AAR ECQC Craig Douglas 4/19 - 21/2017

Andrew Y.

Regular Member
Craig Douglas / Shivworks ECQC AAR

4/19/2017 -4/21/2017

Council Bluff IA

From the Shivworks website.

The ShivWorks Extreme Close Quarter Concepts (ECQC) course is a two-and-a-half-day (20-hour) block of instruction that offers a multi-disciplinary approach to building functional, combative handgun skills at zero to five feet. The course is designed to instill core concepts of seamless integration and provide the platform for aggressive problem solving during a life or death struggle at arm’s length or closer. We emphasize the common body mechanics that apply across different skill sets. That way, all combative software is reinforcing. Once students’ skill sets are ingrained, they will be stress inoculated with force-on-force drills using marking cartridges and protective equipment. Please check our training calendar for upcoming offerings of ECQCand other ShivWorks classes near you.

Course Hosting / Weather

This course took place in Council Bluffs IA, hosted by LHGK. I’ve previously taken classes with LHGK, and offer nothing but good things to say about them. Rob goes out of his way to make students feel welcome and provide for any needs. He has recently upgraded his range to include more indoor coverage, and a new pistol bay with covered gear bay.

The weather was less than stellar, Day 1 was rainy, however all course work was inside. Days 2 and 3 also featured rain, with accompanying cold temperatures in the morning. Both afternoons warmed up which played well with the evolutions, more on this later.

Day 1 PM

Day 1 of ECQC is a 4 hour block of “classroom” instruction known as Managing Unknown Contacts, MUC. Craig talks about the body language, body position, tells, and other aspects of how to interact with people that represent an unknown threat level or intention. The primary take aways from this session are hand position and not out talking your self. Each mini lecture was followed by a pairing off and evolutions between an unknown and a good guy. This method would set the pace for the course.

Near the end of the night we covered two of the first “hands on” lessons. The first being the Eye Claw, a minimally damaging but fairly painful move that is designed to break contact and allow Plan Solomon to go into effect. The second lesson is the infamous “Billy Goat Drill”, a lesson learned from Greco - Roman wrestling that reinforces hip posture and following your opponents move.

Day 1 PM Notes

The MUC portion of the class is was taught in a practical manner that reinforced simple techniques that work with out a lot of effort under duress. Talking through a scenario came fairly easily to me however, since I usually talk with my hands,I found I didn't maintain good hand position ready to strike or defend. The basis of a solid drill came from lapsing into a natural conversation with the person, but with a enough bite to remain, un-friendly. Several students took this portion of the course with out returning for the remaining 2 days.

Day 2

Day 2 started in the misting rain and about 50* F. We started the day on the range with a formalized introductory course to shooting from retention. Each step was shown with a blue gun, pace counted through, and then finally allowed to be performed on your own. The steps of prepping and making a High Pectoral index retention shot condense into a modified version of the common 4 step draw process, most notably being the modified number 2 position.

After lunch we started working some basic and common wresting moves that would be important later on in the evolutions (evos). Each new lesson, was performed with a partner in a technical session, where each player learned the move and technique, and then in a competitive nonconsensual session where each player actively resisted the other, and tried to win. I won’t divulge the methods taught as I could hardly due them justice, however the goal was always to prevent injury, prevent the bad guy gaining access to a weapon, and to either gain a good position to dominate or flee.

The final portion of the technical lessons for the day was defending your self on the ground from an attacker above you and how to manage that attacker coming down to your level with out ending up smothered. This lesson would be come increasingly important for the first full on evolution.

After a brief familiarization period with Sim Glocks and the concept of the Thunderdome, the 1 on 1 evos began. Everyone was assigned a partner by Craig, and each partner took turns being a good guy and bad guy. All evos began the same way, with the good guy on his back armed, and the bad guy standing above him. Once evos completed, the class quickly de briefed and broke for the day.

Day 2 Notes

ECQC isn't a shooting course, but it does require attention to detail as nearly all shooting actions are performed from an unusual position that is rarely practiced. The class is perfectly safe, just manage your expectations. I was personally surprised at the consistency of the High Pectoral index, and didn’t offer any issues with consistency of body position.

The technical lessons of grappling is a session of drinking from a fire hose that most novel experiences are. The lessons while well laid out, are simply too compressed to be fully understood. Retaining the info is easy, however knowing when to apply it and being able to process the situation at speed to apply it, is far from it.

The evos are the high light of the course, and the more you commit, the more you will learn.

Day 3

Day 3 starts with the second half of the shooting portion of the class. The primary focus is blending the skills from the previous day in to one cohesive draw. The pace is slightly increased, and students are given a bit more free will on shots fired and timing.

This portion of the class involved shooting on the move both forward and backward, so keeping an eye on the shooters to the right and left was very important. Craig and Rob both acted as RSOs for this portion to help keep the line safe.

One of the drills that sticks out is the close proximity shooting problem. I’ll spare the details of how to set up, as its fairly specific to the class. However it introduces the actual problems of accessing, presenting, shooting, and holstering a gun within touching distance of others. This particular drill taught me some valuable info about safely re-holstering an AIWB pistol with some specific reference points.

This concluded the shooting portion for the class. The weather was marginally less rainy, but slightly more cold. Total round count was approx. 300, all 124 Blazer out of my Sig 229 with Dawsons and X300U. No malfunctions despite the large amount of mud that ended up in the gun from splash back and dirty mags. Students broke for lunch with instructions to return and make safe all weapons for the 2 on 1 evos.

Following lunch, students geared up for the 2 on 1 evos. In this scenario, a good guy and a questionable guy enter Thunderdome, with a third actor that could be bad, good, or unknown. Each scenario plays out differently depending how each actor reacts. Some end in a stalemate, some end in gun fire. Sometimes Craig provides input to the third actor.

The main take aways for this portion was that, as a good guy, you really need to win or establish dominance in MUC. Even the 4 time graduate that handled his one on one problem extremely well, ended up on the ground fighting for a gun when the third player was introduced.

Following 2 on 1s, Craig walked us through gun retention in the classroom. The lesson is split in two portions regarding, is the gun in the holster or out and on your body. To put simply, if the gun is in your holster, the solution is elbow and body weight. If the gun is out, using that high Pectoral index and keeping the gun from being driven away from the palm is key. Interestingly, driving the gun away from a palm is also the best way to get a gun away from some one.

The final portion of the class was the car evo. The good guy with a holstered pistol sat in the drivers seat, and a bad guy sat in the passenger seat with a pistol tucked under his thigh. At some point the bad guy “car jacks” the good guy. Take aways from this evo is that its very easy to get pinned into the car, and introducing a gun into the car is probably sub optimal at most times. Speed and aggression to gain position is paramount. Note that no one had seatbelts on and all the windows were broken out before hand.

Day 3 Notes

As mentioned above, fighting on the ground against or half - with two other people isn’t going to end well except by luck. The amount of variables and possibilities is to infinite to plan for. Winning the situation during MUC, would obviously be the most advantageous possibility.

The weapons retention portion of the class was one that I had looked most forward to, and didn’t disappoint. The techniques taught were simple and still allowed to control the bad guys hand to some extent.

The car evo was enlightening and decidedly a wake up call. With a smaller car, seat belts, and no inclination it was coming, it would only get worse for the good guy.

Overall this class varies so much from student to student, you really need to take it to see what its about, and no matter what you will learn something useful.


The weather was cold enough to warrant several layers for most of the course. I personally used a sweat shirt and Arcteryx Theta for most of the shooting portion and shedded the Theta for the hand to hand portions. On day two, I did add a stocking cap during the morning, light rain and 40* temp made it welcome. The range was muddy enough to warrant gortex full height boots.

I used my normal EDC gear down graded to fit the evo requirements, the shooting portions used my JMCK holster and mag pouch. No issues, and of note, my home rolled EDC med kit stayed put on my ankle through all evos.

Any questions please ask, pictures to follow.