Tactical Thinking Part 3 — Decide

Part three of a four-part series on tactical thinking by martial arts expert Kenny Jezek.

The third part of “O.O.D.A.” is Decide.  Simply put, in a crisis situation you must make a decision as to what you are going to do.  Sounds simple enough, but by far this is the slowest process out of all four.  Let’s recap a bit: If you don’t “see” it (Observe) you’ll never get to this step.  If you aren’t Oriented to time and place it’ll slow you down cause you will have to bring your brain back to where your body is.

Decisionmaking Process

Let’s talk about what your brain does for a moment when it has to make a decision (any decision – but for our subject we’ll stick to a decision on surviving violence):

Imagine, if you will, your brain needing to make a decision, so it opens up what looks like a phone book and then it begins quickly skimming through all the choices for that particular situation.  The more options you have the longer it will take you to make a decision.  Whether or not you are aware of it this is what your brain will do until it finds what it feels is the appropriate response for that situation.

Remember what I said earlier?  This is by far the slowest process.  But there are ways that you can “highlight” certain responses so that your brain can move through this process more quickly (or should I say, less slowly).

By far the best one is experience.  However, it’s not very practical as not many people I know want to experience multiple life threatening situations nor do I suggest it for anyone. So the next best thing we can do is to use a technique or drill called “Crisis Rehearsal” or “Mind Setting”.  Before I go on to explain what and how to do this let me say one thing:

“If you forget everything I have said up to this point and after this point PLEASE don’t forget the Color Codes and Crisis Rehearsal or Mind Setting.”

Preparing by Pre-visualizing a Crisis Situation

Crisis Rehearsal or CR is simply an intense visualization process whereby you see yourself (in the first person) engaged in a crisis situation AND you see yourself successfully surviving it. What you basically do is find a safe place (like your home) and try to relax and be uninterrupted.  Close your eyes and try to imaging yourself in a specific life threatening situation.  Try to see the surroundings, the weather, as much as you can.  ALSO don’t allow yourself to “watch yourself” as if you are watching a movie.  Put yourself in the middle of the situation.  Here are 3 primary elements that will help you in your CR:

  1. Intensity:  The more intense and real you can make the visualization in your mind the better it will “highlight” that specific decision into your sub-conscious.  It is possible to make these so intense that you can actually begin to “feel” a bit of fear or the beginnings of an adrenaline dump. (but don’t get carried away)
  2. Injury:  You MUST SEE YOURSELF INJURED and yet still surviving.  Seriously folks.  Most people I know have never been significantly punched or hit let alone stabbed, shot, hit with a bat etc.  And when that does happen in a violent encounter most people will usually fall into fear and go to condition Black (remember Part 1?).  They say, “Oh no, I’ve been stabbed, I’m going to die”.  Failure is Expected (remember F.E.A.R.?).  NO YOU ARE NOT!!!  You are going to survive!  Remember, our bodies are built to survive.  You are going to do whatever it takes to survive.  You have to see yourself being injured and still fighting through it and surviving. Whether that’s running, fighting, screaming or whatever.
  3. Flexibility:  Don’t limit yourself to only one scenario, ie: don’t always visualize say a one on one fontal assault by a drunk.  Allow yourself to visualize a wide variety of possible situations that you could encounter. (I won’t try to list any here).  ALSO don’t always see yourself surviving the situation in the same manner. Guys are especially subject to this (probably from watching one too many action movies).  Visualize yourself fighting off the attacker empty hands.  See yourself hitting him with a chair, picking up a kitchen knife and stabbing him, screaming at the top of your lungs (yes guys too) and the attacker getting scared and running off. See yourself running away, or getting in your car and running him over (repeatedly if necessary) until he no longer poses a threat to you or your family.  The point is be flexible in your visualizations.

When you go through the process of Crisis Rehearsal or Mind Setting it’s like taking a highlighter in your mind and highlighting those options that you have rehearsed.  What your mind will do if you are faced with that type of situation is it will skip to the highlighted choices and move to the next step much quicker.

Many people ask me how often and long to do this drill.  My answer is always the same.  “It’s up to you”.  The more you do this (within reason) the better prepared you will be.  A good suggestion would be to do it a time or two each week for about 5 minutes each time.  Also, just like lifting weights, if you want to continue to grow or maintain you need to continue doing it.  Meaning I don’t think this is something you can do for say 3 weeks and then stop completely.

One final point:  You should do this with others as well, such as your family.  Suppose you’ve done all this prep and you experience say a home invasion; if they aren’t on the same page as you, they may be hurt or cause you to be hurt or killed.  I would suggest doing this with your family, co-workers, etc.  Anyone who’s safety you are  concerned about.  If you are car jacked with your family would they know what to do?  If your family were the victims of a home invasion, would everyone know what they should do?  Some families and most public schools do fire drills.  Perhaps it would be a wise idea to talk about what your family would do in certain crisis situations and each person’s role and, from time to time do some “crisis” drills.

In my last article I’ll move you to the letter “A” in O.O.D.A.  Until then be humble, stay safe.

~ Kenny Jezek

Kenny has been involved in the martial arts since 1976.  He holds Black Belts in American Kenpo Karate, WTF Tae Kwon-Do and Hapkido.  He is also a certified Full Instructor in Jeet Kune Do Concepts and the Filipino Martial Arts.  For nearly 17 years he owned and operated his own school in Arizona and he is the founder of Christian Freestyle Karate and, as such, holds the rank of 10th Degree Black Belt in that style.  Other styles Kenny has studied without pursuing belt ranking include, Shotokan Karate, Ishin Ryu, Shorin Ryu, Wado Ryu, Bak Fu, Ninjitsu, Brazilian JiuJitsu, Russian Sambo, Muay Thai Kick Boxing and American Boxing.

Kenny’s experience in the martial arts includes all aspects of training, teaching and competition including full contact Karate.  As an instructor he has taught a wide spectrum of students which include, children, adults, law enforcement and military personnel.  He is also the founder of Counter Assault Tactics and Attactics™ for Women. Beyond his physical skills, Kenny has acquired a wealth of tactical knowledge of what actually happens during violent altercations as well and how to be mentally prepared to survive.  His focus is on “self-preservation” which he defines as “the ability to survive violence, anywhere, anytime, against anyone under any circumstances using any means possible”.

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