RedMan® Gear Relevance in the Twenty-first Century
It’s hard to believe that RedMan and I have been involved with law enforcement training for twenty-five years.
We arrived at the same time. The first national law enforcement training conference that I attended was the Justice System Training Association (JSTA) conference in 1983 in Kansas City, MO. I made quite a stir showing off the new “Active Countermeasures System of Unarmed Blocking and Striking Techniques” Video: LETN Active Countermeasures.
This system of unarmed combat was based on the Knockdown Karate martial arts system created by the world famous Japanese karate master, Mas Oyama. It was designed for knocking down an opponent - not for grappling, throwing or sweeping an opponent, but for knocking them down – period. When applied to law enforcement, this meant that - when necessary - you hit your opponent as hard as you could to end the fight quickly. If a subject who is violently resisting your attempts to handcuff them gets up from the ground to their knees, the officer knees them as hard as s/he can in the ribs and ends the fight immediately so that handcuffs can be applied and post arrest medical attention can be implemented.
At the time I remember being asked by an officer, "can I do that?" I replied that, given a certain level of threat, not only can they do it but that they should do it - to protect all parties involved from greater harm if the fight was allowed to continue.
Needless to say, in 1982, my training made quite a stir and generated this compliment: “It is about time that someone starts teaching officers to win a knock down, drag out fight.”
This brings us back to the purpose of this article, to answer the question of whether or not RedMan Gear is still relevant in the 21st Century. For me, the answer is an easy: RedMan Gear remains necessary in order to train officers how to win those knock down, drag out fights that they still have to win.
But this is more than a question about whether it is still necessary to do the heavy duty, near-full impact, "thump & bump" simulation training for which RedMan Gear is famous (Video: LETN Handgun Avoidance). The question needs to be answered in terms of the "Protective Equipment Evaluation Protocol" that RedMan trainers themselves developed, and that I will discuss later in this article.
Research & Development
RedMan equipment was developed by trainers and for trainers over the course of twenty-five years. The equipment came on to the market during the first days of modern defensive tactical training. The manufacturers of RedMan assumed the initial users of the equipment were thoroughly trained in how it could be intergrated with simulation training programs. This was not the case. So RedMan, and its core of nationally known trainers, began developed the tactical simulation training as they went along.
The original RedMan Simulation Instructor Training Program set the stage for simulation training programs that would come to follow. Take a look the attached videos that illustrate:
1. How can an officer justify his/her use of force? It begins with understanding the Control Theory, the foundation of use-of-force Articulation. How and why can an officer use force to enforce the law, and protect him/herself and others? Video: RedMan Defensive Tactics Control Theory
2. The Seven Levels of Simulation, that explains how to train your officers, is a step by step process of simulation training that progresses from Shadow Training to Prop Training to Partner Training to Dynamic Movement Training to Relative Positioning Training to Environmental Training to High Level (Decision Making) Simulation Training. Video: RedMan Seven Levels of Simulation
3. Training Inquiry Liability Management outlines a safety protocol for developing, and implementing, defensive tactics training. At the same time it provides for the medical injuries procedures which may occur, along with the documentation that must accompany such training injuries. Video: RedMan Training Injury Liability Management
4. Simulation Instructor Development shows how to design high level decision making simulations, along with templates for successful implementation. Video: RedMan Simulation Instructor Development
RedMan has always been a pacesetter in the development of training protective equipment. When training munitions - such as Simunition FX Rounds - hit the market, Redman developed the "Weapon Defense Suit" along with the "Three Check Rule" Poster that established a safety protocol for the use of training munitions. The WDS headgear went through a series of modifications, culminating in the development of the new D2 Head.
Today, RedMan continues to develop and modify designs based on feedback from firearm and defensive tactics instructors in the field.
However, the question still looms: Is RedMan gear still relevant to today's officer?
Let’s look for answers in the Protective Equipment Evaluation Protocol, consisting of six categories:
Protective equipment is designed to protect whoever wears it. With this in mind, RedMan has developed two primary types of training suits: The first is the "Light Student Suit," designed to protect the officer being trained from both the impact of blows directed at him/her as well as the environment that surrounds them. The second suit was developed for instructors and demonstrators, designed to take the brunt of force trauma applied by training students. For obvious reasons, RedMan designed this suit to absorb multiple impacts from any direction and at any time. I can’t tell you the number of instructors and demonstrators that I know who were "saved" by these suits.
Two stories stick out in my mind:
Gary Monreal was training with me at the Heckler & Koch International Training Academy.
We were doing a tactical entry exercise. He was wearing a RedMan XP Instructor Suit while lying on a couch with his back to the entry point, playing the role of an unconscious unarmed subject asleep on a couch. Instead of issuing verbal commands or passively taking the subject off the couch to the floor, the tactical operator ran up to Gary Monreal and delivered a full force knee strike to Gary’s spine.
If Gary hadn't been wearing the RedMan XP Instructor Suit - with its hard plastic plate along the spine - he could have been crippled for life.
Lesson Learned: Don't lie on a couch with your back to an approaching tactical operator and simply expect an appropriate response – You never know what a student might do.
Another time, Gary Monreal was again suited in a RedMan XP Suit - this time with and Enhanced Head and heavy wire mesh face piece. We were conducting a simple weapon control drill where the tactical officer that rapidly approached the demonstrator, transitioned their long gun, and kneed the demonstrator in the lower abdominal area. One of the tactical officers ran up to Gary Monreal, jumped high into the air, and deliver a high powered forearm strike right to the cage of his head gear.
Although Gary was knocked semi-conscious, at least the suit saved his face from being smashed. The RedMan XP Enhanced Headgear is the only headgear on the market that I know of that could have stopped this kind of trauma.
Lesson Learned: Even when the attack is supposed to come to the lower body, protect the head with your arms to prevent unpleasant surprises.
The instructor suit also helps protect the demonstrator when they are being directed forcefully into walls, over furniture, or onto the floor.
These stories illustrate the ability of the "beefed up" RedMan XP Suit - built with extra hard plastic plates wedged between soft foam rubber - and the RedMan XP Enhanced Head - with wire mesh face mask - to take intense amounts of impact.
It should be noted that in both of the previous examples the student was applying full force strikes to two target areas that should have been off limits - an unresponsive demonstrator’s back and a demonstrator's face.
I have a lot of RedMan Equipment that is between 5 and 10 years old. Although it can be damaged, it can also be repaired in the field. The bottom line is that when you take care of your equipment then it takes care of you.
RedMan Equipment is designed to be used in multiple configurations. You can beef it up or lighten it up. You can use all or part of its components.
The RedMan Suit isn’t designed to be a grappling suit. It is an impact suit. Don’t confuse these two very different functions. Although RedMan Equipment can be used in different configurations, it wasn’t designed for rolling around on the ground attempting to apply arm bars or chokes. It is, however, great for a knock down, drag out fight on the ground. It should be noted that wearing the RedMan Student Head without its head cage, along with elbow pads and knee guards is great for grappling applications.
Wear what you need. You can wear the entire suit or a part of it. RedMan gear is designed to be worn in a whole range of special configurations. From Simunition FX Round Protection to Cell Extractions Training to Crowd Management Training to Sudden Assault Drills, to Weapon Defense Training, RedMan Equipment does it all. If you need only Armguards for blocking drills or Thigh Guards for practicing kicks to the legs, RedMan Gear is the gear for you.
To me, the greatest value of the RedMan suit is often ignored: You can easily clean, sanitize, and reuse it – one class after another. There is no need to let the sweat and other biohazards dry out of a waterlogged training suit. You don’t need air fresheners to take the smell off of the sweat stained equipment. You don’t have to worry about what disease you or your student will catch from wearing an unsanitized piece of training equipment. No matter what anyone says – if the contaminated fluids can seep into the suit, those same contaminated fluids can seep back out and contaminate the next one using it.
We have come a long way in the last 25 years in terms of tactics and equipment. But, the fact remains that officers still need to be able to survive and win unexpected, close quarters, sudden assaults. RedMan Gear will remain the cutting edge protective equipment for training at high intensity, and gaining the confidence and skill to win potentially life threatening fights.
You may want to use verbal skills or control devices or deadly force to control an out of control situation but, if you ever find yourself in a close quarters under sudden assault by a seasoned and determined assailant, officers still need to know how to "thump & bump" their way through a fight. RedMan Gear was, is, and will remain to be extremely "relevant" in keeping you and your fellow officers safe.