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Dennis
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PostSubject: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Thu 05 Apr 2012, 11:50

Just a quick note to say that the courses went very well. Shane once again worked tirelessly in organizing the event.
Slacky will be posting a full AAR later.
Many thanks to Shane and Megan for their hospitality.


[Shane and Den on range]

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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Sun 08 Apr 2012, 10:05

looking forward to the pictures and reviews.

Would like to thank shane for all the helpful info sorry i couldnt make it over for the course. hoping to make it over if there's a further course in the future.
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PostSubject: AAR by Slacky   Mon 21 May 2012, 11:15

The Slackster sent in one of his characteristic funny and gripping reviews. I've added some photos.. enjoy..


Americus, GA. March 2012.Review by Slackbladder

“Fuck!”
An awful lot can be compressed into this compact, yet enormously expressive word. Some mischievous theologians refer to it as the shortest prayer in the world. Linguists praise its flexibility; useful everywhere, it has become the multi-tool of expression. There is a lot to be said for the word 'Fuck'.

Stood in the entrance to Manchester Airport, craning my head back, ignoring the nausea and sore eyes that lack of sleep bestows upon me, this simple obscenity sprang spontaneously from my mouth when I saw the word 'Cancelled' where my flight information should be. Believing it to be a cruel and malicious prank by my subconscious, I stood patiently and waited for the information to cycle through again, to be viewed properly and with time for solemn appraisal. Time ticked past. Dennis stood next to me and, as the awful truth was unveiled once more, said “Ffffffksake”. It was 0530.

Being British, my first impulse was to find someone from Lufthansa and to be reasonable at them them until they did my bidding. Signposts to desks manned by Lufthansa staff were posted, so I did the natural thing and ignored them, walking to the far end of the building. I accosted a professionally calm chap and politely enquired as to the cancelled flight. The gentleman nodded sagely and pointed back to where I had started from, telling me to join the queue at the desk. Looking to this distant desk of Truth, Justice And German Efficiency, I could see that there was indeed a small queue of similarly beleaguered travellers. Dennis joined me just in time to be pointed back to where we'd started. He wasn't terribly chuffed with this because his baggage was heavy enough to qualify as a neutron star. We headed towards the queue and found, rather like the horizon, the end of the queue never seemed to get any closer. I went to Disneyland as a child and was amazed by the efforts that the park went to in order to avoid the appearance of a queue. Your line of sight was generally kept very short, and you never saw the end until you were ten yards from it. You could join a short queue and spend an hour shuffling forwards around endless corners until getting to the ride. Manchester airport has a similar system, only they cunningly use a system of ramps to hide their shame from everyone. Rounding the corner, we were welcomed by a sight quite unlike any other. If you were to cut the nose off a 747, then pick it up and shake it like a stubborn bottle of ketchup, the heap of people and luggage you'd have on the floor would be, in both arrangement and disposition, identical to the queue I faced. The select few to have arrived at the airport days earlier like teenage girls at a pop concert had the coveted floor space that was both a) horizontal and b) enjoyed a direct line of sight to the desk. The next stage was a long descent into the bowels of the airport, finishing with another corner and mercifully flat terrain. This may have saved lives in the long run, as the combined glare of the whole queue focussed on the Lufthansa desk would probably have cooked a jacket potato. Dennis and I took up our stations at the foot of the ramp, dumped the kit on the floor and set about the national pastime of Being Reasonable. There was first a short period of expectation that this was a short term confinement, much like a lift or bus journey, where minding your own business and not noisily farting were the two main rules in force. Everyone fixed their gaze toward to top of the ramp, to the chosen few at the summit, to measure what progress was made. A lot of people, probably fifty or more, stood like meercats and stared. Nothing. The chaps occupying the high ground appeared motionless. I'm told that if you look at the sea from a high enough altitude, the waves appear to stand still. I can tell you that sea waves seen from altitude look like the carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro compared to the pillars of stone that stood at the top of the ramp. Didn't move a muscle. Not a twitch.

After a period of time, the queue began to fragment into small groups, content to mutter and laugh among themselves. A number of people surrounding myself and Dennis clucked and tsked and exchanged what little information we had. The dawn of the smart phone as an everyday tool led to a number of people proclaiming the Truth According to Lufthansa, as espoused by the company website. Trouble was, the website is written by somebody who did a degree in public relations, not the engineers/managers/staff who can actually share useful information. Worse still, the Lufthansa staff were reading the same statement on the company intranet. This led to much gesticulating and cries of “I already know that!” whenever staff were forced to face the public. The queue was growing rapidly. Best of all, the queue was so large, it took on an air of vital importance. People were joining it out of instinct. You could see folks walking alongside and deciding that if such a huge number were prepared to wait, then whatever they were waiting for must be really something. I never found out what hopes were attached to this. Maybe Lufthansa periodically hand out handfuls of free flight vouchers, tins of caviar, a year of free dances at the strip club of your choice or the opportunity to wear the captain's hat. Such optimists had to be pruned from our midst at regular intervals and shooed away to wherever they should've gone in the first place.

We inched upward. There's a Monty Python sketch entitled “Climbing the north face of the Uxbridge Road.” I'd encourage everyone to watch it because it rather neatly captures the problem of remaining stationary on a gentle incline while surrounded by wheeled luggage. On occasion, perhaps inspired by the need to give hope to those trapped among the foothills, somebody at altitude would nudge themselves forward twelve inches or so, embarrassed by the vast swathe of personal space they enjoy. This small movement would ripple downward at alarming speed. You would see faces light up with relief – progress was made, forward motion does not lie. One chap, the very essence of refined English manners, made the generous offer to fetch water for a substantial fraction of the queue. So polite was he, virtually no-one took him up on this offer, for fear that he may need a pallet truck and special training on lifting heavy loads. [1]
The chief cause of delay was a sizeable middle eastern contingent who required travel to Dubai. Several dozen strong, the lack of any direct flights coupled with the legal requirements of entry meant that arranging travel was akin to those logic puzzles where complex seating arrangements at a dinner party are desired and the you're left to figure out the one acceptable solution from the mire of conditions detailing why everyone appears to hate everyone else. The Lufthansa desk was under siege from this, the only remaining desk being for those blessed with the money to have booked a first class/business class seat. Thus, the queue was again divided into two groups – those who volubly disagreed with the two-tier system of customer service and had no qualms about raising this viewpoint in a hope to stirring the crowd to rush the desk like a scene from Battleship Potemkin, and those of us who adhered to the Tao of Eeyore and unblinkingly accepted our fate, fully expecting the sun to nova before a customer service representative tended to our needs. The day was saved when rations were distributed. A suspect muesli bar with a yoghurty topping provided a whopping 28000% of your RDA for fibre, while a small pot of water sought to replenish all the moisture lost through weeping bitter tears of frustration. Den commented that only in the UK could such measures placate a crowd. Try handing out small nutty snacks in Lagos airport after a cancelled flight and have your next of kin let us know how you get on.

Seven and a half hours had passed. Den and I were booked on flights the following day. In keeping with the mood of the day, getting to the hotel was about as simple as open heart surgery. Tea was the only thing that kept me alive as narcolepsy threatened to seize me in the street. I probably spent thrirty minutes awake in my hotel room the whole time I was there. I doubt I've ever slept as deeply or well. Dennis has little enthusiasm for certain passenger airlines. His warning that the food is dire proved prophetic [2] as did his prediction that the sole attractive stewardess would be working in First Class. Landing in the US, we trotted from the plane and walked into a scene that would have been cut from Ghandi because there were too many people in the shot. Passport control was a swarm of people from an unknown number of aircraft. Den and I scoffed in scorn.
“You call this a queue? This isn't a queue. This is moving, for a start. We were in a queue yesterday for seven and a half hours. Didn't even move forwards for three hours. This is nothing.”
Other passengers looked to us with rapt expressions as we passed on the secrets of survival in linear environments, mainly based on the availablity of nutty snacks and smart phones.
Though the queue did indeed move, one well-intentioned soul saw fit to connect two seperate queues, making a super large mega-queue. This does not normally happen in nature and is fraught with danger, much like the Liger. The half hour so far spent in line had been negated, with us finding ourselves at the back of a line so long, there was every chance of a different President being in power when we reached the head of it. A scant ninety minutes flew past and I was welcomed into the United States. The remainder of my travel within the US was crushingly routine.

We were met in Atlanta by Shane (SOT 364), his charming wife Megan, and a chap who goes by the nom de guerre “Seven”.


[The famous Cheesecake Factory]
After a trip to a restaurant [3] where we met several other like-minded souls for quality conversation and big plates of proper food made from fresh ingredients, we eventually arrived in Americus at the dead of night. After the whirlwind of small dogs and affectionate cats abated, I flopped onto a bed and blinked. Then it was morning, and that meant that training was happening.


[Domino one of the many four legged friends]

After a hearty morning breakfast, we were off to the range and met the rest of the class. The range owners, Dennis Raines and his wife Katherine had a great facility that they very graciously shared with us. Not only did they have a range, they even had a kettle and teapot on standby for most of the weekend! Bonus! The day's festivities kicked off with the ever-distressing disclaimer that whatever happens to me is my own damned fault. It was worth noting, however, that “dismemberment” was not mentioned in the big list of terrible things that may befall me, as it has in disclaimers of times past. Maybe the word really is a safer place.
A brief lecture on the principles of CQB got everyone up to speed and we went outside to train in the blistering heat of the Georgia spring. The safety brief made only a swift mention of being careful not to lie on top of any fire-ant nests, as this may prove to be an unpleasant, though memorable encounter. Basic strikes were introduced and, incredibly, a chap managed to break his own arm hitting the pads. Dennis later wrote:

“Court, one of the guys on the Americus courses, has trained with us before, in Charlotte as well as the previous Georgia programs. He took part in this years programs despite undergoing chemotherapy, and within an hour of [starting] the Combatives, had broken his arm [during padwork]. There was a Paramedic in the class who applied a sling. After a bit I turned round and Court was doing kneestrikes! What a player!”



The morning session was soon over and after a few hours in the baking sun, we all retired to a Mennonite restaurant [4], where I discovered that you really can eat like a king and be billed like a pauper. It was delicious food. I spent some time in the company of a US Marshal who was born 150 years too late [5]. The man has an infectious sense of humour and a genuine thirst to get good information into the hands of those who would go out and use it. Super guy, I'm looking forward to meeting him again in the future.


[Slacky, Roger the US Marshal, Den]

Den asked me to take the afternoon class for the problem of multiple assailants. Drawing on the collected genius of Craig Douglas, Eric Anthony Sykes and Nick Hughes, the well-fed souls were subject to drills wherein they were chased around the training area, hauled to the floor, kicked a bit, jump back up and then hit stuff in righteous indignation. [6] They all seemed to have a ball while doing it. That's probably a good sign.

Back to Shane's place for obscenely delicious food and, at last, a solid night's sleep.

The morning brought a new day and my first trip to the range since last year's shoot. I'm still nervous about my gun handling, particularly on a range filled with people who company I enjoy. This had the beneficial effect of keeping me nauseous with fear and, hopefully, safe. I don't recall anyone diving for cover or gently averting my pistol while softly commenting on muzzle discipline.



This was the second time I've experienced Den's take on teaching pistol and I was impressed by how fast long-neglected skills resurfaced, ready to use. Better still, I made noticeable improvement. My groups were tighter than last years and my drawstroke had gotten smoother. Other things were not quite so rosy.



Standing downrange of a pistol is not a pleasant experience for me. I uncontrollably flinch like a bat is being swung at my head every single time I hear a bang. The Americans, bless them, appear to be born with nerves of steel and barely blink. I think one yawned as rounds went past. For those who are unfamiliar with Den's approach, it places a detailed eye on the kinesthetic as well as the visual aspects of the shooting method. It appears to be a method of instruction that takes reasonably deep root. Full credit goes to Dennis and Katherine as range owners for allowing us to do drills that would give grey hair to a great many people. We spent a goodly portion of the day pointing guns at each other. Note: Triple checked pistols, including checks by the person who'd be looking down the muzzle, were the order of the day. We were ALL very strict about range safety. No cavalier attitudes in evidence.


[Drawing and firing from seated positions]

Day Three marked the transition to VIP Protection drills. The day was spent working on the unarmed counters to common problems, be they 'soft' like the handshake that goes on too long with Avid Fan, to the frantic call of “KNIFE!” The day, as usual, started with a brief powerpoint on the basics of VIP Protection and its impact on the mindset necessary to do the job. From there we decamped to a sheltered facility, did a little PT and got back into the habit of hitting things, then grabbing the VIP and running away. Disarms were introduced at this stage, for both knife and pistol wielding foes, along with the drills that encouraged the VIP to be spirited away as fast as possible from the fracas.


Day Four was a return to the range. The class was now divided in two, with one half acting as the VIP and the other half acting as the BG. A good many drills were spent learning to move the VIP around, positioning ourselves according to the direction of threat and then engage the target. Movement, communication and other “embuggerance factors” were thrown in at frequent intervals.


The level of attention to firearms handling on this day at the range was an order of magnitude above what had been demanded beforehand. The world is not a square range and people will most assuredly be running about if it all goes wrong for real [7]. Consequently, it is only prudent that you be able to control your weapon and adhere to solid safety rules, even in a chaotic environment. Best to do that in training before being obliged to do it in a crowd. This was an interesting day for me, as marksmanship was not the syllabus, it was everything else that you should be doing - whilst firing rounds - that was being tested. Although the targets were examined and checked regularly, just as in the previous day on the range, everyone was watching how you performed while you were shooting. Simple things like positioning and VIP control are suddenly not so simple when you have to ensure that you're shooting holes the right target.


The day was finished with a stress-inoculation drill that made life unpleasant before demanding a very fast shot on a target complete with a hostage. Everyone had fun on that, even the paramedic who put three rounds in the face of the distressed looking blonde lady.


[Class photo]
This day was a revelation for me. I finished being much, much more satisfied with my shooting than I was last year. I'd shaved a third of a second of my (admittedly glacial) drawstroke and I'd started to shrink my groups down to a size that isn't shameful. Not that I'll be a ninja any time soon. At a fun shoot the following day, I shot a j-frame so painfully slowly I'd have been beaten in a duel by a muzzle-loading musket, then I executed a hostage by failing to read a target label properly (despite correctly reciting the instructions given to me beforehand), and then ended my day by tearing up my hands on an AK47. Still, shooting is fun, and apart from sulking for a while about the fate of the hostage, I call that a good day.

As usual, I heartily enjoyed every second of my time in Americus. I gained five pounds in weight from a diet rich in meat and southern hospitality portion control. [8] I laughed myself stupid, both on and off the range and listened while people who have been around the block a good deal more times than me sat around a table and talked shop. Shane is an affable and knowledgable host, fine company and a good friend. His wife Megan gave me and Den enough tea to float a battleship of your choosing and, as such, automatically qualifies for Wonderful Person status. Their menagerie of pets provide much amusement. I only realised when I got home that I'd watched about three minutes of television the whole time I was there. More importantly still was that the people who trained were a thoroughly pleasant and polite bunch. The people I get to meet really is the largest part of the pleasure in training and, as usual, everyone I met during this trip to Americus could be described as excellent company. A fun time.
Slackbladder
------------------------------
Footnotes by Den

1] I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly everyone was. All suffering the same stress seemed to bring a rather disparate group of would-be travellers together. People where sharing information [or, in the case of those accessing the Lufthansa website, disinformation], watching each others baggage while the owners went off to the toilets or cafe, passing around tangerines etc.
The large group mentioned by Slacky, were British Muslims travelling to Mecca for a haj. Saudia won’t allow unaccompanied women into the country, so the rebooking took a long, long time. Then came a group of marine engineers who needed to travel together, with sensitive equipment.
2] The food on most US carriers can only be enjoyed by babies and geriatrics. Because of the need to remove anything remotely sharp from the grasp of pax, the food served is mush. Actually, food aside, the flight across the ocean was quite good. I watched a documentary on Snipers, and an episode of Band of Brothers, and the time passed quickly [relative to standing in a queue for over seven hours]
3] Shane had sent a list of suggested restaurants to dine upon arrival in Atlanta. I selected The Cheesecake Factory, being a fan of the “Big Bang Theory” I was hoping that we would be served by a Penny lookalike, but in the eveny our waiter was a rather muscular chap. The food was really good, especially their signature cheesecake.
Among the party who gathered for the meal was Claud Werner, who spent several years as Chief Instructor at the prestigious Rogers shooting academy. I picked his brain thoroughly.
4] The Menonites are a religious sect, rather like the Amish. Their restaurant featured home cooked dishes served by the most friendly staff. A great experience.
5] Roger made the guys on “Justified” seem tame. A terrific guy, with bags of experience and a fund of funny stories.
6] Slacky put together a really comprehensive module. Avoiding the fire ants added a certain piquancy to the drills.
7] We had two Paramedics in attendance for the VIP Protection training, and they established a range safety protocol which was the best I’ve seen. We had a vehicle onrange, doors open, keys in ignition, rady for a quick move. Contact numbers and callsigns for the Life Flight heli casevac service were noted, and very comprehensive med packs in situ.
8] I eat frequently in restaurants, but you can’t beat good, home cooking, and Megan is one of the best. I brought away a couple of recipes, and plany trying one this week, when the weather seems good for a barbecue. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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Last edited by Dennis on Wed 04 Jul 2012, 10:33; edited 6 times in total
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Kemlyn



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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Mon 21 May 2012, 13:56

Sounds like a really good weekend,as usual written up in Mr.Blacksladder's inimitable style! ha ha

3 sentences stood out for me-


'Being British, my first impulse was to find someone from Lufthansa
and to be reasonable at them them until they did my bidding.'



'Everyone had fun on that, even the paramedic who put three rounds in
the face of the distressed looking blonde lady.'



'I gained five pounds in weight from a diet rich in meat and southern
hospitality portion control.'


Pure gold... ; )
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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Mon 21 May 2012, 17:21

I've added some footnotes to Slacky's brilliant AAR.
I showed the piece to Tommy Mac today, and he opined that Slacky should become a professional writer. I couldn't agree more.

Another photo....



[Slacky, Shane, Den on range]

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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Mon 21 May 2012, 20:26

Quality write up!

Am listening to Steppenwolfs "Magic Carpet Ride" (new fave song of the mo) and it dovetails for really enjoyable reading with Pete's prose!

phil

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Kemlyn



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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Tue 22 May 2012, 10:16

I've never met Slackbladder(I'm guessing that's not his real name! ha ha),
but from his write-ups,I think he could perhaps do well as a stand-up comedian.

Have you ever done any of this,SB?
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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Tue 22 May 2012, 13:24

Regretfully, Kemlyn, my mouth is not connected to the same part of brain that controls my my fingertips. Faced with a large audience, my first instinct is to say "Um" and remain watchful for ballistic vegetables/pint glasses. In fact, this seminar (and every other seminar, come to think of it) was filled with people who are all substantially funnier than me. Hence my statement that
Quote :
I laughed a lot
,
and not the alternative:
Quote :
I entertained the proles until they became too exhausted to laugh. Still thirsty for the approval of strangers, I drank a martini and nailed a cheerleader before heading to a local sports stadium to wow the locals with my Perrier Award winning act.
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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Tue 22 May 2012, 13:35

Hi Slacky(I know that CAN'T be your real name! ha ha)
Unfortunately,Kemlyn IS my real name... : (
It's a shit name,and I hate it-but on the positive side it is distinctive and stands out.

I can appreciate the bit about dodging pint glasses/bottles/ashtrays/bar stools etc.! ha ha

It doesn't matter if other people are funnier than you or not.


There are lots of better English teachers than me.
I don't give a fuck,I'm getting better and earning a reasonable living with it,and that's all I'm after.

Likewise with dog trainers.


I think you may well underestimate your sense of humour/analysis anyway... ; )
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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Tue 22 May 2012, 17:57

I've put Megan's recipe here

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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Tue 22 May 2012, 22:17

Those ribs were good. I remember Megan fretting that the game meat would be rather tough or taste a bit...meh. She couldn't have been more wrong. Best ribs I've eaten for a long, long time. My mouth is watering at the memory.
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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Wed 23 May 2012, 01:00

A cracking write up Slacky, sounds like it was an excellent course all round.

Dennis wrote:
I selected The Cheesecake Factory, being a fan of the “Big Bang Theory” I was hoping that we would be served by a Penny lookalike...
As for this, I'd be quite tempted to be on the next flight if you'd found one of these who also brought you food!
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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Wed 23 May 2012, 10:40

Food like this.....


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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Wed 23 May 2012, 11:31

That's rather spectacular. I do enjoy cakes!
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High cross



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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Thu 24 May 2012, 00:07

grear write up!
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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Thu 24 May 2012, 11:00

Amazingly, we went through numerous security checks and not once did Slacky have any forgotten weapons on him!

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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Thu 24 May 2012, 12:36

Sounds like you guys had some trip.
Another gem from the slack
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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Thu 24 May 2012, 17:26

It was a really great trip. It was especially nice to spend a week with folks who can have an actual conversation, without messing with their phones every two minutes.

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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Thu 24 May 2012, 19:53

Any way we could use those cakes combatively?;-)
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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Fri 25 May 2012, 12:12

Here's the Monty Python sketch that Slacky mentioned when discussing queing on a ramp at Manchester Airport....


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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Wed 04 Jul 2012, 10:37

At the International we must get Slacky to re-tell Shane's "Mocastins" story. The funniest thing I've heard for years.

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PostSubject: Re: Americus seminars 2012 AAR   Fri 21 Sep 2012, 10:27

Quote :
when I saw the word 'Cancelled' where my flight information should be.

That early morning Manchester to Frankfurt flight with Lufthansa seemes doomed. I recently flew that sector on the later flight, and when waiting at the gate I heard the desk agent talking to a flight mechanic about the earlier flight. Upon arrival at Manchester it had to abort the landing because the flaps suddenly stopped working. The aircraft had to make a second approach at at different angle to land safely. Lufthansa then needed to fly a part out from Frankfurt, which arrived on my incoming flight.
The desk area was crowded with passengers from the earlier flight trying to confirm their onward connections, which induced a mild state of deja vu in me.

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