AAR Global Resource Services, LLC.
Hosted by Central Iowa Training Group
Instructor: Mr. Steve Tarani
4-5 Mar., 2017
Weather: Beautiful. Sunny and mid 60s. But we were indoors.
Attendees: Multiple LEOs, two father/son teams, a doctor, a few industry guys, and armed citizens. Two students were also Masters of various martial arts as well.
Instructor: Here's his bio from his website, https://www.stevetarani.com
Professional educator, author and keynote speaker Steve Tarani has served the United States Defense, Law Enforcement and Intelligence communities for over 25 years as a respected Protective Programs subject matter expert and service provider to numerous high/ low-profile federal agencies. Specializing in operational readiness, he is a federally certified force options instructor actively contracted by the US Department of Defense (DoD), National Security Agency (NSA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and throughout the private sector.
Mr. Tarani, formerly sworn in the states of California and Nevada, is a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee, protective programs educator and formerly on staff at the US Department of Energy (DOE) National Security Institute (Security Force Training Dept.) at Kirtland Air Force Base (NM). At the time of this writing, he is a published author of eight books, an active protective agent, remains an adviser to the US Department of Justice (USDOJ), US Department of Defense, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and is a member of InfraGard in good standing.
Basically, this is a guy who has been there, done that, and made the t-shirts. Steve's training included total immersion in foreign cultures where he learned from the masters who taught his state-side instructors. He literally lived with the tribes for months at a time, learning and developing his skills. His movements are unbelievably fast and precise. This is a man who has truly honed his craft until he simply cannot get it wrong.
Gear: Fixed and folding conventional blades as well as karambits
Safety briefing led the way. Watches, chains, piercings, and anything that went bang came off before we started. Steve, like any quality instructor, put safety before everything else. This day focused solely on fixed blades and folders. We went through grips, positions, movement, and targets. While this was not a knife-fighting class, students needed to understand common vectors and targets of attack to defend against. After the first hour, we were on our feet for the rest of the day. Steve hammered us on access and deployment first. With just an hour of instruction, 80% of the class could draw and deploy a folding knife from concealment and be in a fighting position in under 1.5 seconds. The fastest of the day was 0.97 with a folding karambit (two handed deployment). Myself, using a trainer I had never handled before because my EDC folder was in the mail (long story short, helped move my sister across the country and mailed my gun and knife back to myself), I was turning in 1.03-1.05s deployments. I'm certain that I could have been sub one second if I was using a knife I was familiar with. Compare that with typical draw times and you see immediately why knives are a go-to at ECQC range. From here, we paired off and moved on to techniques to defend against a knife attack. Steve had us changing partners frequently so we would be forced to adapt to different sizes/shapes of attackers. Day one ended with everyone tired, grinning, and some of us, bruised (but still grinning like morons).
Again, safety led the way. Once we were all ready, we learned a bit of history about the karambit then it was right into working with them. We did a lot of what we did the previous day but with the curved blade. Then we dug into karambit-specfic techniques. I have to say that as someone who had never even held a karambit prior to this class, karambits are amazing tools. They flow like water from one strike to the next. It's so fluid and natural feeling that it really does feel more like an extension of the body than a separate tool. I can't say the same for a folding or fixed blade knife. As the day progressed, so did the difficulty of Steve's drills. His masters taught him that to be master the craft meant to be able to thing about three things in parallel. To facilitate this, he had us start with a rhythm drill (like a boxer uses a speed bag but with a knife). Once we had it down, he had roleplayers ask the operators math questions while doing the drill. Then he added movement where the roleplayer was leading the operator around the room (kind of like dancing but with a knife) while asking math questions that the operator had to solve. Then he started throwing chairs around the room which the operator had to avoid while the roleplayer was leading them around, pushing us even further as we had to incorporate situational awareness into the drill. Sounds easy but it was anything but, I promise. We closed this drill by reducing the space in class to about 10'x25' with seven sets of roleplayers and operators. Once the operator dispatched the roleplayer, the roleplayer was free to engage another operator. If an operator was too slow, he had to handle multiple assailants simultaneously. So multiple assailants in a crowded space with a bunch of people moving around at all times. Sounds like a subway from Hell!
In summation, this was my first formal introduction to edged weapons. While I'm not looking for a knife fight, I do feel much more confident with an edged weapon both in my hands as well as defending against one and I have a new set of drills to practice (running out of time in the day...). If Steve comes around you, make it to his class.
My thanks to the Central Iowa Training Group for organizing the class, Steve Tarani for the instruction, and Brownells for letting us use their facilities. Without these actors, this never would have come together.