07 November 2013

Consideration and the OODA Loop

Most people interested in self-defense and all things tactical are familiar with the OODA Loop.  The problem is that many seem to misunderstand its role in our every day lives, and instead view it as something that only occurs during interpersonal conflict.

In classes, to explain the role of the OODA Loop in our lives, I use the the one thing that puts us in danger on a daily basis, and is more likely to result in us being killed or injured, or killing or injuring another.  Of course, I am speaking about driving.  I find that the experience of driving a car is an excellent metaphor for the way we process information before, during, and after dangerous situations of all types.

In my last article, I said I would be writing more on consideration and that is what we will be talking about here.  No matter what class I am teaching, I always emphasize that you need principle based response to the most likely threats you are likely to face, and that these principle based responses must be "hit the brake simple".  This of course refers to our principle based response when a vehicle we are following closely slams on their brakes.

Observe- we see the brake lights

Orient- we consider how close we are, how much room we have, and how hard we need to apply the brakes

Decide- the split second decision is made

Act- our foot presses the brake pedal

During very close calls or incidents in which we rear end the vehicle in front of us, we will likely experience Tachypsychia, the distortion of time.  Things go in slow motion.

There is a reason why inexperienced drivers are involved in more crashes than experienced drivers.  Like all things life and death, your effectiveness is directly related to your familiarity and speed of recognition in the current operational environment.  This understanding is the gist of Boyd's OODA Loop.  The more familiar you are with the environment, the better you will be able to predict the most likely scenarios as well as the considerations that need to be made before, during, and after a scenario occurs.  Consistent success then relies on the knowledge that dangerous situations are very dynamic in situations and that problems will stack up on you, especially if you let them.

Back to the car slamming on its brakes in front of us.  Let's look at some pre-scenario considerations-
  • Your familiarity of the car 
  • Condition of brakes
  • Condition of tires
  • Weather conditions
  • Road conditions
  • Time of day
  • Drivable terrain (where can you drive off the road to avoid crashing)
  • What is a safe following distance
As you see the brake lights, some things to consider during the scenario-

  • Distance between vehicles
  • How hard to apply the brakes
  • Brake in a straight line or swerve?
  • How close is the car behind you?
  • Can you go into another lane without hitting or being hit
After the initial scenario-

If you are able to stop without crashing into the car in front of you

  • Is the vehicle behind me going to rear end me?
  • Did the vehicle in front of me rear end the vehicle in front of them?
  • Can I get around them?
If you rear end the vehicle in front of you-

  • Are you hurt?
  • Are your passengers hurt?
  • Is your vehicle drivable?
  • If it is not drivable, is it safe for you to exit?
And the list goes on....

The point is that the need is to prepare for the most probable scenarios using per-scenario considerations.  Doing so will reduce the need for emergency considerations, and when they need to be made they are made with the same consideration process, ensuring more positive outcomes.

How does all of this relate to gunfighting, combatives, and all things personal protection?  Simple, be honest with yourself.  Are you trying to prepare for NASCAR by driving down quiet country roads?  You owe it to yourself to make sure that your training time is spent on the things most likely to happen in the environments you most often find yourself in.  If this is not the case, then it is time to adjust fire.

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