The hardest gap to traverse in the OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) cycle is the stretch from D to A…or decision to action. There seems to be an innate second guess system built in that slows most people down. At a certain level, this is a good thing as it prevents over reaction. However, it is not that “second guess” matter that seems to retard the speed of our act. Rather it is the timing of the Decision, the selection of the correct action, and then the execution of that action.

So we are looking at timing, choosing, and executing.

Imagine this situation. A good guy sees the bad guy. He notices how he looks, his positioning in relation to everything, as well as his body language and anything that he is currently doing. The observation is inevitably tied to profiling. We almost do both simultaneously. So our good guy profiles him as a bad guy based on his appearance, demeanor, location, and all the other factors that are incoming as information.

These two phases of observation and orientation (perhaps more correctly observation and categorization) happen immediately. But there is an open ended time frame after the categorization happens that depends on the actions of the bad guy. We could easily say, “Look…there is a bad guy. I have observed him and have oriented my view of him as a bad guy”.

But so what. What is he doing that requires any action from us?

A bad guy standing there minding his own business is not anything we need to act upon. The infinite possibilities of his actions, or lack of, are impossible to predict. The bad guy may walk away, he may ask a question from his present location, he may produce a pistol, he may light up a joint, or he may do anything. Attempting to predict those actions and then have a prepared response to each and every outcome is enough to drive one crazy.

But there is in fact something we can do…we can simplify.

There are only a handful of potential actions the bad guy may undertake that have any bearing on us. And in identifying those important and significant actions, and their implications to our overall mission, gives us quite a head start. What do we care about? Let’s boil it down to two possible situations.

The bad guy produces a weapon, or the bad guy moves to close with us. Anything else he may do is not important. Your potential responses should be simplified as well.

Setting “triggers” is a very simple way to get from one frame of mind to the other. For example, a default response to the bad guy approaching you could be your hand coming up, palm out, and you announcing, “I can’t help you”, as you continue moving and scanning for accomplices. That simple response is easy to remember and apply once a contact has been categorized as a potential bad guy. That same bad guy producing a weapon (or attempting to do so) would be set up as the mental trigger that moves you from an avoidance "defense-based" footing to an aggressive "attack-based" footing.

This would trigger your default response…a draw and move off the X and attack.

Having multiple options as solutions to a presented problem is a recipe for disaster. Having one default response to a given stimulus will allow you to respond quickly and efficiently. But training that default must be done correctly and with some circumspection. When you see the bad guy’s hand move to his waistband after the totality of the events have shown there is going to be a fight, you need to have a response that you can bring to the fight without any conscious analytical thought. It must be a conditioned and habituated response.

We want our responses automatic and not requiring of analytical thought. This leaves our minds available to determine if there is a need for shooting and who should be getting shot, not in how to arrive at that point physically.

The way to have that level of skill is to develop a handful of habitual actions given the stimulus of the fight…or pending fight. One draw, not twelve. One way to move off the line of fire, not twelve. One way to manipulate the weapon, not six or seven.  When I see a system teaching several types of draws and multiple ways to move off the X, along with multiple methods to operate the weapon, I shrug and categorize that as an over complicated method that has never been tested in a real fight.

If you want to turn decision into action faster and more certain, simplify exactly what those questions are, as well as their answers.

And then have as much command of language as you do with fighting so you can articulate what happened later.  The pen is not mightier than the sword...they are both things in need of mastery.