Course review by Lee Morrison & Nick Engelen.
This program is for the professional development of personnel currently engaged in VIP Protection; or those in a relevant specialised security field; or those considering entering such employment. CQB Services have extensive experience in training Government entities. In 1985 having identified a need, they offered the first training course for civilians in the UK. Since then, of course, numerous companies have started presenting courses, of various standards. Now we had the opportunity to experience the same training that CQB Services present to Military Protection Units and Police SWAT Teams. This course was to offer students of Combatives an insight into one area of Close Protection, that being how we can apply our Combative skills to third party protection. The gathering of students came from far and wide, guys from all over the Country as well as visitors from Norway and Belgium. The first part of the course started around 10.30 in the morning after an initial introduction and a brief out line for the day. We started with an audio-visual Power Point presentation. Dennis gave us a VIP-protection overview which covered the different VIP-emergencies and threat assessment procedures, also an adapt ion to the Vital Pyramid originally devised by 'lofty' Wiseman, Jeff Cooper's colour codes and Their variations and a variety of material relating to the field of Close Protection. Dennis talked about how he became involved in V.I.P Protection during the 1980's and went onto discuss some of the important training issues as a whole regarding body guarding and Close Protection work. He went on to discuss how the module of today's training course is but one of numerous skills that are required for the CPO in the field.

The topic for the day was V.I.P. Third party Protection and more specifically to Close Quarter Combatives applied to the Protection of your V.I.P. This we were told requires a completely different kind of mindset from that of our own Self-Protection. This also creates a change in attitude and technicalities. Protection Priority is now geared towards your VIP which goes against all that is natural to your own Self-Protection. This is why most trainers of bodyguards will look for those people who are natural protectors. The bodyguard's job is to cover the VIP and limit what's known as VIP Exposure. He/she should only intervene if really necessary.

It is the job of the Close Protection Operative (CPO) to intercept any possible threat to your third party. The worse case scenario is where there is just one bodyguard and the VIP (not the ideal, ever) the order of the day here is explosive ballistic strikes that put the threat down quickly so not to expose your VIP for too long. This is were the term the 5 second fight; meaning finish the fight inside 5 seconds and cover your VIP comes from. The next change in Mindset occurs with your partner mentality, if your partner goes down you have to leave him and focus on the VIP this is something that a potential operative might find difficult, but is what's required to do the job. We then went on to look at the most important issue of potential situations and Threat Assessment. The level of protection is always determined by the level of threat, this could range from a low level harassment such as an over zealous fan or the paparatzi, through to a hostile crowd situation such as angry protestors during an industrial dispute right through to an actual attack.

This might be a thrown projectile of food or paint or an attack from a placard holding protestor, both hold embarrassing implications or it might be a more serious unarmed or armed assault with a bludgeon, knife or as makes up the bulk of serious attacks, from a gun. In all cases of attack it is the job of the CPO to intercept the threat whilst the bodyguard gets the VIP to safety. As the CPO moves into action he will shout 'ATTACK!' Or if the operative gets any visual inclination of a weapon involved, he/she will shout 'KNIFE!' or 'GUN!' This is done in order to give a clear signal to the rest of the team to get the VIP clear.

Hard skills instructor Marc Gittins gave us the first Instructor's presentation for the day with a discussion about the principles of S.A.S which are Speed, Aggression and Surprise. He explained that a bodyguard should be the grey man who keeps a low profile and just blends into the environment so an attacker doesn't know who the bodyguard is. This gives the bodyguard the vital element of surprise. After this presentation we got down to some practical work with Dennis which began with Task Related Fitness training; the sweating began with a warm-up performed in real CQB-style, designed to simulate the Anaerobic ATP system energy-depletion or the turbo drive that is responsible for taking us through intense, high energy situations during times of danger. Your fitness and training should be a mirror image of your Combatives you must experience this in training. What we are looking for is an all out explosion of effort, certain training drills can extend our energy burst such as maximum output pad work. The Mindset for this can be summed up with the quote ''the body begs STOP! The spirit cries NEVER! Because of the nature of this kind of training it doesn't matter how fit you are because you are always working at your own personal maximum energy out put. We also included some partner carry drills which gave us an insight into how to handle the bodyweight of another person to simulate carrying your VIP during an emergency situation. The fitness training for the BG must prepare the Operative for the training courses that all Operatives will have to under take, they must be able to meet the operational requirements and be able to handle all emergency drills not to mention keep up with their VIP's when they go out running as most VIP's will maintain their own personal fitness regimes.

Thereafter Den discussed unarmed Combatives in the bodyguard role, types of situations and of course a selection of the techniques that are used in VIP-protection. From the myriad of 'martial arts', ancient and modern; Oriental and Western only those techniques which are proven under realistic attack situations are chosen. The syllabus was based on WW2 Combatives adapted to the requirements of third party protection. The main advantages of this syllabus are that it has proven it's effectiveness on numerous occasions and it was designed to be taught quickly to be learnt to the required level. A quote by Kelly McCann goes: 'What you learn this morning in class, you have to be able to use this afternoon in the car park'. What is learnt must work in a reactive situation and must work under stress, fear and confusion it must also work in full operational KIT and must integrate with the use of firearms after all Combatives were designed for all those who were foolish enough to be caught without a weapon.

Next up, we paired up to practice some basic ballistic strikes on impact equipment; the first move that was taught was the 'Tiger's Claw', which we practiced on focus pads using a drill called Maximise which called for you to strike the pads until your partner got an assessment of how hard you can hit, then he would only count those strikes that he felt were close to your maximum, the pad man is looking for five maximum strikes which might take you twenty or to get, good practice for any strike. I liked the way Dennis bought certain aspects into the drills such as taking up the 'on guard' position as soon as he gave a signal, in this case slapping the pads together, and also bringing situational awareness by looking around in all directions whilst covering your VIP in between each batch of strikes.

The next strike was the elbow, which is also a favourite Close Quarter tool, simple and effective. We all practiced repping out the elbow strike on pads and shields and then the technique evolved into an aggression drill which was taught to by me as the second instructor's presentation for the day. Next up we worked knee strikes with Dennis in a conditioning fitness drill and we then practiced the Thai-kick which was taught by another Hard Skills instructor Pat who came up from Devon. After learning about the correct target we had the chance to focus our aggression on a pad in a power-line. The Chin-jab module was taught next by Kjetil an instructor and student from Norway. He urged us to really hit our opponent to let him see 'little sparks' inside the head, this helped to add a little realism to the training and built confidence in the competence of the strike. After practicing the body mechanics on our partner and feeling first hand just how even a light strike to the chin and jaw bone can give us all the brain shaking effect. Next we all made power lines and practiced on the 'Chin-Jab-Pads'. The aim of these simple impact strikes is to finish a potential attacker quickly in order to limit our VIP exposure.

After this we practiced various ways to intercept a potential unarmed threat from various directions using low key takedowns and methods of jamming the assailant to follow up with our basic strikes already practiced. We then spent a fair duration of the seminar practicing various weapon disarms, the first of which was against a bludgeon. Dennis gave us the basics then we practiced in two power lines against armoured assailant's with plenty of aggression. Then we were shown a module of the Tactical Blade Craft programme which dealt with knife disarms. This method called G.U.N for Grab, Undo and Neutralise this was presented by instructors John Deacon and Simon Squires who gave us all an excellent presentation. Again this was put into power lines using armoured assailants.

The gun disarms were taught next by Dennis himself who showed us a very functional method of dealing with the gun from a classic kind of hold up threat I believe their was some influence here from the method taught by Marcus Wynne another respected name within the field of Combatives and Defensive Tactics. Next we were split into groups of threes and four where we now had the opportunity to apply all that we had learned in a scenario fashion that simulated certain threat situations to our VIP. Each scenario had a VIP who was covered by a BG who incidentally was placed behind the VIP, as this allows some degree of protection from the rear as well as allowing the Operative to make a visual scan in front as well as every where else. The next role player played the part of the CPO and finally another played the part of the unpredictable attacker. We practiced dealing with unarmed attacks as well attacks with the bludgeon; knife and gun All with realistic role play and plenty of contact, we all had the bruises to prove it. We all switched roles and got in more than enough practice to show us all just how big the difference between self-protection and VIP-protection really is. In Close Protection you must protect the VIP at all times this has a big influence on the way you react to an attack its all too easy to make the mistake of concentrating on the threat and forgetting about the VIP this is why the ideal is to have a minimum of two Operatives looking after the VIP. Looking after your Principle on your own would be a very difficult task indeed and is never considered the ideal.

The Grand finale:
The objective of the final test for the day was to carry your VIP who should be someone of approximate equal body-weight, in a fireman's style carry, up three flights of stairs then back down whilst negotiating all turns, corners and doors and place your Principle into a corner and cover him with your back. Your job now was to protect the VIP against 3 padded assailants who would periodically try to get to your VIP, all you had to do was to keep striking the pads all out for a duration of two minutes this was the only way to keep them back and they would only back off if you were hitting hard enough at which point the next one would come forward. As if that wasn't enough to deal with during a state of complete physical and mental depletion you also had perform a gun disarm on Dennis Martin as he sneaked in through the chaos in order to try and shoot your VIP. To say that this was a true test of metal after a physically very depleting day would be an under statement. None the less is was an excellent experience produced by top people into a superb training package. It certainly gave me a very interesting insight into the field of Close Protection. At the end of the course I thought about what Den had said about one year working as a bodyguard is really like spending two years of your life, it can be that stressful, especially in a high threat environment you are either are either dealing with stress or training to do so. Using the Colour Codes as an analogy you are constantly working from yellow to orange to red, to orange to red and so on. I got an insight into this today and to be honest I could see what Den meant when he said that BG needs to have a little safe down time where he can safely engage condition white, just to decompress.

Before the day came to an end, Dennis showed us a small part of his and other students KIT collection which consisted of neck knives and folders, flash-lights made by sure-fires amongst other interesting gems. The course ended with a positive self talk for VIP-protection. We also were all very proud to be handed down a certificate of attendance by Dennis Martin then most went for a meal in 'China-Town'. During diner we spoke about our day and we all came to the same conclusion; it was a magnificent seminar it was a day worth remembering. We had a great teacher, some fantastic speakers and kind people to share it with. I would highly recommend this course to anyone; you won't be disappointed.