GUNS Magazine Observer Orient Decide and Act
Acting is the last step
The ultimate goal of the training we do and the skills we practice is to be able to do them without thinking. This does not mean that we enter a situation without thinking. The military and many police departments use the OODA loop. It is a method for assessing and responding to ever-changing situations. OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. Notice Act is the last step in the process. First, you need to observe what is happening. Then you need to orient yourself in the context of the situation and assess the options available. Then you decide which option is better based on what you’ve seen. Finally, you act or respond to the incident. The OODA loop forces you to think first, increasing the chances that you’ll take the right action. This is where training becomes important. You have to be able to act without thinking about it. Your response is somewhat automatic, leaving your mind free to think about other things. I said “Finally, you act”, but it’s not the end. Because every action you take will elicit a reaction from the suspect(s), forcing you to go back into the OODA loop to start the process all over again to decide and act based on the best response. This happens again and again until the situation is resolved.
It’s easy to get caught up in the skills we’re learning and think they’re important on their own. At the risk of sounding like Yoda, the point of acquiring skills is to be able to forget them. When you can do this, you free your mind to focus on what’s really important: the ability to think clearly and make good decisions. Much like a Jedi, you must train your body for the skills, but also train your mind on how best to use those skills depending on the situation. If you want to get my idea of the most important combat skill you can develop, it’s the ability to think clearly in a critical incident. A good training plan is how you will get there.
Sign up for the Personal Defense newsletter here: