The bar is loud another busy night. I get a call on the radio. Some guy in a shiny shirt is too drunk and too angry, looking to hurt anyone who looks at him funny. I start talking to him and quickly realize that it will go no where. I start barking orders, we stare at each other neither of us break eye contact. My legs are shaking, my mouth is dry and butterflies have entered my stomach. What is his next move? This is the worst part… the waiting.
Like everyone reading this article, I have put my hours into the pads, mats and bags. But is this enough? Will all this actually help me during a violent assault? Will I actually get to the point where I can use my skill set? What happens to the mind and body before I defend myself?
In this series of articles we will discuss what I feel is one of the most important and under developed parts of self defence training. The Pre- fight.
For my first article I want to discuss the way our brain deals with decisions. In any physical engagement from sport to combat we know that speed is the key to victory. You may have heard that in most “street fights” the person who strikes first usually wins. The reason this happens is due to the way our brain processes information.
I will be using the acronym OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) in this article and future ones. This is the cycle that we all go through to respond to a stimulus. Originally coined by John Boyd in his book “Meditations on Violence”. Boyd concluded that in order to gain victory, the key was to create situations where one can make choices faster than their opponent. Not really news right? This is martial arts training a nutshell. So why am I telling you this? Understanding this loop will help you better prepare you for a violent attack. Everyone is always in the OODA loop at different stages. Let’s break it down in Martial arts terms.
My friend from the beginning decides my face need more swelling and throws a right cross at me. I Observe a movement a twitch and something moving at my face. Next I Orient to the punch I flinch or move or watch etc. Next I Decide on what to do (ie. block, dodge, parry). Then I Act on whichever decision I have made.
The problem that occurs is that most martial arts training is stuck in the Decide and Act part of the loop. We respond to a set attack and then act. We become comfortable responding to attacks that we know are coming. We never get used to the sudden attack from a violent assault.
My personal belief is that the drills you train should be as close to reality as possible. So let’s take this OODA Concept and apply it to some NSI drills we already know to help increase our Decision cycle.
1.Sinwalli- Increases observational speed. As Professor says “if you can track a stick a punch is no problem” Work this pattern normally to start then slow down and attack in a one beat format at random angles from the pattern. Make sure you attack in broken rhythm. When this gets easy play with it more attack in increasing beat combinations.
2. Four Corner Movement- This drill is great for Orientation. You move your body against an attack. From here learn to attack from the position and apply the movement 360 degrees around your body.
3. Chi Sau- When I first did this drill I felt it very traditional until I actually thought about it. This drill is great for all portions of the cycle. You are engaged and you need to work from multiple stimulus points.
4. Dirty Dozen- This is a fantastic gross motor skill striking drill (we will discuss gross motor skills in a later article). Make sure you break the drill apart and practice the same strike in three hit groups.
Now that we have applied the OODA principal to our basic drills hopefully you will find new ways to increase your training! The Natural Spirit/Worden Defence system has so many great drills and concepts but it is our job as students and teachers to work off of this amazing base and look into new ways to train and drill these concepts. Don’t discount a drill, look into it and find where it would make sense to you.
In closing this type of training (multiple ranges, opponents and weapon systems) is truly the best way to train for the reality of the world. Our job is to keep ahead of the attacker and keep him in the OO (Observe, Orient) part of the loop as we take control of the encounter.
“ Action will always beat reaction.”
Randy “CB6” King