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April 2017
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04/29/2017: "Oops, broke it!"

That OODA loop thing? Yeah, we're talking about it again! This time we'd like to talk about how to break it - including a couple of recent examples of having your own broken!

Why are we talking about it again? Because in a lower-level situation, you may be able to get the threat to go away just by doing something completely unexpected, outside of the threat's expectations. (And even in some higher-level scenarios - but if he wants your money, just give it up.)

One of our dojo members knew someone years ago who worked with deaf people a lot. When he was panhandled, he'd start talking to the panhandler sounding like a deaf person. Since the panhandler wasn't expecting that sort of response - and wasn't used to dealing with someone like that - he didn't know what to do with it, and backed off and left. There are videos out there where somebody picks a fight, it's almost on, then the instigator does something wayyy off the charts. You can see the other guy's brain lock up, then go "this is nuts, I'm leaving!", and he does. (Again, that was a setup - but the "this dude is CRAZY, I'm outta here!" reaction is instructive.)

Here are a couple of examples from our students' recent experiences.

Some of our training involves an attacker with a threat you can't see; we presume the worst-case scenario, meaning it's a handgun. It might not be, but we presume it is. In class, we "know" it is (even though we can't see it), because, well, we're training a handgun defense at the time.

A couple of months ago, the instructor snuck a whiteboard eraser to the person with the "gun". Since it was behind his back, the defender couldn't see what it was. When he did the defense and reached for the "gun"... it wasn't a gun. It was the eraser. He was completely confused, and stopped the technique. In real life, it might have been something other than a handgun, so we need to be able to deal with that. (And depending on what it is, we may need to ratchet down the level of response - or not, depending on what else the threat is still capable of.) But the student's OODA loop went to pieces.

A couple of weeks ago, one of our students came in, saying "I have an OODA loop story for you!". His nine-year-old daughter had been teasing him, knuckling him in the ribs, and he wanted her to stop. One of the low-level defenses we do involves putting a knuckle under the cheekbone, to turn the head and break balance. So he was going to do that to her, gently, to get her to stop.

He expected "Dad! No! Stop!", and similar responses. What he got was... licked.

Yes, you read that right. Licked. He said he completely stopped, for about three seconds, while he was processing what had happened. Which, he noted, would've been forever in an actual self defense situation.

You're going to go through the loop - you have to go through the loop, that's how you process things. And when things are wayyy outside of what you expect to happen, the loop blows apart. In a self defense situation, you want to train as much as possible to deal with the overall threat, rather than whether it's a gun or an eraser. Your loop can still be rattled if you encounter something unexpected, but if you're thinking about dealing with the person rather than the object, the loop should close up sooner.

By the same token, you can use that same brain freeze to your advantage - start singing opera at the threat? Ask how his mom is? Or his pet elephant?

Want to see the OODA loop in action? Walk up to somebody you know and ask how their pet elephant (or tiger, or whatever) is. And watch them go through the loop. Seriously. Try it. big grin

(Unfortunately, this doesn't work on some of the kids any more, the instructor has asked it a few too many times, and now only gets "fine, thanks!".)

Various aspects of the OODA loop were previously discussed here, here, and here.

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