Caution! This is long-winded...
Before I begin I would like to point out that I have been a student and trainer of Hock's material for just over 13 years. I have dabbled with almost every major reality-based system out there but still come back to Hock's because it's the most comprehensive curriculum of it's kind. In that time I have collected a number of Blauer's videos. Years ago I attend a brief 2-hour private session with one of Blauer's instructors in the Chicago area while I was living there. I also talked with Blauer on the phone for about 5 minutes one time while I was placing an order for his videos. Obviously, I am not a Blauer student or trainer and I am in no way defending Blauer or his followers. With that being said I would like to offer my opinion, for what it's worth.
Does Blauer have an ego issue? Absolutely! I have never met him but there is plenty of talk here and around the net about just how big his ego really is. One of the videos that I had actually showed him bitching out one of his instructors for not making him look good on camera. You would have thought he would have at least edited out that part before sending the video out to customers. Anyway, this is something that can't be denied. Does his organization ooze a cult-like aura? I would say it does and I know others would agree with me. However, regardless of these issues no one can deny that the guy has built a solid program that works well for many. Is it free from flaws? Absolutely not! But neither is any other system or program out there.
Let me talk about the system rather than the man.
I can't say for sure if the system is the same as it was years ago when he first started putting the SPEAR videos on the market. However, it appears that some of the material he offers is being taken out of context here. It's seems that there is some confusion between his SPEAR technique and the startle reflex / flinch response. The SPEAR technique itself is a simple triangular-arm entry technique that has been around for a really long time. I learned it in Kenpo Karate many years ago and have seen it in numerous martial arts, defensive tactics, and CQC systems since then. I learned a variation of it in the Monadnock Defensive Tactics System. Today it can be found in numerous formats and under various names, to include- The Wedge, Cow Catcher, Webbing, SPEAR, etc. Back in the 80's a variation of this technique was covered in one of the Charles Remsberg police training textbooks. The point is, it's a solid technique when used appropriately and under the right circumstances. Is it the be all, end all to fighting techniques? Absolutely not! However, there is no denying it's value for some people and some situations.
Now, this is clearly a "conditioned response" technique as Hock has mentioned. I would bet Blauer would agree 100% with this. This isn't what Blauer is reffering to on the videos as the startle reflex. These are two separate and distinct movement patterns. Blauer talks about using the startle reflex as a base to perform the conditioned response from. Essentially, bringing the hands up in a reflexive action to protect the "computer" than immediately changing gears and using the triangular-arm entry in an offensive manner to deal with the threat. Through proper training and conditioning these movement patterns can be seamlessly blended to make it look like one simple forward entry but in essence it's still two movements. It's not any different than blending an outward block with a simultaneous opposite-hand strike (Invading Hands and Trapping hands). Both defensive and offensive at the same time. Make sense?
In regards to startle reflex info on the videos. Blauer doesn't say there is only a single type of startle pattern. What he does is break the patterns down into categories. An example that all of Hock's instructors will be familiar with is how Hock has broken down AC stick disarms into 5 basic categories. While in fact there can be dozens of stick disarms and combinations, they all fit nicely somewhere within those 5 basic categories. I have trained with numerous FMA instructors and not a single one could simplify the disarms like Hock has. This is the same thing Blauer has done with the various startle reflex / flinch response patterns. He breaks them down into 3 basic categories, they all fall somewhere within one of the three or a combination thereof. Make sense?
Now with all of this said, there is an important point that is being overlooked here. The type of training offered and the desired level of response will vary depending the student. While Hick's Law, OODA, startle reflex / flinch response, adrenal response, etc may be outdated for the needs of some, they are quite applicable to the needs of others. Example...a long-term student will have the time to develop the necessary attributes to use more complex skills in combat. There is no doubt about that. However, what about those that don't have the time or desire to invest in long-term training, or those that need efficient skills immediately that they may be forced to rely on for life-or-death? The ideal situation would be to have a student long enough to forge them into a formidable fighting machine. However, we don't always have that luxury. The majority of my courses are provided to women, ranging in age from 18 to 80. These are self-defense crash courses taught over a period of 3-4 hours max. Statistically these women will only attend one such course in their lifetime and most likely I will never see them again. This is far from ideal but unfortunately it's a reality. I don't have the luxury of giving these ladies flow and attribute drills or teaching them intricate takedowns and throws, or any movement that requires more than a day to learn. If I expect them to be able to learn, retain, and ultimately use the skills provided, those skills must be as natural to them as possible. Given the time retraints and conditions provided to me, I utilize the concepts and theories that many here think are outdated. However, I am glad to say that my programs have been extremely successful over the past 12+ years. I know of 2 lives that have been saved with these simple and effective programs. I agree that from a martial arts or combatives perspective these courses are grossly oversimplified but they provide knowledge, skills, and empowerment that these ladies would not otherwise get. I personally think that this is the basis of SPEAR, FAST Defense, and other such programs. When you only have so little time to provide life-saving skills, priorities change. While some consider it dumbing-down the training I prefer to think of it as minimalist training. Giving them only what they need to survive and nothing more to cloud the mind when it's needed the most.
I direct attention to one of Hock's old sayings- "fighting first, systems second". If these outdated concepts and theories help save lives through more practical and realistic training I don't see the issue, especially as they relate to average men and woman who have no desire to become martial artists or combatives experts, yet need life-saving skills.
Just my thoughts,