AAR ED’S MANIFESTO Counter Custody & Improvised Weapons February 15 & 16, 2020 Northborough, MA

Counter Custody & Improvised Weapons
February 15 & 16, 2020
Instructor: Ed Calderon
Location: Redpath Performance Group, Complete Fitness, Northborough, MA
Time: 9pm – 5pm
Weather: Indoor fitness center
Clothing: Sweatshirt, jeans, sneakers.
Class size: 20 students: 17 male, 3 female. Age: 22-55

This class review will be difficult to write because a lot of the material can’t be shared without context and without giving away a lot of the benefit of the student to experience the unknown. It would be stealing the AH HA moments you find yourself working through the problems and figuring out the solutions on your own. Trust me, this is a class everyone should take. I will do my best to inform without robbing of the experience. This AAR will be abbreviated and vague on purpose.

I have been hearing great things about Ed’s classes starting in 2016 with a review done by the Shortbarrel Shepard. When an opportunity arose to attend one of his classes I jumped at it. I was taking a spot of a person who had to cancel at the last moment and I had no idea what the class was really about. It turned out to be eye-opening! Really good things to know and hope you never have to use the knowledge and skills learned in the real world.

Ed is a down to earth, funny, low key speaker, and a good presenter/instructor. He knows his shit big time. Ed has been there, done that with his personal life and professional experience….his competency shows. We started off the class with a lecture, slide presentation followed by a discussion of how to blend into the local environment.

  • Doing your homework before entering the area.
  • What type of clothes, colors, shoes, hats, logos, sports team clothing are people wearing?
  • Do a self-assessment of everything you are wearing before you walk out in the space, what are you telling the world by your choices?
Live by the mantra: Safety, avoidance, and weapons.
  • Make safe decisions
  • Avoid if at all possible
  • Have tools, weapons, skills and knowledge on how to use them if necessary.
  • Have a cover story/narrative for all the tools you are caring in case you are questioned.
“…the worst planning is better than the best improvisation..”

Perform a site casing (online and/or onsite if possible) before spending time in the space.

  • Know the entrances and exits, lookup floor plans online if possible (ie. Mall layout map, google maps)
  • Determine tools need based on what you find out from your assessment.
  • Have a plan if things go bad.
  • Go against the massive crowd in a panic
  • Find an additional exit or make one (donkey show)
  • Have alternate plans. A, B, C & E(PACE: primary, alternate Contingency & emergency)
  • Have cash, lockpick or make improvised items to get yourself out of a bad area. Bold actions. (i.e. in a hotel workout room need a battering ram two kettle bells ducked tape together…)
  • Way of the rat vs way of the bear. Rat = silent and covert, Bear = loud and obvious
  • Watch for people watching you. Deviation in the crowd.
  • ID the eyes in the environment. Cameras and people watching.
  • The enemy is everywhere: kids, women, old people and sometimes the police
  • Source tools and gear locally. Don’t pack in outrageous gear.
  • Keep your key items on your body, sterilize your outer layers before walking out.
  • Tool filters:
  • Concealment: is it hidden well
  • Access: can you access it. (if your hands are bound behind your back or cuffed in front)
  • Performance: do you know how to use it well, effective and efficiently.
  • Narrative: what is the cover story for you having these items on your body?
  • Spread out your shit on your body.
  • Sometimes caring items separately to make weapons in the field is a way to get it in and past security.
    • Sharpening stone
    • Superglue
    • Twine for grip on handles etc.
  • Can you go through a 30-second search/pat-down and not get caught. If they find one tool, they will look more carefully. What is your narrative, is it believable?
  • Know weird shit to improvise. (bleach and muriatic acid will burn a crowd's lungs)
Construct a mosaic on your phone, password-protected: What have I learned about the environment? what are the police caring and wearing top to bottom? Some thugs try to mimic police but get certain items wrong, the gun or boots…

Stay on the second floor of the hotel if possible.

We learned how to defeat and get out of:

  • Zip Ties
    • Thick and thin types: hands bound in front and behind your back. A few different ways and practiced a few times getting out. They are all pretty easy once you know. Even police flex cuffs.
  • Police handcuffs.
    • Use a shim if single locked- practiced being cuffed in front and hands behind back.
    • Use a modified handcuff key hidden on your body if double locked. Practiced being cuffed in front and cuffed behind your back. If the keyholes are facing up, it is a real bitch trying to get yourself out, but it can be done. When I was cuffed palms facing up I was not able to get out.
  • Having your hands and arms ducted taped with at least seven complete passes around.
    • Other than the sound of being taped, the get-out is actually very easy.
  1. Make a homemade shank, has to pass a 30-second body search and not be found. It can’t cost more than $5, take 5ish minutes to make and is accessible on your body.
  2. Make a homemade handcuff shim
  3. Modify a standard handcuff key (provided) with leveraging arm to be used if you are cuffed hands behind back. Handcuff keys are not made to be used on yourself, they need to have a leveraging arm.
  4. Was given a name, place of birth and date of birth of a fellow student. Perform an online stocking session. Find out all you can about them.
Started off by going around the room describing what was found about our “target”. I was amazed by how much information is out there on people. Some students had complete knowledge of address, cars, places of employment, family members' locations, patterns, interest subcultures of their targets. The student who was assigned me as a target got WAY more correct info on me than I had thought. My real name is not on social media, all the items we own are in my wife’s name. But she was able to find everything on me. I was horrified. Somehow she found my wife and then things unrolled through family members. Open-source information is amazingly accurate. Scary!

We went through a 30-second search for our homemade shiv. Most people got it though a few did not. I was able to pass a modified pen knife through with a small notebook as cover. The search was more than an average pat-down you see on TV. It was pretty thorough.

We tried our homemade handcuff shims that we made. We looked at all the ones that were successful and WHY the ones that failed did not work. Again once you knew what was needed it was pretty easy to make your own shim.Matt from Serepick was assisting the class in the lock bypass portion of the class. He showed us how easy and fast it is to get through a padlock. Just like the movies once you know the technique. We used a variety of inexpensive tools some homemade, including a standard bobby pin. WOW, that is disconcerting. We did not get into lock picking, but Matt showed us how the concept worked. He offers classes in CT on covert entry. www.serepick.com

The final exercise was a culmination of everything we learned on escaping restraints. I am not going to go into the drill/exercise in too much detail, however, the build-up to it was worse than the exercise itself for me at least. Depending on your skill you were placed in a series of restrains and in a stressful situation. The drill lasted about five minutes. All the instructors participated in getting you set up and Ed himself closely watched you to make sure it was safe. We all did not do it at the same time. We had safety protocols and a safe word to end the exercise. No one in the class needed to end the exercise early. Waiting and being prepped for the exercise was more stressful for me than the actual event itself. Lesson learned: don’t let your mind psych you out. Just let it happen and solve the problems as they occur.

Very interesting class. Nothing like anything that I have taken or experienced. Will, I ever use the tactics and skills learned? f*** I hope not, but I am glad that I know what I was taught. This was an entry-level class and there are many deep rabbit holes to explore. The only path I will probably go down is the lock picking and covert entry path. Level two of counter custody is probably not for me. I would still recommend people take this class. Nothing was unsafe or too hard to do or get through. I would like my children to go through this class.