me to end early. I was OK with it tho because 16 pounds is fine. I spent the past couple weeks brining myself back to a set-point. I’m hovering around 239-241 depending on the day, which is to be expected at this point (carbbed back up, etc.).

What was great about this go-round was all my past experience with RP dieting helped. First, I was using the “new” 3.0 diet templates, which continue to improve on things. I started with RP when it was only personal-coaching (no templates). I used prior versions of the templates and didn’t like them so well. I think they made good adjustments to the 3.0 templates.

I started on Base with medium workload and lost decently to start. Then I moved to Cut 1, medium and kept losing. When that began to stall, I went to Cut 1 light and added in a bit of cardio. Yes, I could have moved to Cut 2, but I didn’t see the point. When did the math on the caloric intake of Cut 1 medium vs. light, I forget the numbers off the top of my head but it was significant enough that it, coupled with adding in 20 minutes elliptical every gym day, that would be enough of an incremental change in caloric deficit. I could save Cut 2 for when Cut 1 light + cardio stopped working. But it never did.

The trick is incremental caloric deficit. I could make small adjustments to the diet, reducing the caloric intake. Then I could also make small adjustments to the workload, increasing the caloric expenditure. No need to do everything at once. Modify one small thing, let it work. When it stops working, make another small change. I found this worked for me. And part of the reason? Mental health.

See, staying on Cut 1 light still allowed me to eat more food than Cut 2 medium. It becomes a more difficult thing on the mental (and emotional) side when you just are deprived of more food and have more hunger. So you gotta fight it on that mental and emotional front as well.

I found a few other things to help with my meals this go-round.

I ate more fresh veggies. In the past I’d use a lot of frozen because it was useful and convenient. But frozen vegetables just don’t have the same texture and satisfaction as fresh. So I’d take fresh broccoli, cut it up, and saute it (no oil) with some salt and pepper. To have the crunch, the browning, the better flavor and texture, made a big difference.

I ate a lot of sirloin. I love beef. In the past I’d try to stay lean, and cost-effective, by eating chicken or things like ground meats. That’s OK here and there, but it really grows tiresome. This time around I ate more sirloin. It’s lean. I’d take 5-8 pounds of it, give it dry seasoning, then put it on the grill outside with some wood smoke for improved flavor. Try to cook it to a medium-rare because it’s going to get heated up again later, and that will cook it a bit to medium — just right. This helped me a great deal, again because of flavors, but also mouth-feel and texture. It was nice to chew something! And it wasn’t chicken. Granted, I’d have some ground or chicken for 4-5 days in a prep-run, because even having sirlion 3-4x day for 4-5 days in a row got old. But it still helped to break things up and was something more to look forward to eating.

I did not prep days in advance. I know people that spend all day Sunday cooking and box up every single meal for the entire week. I was considering doing that, but it didn’t work out. What I would do tho is prep a bunch of stuff and just leave it in a big container (e.g. 1 big-ass container of cooked rice; 1 big-ass container of sauted broccoli; 1 big-ass container of cubed-up sirlion). Then what I might do is the day before, weigh out and box up all my meals for tomorrow. That allowed me to make some variations if I wanted it, but still be fairly convenient to eat.

Another thing that helped mentally was something I read. I forgot who said it (maybe Shelby Starnes?). It’s good to get used to eating the same thing over and over. Accept it. Be happy about it. It makes life easier. Because this is a choice, your choice. You’re doing it for a reason, a reason of your choice. So – enjoy the process of becoming lighter.

Next

I’ve hum-hawed for a while about what to do next, because there’s a number of avenues I wish to explore. That said, I’ve decided how to spend the next 18-ish weeks.

I’m going to run the MPT again, with some modifications from Jared Feather (RP’s physique guy).

I want to run MPT again because I want to see how it goes when not running a caloric deficit.

I have some knowledge of how things work, so I think a second time through I should be able to run things better, smarter, more effectively than last time.

I expect this should continue to allow me to make progress, without beating me up too bad. Yeah, I’m not sure how my strength will fair after over half-a-year on this “lighter” work, but hopefully I’ll have some good muscle mass to show for it all. Then I can focus on making that mass do something useful.

Jared’s modifications are something discussed on the MPT Facebook group. Instead of running the templates as-is, you run them like this:

  • Tab 1 (Basic hypertrophy) – 7-10 rep range
  • Tab 1 again – 8-12 rep range
  • Tab 2 (Metabolite), 8-12 rep range, with the intensity techniques
  • Tab 3 (Resensitization)

The intention is spend more time in traditional hypertrophy ranges to push out the time between metabolite cycles (assuming you run the MPT over and over). Jared states this is because stuff like that is great for a time, but may decline in effectiveness more rapidly than traditional intensity thresholds. So, save that extreme build-up of metabolites for when it can really be effective, to help from getting stale too fast. It’s an effort to try to squeeze out more long-term improved results.

So you do tab 1 at a lower but still effective range. Then tab 1 again at a higher range. This allows for good work, but that rep range on average goes up and thus volume does too.

Note tho that tab 2 work actually is a bit lower than the original docs prescribe. This helps to bring the weights back into a better range (e.g. at least 60%+).

This is what I’m going to try. I’m kinda thinking it may scratch my “go heavy” itch a bit too, especially how the first mesocycle will run. I mean, it’s not heavy triples, but it’s heavier than things have been. 🙂

One thing in terms of my exercise selection is during the first tab 1, picking barbell exercises, more compound, more “difficult”. Things that allow me to lift purely heavier. During tab 1-again, I’ll still have those sorts but I’ll want to throw in more DB work. Then tab 2 will be whatever it winds up being, probably with more tilt towards DB work if I can.

As for diet? I’m not being strict. The funny thing is that I’m still not eating much — I do think I have a new setpoint. I put a carb source on my plate, and I still size it where I have been — kinda small. Not a bad thing. I am eating more carbs yes, but my weight’s been pretty steady for a few weeks now. My hope is during the coming 18 weeks to only gain maybe 5 pounds? If I do that it’s a pretty safe bet it was 5 pounds of muscle gain (or maybe like 4 muscle 1 fat). Then I’ll see about doing a mini-cut for 4-6 weeks, and probably start back to the world of powerlifting.

Huzzah.

 

2018-02-16 training log

Well, my first run of the MPT are pretty much done. Yeah, there’s a deload next week, but basically this is it.

I’ve enjoyed it. I’ll write more on my overall impressions soon.

Meantime, today was just what it was. I hate hex/trap-bar deadlifts, but I also think they are great and will find more of a regular place in my life.

I also do want to put more DB work into my life. It’s harder, and I really love what it does for grip.

On stiff-legs, I need to be better about not bending my knees. Yes there’s a slight bend, but that bend should remain stable. I found myself bending a little more as the bar descended, which took the stress off the hamstrings. When I kept the knees “locked” (again, still a slight bend/break, just don’t change the angle), that really worked the hamstrings better. Something for me to keep in mind.

Anyways, that’s that. I’ll take deload, then I’m 95% sure I’m going to run the MPT again with Jared’s modifications.

For the record, today: 3/fail, 2-3 minutes rest between sets (tho calf raises maybe were 90 seconds)

RP Physique, Mesocycle 3, week 2

  • Hex Bar Deadlift
    • bar x 10
    • 135 x 10
    • 225 x 5
    • 275 x 3
    • 290 x 9
    • 290 x 8
    • 290 x 6
    • 290 x 6
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlift
    • 195 x 10
    • 195 x 10
    • 195 x 10
    • 195 x 10
  • Leg Press
    • 135 x 10
    • 245 x 5
    • 385 x 10
    • 385 x 10
    • 385 x 10
    • 385 x 10
  • Calves on Leg Press
    • 105 x 12
    • 105 x 12
    • 105 x 12
    • 105 x 12
    • 105 x 12
    • 105 x 11
  • Hammer Curl
    • 25e x 10
    • 40e x 10
    • 40e x 10
    • 40e x 10
  • DB Shrug
    • 80e x 10
    • 120e x 12
    • 120e x 12
    • 120e x 12

2018-02-15 training log

Today felt really good. Hooray for carbs! 🙂

The more I have sessions like this, the more I think sticking with MPT for another cycle — with Jared’s modifications — will be good. Very curious to see where they take me.

All in all, happy with today. Things moved well. My bench technique was solid. Just a good day.

3/fail. 2-3 minutes rest

RP Physique, Mesocycle 3, week 2

  • Wide-Grip Pulldowns
    • 90 x 10
    • 105 x 8
    • 120 x 6
    • 150 x 10
    • 150 x 10
    • 150 x 9
    • 150 x 9
  • Cable Row
    • 150 x 12
    • 150 x 12
  • DB Upright Row
    • 45e x 12
    • 45e x 12
    • 45e x 12
    • 45e x 11
  • Bench Press
    • bar x 10
    • 95 x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 185 x 3
    • 215 x 8
    • 215 x 8
    • 215 x 6
    • 215 x 6
  • Incline DB Press
    • 45e x 10
    • 70e x 12
    • 70e x 12
    • 70e x 12

2018-02-13 training log

It’s just a whole different mode of lifting.

And while I cannot help but think about new cycles and new programming that I do myself, I do find myself gravitating back to my original plan of running the MPT (modified) one more time, at least. But I do think I’ll keep at the programming trials to solidify my thinking.

I do think front squats should stick around. I don’t like them, but I disliking them less. 🙂

3/fail (tho sometimes I pushed a little more). 2-3 minutes rest between sets.

RP Physique, Mesocycle 3, week 3

  • Front Squat
    • bar x 10
    • 95 x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 175 x 3
    • 195 x 8
    • 195 x 8
    • 195 x 8
    • 195 x 8
  • Seated Leg Curl
    • 115 x 12
    • 115 x 10
    • 115 x 10
    • 115 x 10
  • Stair Calves
    • 40 x 12
    • 40 x 12
    • 40 x 12
    • 40 x 12
    • 40 x 10
    • 40 x 10
  • DB Skullcrushers
    • 25e x 10
    • 35e x 10
    • 35e x 10
    • 35e x 8
  • High Incline DB Press
    • 40e x 10
    • 65e x 10
    • 65e x 10
    • 65e x 10

2018-02-12 training log

It’s funny.

I’m enjoying lifting heavy, but I’m sucking at it. I’ve been away from it for so long, I don’t have the cues, the groove, etc. in my head and body to do. Like today, the bar path was all over the place. Ugh. As I think about it, I think the right thing for me to do will be another round of MPT (with modifications), then the RP Powerlifting templates full cycle – hypertrophy, strength, then peak. Something like that should help me get back in the groove of that sort of lifting.

Anyways, only non-obvious details here are 3/fail and 3-minutes-ish rest between sets. And tho it’s to be 3/fail, if the last set got closer to 2/fail or 1/fail, I didn’t sweat it that too much.

RP Physique, Mesocycle 3, week 2

  • Incline Bench Press
    • bar x 10
    • 95 x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 175 x 5
    • 205 x 5
    • 205 x 5
    • 205 x 5
    • 205 x 5
  • DB Bench Press
    • 60e x 10
    • 95e x 8
    • 95e x 8
  • Barbell Row
    • bar x 10
    • 95 x 10
    • 145 x 5
    • 195 x 7
    • 195 x 6
    • 195 x 6
  • Normal Grip Pulldown
    • 125 x 12
    • 125 x 12
    • 125 x 12
  • DB Lateral Raises
    • 25e x 12
    • 25e x 12
    • 25e x 12
  • Reaching Situp
    • skipped.

2018-02-09 training log

Yeah, I’m torn.

Lifting heavier is great. Very happy to do it. As I do what I’m doing, I start to think that MPT again with meso 1 being heavier (6-10 rep range) I might actually enjoy. I figure I have a few days tho, and I’m going to try writing out a program (with 5/3/1 at the core) to see what I think. We’ll see.

As for today, good stuff. I think I enjoyed the DB shrugs most of all, because holding onto those particular DB’s with the fatter grips is great for the forearms. 🙂 Makes me think if I do my own programming, fat grips.

I also continue to appreciate hex bar deadlifts. They have their own unique brand of pain and suck.

RP Physique, Mesocycle 3

  • Hex Bar Deadlift
    • bar x 10
    • 135 x 10
    • 185 x 5
    • 225 x 3
    • 275 x 9
    • 275 x 8
    • 275 x 7
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlift
    • 185 x 10
    • 185 x 10
    • 185 x 10
  • Leg Press
    • 135 x 10
    • 245 x 5
    • 365 x 12
    • 365 x 12
    • 365 x 10
  • Calves on Leg Press
    • 100 x 12
    • 100 x 12
    • 100 x 12
    • 100 x 12
    • 100 x 8
  • Hammer Curl
    • 25e x 10
    • 40e x 10
    • 40e x 10
  • DB Shrug
    • 80e x 10
    • 120e x 12
    • 120e x 12

2018-02-08 training log

I’m so conflicted.

It felt great to lift somewhat heavy again. I felt strong — thank you carbs. It felt really good today. I want more, but then the templates are so limited right now due to the nature of this short mesocycle.

So I’m torn.

Part of me wants to just start lifting like a powerlifter again, lift heavy, but do it a bit smarter integrating what I’ve learned.

But part of me thinks that I should stick to my guns, do another cycle of the MPT to continue to gain from it what I can. And trying to tell myself how that first cycle will be emphasizing the 6-10 rep range, so it’s still going to be moderately heavy work.

I think what I might do to scratch my itch is see if I can come up with a tangible new program and just see how it looks on paper. Then decide. But if I can’t get myself sorted out in time, I just go with my plan for the MPT.

RP Physique, Mesocycle 3

  • Wide-Grip Pulldowns
    • 90 x 10
    • 105 x 8
    • 120 x 6
    • 145 x 10
    • 145 x 10
    • 145 x 9
  • Cable Row
    • 145 x 12
  • DB Upright Row
    • 45e x 12
    • 45e x 12
    • 45e x 10
  • Bench Press
    • bar x 10
    • 95 x 10
    • 135 x 10
    • 185 x 5
    • 205 x 12
    • 205 x 8
  • Incline DB Press
    • 65e x 12
    • 65e x 12
  • Slant-Board Sit-up
    • bw x 12

AAR: Use of Deadly Force Instructor, February 2018

From January 31, 2018 to February 4, 2018 I participated in the Use of Deadly Force Instructor class offered by the Massad Ayoob Group in conjunction with the Firearms Academy of Seattle, hosted by KR Training. The event was held at the Giddings (TX) Downtown Restaurant, which provided a large and comfortable meeting room, as well as most excellent lunch (and coffee/drinks) catering throughout the event.

About the course, from the MAG website:

Taught personally by Massad Ayoob, this one week 40+ hour course of instruction is offered by the Massad Ayoob Group in conjunction with The Firearms Academy of Seattle, Inc. to teach and certify self-defense firearms instructors in the complicated and nuanced discipline of teaching the legalities of use of deadly force in self-defense. Teaching how to shoot is the easy part. Much tougher is teaching people when and when not to use force, including deadly force, in self defense. In addition to learning what to teach and how to present it, students will also learn how to take their expertise to court, to both serve as a material witness for their students, and perhaps an expert witness in other self-defense court cases. Course content includes:

Justifying use of deadly force in self-defense
Use of non-lethal force in self defense
Understanding the affirmative defense of self-defense
Physiological phenomenon involved in deadly force incidents
Criminal law and self-defense
Dynamics of violent encounters
Mock courtroom exercise
Issues from actual self-defense cases (case studies)
Classroom presentation

Students will be expected to prepare for this class by researching their own state’s laws on use of deadly force, along with their own state’s case law, and bring this material to class. Additionally, students should be prepared for instruction to go into the early evening if necessary on some days, in order to cover the vast array of material which needs to be covered.

Pre-requisites: Instructor credentials or membership in the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc.

As you can see, it’s quite an in-depth and intensive class. Officially, the class is 40 hours of instruction, but I reckon we totaled about 50 hours due to extended discussions, Q&A, and a large number of student presentations (I believe the student headcount was 32).

Class Content

I cannot go into detail about the class content: you need to come to class yourself. But there are a few things I can say.

Class started with Massad teaching solo; Marty arrived later with Mas and Marty co-teaching the last three days.

If you have previously taking LFI-1, MAG-20 (classroom), or MAG-40, a fair portion of the material will be redundant. I have MAG-20 classroom and MAG-40 certificates, so for me there was redundant material. Sometimes it made it hard to sit through class, but I actually appreciated it. Why? Because redundancy fosters learning. Let me repeat that: redundancy fosters learning. To hear this material again was a good thing. As well, when you hear the material in MAG-20/40, you’re hearing it from the perspective – both as it’s being taught and as you are consuming the information – of the student. When you hear that material in this DFI content, it is being presented and you are consuming it as that of an instructor. The context shift makes a difference in the material, how it’s presented, and how you consume it; so it’s actually a good thing to hear the information again.

After Marty’s arrival, content of the course shifted from use of force knowledge and information to more about courtroom matters. Issues of defense, of concept articulation, of expert witnesses, and how court and trial proceedings work.

The highlight event was the moot court exercise. The intent of the exercise is to show what a trial can be like (if you’ve never had exposure to one), how proceedings work, how direct and cross happen, and then how you – as a possible material or expert witness – will operate. Due to the fact we only had one day for the exercise, the ground was laid by watching an interesting movie that left a lot of questions. We treated this as evidence, because in a real trial all of that information could come out but it would take 2 weeks to do so; since we didn’t have 2 weeks, this was a fair device for the exercise.

We had only one actual lawyer in class, so he played the judge. Marty prosecuted, Mas defended. Particular students were tapped to play certain characters. Other students directly participated as expert witnesses, generally playing themselves. For example, Marty used me as an expert witness, and I played myself as an expert on martial arts, firearms, and weapon disarms. (Aside: during cross, Mas posed a hypothetical to me – which was a little personal and stunned me that he would “go there”, but was brilliant in delivery, execution, and context; it made his point so well, and it demonstrated Mas’ keen senses and abilities. Bravo, sir!). The remaining students were on the jury, and after much deliberation? We resulted in a hung jury (we were told in past classes that juries have found both guilty and not guilty – so it’s far from a canned experience!).

Every student in class was required to give a 5-10 minute presentation on a topic, which was assigned by Marty prior to class. This allowed each student to demonstrate presentation ability (it’s an Instructor class, after all), but it also provided each of us with 30-some solid articles and references directly relevant to use of force, expert witness knowledge, court proceedings, case law, and other topics to really expand the information provided by this class. I believe Karl will be posting student presentations (of those who wish to do so) over at the KR Training blog in the coming weeks.

If you’ve been to one of Mas’ classes before, you know a portion of the material is provided by watching videos – which provides consistent, documented, and easily reproducible content. But then there was a great deal of live lecture, presentation, Q&A, and discussion as well; this is why class would run later.

My Take-Home

I thought the class was fantastic.

There’s a huge amount of information provided on the issues of deadly force, and how I, as an instructor, not only have to work to convey such matters to my students, but then how as an instructor I may be called to be a material witness or could offer my services as an expert witness. I know of no other program that provides this vital information.

While the lecture was good, the moot court exercise was great. Asking some other students, and they too felt the moot court was the best and most valuable portion of the class.

I think it’s important to consider the prospective students of this class: people who instruct in the use of deadly force. You don’t need to be a prior MAG graduate. In fact, I got the impression a fair number of students were folks who just taught things like their state CCW course or maybe the NRA basic courses as a side-gig. Consequently, they may never have had the exposure to the courtroom, to trials, to other things Mas teaches. This class is a great resource for breaking that ground and being able to do so through the eyes of instruction.

While for sure the class was biased towards firearms (tho there’s no shooting in the class: it’s 100% classroom), this is the sort of class that ANYONE teaching “self-defense” should take. Do you teach women’s self-defense courses? even those that are just about awareness, palm strikes to the chin, and knee to the groin — there’s still use of force matters to be aware of. Pepper spray classes? Traditional martial arts? If you are in the business of teaching self-defense, under whatever mantle, you need this knowledge. As I think about it, it generally seems that only firearms folk cover such legal matters, but it really needs to be anyone teaching self-defense.

Any criticisms of the event? I think the only thing that actually bothered me during class was at times Q&A could go off the rails. Some questions felt like personal questions that should have been asked during break vs. taking up class (and everyone’s) time. And sometimes it just ran long. On the one hand, it’s understandable because the topic is interesting, engaging, broad, and deep – so it’s very easy to “get into it”. On the other, when you’ve been sitting in a chair for days, drinking from the firehose, sometimes you just need the firehose to be shut off for a little bit and get to break sooner rather than later. Again, I don’t necessarily fault folks here (I’m guilty of time management issues myself), but if I had to mention anything that I didn’t like, it was that. But it’s a minor thing.

One other thing I liked about the event? The non-classroom stuff. I made a few new friends, got to meet Dr. H. Anthony Semone, PhD (Google him), and spend some informal time with Marty Hayes. If you know some of my past, I am thankful for some things Marty has done. We’ve spoken here and there (including recording an episode of the Polite Society Podcast mere days before this event), so it was great to finally meet him in person, have supper a few times, and sip some bourbon together. Oh, and I got to introduce him to Buc-ee’s. We’ve got a small world, and our industry here is even smaller – events like this, to meet and work with like-minded folks, are precious.

Mas and Marty don’t teach this class that often. So when it becomes available, make the effort to take it. It’s some of the most important training you can receive.