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I was recently asked how I can take the time to make decisions in combat and I said, ‘because I decide to.’

I refuse to be victim of my autonomic nervous system.  While others swing wildly and then tackle, I would prefer to take the moment the ANS kicks in – that forces to have a constricted air way, tunnel vision, and auditory exclusion – and make decisions.

In Pramek, we utilize STM – strategy, tactic, and method.

We must look at our overall goal, how we will achieve it, and the tools we must use.  Far too often combatives and combat fighting is overcomplicated or mystified.  Acronyms and techniques no one can find in a book – or things no one needs to worry about – versus simply looking at age old decision making processes in war and applying them to our own personal war.

STM – it applies even to your daily work out, getting up off the ground.  It’s a thought process – but for this moment, let’s look at combat.

Strategy is important:  our overall goal and preliminary decisions based on the our environment and how we will address it.  What is our goal and what are our over arching decisions to achieve it.  Do we want the person knocked out?  Do we want the person to be passed out?  Do we want them to be injured in a state they can no longer fight?  Do we hold the person for first responders?  This is the strategy – why are we fighting and what do we hope to achieve?

Tactics – how are we going to get to that why.  This is governed by our strategy.  A man with a gun is different than a man with no gun.  We have to look at the situation and decide what our threat response will be.   Do you strike?  Do you clinch?  Do you clinch and throw?  Do you strike to the neck?  These are the tactics to achieve our strategy?

How do we buy this time – it can be through non-physical means (talking, psychology, etc) to achieve our strategy.

Methods – these are our utilization of physical manifestations of tactics to achieve the strategy.  ‘Ok, hold on Matt….huh?’ These are tactics that govern your methods.  How do you strike?  Is it to the neck or is it to the eye?  Do you clinch and grab both arms, or do you grab the lapels?  Do you hit the ‘adams apple’ or do you go for a knife hand chop?  Perhaps we kick a striker in the knee, or we push a knife to the side and force the enemy to cross stab and then attack the eyes?

We have taken our strategy, decided our tactic, and now make a decision on methods to achieve the overreaching goal.

In the lead up to combat, you must make these decisions.  With control of the ANS, every situation allows you to make decisions ( we are shooting a video on how to teach you to do this).  But, you should make these decisions, and feel psychologically comfortable with them before hand.  If you are psychologically okay with a method and thought out 5 years down the line on that reverse fist strike – and the damage it will cause – then you should position the person to get there (strategy and tactics) and then employ your method.

I know guys who used a method they rehearsed and ended up in jail for 7 years because they used it because they trained it – and never thought through what would happen if they did it.

Look at the laws, no matter a civilian, LEO, or military personnel with ROE…and train to this.

The point of this article to push you to begin addressing combat from it’s ‘other’ levels.  You can pressure test all day long….you can get into reality based situations…but if you do not address the threat recognition stage, the threat discernment, and the force response stage prior – you are reverting back to your pre-martial art decision making process as an animal governed by evolution:  teeth, claws, speed, strength.

Instead, you should look at crime in your area, how it is happening, make strategic decisions, rehearse reality based scenarios based on what you are most likely to come up against, and then decide on methods you will employ.  I have always said that while Murphy’s Law applies to everyone – those with a plan will shake hands with Murphy rather than feel his wrath.

Let’s face it – you will rehearse a pistol disarm and prepare for a home invastion in class after class, but will more likely end up with a drunk neighbor fighting you at a party.  You should look at where you will most likely face risk and train to address it – then treat the other scenario’s as exceptions than the rule.  Those things are good – don’t let anyone tell you they are not.  We all grew up either watching GI Joe, or with kids who did:  Knowing is half the battle.  Train to your intelligence on what you will face, and then the rest will fall in line.  This is why we train through utilizing principles like the Wedge or the Wench (which we are filming this weekend) you will be more fully able to deal with each situation based on principle, as opposed to technique.

But, that’s another article, for another time.


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