The Irony of Slow is Smooth

It seems in today’s world the term “slow is smooth and smooth is fast” will get you labeled as someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about or my favorite, “putting out dated information”. I generally avoid the subject, not because I agree with those who are opposed to this idea. I avoid it because the conversation requires a higher understanding of the idea in the first place.

An Origin Story

A good place to start is where did this phrase come from, where did it originate? The credit gets tossed around a lot, but it originated from the special operations community. The wet side, a long time ago. Those who have an opposing view don’t know the origin or the history. What is troublesome when you don’t know the history is how it was originally intended and applied. This concepts has far reaching applications, not just shooting. In the shooting world, it is typically applied from a single plane. There is either a lack of ability or experience to see it from multiple planes. It is not just a mistake thinking it is strictly one dimensional, it’s counterproductive.

Seeing the Bigger Picture

When moving at full speed, the top of the food chain make their actions look fluid and automatic. Mind you, I’m not just talking about shooting. If we were to shift focus to assaults, a chaotic and complex operation you might develop a deeper understanding and appreciation. One will see this carefully orchestrated activity be executed with incredible results in some of the most dangerous situations imaginable. There has been an extensive train up to allow for the chaos in the most efficient manner possible. We did not arrive at this ability simply by ignoring decades of development in the training. There is a meticulously executed training plan to build up to the ability to not only run at full speed, but make critical decisions in compressed time periods under enormous stress. The bigger picture.

Outrunning Your Headlights

CQB Shoothouse
The Proving Grounds

How does one accomplish this task? It is simple, but not easy. First, it doesn’t happen overnight. For these skills to be truly developed to an automated nature it takes time and making a lot of mistakes. When I was tasked to deliver this training I used simple ways to determine if the individual was outrunning their headlights. During their run, there were simple problems, almost too simple, where if the assaulter was moving beyond their capabilities would make a mistake. When debriefed and queried why they made the mistake most of the time it had to do with not “seeing” the problem. I cannot tell you how many times I would have to tell someone to slow down to avoid making the same mistakes again. To remind them making a mistake at this level is unacceptable, but more importantly avoidable. The mistakes were avoidable if, and this was a big if, they could see the correct series of actions and decisions before required to execute said actions or decisions. Those who made the most mistakes and repeated mistakes were easy to spot. They were moving way faster than they could prosecute the available information.

A Linear Progression Approach

The term, “crawl, walk then run” was often used in conjunction with “slow is smooth”. The assaulters needed to start off slow, like at a literal crawl pace in order to learn the techniques. When they could slow down and see their decisions being made in real time, learning was much easier. It was those who insisted on going faster their skill level that tripped over themselves, at times literally. So, how does this apply to the shooting world. Before you can be expected to execute any action or activity, it must first be flawlessly developed. The only way to accomplish this task is by slowing down so the end user can see the action required, to the level of precision needed to complete the task. Before you can expect to have a one second drawstroke, you must first understand and be able to apply the fundamentals of the drawstroke. You developed this skill by thinking your way through each step so you can apply the required level of precision to your movements.

Master the Fundamentals

I was asked a long time ago how to develop speed in shooting. My answer to this day remains the same. You minimize the amount of movement necessary, then perform said minimal movement precisely enough for the task at hand. You want to shoot faster, then master the fundamentals. The absolute minimal amount of movement necessary. When we look at shooters technique at the granular level it is often covered in dirt. It is not clean. All that dirt prevents you from moving as precisely as you can or as necessary as the shot requires. This to me epitomizes the notion of “slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. Because when trained properly, the thousands of work hours allows the observer a glimpse into the closest thing to perfection we can possibly attain.

The Forging Process

Flawless execution

There will remain flaws in our techniques. These flaws exist because for some reason we prioritized something else in the required action and performed them less precise than what the situation dictated. I preach the slow is smooth mantra anytime we are teaching assaults or tactics. But I also preach it when we are teaching shooting. It comes out of my mouth about a 100 different ways in class. Most of the time in the form of a question. Why is this shot not where you were aiming? I’m looking to see what the student can recall. What did they feel, and see at the moment the shot was fired. Most of the time they cannot recall. They cannot recall because they were moving faster than their capabilities allowed. When the student can slow their movements down it allows them to perfect their technique. This smoothing out of their technique then allows them to incrementally accelerate simply by being more efficient. They accelerate to the point of failure. When they can recognize this failure point they truly have arrived as a competent gunman.

Where Does the Smooth Come From

The standing order I give all students is only shoot as fast as they can guarantee the required hits. Those that have been exposed to the slow is smooth mantra have a higher success rate than those who have not. Starting slower gets you to your goal faster. You ingrain the proper neural pathways and therefore it helps to accelerate the learning process. When you slow down you can start to internalize the tacit knowledge. This knowledge is difficult to express or verbalize. It is more like intuition that is developed with experience and this is where the smooth comes from.

It’s About Making Fewer Mistakes

At some point we do want to be going fast, but fast without the proper building blocks is a sham. Anyone who tries to tell you anything different is suspect at best. When you begin to perform at the top levels and are producing excellent results, it is because you have followed a simple formula. You developed your technique or the mechanics to almost a flawless level. It took you slowing down to accomplish this task. Then you applied your technique over and over building competency through consistency. It is as this point you become efficient or smooth. Then you start to see your movement speed performed with fewer and fewer errors or overall time. The byproduct is you are faster. Not because you are moving faster, of course that is a byproduct. You are faster because you are making fewer mistakes at the granular level and producing results.

When I ask people if their goal is to perform whatever their skill to the subconscious competent level they invariably answer of course. When I ask them how they intend on getting there I get a response that reminds me of banging your head into the wall. The fastest way to see progress is by understanding there is a process; technique (slow), consistency (smooth) and then intensity (fast). When you come to this understanding, you improvements mean more and you start to understand what it means to festina lente.

EPISODE 17 – JEFF GONZALES (U.S. NAVY SEALS) – The Veterans Project

Getting some ProDev on…

Host Tim K. sits down in Austin, Texas with fellow San Antonio native, Jeff Gonzales. Jeff enjoyed a prestigious career as a U.S. Navy SEAL where he served around the world as both an operator and instructor. The two talk about Jeff’s time on the teams, his experiences in South America combating the cartels (some of those stories are harrowing and some humorous) and his present position as a world-renowned weapons/tactics instructor for Trident Concepts, which he founded. Gonzales proudly served his nation as one of our most elite war-fighters and has since taken that top-tier knowledge to the private sector. His techniques are known for being highly-innovative, and his teaching methodologies are considered by many to be ground-breaking.

To learn more about Jeff’s company, Trident Concepts, visit the website at tridentconcepts.com.

You can also find Jeff on Instagram: @jl_gonzales and Trident Concepts’ Instagram: @tridentconcepts.

PA RADIO – EPISODE 218: JEFF GONZALES

PA Radio E218

Open Mind, Empty Cup

Everyone needs a Jeff Gonzales in their life. A proficient firearms instructor with his venture, Trident Concepts, Jeff draws from his military experience and years of pursuing perfection on the range. This week John and Tex discuss the details of executing the optimal shot – from fitness, to body position, to sights, and trigger press. A decorated vet and former SEAL, Jeff has mastered the discipline of combat and precision shooting making him one of the most sought after instructors in the field. Hear more about his evolution and philosophies of combining strength training and tactics.

Later in the show, the guys transition to a more topical discussion about politics. It’s the kind of high brow shit you’ve come to expect from the Premier Podcast in Strength and Conditioning.

EMPOWER YOUR PERFORMANCE.

You can find Jeff Gonzales on his website www.TheRangeAustin.com or by DMing him on instagram at @TridentConcepts. Ok Ok, he clearly stated that he didn’t respond to DM’s but did hint at being an excellent pen pal.

The Art of Close Quarters Battle

CQB Shoothouse

There Is A Method To The Madness

I have been a student of assaults for the better part of my adult life. I’ve studied, practiced and perfected the art and managed to infuse a little science to the affair.

Seeing The Big Picture

When you are first learning how to conduct CQB operations or assaults there is so much to take onboard. I’m not going to lie, it is overwhelming. Every action or inaction has both a postive and negative outcome. If you go to the right, you miss a target to the left. If you fail to clear this deadspace you expose your teammates to deadly force. The list is mind boggling, but the answer lies within the chaos. Underneath all the crazy there is a simple yet effect symphhony of movement that reduces the dangers you face, while increasing the danger the bad guy faces. The real question is how do you get tickets to the symphony?

Practice Makes Perfect

It all starts with an acknowledgement it will take time. While every force, unit and team will vary there is an agreed upon notion it is weeks, sometimes months to grasp a minimum level of competency to be safe among those who have mastered the art. One of the greatest dangers as an experienced operator is being in close proximity to someone who is still learning. Obviously, the dangers increase as you add live fire practice, varous explosive and of course a living, breathing advesary. So, what is the secret? It’s really no secret, it is practice. What you have to understand is what type of practice. There are various forms of practice, but the type of practice that produces the best results is a deep type of practice.

Working From The Known To Unknown

Within this deep practice, the student is given a set of parameters to work within. Then, they are put into practicals they must apply their understanding of the parameters. It is impossible to get it right on the first attempt, even the 1000th attempt for some. But that’s the point, there is sciene in failure. Failing is a key ingredient to success. You have to be put in these situations often and fail often. This failure brings about a problem solving mindset that is constantly adapting to the environment within the type of individual that makes a good operator.

Understanding The Look

The ideal environment for CQB is one where it starts simple and works to complex. That should come as no surprise, but even a simple square room can get uber complex when you start adding doors, oddities and dead spaces. The trick is to incrementally expose the operator to each of these scenarios. To provide them with what I call “the look”. This look is essential because it gives the operator a frame of reference. In the real world, no live target building will look like the training kill houses we virtually live in when practicing. What you are trying to accomplish is to build a database the operator can quickly review. What they are looking for is not the exact copy, but something close enough. This close enough will allow decrease the reaction and processing time. Providing a workable solution. It may not be perfect, but perfection is the enemy of good.

Being Disciplined and Hungry

How does this help the average person. The lesson to take away is anything you want to be good at is going to require hard work, practice. But not just any practice, deep practice. The type of practice that will produce errors, that you can review and reflect upon. Then try to avoid repeating the same errors in the future. I teach a four part system. First you have to identify the error. Then you need to intercept the error before it occurs. Replace the error with the preferred action then repeat until reliable. What I mean by reliable is repeat until this new action becomes the new habit. I’m always pushing our students to fail, I want a 20% failure rate. This gives the student enough positive to stay motivated and enough negative to stay hungry.

I can go on and on regarding teaching CQB, but that is for another day. What I love is within all the chaos is simplicty.

The Importance Of Failure

Failure 1

Failure Is Sometimes An Option

Don’t think for a moment that I haven’t failed, whether in life or on the firing line. Believe me, I have learned the importance of failure since I have failed more times than I can count.

Understanding The Lesson

I’m okay with the vast majority of my failures because I choose to look at them as lessons. The hard part is really listening to what the failures tell us. When I’m coaching students during diagnostics the first question I will ask them is “what did they feel.” I’m not asking about their emotional condition, I’m asking them to listen to their brain and body to understand the importance of failure. What did they tell you about the last shot or evolution. This is probably one of the hardest concepts to get across to students. That it is okay to fail and in fact we should fail often. As long as we are willing to look deeply at the failure and try to understand the lesson.

Fast Failures

We place a high premium on repetitions to help students learn new skills. I ask students to move at a speed they can think their way thorugh the drill. When we approach the target, I ask what did they feel. My hope is they were paying attention and can gleam something as a result of their slowed processing speed. This doesn’t come easily to many so my philosphy is to fail fast. What I mean by this is the faster we can fail, the quicker we can learn. It boils down to being able to perform the same drill or relatively the same drill over and over to the point you start to pick up on the micro level details. By quickly getting to the failure point we are able to make a mental jump to the learning point.

Healthy Risk Taking Is Good

Failure 2
Failing fast and failing forward are good

With the idea of failing growing more comfortable, we start to shift our mental focus to more about how does this failure lead to success. That leads us to a failing forward mentality. This allows students to embrace their own learning cycle. Some will learn faster than others, requiring less mistakes. Others will take more mistakes to truly begin their learning cycle. Nothing in this world will be achieveable without a little risk taking. There is a balance we all need to seek, right at the point of healthy risk taking. You have to be comfortable taking these risks so you can experience the lesson they provide you. There is a big differnce between letting loose in a semi-controlled manner to complete choas and unsafe.

It Boils Down To Failing Often

Adults learn differently. They have several self-imposed barriers that prevent them from reaching new levels. Failures impact us twice as much as successes. Which is why as humans we are happy staying in our comfort zone. The thrill of victory pales to the agnony of defeat. There is little gained by staying in your comfort zone. Life is best experienced on the edges. In our classes there are standards all must achieve. What so many students don’t learn until it is too late is the importance of failure. To fail early, fail fast leading to failing forward. My biggest advice to new students or even returning students is to go slow and fail often. These are the two most vaulable traits a student can bring to a class.

Getting to the point of getting comfortable being uncomfortable has taken me years to master. But, I feel the most alive and accomplished when I’m outside my comfort zone.

Jeff Gonzales | Can You Survive This Podcast? w/ Clint Emerson

There is more than meets the eye…

FULL AUIDEO EPISODES can be downloaded here: Jeff Gonzales, Can You Survive This Podcast

US Navy SEAL Jeff L. Gonzales is a nationally recognized weapons and tactics instructor. He serves as president of

Trident Concepts, LLC and former director of training for The Range at Austin. Jeff’s background comes from Naval Special Warfare; where he served as a decorated and respected operator and instructor. Participating in numerous combat operations throughout the globe, his duties involved a wide variety of operational and instructional assignments on both the East and West coasts.

On this episode Clint and Jeff discuss LTC vs. Constitutional Carry, the UFC vs. the NFL, and much more.

Follow:

Host: https://www.instagram.com/100deadlysk

Show: https://www.instagram.com/survivethis

Podcast Network: https://www.instagram.com/cavalry/ Musicbed SyncID: MB01Y1Q8IQPDBIR

#ClintEmerson #CanYouSurviveThisPodcast #JeffGonzales

 

Conversation #111 – Jeff Gonzales – Former Navy SEAL & Founder of Trident Concepts

My Greatest Challenged Turned Out To Be The Best Thing…

Jeff Gonzales is a former Navy SEAL and the founder of Trident Concepts which has been forging hardcore trigger pullers since 2001.

Jeff and I speak about putting all your time and energy into your passion and not seeing results, learning from your biggest struggle, setting an example regardless of where you are in life, and so much more!

**ALL EPISODES ON AUDIO / all podcast apps ~ www.kristoflewis.com/podcast

Conversation #111 is LIVE on your favorite podcast app or www.kristoflewis.com/podcast. https://www.instagram.com/kristoflewis www.kristoflewis.com/podcast

https://www.instagram.com/jl_gonzales https://www.instagram.com/tridentconc…

https://tridentconcepts.com/

Power Athlete HQ Podcast, Episode 533

As always, had a great time with my good friend John Welborn and Tex. It was even more badass to have my good friend Craig Douglas on together. We talked about a lot of really cool stuff and got into the weeds on a lot of them. What I was also very happy about was the data dump on the 12 Labors Conference.

Here is a sinipet from the podcast, to download the full podcast use this link: Ep 533 – Fighting, Guns, and Gunfighting with Jeff Gonzales & Craig Douglas

John is one of my oldest friends, he got me through a pretty dark time in my life. His grasp of fitness is bar none one of the bests. Check out some of his programs, I can 100% vouch for them. To learn more about being a Power Athlete follow this link.

Dig Your Corners

Some say you will hardly use math skills taught in school other than to balance your checkbook. I suppose it depends on what you do in life.

Its All Fun & Games Until

Maybe math is more important than you think. You might appreciate it more if you have to work tactical problems. Where you need to clear around corners to a dead space at the far end of the wall; what is called a hard corner. Years ago when I was working as OPFOR for my guys I witnessed an amazing phenomenon. The further back into the angle I got, the less I had to expose in order to gain ground down range. I saw the reverse play out when teammates would hug the corner as they attempted to clear the hard corner. While not ideal, both of these skills are important in the grand schemes of tactical movement repertoire. The problem was how this thinking it went against the grain from conventional wisdom.

It Is Not Always The Why

I remember when teaching a tactical team Active Hostage Rescue skills where managing corners was heavily emphasized. One of the members in their previous career was an architect. As I was explaining corners and the approach towards a corner I talked about obtaining the best vantage point. The better the vantage point the more down range hazards you can clear. Leaving usually the hard corner to visually clear with a dynamic movement. As we worked in commercial buildings we had the opportunity to explore a variety of these types of problems. His curiously was piqued and in the evening after class he pulled out his old drawing program. He created a large scale representation of not why it works, but how it works. I remember his excitement rolling this large piece of paper across his patrol car hood and the careful explanation as to the how.

You Can Only Look One Way

While I cannot remember the technical terms, it was impressive. When you are working in smaller and smaller units the ability to cover all the angles becomes more challenging, almost impossible. Since you can only look in one direction the importance behind achieving the best vantage point becomes huge. Of course, there are points of diminishing returns such as when you have to clear a weak side corner. This forces you to expose more of your body since it typically crosses the plane before your firearm does. A maximum we teach is to maximize your distance and minimize your exposure. When you accomplish these in tandem you create a significant tactical advantage. In order to minimize your exposure you may have to develop the skill of transferring to your weak side to help reduce your exposure. I caveat this technique with a statement that focuses on safety and competency. If either of those are suspect, then you are better off exposing more for improved fighting capacity.

See First Always

There will always be those who have a hard time accepting this technique is simple and effective. Going down range to get the bad guy’s perspective helps. Even then it still takes time to accept; which usually comes with application. When placed in a situation where it doesn’t matter how skilled, how cool your gear is or who’s side you are on it generally boils down to who sees who first. If you are exposing less and seeing more you will come to recognize the value with time. If you step back as an observer you eventually see the light bulbs turn on as they perform more and more runs through a simulator.

When you are playing an adult hide-n-seek game, you will come to appreciate the importance behind these maximums. You will develop these skills out of self preservation.

The 1K Challenge

During this isolation period I struggled to identify areas I wanted to work on for self improvement. I thought about a lot of different areas I could focus and one in particular had to do with my dry fire practice.

More Than Maintenance

I already dry fire practice on a regular basis, but there wasn’t a set agenda per se. It was organized, but not driven. I used it more as a maintenance mechanism and in this capacity it was great. However, I wanted to take it to a new level so I added some specific goals. One of my goals was to perform 1,000 flawless repetitions within a thirty day period. This wasn’t really that challenging as far as the numbers are concerned, it averages to about 30 repetitions each day. The next goal was to define flawless and for that I started with a reduced target zone. I then needed to set my standard for flawless; which I defined as executed as a first, best sight picture. For the repetition to count it had to break the moment I was at full extension and within the reduced target zone. Then there was the time standard. I started with a generous time standard and each week decreased the time without compromising accuracy. Finally, I performed the dry fire on various platforms and I mean pretty much everything I had in my inventory. Meaning the standard had to be applied to whatever I was holding in my hand. Here is what I learned…

Fabled Lessons Learned

There is no substitute for good technique. With good technique so much is possible. During the first week I noticed there were a lot of “no reps” or no repetitions. These did not count towards my daily allocation because they did not meet the standard. The ratio was higher than I wanted, but I was rolling this program out so I was a little patient. Then, as time went on my ratio of good reps to bad started to improve. I still perform this dry fire program even though I am outside of the 30 day test period, mainly out of curiosity. When I look closely at the root cause for those no reps they generally fell into one of two categories. The first was easier to correct; which was driving the gun to the strike point. The strike point is where you want your round to impact. If I’m aiming for the head, it is a specific feature, like the tip of the nose. Any place else and I ended up correcting; which cost me time and the no rep. The second was trusting my technique. The more I trusted my technique, the less I worried if the sights were good enough for the shot required. In other words, the sights don’t have to be perfect. They just have to be good enough for the shot required.

Mixing Things Up For The Greater Good

These two observations were huge in the beginning. Once these observations were noted I would pay more attention to how well I was executing using these as benchmarks. It got to the point where it was boring. I’m not going to lie, within the first 10 days I was starting to question whether this was worth the 30-day effort. That is where I introduced different platforms into the mix with the same standards. Doing this I observed two more thoughts. As I got a little too comfortable I would loose focus. It wasn’t my technique was bad, it was my brain was no longer engaged. The price you pay for the attention spay of a Belgian Malinois. The new platforms forced me to lock in my focus. Then, the new platforms allowed me to see things differently. Regardless of the fire control system I was able to bend them to my will. My ratio of no reps at this point was consistent with the original platform; which is so weird given the novelty in my hand.

Yes, there are very few things more dangerous than a bored frogman, but I enjoyed this little experiment. I will post some more observations in another month or so.

Trident Concepts
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