Story By Martin Turner – BTP Branch Secretary
April 2018 saw me attend my first full length Gimborn Seminar as a student. The title of the course was ‘ASP Instructor’ but the focus was more generally on Defensive Tactics. Two German IPA friends were attending/chairing the seminar so I couldn’t say no!
I drove to Germany, via a ferry, very early on the morning of 2nd April, arriving at Gimborn Castle at around 15:30. As usual, a warm welcome was received from the staff and fellow students. I settled into my lovely en-suite ‘IPA Dusseldorf’ room and soon found my way to the Turmbar (Tower Bar) to meet some of my fellow students. I also met the instructors, Liam and John from Ireland, who clearly knew their stuff.
The first day involved some administration work in the classroom, form filling in and a brief theory input from the ASP Instructors. It became clear that not only would we be instructed in various Officer Safety techniques, we would also be trained and accredited as instructors ourselves, if we passed! Needless to say this wasn’t going to be an ‘easy’ week…
We were taken to a nearby gym hall in minibuses, equipped with our duty belts and sports gear. The hall had been well prepared and the various ASP pieces of duty and training kit ready for use
The first day consisted of unarmed and baton techniques and drills. Unlike the UK, everything was built up to full power and full speed. Partners rushed at you and showed no mercy! It was a great way to learn and far more realistic than usual training. It was also exhausting!
Day two built on day one and introduced the four types of handcuffs produced by ASP, chain, hinge, rigid and tri-fold. It was great to learn such simple and quick techniques without over-complicating anything. After a lovely packed lunch we learned Flashlight drills, using a bright torch to distract and disorient your subject. We then ran through a selection of circle and post drills, including against the ‘Red Man’ to put all our learning into practice. Another exhausting day!
Day three was the toughest day. It involved running through the two day Officer Safety training programme in one day, taught by us (students) whilst being assessed as instructors and students. Each student taught the lesson allocated to him/her in their native language. It was interesting being taught in Cantonese, Sri Lankan, Luxembourgish and Maltese to name a few!
At the end of the day a short awards ceremony was held with even more gifts from ASP being handed out. The instructors were thanked and it was off to get ready for the traditional Thursday ‘International Night’.
The International night involved an amazing BBQ cooked by our German colleagues, with a little help from the Netherlands, and the usual exchange of patches and challenge coins. Local delicacies such as sweets, chocolate, meats and cheese were swapped, along with a variety of local tipples from each other’s countries… The 2011 Vintage Churchill Port I procured at the last IPA House of Commons tour went down very well, along with bottles of Glenmorangie and Talisker single malt.
Day four saw some tired and sore heads at breakfast! But we were looking forward to our next input at the gym. A member of the North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) police’s Spezialeinsatzkommando tactical unit gave his morning to train as in knife defence tactics. We learned and practiced some great new skills from the officer. Skills his team have learned the hard way.
We returned to Gimborn for lunch and then spent the afternoon receiving inputs around identifying and dealing with Improvised Explosive Devices, delivered by the NRW Police’s tactical bomb disposal unit. The trainer clearly knew his stuff and had a wealth of experience in his field.
Friday evening saw us being coached into Cologne city centre for some sight-seeing and a lovely meal in a traditional Brauhaus. Accompanied by copious amounts of Kolsch of course!
Saturday, our final day, saw some scenario training. This was really excellent and put all the week’s training and theory into practice. We searched for IEDs and fought knife wielding subjects. We then had a constructive feedback session and closed the course. A thoroughly enjoyable, challenging and worthwhile seminar which I would recommend anyone to go on!
The International Police Association host a number of police related seminars at Gimborn Castle in Germany. This is an example of subjects available to members of the IPA. For information on how to join the IPA please visit http://www.ipa-uk.org