Varg Freeborn's Violence of Mind, Alliance, Ohio - August 26, 2017


AAR: Varg Freeborn / “Violence of Mind: Concealment, Ambush and Counter Ambush”

by Beverly Jedlinski

Instructor: Varg Freeborn / One Life Defense LLC

Location: Alliance Police Department Range, Alliance, Ohio at Friends of Pat Rogers 2017

Date: Saturday, August 26, 2017 from 11 am -12 noon

Format: One hour of lecture, discussion and Q&A

A closed, one-hour seminar, Varg Freeborn’s course was a bit more chilling in nature as it revealed his direct experience with violence and insight into the predatory mindset. Its subject matter and design were intended to make us think about scenarios that might provoke discomfort.

Varg began the class by asking participants how many were civilians (rather than law enforcement), and that was the vast majority of attendees. He said he was not going to get into bio info, but that he was from “very bad parts of society” and that his lecture was going to have great applicability to everyday civilians as well as undercover roles. Further, he described his background as having had “more close contact with high-level dangerous criminals than most people here.”

Varg referenced many stabbings (as either a victim or an assailant), definitely more blade-related than gun incidents, and multiple exposure to and involvement in serious fights. He also spoke openly about “how many holes he’s put in people.” The main point here being that Varg has personally been involved in and exposed to violence in a way that most of us could never imagine, and he’s bringing first-hand experience to the class to teach us about threat management and enrich our self-defense education.

While Varg characterized himself as a “guest in this industry” (firearms), he demonstrated great confidence in his belief that he had accumulated a vast array of practical knowledge from personal encounters to share with the class. His background also includes rifle and pistol shooting classes, and combative fitness. Most especially, Varg stressed the importance of approaching criminal violence from a critical thinking aspect.


· To provide an overview of the mindset of criminals, particularly on a high-order level.

· To convey the importance of a more prepared civilian mindset in dealing with criminals, especially in an ambush situation.

· To discuss specifics of concealment, ambush and counter ambush.

· To bring “the predator” mindset out in participants.

· To break through clichés and encourage critical thinking and an analytical perspective about the subject matter along with key takeaways for application.

Materials Required:

· None, other than note-taking basics, but participants were intently focused on listening to Varg first and foremost.

Key Learnings:

· An ambush is the most likely event to occur in a criminal attack. Being prepared for an expected ambush is completely different than being prepared for one that is not expected (and is the more plausible situation, as well as the technique most frequently used by high-order criminals).

· Do not be as concerned with the “everyday” criminal stereotypically described as being “dumb” and comprising roughly 97% of this category. Instead, be extremely concerned about the high-order criminals that comprise the other 3%. Those with high-order skills are smart, hardcore, dedicated, and far more dangerous.

· Varg specifically mentioned Ted Bundy, the notorious serial killer that tortured and murdered over 30 women in the 1970s; and Micah Xavier Johnson, who attacked and killed five officers and injured nine others in an ambush attack in Dallas. He asked us to consider how they used concealment and ambush to carry out their attacks and why they did so effectively. He also cited a stat that a staggering 87% of murders go unsolved in some metro markets (while the perpetrators go undetected).

· Varg stated that we are all genetically similar with the same tools, the same DNA, the same capabilities. It is our intention and our mission that separates us from the criminals, perhaps at times by only 2-3% of being on the wrong side.

· Do not get comfortable or lackadaisical by thinking that you are prepared. Our preparations and readiness simply do not matter to criminals, especially high-order criminals. Their concealment and ambush skills have a reached a level of expertise that will outmatch our capabilities nearly every time.

· We must think about concealment from the angle of the perpetrator, because to the bad guy, concealment is everything. And we cannot battle concealment that we do not see. Unfortunately, we will probably never see it until it is too late so we must try to train ourselves to look for signs. Varg also mentioned elements to look for like examining the noise level in a particular setting when deviations in noise level can be warnings of something happening or about to occur.

· Varg cited a rise in high-order crime, with radicalism as one reason. He emphasized that as we get better in fighting off or detecting attacks, the bad guys also get better in their dedication to unleashing them.

· A major thought Varg wanted to dispel was that of clothing being important or a deterrent. Just because we appear to be in a state of readiness, to be wearing tactical clothing or uniforms, or to be armed, is not only NOT a deterrent but might be an invitation for a criminal (such as those targeting police officers in uniform). To the “accomplished predator,” your clothing and your appearance do not matter.

· So what does matter? Demeanor, our modus operandi, what we project, our mindset, and how we use it, convey it, and make it work to our advantage. However, we should not be egotistical (this is not a time for bravado), tip our hand, or make this too obvious. Varg also expressed that it is important to relax and not become hypervigilant. It is better to fly under the radar but be ready. By making sure we have the right mindset, our counter ambush skills may be entirely more effective if the assailant has underestimated our ability to fight back.

· What we can and should do is control involuntary emotional responses (such as nervous habits, ticks, mannerisms). We should begin to modify these reactions now in case we find ourselves in an ambush situation, rather than waiting until we are in the midst of one. Simply putting our minds into that scenario and role playing might positively alter our ability to think straight and turn on these skills at a critical point.

· Varg described “Orientation” as “how you view and react to problems coming at you.” It is colored by our cultural beliefs, religious beliefs, health & welfare, rules of engagement, and perhaps most importantly, our attachments (family, friends, people counting on us). Criminals have an extreme ability to disconnect and to “flip that switch” at virtually any time and also to go back and forth repeatedly without being recognized. The high-order criminal has a much shrewder ability to do so and go undetected for a great length of time. Their intentions, capabilities and tactics are completely different than our own, and usually superior especially given the nature of an ambush attack.

· As we progress in being more in-tune with identifying criminal behavior, the bad guys will do the same. They are predators and they adapt as fast as we do, and even ahead of us, as it is their sole means of survival.

· However, “We need to learn from them the same way they learn from us, but we don’t do this enough.” This statement was of HUGE significance. As Varg hypothesized, we are all predators and only our mission and our intentions are different. If so, then it is critically important to remember that we need to fully understand criminals – and it is possible to do so because deep down we have the same capabilities – in order to avoid them. There are many statements and thoughts as to what separates humans from other animals and all of them were going through my head at this moment.

· In summary, the seminar was very personal in tone, and Varg uses explicit language but appropriately so to make his points. It’s very clear that his desire is to help the “good guys” understand the “bad guys” as a means of self-preservation. Varg was also very responsive to a variety of questions throughout the course, and his straightforward style was on point for presenting some pretty difficult material to absorb.

Why this Class is Important:

“The boogeyman is fucking real and he’s out there,” is one of the quotes that most stuck with me from this course. The other was, “One of the most regretful things I have in my life is the people I did not kill” (referring to very dangerous people he had to walk away from without harming them).

These thoughts set the tone for a very nasty world out there that many of us never have to see and cannot possibly comprehend. Varg was very clear in communicating the dangers and what we should do and must do to protect ourselves. For predators, their survival depends upon their ability to manifest high-order skills that they have developed as a form of high art. Their mission and intentions are totally different from our own; but it really resonated with me through the scenarios Varg mentioned that we could all react similarly in certain situations if we found ourselves or our loved ones threatened.

Finally, through Varg’s presentation of some rough material, this class made participants stop and think…really think about what could happen in the blink of an eye. Everyone, from civilians to those trained in special areas of service, could benefit from the thought-provoking aspect of this course. If it simply makes a difference in the way we present ourselves to the outside world and hopefully avoid an impending threat, Varg’s compelling instruction could be a lifesaver.

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