23 November 2012

Speed of Recogniton and Adaptability

The keys to survival are speed of recognition and the ability to adapt.  Skills sets such as fighting, shooting, and driving can be learned in a controlled, predictable environment, but their application and integration requires exposure to the chaotic environments in which they are used.

Before traveling, people often get a guide to the area they are planning to visit.  It is written by people who have been there before and broken down into different categories explaining things they should look for.  Try as you might, studying something no matter to what extent, is not the same as being there for one day.  True experience cannot be transferred between people, it has to be lived.

Even when people are told what to look out for in specific environment, their lack of experience provides them no context in which to make decisions.  They do not trust their instincts and instead do nothing or just stare at the problem.  This is description of tunnel vision.  In the context of personal protection, chances are that by the time the uninitiated recognize an issue it is already unfolding and they are behind the power curve, forcing them to use more force or other tactics then would have been necessary with faster speed of recognition.

After racking my head for years, I believe there are only two ways to gain this experience.  I am not talking about being able to throw a punch, or draw and shoot a pistol, rather the ability to be ever cognoscente of exactly where you are and what is going on at all times.  The first is immersion into chaotic, rapidly evolving environments.  Some examples would be military combat, police work, corrections, bouncing, or even working in a busy emergency room.  All these places require you to live in the moment and be methodical about even the smallest decisions.  To the police officer it might be giving strong verbal commands to a subject walking up to him while he is already conducting a field interview with another.  For the corrections officers it may be walking to the top of a flight of stairs to have a conversation with an inmate instead of doing so on the stairs.  For the bounce it could be looking for the buddies of a guy they just removed from the bar.   For the emergency room nurse it could be making a conscious decision to not allow a patient to get between them and the door of an exam room.  In all these examples, very small, sometimes unnoticeable things are done by experienced people who realize that having a way of doing things based on predictable outcomes can remove a person’s ability to make bad decisions, thus allowing them not to have to use physical skill sets.

So you are probably asking “what about people who don’t have these types of jobs”?  Well that takes a little work but is still completely possible.  The first thing you need to do is sit down and decide what you are training for.  Say for example you carry a pistol as a citizen.  Under what circumstances can you see yourself deploying it?  During these scenarios, who is with you, where are you, what are you wearing?  Are you close to a building or a vehicle?  What pocket is your cell phone in?  How dark or light is it?  How far away is the subject?  Do you have any other weapons besides your pistol?  What about a flashlight?  Does your previous training looking like your imagined scenario?

Start with three scenarios and work them over and over in your head.  If you can get some interested friends and have they do the same.  Share your scenarios and see if you can see where they are similar.  Take a day and work one of the scenarios until you begin to see the pattern of behavior that leads up to the event.  Soon you will begin to see how the smallest details that at first you did not consider can often allow you to avoid a worst possible scenario.  By doing so you also learn to quickly realize when force is the only option.

Limit the number of scenarios and the amount of time you dedicate to each one.  The reason is that these scenarios will be implanted in your head and will run over and over like a slide show, each time you will consider different choices you could make and see how they you can predict the outcome.  Soon you will apply this will program to everything you do.  The last part is to study your local news and read all the crime reports.  Drive by these places and piece together in your mind what happened and how you would deal with it, based on your personal circumstances.

Just be forewarned, this takes actual thought and work.  These problems cannot be fixed with a new gun or knife.  But in the end it may even force you to rethink your choice of tools.

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