I have found that while most people believe that they know
what Integrity is, is often hard for people to define. I have felt the same way
over the years and this difficulty is part of the reason that I save Integrity,
the most fundamental principle which drives my company and my training
programs, for last.
Anyone who has sat through my “Lessons for Tactical
Instructors from the European Enlightenment” lecture knows that I read way too
much. Luckily for me, in the middle of the last century, the Encyclopedia
Britannica produced a 52 volume set (The latest edition is now 60 volumes)
Books of The Western World
. Two of the volumes comprise a Syntopicon of Great
and offer almost exhaustive references to what some of the greatest minds
have had to say about those ideas. The list of ideas includes Duty, Law, Honor,
Mind, Will and Love. One idea curiously absent is this idea of Integrity. While
leafing through related sections, including some of the ideas listed above, you
will still be hard pressed to find any comprehensive definition for Integrity.
Even the word processing program that I am preparing this essay on only offers a
simplistic quality of adhering to “high moral principles” or “professional
standards”. Of course, as well all know, one person’s standards are sometimes
another’s punch-line. And as for Moral Standards? I think we know better than
to look for consistency in that venue.
Along these lines, I look at Integrity as a very subjective
concept. When explaining what we mean by it to Instructor Candidates, I often
refer to Polonius’ advice to his son Leartes, “to thine own self be true”. And
that phrase has become the measure by which we apply the concept of Integrity
at I.C.E. We need to be able to look our students in the eye, and ourselves in
the mirror, and know that what we are putting out makes sense to us and is the
best thing that we have to offer. We aren’t overly concerned with what others
are doing, have done or even what we’ve believed in or taught before. When we
encounter a new technique or concept or develop an idea while teaching a class
or discussing a tactic, we always start off by looking for efficiency (Does
this achieve my goal with less effort/time/energy than another option?), then
we look for consistency (Will this integrate easily with what I am already
doing or in the context that I will need the skill?), but our final check is
always Integrity: Does this make sense? Does this stand up to the tests? Is
this the BEST that we can come up with?
Finally, the upshot of that approach is the final question:
Are we willing to dispose of this concept/technique/tactic if we find something
better? This is often where the rubber meets the road for a tactical
instructor. Are you willing to contradict some great cool-t-shirt-team, your
favorite instructor or even yourself if you find a better way tomorrow? At
I.C.E., the answer will always be “yes”.
An example may be in order:
For many years, I have lectured
students on the importance of moving offline from an attack after recognition
and then planting oneself and getting the shooting done as efficiently as
possible as opposed to practicing some overly-choreographed “shooting & moving”
drill that reflected neither realistic movement to safety nor efficient combat
accurate shooting techniques. Of course, this was for dealing with threats
outside of “two arms reach” (closer than that, we generally advocate moving in
towards the threat rather than backing up or moving away into a bad tie).
Through several discussions with students, in online forums and with other
instructors, I became aware that this was leaving a potentially dangerous hole
in a would-be comprehensive program. That gap was when the student was just
outside of two arms reach (specifics are beyond the scope of this essay and
related to the athleticism of the people involved as well as other
circumstances) and could possibly avoid a hands-on situation against a weapon
such as a knife or club. Over the past 6 months, a drill was developed to
reflect what I consider to be a realistic and efficient context for shooting in
moving. At first, this drill was run with close associates, then Instructor
Candidates, then Advanced Pistol Handling students and, as of May, the drill
was officially made a part of the fundamental Combat Focus Shooting Course and
has even been included as such in the last few Instructor Development Courses.
This drill incorporates realistically fast movement (ie- as fast as possible),
with rapid shooting at full extension, with the student’s focus being left on
getting combat accurate hits as fast as possible while maintaining the two arms
reach gap between them and the target. Like many concepts in tactical training,
understanding is the beginning, once it was accurately identified, developing a
practical drill for use on a standard live fire square range was the next step.
Finally, testing it with students was saved for last. The result? We saw things
being reflected in the drill that reflected things often seen in Force on Force
simulation and on videos of actual incidents. I honestly believe that this is a
great drill and that it is important to introduce students to it once they’ve
got a good handle on Extend-Touch-Press and smooth presentation from the
holster. The potential integrity problem, of course, is that I am somewhat
contradicting one of training policies from the past. So what? We’ve found a
better way to train a specific problem and we are going to share it with our
students. I still think that overly choreographed slow-paced “shooting &
moving” drills are almost worthless, but I am no longer advocating only the
move-in or shift & shoot options. For a very narrow window, we have very
dramatically changed the Combat Focus Program.
This is the reason that the Combat Focus Book, in its 5th
printing, has been revised three times and is currently a little out of date.
This is the reason that the PDV series Advanced Pistol Handling DVD, taped in
April 2007, is not “up to speed” on our latest methodology when it comes to
malfunction drills. It is still the best information we had to offer, but we
think we’ve found some better stuff in the meantime.
By letting Integrity be the bottom line in our program
development, our students can be assured that we will, right or wrong, always
be putting out what we believe to be the best information we can. An important
result of this process, one often noted and appreciated by students, is that
any I.C.E. or Combat Focus Shooting Instructor will also be able to explain WHY
we teach what we teach. We don’t offer “just another tool for the toolbox”, we
offer the best information that we have learned, found or developed.