Tag : training

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Training Review: “Fight to Freedom” self-defence with Bug Out Canada

Training Review:  “Fight to Freedom” & self-defence with Bug Out Canada

By: Ghost

On Oct. 17-19, 2014, I attended Bug Out Canada’s “Fight to Freedom” combatives & self-defence techniques course.

Prior to the weekend-long class, I spoke with the Instructor, Dan, and went over some of the things that would be covered and course objectives he aimed to achieve.  As the website had little information as to the type of style we would be learning, we also discussed specifics as to the style and its origins.

The course was a Friday-night-to-Sunday-afternoon length, outdoors.  It was cold.  It was rainy.  The upside:  We did our training under a gazebo in a park and in a thicket of woods next to the gazebo.  All in all, when combined with a positive and supportive learning environment I found that it was a good set-up for getting maximum benefit in a realistic training environment.  There were no mats, only concrete and nature’s floor.


Playing in the woods.  Better than concrete.

Playing in the woods. Better than concrete.


Dan, along with his assistant instructor, Chris, were both excellent.  They spoke to us about many of the psychological and physiological aspects of combatives & self-defence, the origins and history of their system (coincidently known as “Systema” or “the system” in Russian.) and it’s practical application in the everyday world as well as on the battlefield.  Years ago, I tried a two-day intro to Systema.  I didn’t go back for the second day.  The instructor was very aloof, seemed disinterested in new students and did not explain anything.  Systema, in my opinion, is strange when first encountered because it is very unlike other “martial arts” systems.  The movements feel awkward and the techniques strange at first, but once they have been explained and practiced and put in the proper context, they do make sense and become effective.  Dan and Chris both made efforts to make everyone feel relaxed and informed along the way.


Dan demonstrating a strike on Chris.

Dan demonstrating a strike on Chris.

(***Note:  there were several injuries and “special considerations” for some of the students taking the course, most notably mobility issues due to previous injuries.  Though this was a factor, it was evident that neither age, height, strength or injuries were hinderances to learning the techniques.  Truly, anyone can take this course and come out with learning something.***)

Body dynamics, movement and breathing were bulk topics in the first half of the course.

As I have trained in several forms of martial arts and self-defence techniques over many years, most of the principles discussed were not new to me.  However, the way that those principles were approached and examined was new, and refreshing.

We practiced rolls, falling, breathing and taking strikes, angles and “planing”, knife work, dealing with multiple opponents, stick work and delivering Systema strikes (demonstrations of the strike was done on each of us.  My brain hurt for the entire weekend after Dan gave my head a small-scale feel of a Systema punch).


Dan demonstrating a knife defence.

Dan demonstrating a knife defence.


The Systema strike was one of the biggest take-aways from the course.  I have taken quite a few hits over the years, but the transfer of force in this particular technique was scary.  It is easily one of the more devastating techniques I have learned – especially as I would easily categorize it as a “fight-stopper” should you be capable of properly landing one.  It is very different from a traditional hit, but if you get the hang out it and practice, you’re far less likely to have a prolonged fight on your hands should you hit someone successfully.

The rest of the weekend included great food (provided) and great company.  The other folks taking the course were welcoming and positive.  Dan and Chris were very involved and very engaged in correcting technique and answering questions.


Lunch.  Yum!

Lunch. Yum!


We topped off our breathing exercises by having Dan drop 15lb kettle bells on our stomache from 5 feet up.  I survived, though I’d prefer not to try it again.  The breathing was integral to the training and did play a significant positive role in minimizing the damage done through the training.






I thoroughly enjoyed myself and feel I certainly got my money’s worth.  That being said, I would have only two small points for improvement for future courses or for a potential student:  DRESS WARMLY/APPROPRIATELY.  I didn’t.  That’s my fault but a lesson learned.  Also, Bug Out Canada should consider running the course earlier in the year to avoid colder/inclement weather.

Those minor points said, this course was a good introduction to martial arts and Systema.  I took away a great many tools to add to my “toolkit” of defence techniques but I would stress that much practice and study would be required in these techniques to become proficient.  This weekend will not make you a Navy SEAL or Spetznaz commando, but will certainly lay the foundation for proficiency down the road.  Dan is a great teacher and his skill and knowledge are without a doubt, solid.  Hopefully he will consider putting an “advanced” combatives course together for some sunny weekend in the future.

In conclusion, I would take the course again in a heartbeat and would easily encourage anyone else who is interested to take it and try something different and effective for themselves.

For more info, be sure to check out the website at:  http://www.bugout-canada.ca/styled-28/styled-3/styled-11/index.html

Train well, stay safe.


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Training Review: Art of the Rifle, by Bug Out Canada

Training Review:

Art of the Rifle, by Bug-Out Canada  (  http://bugout-canada.ca/index.html )

By: Ghost

I recently had the privilege of attending Bug-Out Canada’s “Art of the Rifle” training course in the Dorset area of Central Ontario.

As a course that starts on a Friday evening till Sunday afternoon, the Art of the Rifle (AotR) class was comprehensive, refreshing and enjoyable.  I approach all training classes in the same way, whether new material or well-worn refresher – I learn like it’s for the first time.  I believe this helps to stave-off bad habits and sharpen skills, not to mention reduce ego and arrogance.

Instructors Allen and Dan began Friday’s in-class session with the Principles of Marksmanship, shooting positions, safety and handling.  They were very attentive to all in attendance and were thorough in covering all of the relevant basics.  The instructors were very hands-on in their approach.  After various initial safety briefings, students were walked through the theoretical and philosophical aspects of marksmanship.  Ranging, holding, posture, positioning, use of a sling, weapon mechanics and ballistics, targeting, physical and physiological affects on marksmanship as well as additional safety considerations.  Both Dan and Allen walked the talk with supportive demonstrations of techniques.  As promised, we were taught using the “crawl, walk, run” method of instruction.


The range.

The range.


The atmosphere was very fun, yet professional and safe at all times.  Dan and Alan kept things light with several well-timed jokes and a few instructional videos of “what not to do”.

Saturday morning, after a nice breakfast we headed out to the range.  It was pouring rain.  Once we arrived and set up, practical instruction began.  Safety briefings, range familiarization and more safety briefings were covered before shooting began.  The weapon of the day was a .22 cal.  Most had Ruger 10/22s but I did see a Marlin Papoose and a Mossberg as well.  We did a review of the previous night’s theories and then got into it.  BANG BANG BANG!


Taking careful aim to put rounds down-range.

Taking careful aim to put rounds down-range.


Now, I have been a member of the Canadian Army since 1998 and consider myself a pretty good shot, but I myself saw improvement to my shooting and certainly saw others in the class improve by leaps and bounds.

Both instructors were vigilant in maintaining safety while hawkishly pointing out flaws in technique and making adjustments as appropriate.  By lunch (enormous home-made, roast beef sandwiches courtesy of Allen – YUM!), we were all “on paper”.


After the 'zero'.

After the ‘zero’.


As the sun broke in the afternoon, the students were becoming more comfortable with the mechanics and even those without any shooting experience were improving.  Even through the weather, the mood was light yet professional.

The training culminated in a shoot-off for a prize (t-shirt) to see who had the best groupings and finally, who could hit a toonie coin (for you Americans, a “toonie” is a $2 Canadian coin) at 25 yards.  I am happy to report that I am the proud owner of the t-shirt…and a toonie with a .22 cal round in it.  The weather was nice and we kept shooting until all the ammo was gone.  Better to shoot it than carry it back home.





Ultimately, I found “Art of the Rifle” to be a very positive and enriching course.  The training was solid, taught by professional instructors fully invested in bringing out the best in their students.  I firmly believe that using the principles and techniques taught in this course you can easily achieve a high level of shooting proficiency in a short time with practice.  I also feel that the course is worth much more than they are charging versus similar training – and the quality of knowledge and training is almost impossible to come by unless you travel out of the country.  I would highly recommend it to anyone.

For more information about Bugout Canada, Allen and Dan, you can find them at their website:  http://bugout-canada.ca/index.html  .  The Art of the Rifle is listed under their Tactical Kinetics training offerings.  Do check them out.

Till next time, prepare, practice and be positive.  Be free from fear and survive.



****UPDATE:  I will be attending the “Fight To Freedom” course (from their Tactical Kinetics catalogue) with Bug Out Canada in October 2014.  It is an unarmed combat/self-defence course.  Check out their website for course description and register!  Review to follow.****

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