I stood at the end of a long hallway staring at a man who I knew was going to attack me. We eyed each other and I poised myself to draw my gun. I’d been carrying a gun for less than two years and I was determined to prove that I could draw and fire a shot before someone at twenty-0ne feet could get to me.

He charged.

I moved to clear my cover garment.

My 1911 cleared my holster and just as I brought it to bear he slammed into me with all of his might, wrapping his hand around my gun and ripping it to the side. I held on for dear life as we hit the floor.

The fight for my gun was on. The gun was disabled for training purposes but that didn’t matter. It was my gun and this was it, the one scenario I’d been most afraid of since I’d first put a gun on my person. What would happen if someone got to me before I could get a shot off? What would happen if they tried to take it away?

I managed to eject the magazine while we struggled and though I was hurt and scared I kept fighting for control I was quickly losing. He was twice my size, twice as strong, fast and not holding much back. He’d gotten on top of me and pinned me to my back. With both of his hands wrapped around my gun I couldn’t hold on any longer.

He twisted it out of my hands, pointed it squarely at my face and I hear the audible “SNAP!” of the hammer hitting home.

I went still and he climbed off.

I was dead.

I was dead and I was mad.

“What could you have done to keep that from happening?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said, honestly. I thought back to the struggle searching for anything that may have made a difference. “Maybe if I’d had a knife?”

“Well, why didn’t you?”

That was a darned good question. Why didn’t I?

Immediately I set out to fill that void and while it took a few years of asking around and preparing financially and logistically I found myself signed up for Greg Ellifrtiz’s two-day defensive knife class.

I was nervous because this would be the first class I’d ever take by myself. I wouldn’t have my husband to hide behind and I knew it was going to be a physical class. The instructors I’d met to that point in my training were all very serious and sometimes militant in their approach and I was worried I’d break down crying at some point. I was determined to go. My training dictated that I must, but I wasn’t happy about it.

In a desperate attempt to be assured about my decision I posted my semi-excitement to the Tactical Defense Institute’s Facebook Page.

No more than twenty minutes later I got a personal message from this guy named Greg Ellifritz.

He told me he would be my instructor for the weekend and invited me to ask any questions. He also requested to become my facebook friend.

Back then I was a timid mouse who didn’t accept friends requests from people I didn’t know personally and there was something really scary about accepting a friend’s request from a stranger and trainer.

What if he saw how weak and pathetic I was? How little I knew about self defense? What if he criticized my journey? What if?

20131006_155221

Greg and Melody after Extreme Close Quarters.

But there was something brewing in me at that time and that something said, “Take a chance!”

I shot back a question about serrated vs plain-edged knives and accepted his friends request.

He was the first friend I ever accepted on facebook without having met in person and as far as those decisions go, it was one of the better ones I’ve made.

He accepted all of my questions and answered them honestly, reserving judgment. His daily tactical training scenarios and notes (back in the days before he had his own blog) were insightful and educational. In addition to all of that, he messaged me with fitness advice after I complained about some knee pain.

When I finally made it to his class he was attentive, respectful, professional and helpful. The knowledge I gleaned was more than what I’d hoped for and and went a long way to dispelling that fear I had of the gun grab scenario.

The day he messaged me to ask me my opinion on one of his articles before he posted it I about fell over and every time he’s shared one of my articles or blog posts I admit to feeling quite humbled.

But more than the blogs and the articles and the information, Greg has been inspiration. I watched as he traveled the world, enjoyed his life and did it humbly and happily, neither taking himself too seriously nor neglecting the things that mattered most to him. Giving freely of his time and attention but also maintaining a balance of accountability for his knowledge and not pulling punches or allowing to be taken advantage of.

I’ll never forget the day I asked him to write on a topic and his simple reply was, “I don’t know. You do the research and tell me.”

See? Inspiration.

I’ve now attended four classes with Greg as an instructor and have enjoyed them all. I’ve also learned a thing or two.

I can’t thank Greg enough for the CD of medical books he sent me or the time I asked him about explosions and he sent me another three digital books to read. When asked for advice on fitness he darn-near wrote me a book and when I was feeling particularly bad about my Experiential Learning Laboratory at the tactical conference, it was Greg who I found myself pouring my heart out to in the hallway, him listening to me and giving me the feedback to help me work my way through what I experienced.

All-in-all, he’s turned out not only to be a great resource and trainer but also a good friend.

So, thank you, Greg! Thank you for the inspiration, the training, the laughs, the advice and the occasional kick in the pants. Thanks for the information you’ve shared and the positive outlook on life and living it. Thank you!

And, okay, thank you for trying to cheat at ECQ.