Yeah I know that sounds like the title of a porno flick but I assure you this will be PG-13 rated at worst and I will try to stay away from too much bromance. In brainstorming for this article I had a few other titles as well. At risk of sounding like a Rocky and Bullwinkle episode I’ll be sure to share the alternates with you
How Travis Haley Disrupted My Environment
Late Nights With A Gun Fighting Legend
How To Get Sunburn And Sleep Deprivation In Just 2 Days
I want to thank Brad for the opportunity to sit in on the Disruptive Environment Carbine class offered by Travis Haley in conjunction with Patriot Defense Training in Adrian Michigan.
Travis is a type A Alpha male if I have ever met one. In fact in a group of alpha males he would still alpha male them all. Not in a James Yeager I’m going to eat your face off and feed it to you overly aggressive way but in more of a fatherly do it this way son and your life will be better kind of way. The type of father who intimidates you through a fear of disappointing him as opposed to a if you cross me I will beat you kind of way. He does this all on an almost subliminal level making men almost double his age look up to him within minutes of hearing him talk.
From the moment I walked into the class it was clear to me Travis has no qualms with taking control of a situation and sharing his knowledge. What is better is that his sharing is actually that stories lessons and experiences most of us will never get to experience first hand laid out in a contextual way that allows the listener to be immersed in a story-time adventure.
I am going to try and do my best to put you in my shoes and share with you an evening that has resulted in major changes in my life.
It is 2 am Sunday morning. Travis has been teaching classes since Monday and has been running disruptive Carbine classes until midnight with an hour or so follow up at the end of each. We arrive back at one of the students home where we are all staying at around 2am. Travis looks just truly drained and exhausted. I say “Travis if your tired after teaching all day I completely understand if you don’t have time to do the interview we can do it another day.” A look of relief washes across his face he nods his head and says “Yeah I’m pretty smoked so let shoot for tomorrow”.
We sit in silence as we each eat a bowl of ice cream and pie that was graciously supplied by our host. After 15 or 20 minutes without moving more than his neck and head Travis says “So what kind of questions do you have for me”? A glimmer of hope and anticipation builds inside I’m in the big leagues now! I ask my first question “What do you enjoy about teaching”?
Travis starts to come alive. A spark has been struck that lights the fire of one of the best story tellers I have ever interacted with. The next 4.5 hours was an ego shattering roller coaster that caused me to evaluate my place in life, the limitations I set before myself and education unlike anything I have experienced in my years.
Had we lived hundreds of years ago there is no doubt travis would be a traveling bard that was likely also a secret assassin. The reason for my assumption is two fold. Not only does Travis offer a truly amazing ability to relate real life events in an immersive way but he goes far beyond that. I was blown away by the underlying belief system that makes Travis who he is. Compassion and a desire to help those around him is the most core attribute that comprises this complex man.
I asked with all the money he makes running Haley Strategic Partners, with revenue from many co-branded deals with some of the largest companies in the industry and the ability to sit in an ivory tower and profit comfortable without having to be out on the road away from his family why would he subject himself to days like this and nights talking to small time bloggers like myself. The answer was simple, but in typical Travis style it was not short. Instead of coming right out and pitching what could easily be seen as a pandering answer that so many trainers bring to the market.
Travis talked about his “railroad of the wild west theory”and the life that it brought to a town. How medicine, news and products came in on the trains and new local goods were loaded and shipped out. This brought entertainment and much needed supplies in, while supplying a revenue stream for the town to stay open by shipping out the local goods to the larger cities. People needed that railroad no matter how big or small the town was. He went into detail the joy that would bring a conductor knowing that his work contributed to the towns and the symbiotic relationship, without the town there would be no train and without the train the town would likely die.
Quickly the analogy started to form in my mind and I could see how other instructors and product companies pick and choose towns based on what it will do for them. Caring nothing anymore for those small towns that relied on these trains, instead focusing on the major cities that could offer the most bang for the buck. The goal shifted from pride and symbiosis to greed and profit. Something in all honesty I fully expected to see in Travis. I am happy to admit I was wrong. Guys like Travis are a rare bread and rarer still after the money has come in only because they pride themselves on “Fire” and not “Flash”. While so many of us started ideologically with the intention of helping those around us, money and time often become motivating factors and it becomes easy to let the small things slip in favor of the big paydays or loftier goals.
HSP and Travis himself, as well as his quiet but right hand man and director of training Peirce Richardson understand that without the students, without hands on interaction and training with the civilian market responsible for so much of their sales, there can be no grander plan. Travis can innovate and push manufacturers to develop new product because of what he does in his classes with the average public, he not only understands this, he embraces it as part of his corporate culture. When you start to see that the driving force behind HSP is the instruction and that innovation and profits are a direct result of the efforts put into interacting with the consumer base it is easy to see why HSP has grown like wildfire and boasts a truly impressive fan base.
Travis made it clear that training and not products is the core of Haley Strategic Partners and always will be.
From here instead of asking the question I had been working on for the previous three weeks in an attempt to showcase my awesome understanding of the industry and ability to compete with the larger media I sat back. Listening and letting the hurricane, tsunami and tornado that is Travis’s personalty move us from an interview to a conversation that got far deeper then any canned questions ever could. In some ways I am sorry, for now as I write this article I have no defined questions and answers to share with you in the way a CNN interview would. I hope by sharing the points I really took away from our 2 nights together is enough to encourage you to go find a trainer and take a class like this.
We moved from why he enjoys teaching to the way and method he focuses on to teach. If you could not tell by now his method is allegory and stories, they require the end user to think. Travis is not a GPS and he does not spit out directions. What works in one situation or for one person is likely to get another killed. In both his classes as well as in our direct conversation it became clear to me that Travis follows and trains based on a fluid model of understanding the principles of the gunfight (or any topic for that matter) and works around the situational limitations that would likely cause a rigid “system” to fail.
If you look at the adage of feed a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for life, you can see where the HSP D5 methods make more sense. Where traditional training teaches people to memories encounter methods the student is only armed with the specific scenarios he has been taught and what he can remember under stress. This is like feeding him a fish. By learning motions, fluidity and problem solving skills combined with fundamentals of cover, concealment and angles the student can train on his own develop muscle memory and approach an infinite series of real world situations successfully feeding him for life. Another way to put it is as Travis likes to quote from his favorite fighter Bruce Lee “There is no way”.
You may have wondered why HSP course titles are named D1, D3 to D5. Travis goes on to explain that the numbers are representations of words. The 1 in D1 represents the “I” In the word Industries for their annual Industry event. The 3 in D3 looks like backwards E representing Disruptive
Now as he started explaining why science was so important I could see a new level of passion. The inquisitive engineer that is normally reserved until he finds a machine that breaks the traditional confines of accepted science. I was treated to a rare glimpse of the amount of money, time and thought that goes into preparing his methodologies. While some trainers develop maneuvers that are physically harmful to the human body in an attempt to stand out and sell DVD’s, Travis has taken a wholly unique approach. Hiring scientists and doctors to be on staff, work with him, while graphing charts and analyze movements based on human bio-mechanics to brain mapping and increasing neuromuscular efficiencies with neuro and bio feedback dynamics. Working with sports medicine doctors a staple of every sport except ours, formulating ways to produce the same end result but with less motion and pressure on the body. The result is faster scores, reaction times and healthier athletes.
Somehow we moved away from training and started discussing product development. You see Travis is a self-starting personality that loves to be hands on. The man is fearless and dare I say a bit crazy. He is a self-taught parachute rigger (this is where the crazy comes in), tailor and machinist and engineer. These skills combined with his time in Force Recon and training civilians, police and military around the world have been the driving forces behind his product innovations. While many people would horde product innovation, focusing on making the most profit possible being the manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer Travis does not. You see with a following that has been accused of a fanboy level of obsession (not by Travis mind you), marketing is an easy thing. Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel he has developed a form of co-opetition that allows him to partner with American based companies employing American workers who do what they do best. This outsourcing of the workforce and machining allows him to develop ideas instead of focusing on manufacturing. In the end the market sees more products, the quality is controlled and multiple companies share in the spoils. Most importantly Travis is kept free to keep teaching, innovating and developing instead of running production shops.
With the agility of a gisele who smells a predator on the wind, we finally move back to one of my pre calculated questions. “What do you recommend people look for in trainers” I ask as I prepare for yet another answer that will overwhelm my ability to type and keep up with his amorphous responses. I was not disappointed as I set to trying to keep up. Making spelling mistake after spelling mistake and finally just sitting back and talking with him like I would a long time friend over beers. In hindsight I really need to get better at interviews :)
Travis shares again his theory on not being absolute and reassures me that his job is never to tell anyone what to do or seek to give advice. He shares his experiences and research with people and creates a very detailed map for others to have information yet they are the ones that decide what direction to take not allowing Travis to force them like others may do due to a lack of understanding people. Travis says these are things that not many “instructors” out there will admit. So what he looks for in a “Teacher” is someone that is adaptive, articulate, that demonstrates, understands the human learning curve, understands the instinctual, cognitive, and behavioral sides of the pupil. Most importantly a good teacher protects their pupil’s from his/her own influences and helps prevent people from becoming a slave to their own patterns.
What the community is lacking the most however is educators. There is no lack of instructors, people who will teach you formulas to achieve a mathematical goal. There is however a shortage of instructors who can have fun with you, engage your brain and body all while keeping you within the required safety confines required when handling a firearm. With self defense training using a firearm there is no magic answer to what to train. Learn as much a possible and across multiple teachers and platforms. Be careful though of only focusing on the fun or wants in a class. You need to “Train like a fighter pilot” travis says indicating they must understand so many things and be on the top of their game in every aspect to be safe in the air.
Travis explains slowly for me so I can share it all with you that:
Haley strategic theory of a training requirement starts with understanding yourself on a conative level and then secondly cognitively including mental processing and visual processing skills. Understanding your brain better through neuro and bio feedback.
Cognitive instinctual strengths of how you find and share information. Finding and understanding tasks and goals quick start and adapt to problems and how you implement design and build a solution Engaging your frontal lobe and fire parts of the brain by knowing what it is supposed to just feel like. Which is taught in the various classes.
Tactics need to be the last item in the training process and that is where so many fail in education vs understanding “you” first.
Travis leans over and looks past my shoulder out the window then smirks. “You know boys the sun is coming up” he says as I look at my watch and see it is 6:30 in the morning. Flabbergasted that hours have spun by and my notes are a chicken scratched furry of my trying to keep up with the wisdom of a true gun fighter, CEO and all around good guy. With a reluctance to let the moment end but understanding the time has come I thank him for all he has shared with me this night.
As I slip off to bed I lay there wide awake. Unable to sleep due to the drive that has been awakened in me. Travis didn’t really teach me anything I had not heard at numerous self help classes during my days as a broker. However seeing how he lived his life in line with tried and true principles for success I quickly could see where I had gone wrong. The days since my conversation with Travis have changed me.
While reading this can never compare to being there I encourage you all to try and see the wisdom in what has been shared here. Look for trainers who understand not just shooting, but look for teachers that understand you. More importantly if you ever get the chance to spend 2 days and 2 nights with Travis Haley take it!