artofescape, riftrecon, san francisco -



April 15th, 2014

March’s Art of Escape was all about new faces, strange places, and facing unexpected obstacles with exceptional results. The first major change was staff-related: Rift Recon was thrilled to welcome Brian O’Shea to the team as a Trainer and Senior Intelligence Advisor. Brian brings over twenty years of intelligence and tactical risk experience to the team and proved to be an engaging Art of Escape instructor. He put an entirely new spin on using social engineering and tactical intelligence collection to gain valuable supplies and intelligence, and had a blast doing it! You can read more about Brian in the coming days, when Rift releases a “Trainer Spotlight” piece on him.

Now, onto the good stuff. For the first time, the majority of our participants hailed from local tech companies, undoubtedly due to the steady San Francisco designer, developer, and programmer boom. Despite their overall lack of prior escape and evasion training, they were strong-willed, creative, and resourceful. This was definitely the most connective class we’ve had yet. It was clear from Day One that the students were both incredibly forthcoming and receptive. Combined with Brian and Eric’s high-energy interactive teaching style, the first two days of class flew by. The students organically formed tight bonds with one another, bonds that proved fortuitous during Saturday’s highly-anticipated Field Training Exercise (FTX).

Here’s a fun game: See if you can spot the difference(s) between the Pre-FTX class photo……


……and the Post-FTX class photo! (The winner gets a 15% discount to be used throughout our entire product catalog! Hint: Look for changes in physical characteristics.)


This month’s FTX fell on the foulest of days, in the midst of a brutal, windy downpour. Not to be deterred, the students barreled off into the city after being thoroughly searched and relentlessly interrogated. Rift had applied the suggestions of former students and increased the intensity of their interrogation scenario for March’s Art of Escape. Participants were surprised by multiple unfamiliar captors, new restraint techniques, and psychological stressors. They navigated the situation like pros, and then were off on foot to face the freezing rain.

A highlight of the day involved an elaborate manhunt in the Ferry Building, where Rift Recon staff (spies) had been planted to identify students, track their movements using audio and video equipment without being detected, and swiftly apprehend them. This resulted in tons of quality footage of acutely acquired social engineering tactics, as well as more than one frenzied chase through the crowd. March’s Art of Escape students proved to have some of the most elaborate disguises we’d ever seen, and even with numerous sets of eyes searching for them, they managed to avoid detection more often than not. They also completed all of the FTX checkpoints in record time, leading us to assume that even more must be needed! (Watch out, future participants!) At the end of the day, our students were exhausted and soaking wet with both rain and exertion, yet their smiles stretched ear-to-ear. Another job well done!

- Arianna Travaglini
Arianna Travaglini is an Executive Assistant at Rift Recon