Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hoplite Training Armour: The Training Advantage

Testimonials like this are what it's all about. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is making a superior training product to help keep the women and men, who put their lives on the line, a little safer. Respect.

“Marc, I used one of the suits today during our ERT entry training in a house that is scheduled for demolition. I acted as the role player and had not told any of the operators that I had purchased the Spartan Gear. After the first operator came through the door I blindsided him with a tackle. Their reaction was great. I was able to go after each member of the team individually at different times throughout the day to give everyone the experience. During the debrief after training each operator gave the training rave reviews because of the use of the Spartan Gear. Getting to go full-force, hands on instead of just simulating many of our hand-to-hand techniques will now bring our training to another level. I did receive a few scrapes, bruises and cuts but that’s to be expected when you are involved in this business. Thanks again for your product. Stay safe”.

D/Lt. Patrick J. Devlin

The Warrior Spirit: Taking Risks

"The worst thing in the world happens when you avoid taking risks: nothing. Do nothing, have nothing, are nothing, become nothing. It takes greater effort to resist a challenge than the courage to overcome it. Only when we risk over-reaching do we discover how far we can go. Imagine the stories you will be able to share, having wandered off the well trodden paths. Your greatness lay in the fog banks, just off the cliff's edge. Leap and trust the universe that the net will appear." - Scott Sonnon

Original artwork by signed artist.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On Hoplite Training Armour by Jose Medina

“In this fluctuating economy, it is always great to see a product come along in this industry that works well under stress training conditions and it capable of being put on in a blink of an eye while the price tag is reasonable and workable. The color system is a major asset in the training arena especially for law enforcement identification of simulated suspect/s. Even when throwing shirts or vests over the suits, there are still strong color identifiers that students can see under the other garments under our “role player rules”. The super secure helmet straps are a blessing for me and my team when conducting role playing operations as our heads donʼt get ripped off as fast. Most important besides all the durability of the suits: Customer Service! Itʼs great to get fast customer service and no BS excuses if there any small issues that need to be addressed. If someone in our class is provided the company information by us for possible purchase or quotes for the suits, they call me back stating they get great service and representatives of Spartan Training Gear actually contact us to say “THANK YOU”.

Thanks again Team Spartan and keep up the good work!"

- Jose Medina

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Hoplite Training Armour Testimonial

"Brought out the Spartan Training Gear last night. The pressure tests went great and the suit performed admirably. The functionality of the suit is unbelievable. I would recommend this suit to any school where reality based training is taking place. The suit allows the defender to strike the attacker with near full power and speed. This gear is a definate plus at my school.

Thanks Marc Joseph for manufacturing something so useful to me and my class!!!"

John Lacy
Senior Instructor Urban Krav Maga America

A Hoplite Training Armour Testimonial

"Spartan Training Gear has become a critical element for my personal martial arts training. The Hoplite Training Armour allows a greater use of force during combative drills and sparring. The protective qualities reduce the risk of injury, yet the impact of an opponent's strike is still felt, so a student maintains respect and understanding of an opponent's power. Wearing the equipment is comfortable and does little to encumber natural movement. I highly recommend Spartan Training Gear for anyone serious about realistic and safe training. 

Thanks for creating such a quality product!"

Peter Jensen
Major US Army Special Forces Officer
Combat Systema Instructor

Friday, August 5, 2011

Training with Deficits by Craig Flaherty

Preface: This is a must read. I'm taking the liberty of sharing this with my close friends who are police officers, trainers and their families. - Marc Joseph

For years I have been a trainer in one fashion or another. From time to time I have been approached by one person or another asking if they could participate in an upcoming course. The reasoning they gave for the question was they suffered from some type of physical deficit. Always they were welcomed with open arms and what ever concession that needed to be made was made. We worked around the limitations and not only did they learn and process the information imparted, so did I having to work around several different scenarios. I must admit though, when the class was over I really did not give it a second thought. I just went along with life until the next time the question came up.

In my adult life I have been in relatively decent shape. Training as a student in combatives and firearms kept me in shape. Teaching these courses did not hurt either. I was just going through life without much of a care.

March 24, 2010 I woke up early in the morning, and as normal proceeded with the beginning of the day. I did notice a burning of the eyes and little problem focusing. I just chalked this up to being early in the morning, As I progressed I quickly lost control of the left side of my body running into a wall. Knowing this was not right I called to my wife and we went to the hospital. Within a short time after a battery of tests I was informed I had suffered a stroke.

The next few days were spent in the hospital with the normal worries that go along with this type of event. I was lucky I spent three days in the stroke floor of the hospital and four in the rehabilitation floor. This is when I had several epiphanies as to my long term ability to teach combatives and firearms.

I had lost substantial control of my left side and had no prognosis when it would return. Through rehabilitation I started to work on every day things, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking I can’t quickly grasp with my left hand I surely cannot execute a magazine change or effectively deliver a strike. I had an upcoming weekend of Suarez International courses to teach in May and was concerned that not only I may not be able to teach in six weeks; I may not be able to teach in the foreseeable future. 

I now had an appreciation for all those students that I have taught that had a concern with their own deficit. Could they perform to a standard? Would they be responsible for holding back the class? Would they be risking too much and embarrass themselves? These are all valid questions, and now I had a small understanding as to how this truly affected people and their decisions to train.

Once I was able to rehabilitate at home out came the unloaded firearms. And while off work and watching television I accomplished magazine change after magazine change. Not a pretty sight at first. Many a magazine skidded across the floor from me missing the magazine well, to just plain dropping the magazine. I started with an H&K USP the handgun with the largest magazine well I had on hand. I then was able to whittle my target area down to a magazine well of a 1911.

Once I was able to make a magazine change with little effort, I struck out to test my moving skills. I had been slowly getting my walking gait back up to where it had been, but things as fatigue and the effects of the stroke held my progress back. I decided it was time to try to get off the “X” and try lateral movement. As long as I moved at a moderate pace I was fine. Unfortunately for me, if I expected to teach a Close range Gunfighting class in the coming weeks, the instructor should be able to move a little faster that moderately. 

As I attempted to move at a pace close to full speed, I met terra firma several times. This led to looks of pity from the wife and kids. My understanding of folks that have some type of mobility deficit increased. I kept getting up and trying, until I wasn’t falling very much. Now I felt I was ready to teach, but still in the back of my mind a little doubt crept in.

In the days and weeks before that May class I thought a lot of what I had gone through. Though my journey in no way compares to someone who has suffered a permanent deficit for what ever reason, it did give me a small insight into the problems these folks face. 

As the class came closer I had similar questions of my self as a student with a deficit would have of me. Could I perform to a standard that would teach my students what they came to learn? Would I be responsible for holding back the class? Not giving them their moneys worth of training. Would I be risking too much and embarrass myself? More importantly would I embarrass Gabe and all the other Staff Instructors? Would I be hurting The Suarez International reputation? 

The dreaded weekend of the class arrived. The weekend started with Introduction to Defensive Pistol on Friday and Close Range Gunfighting on Saturday and Sunday. Friday went without a hitch, but I was really worried about the Close Range Gunfighting class. The class went well with only a couple times did I notice a problem. Verbally I would falter a time or two, but when discussing shooting on the move in general and me demonstrating moving and shooting I stumbled. Other than that it went well. My confidence was renewed. I have only gotten stronger since that class.

What this diatribe is all about; for the most part your deficit is mostly a hindrance if you allow I to be. After all it is your fight you are going fighting. You need the skills to defend you and your family. That is your responsibility. If you are as lucky as I was and the deficit is short term, great train through it and go forward. If the deficit is longer term or you are just getting older and parts don’t work as well as they did. Improvise adapt and overcome.

This is where the instructor comes in. Communicate your concerns, and if at all possible I as an instructor should tweak the course to include you as a valuable member of the class. It is incumbent on the instructor to do this. After all, the course should be about the students, not how cool I am as instructor is. Train hard no matter what your deficit. The rest of the class may not even notice that accommodations have been made. You will be able to perform to the standard. You will not hold back the class. You will not risk anything and I will not allow you to embarrass yourself. That is the promise any good instructor will give you

About the author: Craig Flaherty is a Columbus-based active duty police officer, Investigative and Tactical team member and a Suarez International Instructor.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Perception Versus Reality: How Having Enhanced Gear Changes the Game in Your Training Arena

Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to train in plenty of force on force training exercises as well as develop and coordinate scenario based training operations for law enforcement and military operators worldwide. I have had the privilege to don many of the innovative training suits in the market from the original REDMAN gear to FIST which was used for our live baton training. Then as time went on innovation came to life with a more light weight suit which made the ability to move faster and strike
harder an intense reality change in how trainers and students create reality based training. In came the High Gear suit which made the ability to move faster and conduct role playing operations more realistically. The ability to create better role player scenarios, train in serious self defense training programs now came in the form of lighter weight impact reduction suits. So I thought...

In comes the Spartan Gear Hoplite Training Armour Elite Suit which added some major dimensions to the “perception” of impact reduction suits. You see, where the others have major place in our training arenas, the Spartan Gear Hoplite Armour Elite took it to the next level by adding some great features and on feature that is most important in how we train. The extra security velcro straps mounted on the helmets and
the other suit attachment areas has made training even that much better without losing velcro strap attachments whether it is the leg straps or upper torso areas. But here is the real critical part: Colors and perception.

It is important to understand that people need to perceive and see assorted colors and descriptions of figures and shapes when confronting subjects in the the real world. Not everyone is wearing all black ninja outfits and there arenʼt many people wearing all red from head to toe in the streets on an every day basis. During critical incidents, witnesses may be asked about what or who they saw and they normally provide general information on the suspect or suspects. This comes from their “perceptions” and what their eyes see. This same process applies with law enforcement officers in the field where they will provide descriptions of subjects they see during their encounters. It is a very important aspect of training and it is needed to help officers deal with use of force situations. Whether it is active shooter training, SWAT training, self defense training or officer survival training, we must teach and educate our personnel the concept of “perception and observations” and color is one of the most important aspects in reality based training.

What the Spartan Hoplite Armour does for advanced trainers is provide assorted color torsos that allow for trainers to change up characters wearing the suits from Royal Blue, Crimson Red to Military Green. When training in very fast movement training systems where subjects move quick and operators move quicker to the threat the Spartan Gear color systems give the added element of descriptions of subjects without just sticking to the all black or red colors provided by other suits. In the end you want your operators to train and respond to the world of “reality” and the Spartan Gear Hoplite Training Armour Elite brings true perception to life.

Jose Medina is the President & Director of Operations at Awareness Protective Consultants, LLC. He is an 18-year police veteran, USMC, SWAT Operator & First Responder.

Read Jose's complete bio here:

Find out more about APC and there programs here:

Jose Medina

Feedback from the 2011 BTEC Self-Defence Instructors Program

As posted by our UK-based affiliate, Ger O'Dea of Dynamis Training & Insight

"Our Dynamis Self Defence Instructor Certification 2011, in partnership with NFPS Ltd, was completed on the 29th July with a new cadre of Self-Defence Instructors graduating from the programme.

The instructor candidates came from the areas of Community Safety, Prison Services, Health Services, Mental Health Services, Victim Support and the self-defence community.  

Each candidate had to complete an extensive programme of online learning about the Law, Managing Training and the Science and Psychology of high-stress encounters before attending the 3-day course.  All this online learning and course content was provided by the National Federation for Personal Safety (NFPS Ltd.) as part of the BTEC certification requirements.

Once on-site, the candidates submitted their completed course workbook and engaged in classroom discussions of the pre-learned materials, which culminated on the second day with a written knowledge-check and on the third day with peer feedback on their presentations.

Meanwhile, world-class self-protection coach Tony Torres spent hours and hours with the group, imparting his highly effective and practical approach to breakaway, disengagement and self-defence.  For many, his ‘behavioural’ approach to self-protection, based on the natural behaviours and attitudes of humans in conflict, opened up many new perspectives on how they could enable and empower their learners to be safer.  

At various points in the training, to increase comfort and safety for the candidates, the lead trainers incorporated the use of impact-reduction training equipment from Spartan Training Gear, most notably the Hoplite Vest torso protector.  Using this equipment allowed the training to become more dynamic and was instrumental in pointing out how intensity could be incrementally added to a training programme safely.

The training venue itself was selected to give the candidates a visceral experience of training in self-defence, as the physical skill development sessions were carried out in a full scenario-area designed to replicate a typical Scottish street scene.  This level of 'training fidelity' with the real world was a central theme of the course.

Lead Trainer Gerard O’Dea prompted discussions in the classroom about the relevance of this behavioural method for instructors, providing commentary from the point of view of programme design and development with an eye to the legal and liability issues which may arise where behavioural issues are not incorporated into modern training.

The mix of theory, practice and high-level discussion was a great success and candidates remarked on many occasions that the course carried a very positive energy throughout.

The candidates offered their feedback in formal reflective submissions at the end of the course.  A selection of their comments follows:

“Thoroughly enjoyed the course.  It gave me numerous ideas and drills I can start to use with my students.  Teaching standard was excellent and I’m very keen to attend future courses” 
- Martial Arts Instructor, Edinburgh University

“Course provided me with knowledge, tools and skills I will take away and use.  By the end I felt confident that I was going to be able to structure, design and give a class.  The presentation to peers was actually very helpful in pulling it all together”
- Self-Defence Course Leader, HM Treasury

“A greatly presented course with a high standard throughout.  Thoroughly enjoyed training with Gerard O’Dea and Tony Torres”.
- Martial Arts Instructor, London

“Found both Tony & Gerard to be very professional and highly competent.    Behavioural Self-Protection concepts were new to me - enjoyed learning them and training them.  Very impressed by these 3 days. Thanks”
- Martial Arts Instructor, Glasgow

“Tony and Gerard were very helpful.  Would attend again!”
- Team Member, Community Safety Team

“The course was very well run, pitched at the right level for the candidates. I found the whole course interesting - the easy way in which the techniques move into one another was particularly interesting.  The coaches were helpful and very professional.”
- Physical Intervention and Breakaway Instructor, NHS

“All parts fitted well together with the video/online presentations supporting the physical skills aspect.  Both trainers were very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and related well to the delegates.  Course is excellent in this format.”
- Martial Arts Instructor, Stirling

“The course was run very professionally and both instructors were able to answer all questions.  The physical skills part was most interesting - thank you very much for spending the time to help us.”
- Prevention and Management of Violence and Aggression Lead, NHS

“The course was well structured and full of information and practical practice.  It has been one of the most beneficial courses for self-defence for me”
- Senior Control & Restraint Instructor, Prison Service

“Thank you both very much!  I found the course really stimulating and empowering! 
- Conflict Management Trainer, Private Company

“I would like to thank Gerard and Tony on the excellent delivery of the most knowledgeable and interesting course I have attended”
- Team Member, Community Safety Team

“Fantastic course, engagingly delivered - many thanks!”
- Mental Health Nurse and Violence & Aggression Management Lead

Dynamis, in association with NFPS Ltd., will be offering future Instructor Qualification courses in Physical Intervention, Restraint, Breakaway and Self-Defence.

If you are interested to gain a BTEC vocational qualification and all of the knowledge which is incorporated on these courses, make sure to register your interest by e-mailing [] to be notified of future training and certification opportunities."