Can you really prepare for the ambush?

Can you really prepare for the ambush?

Postby Rick Wilson » Thu Sep 22, 2005 5:47 am

Can you really prepare for the ambush?

The following comes from Tony Blauer’s News Letter (Format modified slightly to make easier reading on the forums):


Can you really prepare for the ambush?

The first section was written by Dr. Eric Cobb, an experienced martial artist who has previously trained extensively with Blauer Tactical Systems.

THE ESSENCE OF A SURPRISE ATTACK Let me state up-front that most of the concepts that I will share here are based on the extensive research of Tony Blauer. -E. Cobb

A concept, that we continually and dogmatically state is “action is faster than reaction”, but we then structure almost all of our training around a stimulus/response” format.

In other words, the current “ruling class” in martial arts training says, “Whenever he does this, you do that.” In really “sophisticated” arts there might be additional levels to the thinking that add in “Once you’ve hit him, his body is likely to respond like this, so you now do this…”

However, in the same breath, the lesson continues that “action is faster than reaction”. Do you see the problem here? In essence, much traditional training is setting up unconscious dissonance in trainees by telling them that:

A: If he moves first – he’s faster than you. “Action is faster than reaction.”


B: Don’t respond until he moves, intercept the attack after it has reached maximum velocity with a fine motor skill and then respond via these techniques.

These concepts are impossible to reconcile, are tactically inappropriate, and express a lack of understanding of the vast majority of real-world violence.

Consider if you will now a completely different viewpoint. At least 90% of the time, the fight begins long before the actual physical confrontation occurs.

It begins the week before when you cut the guy off in your car. Or it begins, as soon as you walk into the theater and you get bad vibes/dissonance from a couple of fellows that stare at you and your girlfriend.

Or it begins when you walk into the Quikmart and see the clerk looking pale and sweaty and a couple of guys wearing coats in the middle of summer.

Almost every time, there are pre-incident indicators that can clue us in to the real possibility of violence and allow us to implement our optimum survival strategy.

There is a great myth that violence is terribly unpredictable. The truth is that violence is one of the most predictable of all human behaviors.

Gavin de Becker teaches at great length about this from a broad conceptual framework in his book The Gift of Fear. Tony takes this work a step further into the tactical realm and teaches tools, targets and tactics that specifically deal with demystifying this whole process.

So, let me give you another potential paradigm from which to think about surprise attacks and how we might deal with them in protecting ourselves, and our families, from violence. Imagine a long time line that stretches out over a period of several hours.

Now, at every interval along that time line, let’s arbitrarily set them at 15 minutes, mentally write in the words “stimulus/response”. At the very end of the time line, mentally write in “Big Bang”.

What this concept mentally represents is the actual process for almost every violent encounter. All along the way leading up to the actual physical confrontation (Big Bang) there are S/R moments happening. At any one of those moments you can make a tactical choice to extricate yourself from the confrontation.

In Tony Blauer’s system we teach a principle called the three D’s – detect, defuse, defend. Intelligently applied, the first two will allow you to walk away from almost every encounter without having to drop someone. If all else fails, the timeline thought process above can jumpstart your survival instincts and place you in a position both mentally and physically to proactively move toward survival.

So, are there surprise attacks? I would answer to that “Yes,” but only when our training fails to actually address real-life. A better question might be “Do we place ourselves in a position either by our mental state, physical conditioning, or our emotional fragility in which we can be ‘surprised’ by violence?”

I think that the answer to that is most assuredly “Yes.”

I recently read a quote that I liked a lot and may help summarize my point here. Paraphrased, it is this “Practice does not make perfect. Practice simply provides us more alternatives for recovering from our mistakes.”

I personally believe that this is the real goal of training. Life is a full-contact activity and while it would be nice to think that we can always be ready to rock at a moment’s notice, it may not happen that way. The best systems then teach psychological, emotional and physical tools for “correcting our mistakes…”

The vast majority of the time there is no “surprise attack”.

And in the very rare instances that we are caught completely off-guard, our training must support us in surviving those situations. That is why it is so vital for you to analyze your style, system or school and understand that if you are not finding the answers that you seek there, look elsewhere. You and you alone are responsible for your safety and you must develop total confidence in your “toolbox” for real-life confrontations.

Of course, this is real-life we’re talking about so I could be wrong…

Stay safe,

Dr. C

Food for thought – yes? :wink:

You can sign up to receive Tony’s news letter at:
Rick Wilson

Re: Can you really prepare for the ambush?

Postby JimHawkins » Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:34 am

Rick Wilson wrote:Can you really prepare for the ambush?

Sure can... You train to attack at the first sign of "trouble" be it through sight or feel.
Doesn't mean it's going to work though..

A: If he moves first – he’s faster than you. “Action is faster than reaction.”

Of course you can play semantics all day, but I smell marketing..

Action is not faster than reaction it is first. The reaction can be second and faster or the reaction can be second and slower. Reaction can beat action and vise versa.. The truth is that at least one determining factor is missing from this simplistic example and that factor is distance or space. Initiating the action in the wrong space will get you killed, and the same goes for reaction... Plus other factors such as feel where feeling intent happens before the action is executed, is transferred to the brain in 'double time' and because of proximity takes almost no time to deploy.

B: Don’t respond until he moves, intercept the attack after it has reached maximum velocity with a fine motor skill and then respond via these techniques.

This is just out of left field..

Maximum velocity? Who said that? The whole point of interception is to cut them off BEFORE they gain momentum or velocity.. JKD breaks the intercept down quite nicely into attack on the intent, attack on the prep, attack on the attack and attack on the completion, sorry if I missed any.. Moreover no one said you had to use the ever dreaded "fine motor" skill to execute any of those attack options..
"Receive what comes, stay with what goes, upon loss of contact attack the line" – The Kuen Kuit
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Postby Guest » Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:58 pm

I attended a Tony Blauer seminar once and my impression was that he was the "real deal".

I define a pre-emptive strike as tuning into a potential assailants intention before it manifests into an action. Some may say, that could put innocents at the mercy of my paranoid dillusions...

yeah... so?


Postby Van Canna » Thu Sep 22, 2005 7:27 pm

Rick, sorry for the double thread_ I had not seen yours first.

But we think alike. :D
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Postby Rick Wilson » Thu Sep 22, 2005 8:19 pm

"But we think alike."

Now there is a compliment I will gladly accept!!! :D
Rick Wilson

Postby Van Canna » Thu Sep 22, 2005 10:14 pm


The quote was this
In essence, much traditional training is setting up unconscious dissonance in trainees by telling them that:

A: If he moves first – he’s faster than you. “Action is faster than reaction.”

Mr Cobb is relating the 'traditional concept'_ :wink:
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Postby Uechi Dude » Fri Sep 23, 2005 1:48 am

I believe that anyone of us can sharpen our *sense's* to detect trouble before it ever happens. The Best defense is to not be there at all :wink:
Live for the journey , not the title's :)
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Postby 2Green » Fri Sep 23, 2005 3:10 am

"Can you really prepare for the ambush?" Rick W.
By definition, if you are prepared, it's not an ambush.

Similarly, you cannot knowingly train for an ambush since the training scenario assumes one is going to occur.
Many times I've envisioned being ambushed as I leave class...but, see? I'm prepared because I'm thinking about it.

The real ambushes are the ones you HAVEN'T prepared for, or noticed in advance or sensed in any way: total surprise.
Can one train for total surprise?
Only by being surprised and responding often enough to become automatically conditioned, as soldiers often become.
However they pay the price later by "sleeping in the red" and developing PTSD as a result in many cases.

This is a serious question every MArtist should think about.

The music spoke to me. I felt compelled to answer.
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Postby Rick Wilson » Sat Sep 24, 2005 3:24 am

The better question might be:

“Can we cut down the chance of an ambush?”

Rick Wilson

Postby AAAhmed46 » Sun Sep 25, 2005 2:58 am

“Can we cut down the chance of an ambush?”

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Postby Stryke » Sun Sep 25, 2005 3:16 am

Bob Dylan said it best

You shold never be where you dont belong

It`s just an equation of increasing your cool 8) , and decreasing your stupidity :roll: :oops:

Postby AAAhmed46 » Sun Sep 25, 2005 3:21 am

Maybe thats why MMA guys do so well on the street, they fight ranged, clinched and on the ground. So, essentially, EVERYWHERE is where they want to be.

But so does WKS.
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Postby Rick Wilson » Sun Sep 25, 2005 8:17 am

From Darren Laur's web site:

The Seven Golden Rules of Conscious Choice Violence Avoidance

When you read the paper, watch the news, and surf the self-protection forums, one would think that violence is rampant, and that no matter where you go or what you do in life, the chances of being confronted with violence are always a clear and present danger. Although violence in all of its forms is a reality in today’s world, it has been my experience, as a serving LEO, that there are certain situations (that are controllable by you through conscious choice) that can lead themselves to increased risk that if one was to avoid, would definitely decrease the overall threat of being confronted with physical violence. Known as, “The Seven Golden Rules of Conscious Choice Violence Avoidance” they include:

1) Don’t drink alcohol to excess, and don’t frequent establishments or events where people will likely drink excessively:

The over consumption of alcohol is the number one contributing factor to physical violence in my opinion. It is because of this fact that one should stay away from “known” establishments or events where people will likely drink excessively which includes; bars, special events, and house parties. If you do frequent these types of locations, to limit the risk, leave early before the liquid courage has had time to take full effect.

2) Don’t use illegal drugs, and don’t frequent establishments, events, or frequent areas where people are likely to be found using illegal drugs:

This is the number two contributing factor to physical violence. Drugs, much like alcohol, squew one perception of reality. Those who partake in illegal drugs, especially those who use Central Nervous System stimulants such as cocaine, crystal meth, Ketamine are more prone to violent outbursts. It is because of this fact that one should stay away from establishments, events, or even areas of town where drug use is commonplace.

3) Don’t get caught up in the “my dick is bigger than your dick” argument, especially with those who you do not know:

Many acts of violence that I have investigated had everything to do with “Ego” and “Saving Face” and when combined with alcohol and drugs, things can become even more explosive. Remember, you may be right, but in the end you could be dead right. Wherever possible ignore the challenge and walk away.

4) Don’t get sexually involved, make negative comments, or non-verbally challenge another person’s husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend:

Need I say more on this !!!!!!!!!

5) Don’t relinquish control or faculties when dating:

This is directly related to issues surrounding alcohol and drugs. If you can’t control yourself, then others may.

6) Don’t frequent those areas of town or events that have a history of violence:

Every city has a “Red Zone” where most criminal acts are committed. Avoid these areas wherever possible, or if you have to travel within the red zone, heighten you awareness level. There are also public event that also invite the potential for random acts of violence (usually because of the over consumption of alcohol) be aware that while attending these events, your risks of dealing with violence are also heightened.

7) Don't associate with people who have a penchant for violent or dangerous behavior, have poor self-control, poor judgment, are controlling, deceptive, manipulative, untrustworthy, or participate in illegal activity:

Even if you're staying away from trouble areas and not starting any problems yourself, if you associate with friends and acquaintances (not to mention family members or significant others/spouses) that are violent or untrustworthy, you'll end up in bad situations again and again. Look for things like someone who's always getting angry or upset, who changes friends a lot, can't drink responsibility, can't manage their finances, is arrogant and abrasive, is misogynistic or racist, or has a history of fighting and run-ins with the law. This requires being a good judge of character and having the guts to cut someone out of your life if they exhibit some of the warning signs, even if they otherwise seem like a "nice person." (punisher77 ,Senshido Forum, 2005) It is uncanny how many times I have investigated a fight that was actually initiated by the victim's friend who fit the above noted criteria. These guys are commonly known as ##### magnets.

Many who read this posting will say, “Damn, I might as well be a hermit because you have taken all the fun out of life.” I’m not saying don’t have fun and enjoy life to the fullest, but what I am saying is that life is about choices, and with those choices come both positive and negative consequences. Many of my friends that I hang with outside of policing have never had to deal with violence, why, because they followed the six golden rules. Those that have had to deal with physical violence, or a criminal attack, did so because they did not take heed of the six golden rules, or were preyed upon by the street predator because of no situational awareness, and were thus targeted as a safe mark. The message of this posting:

AVOIDANCE, combined with SITUATIONAL AWARENESS, will go along way in preventing a violent physical altercation in one’s life. See my article “Street 101” for situational awareness information: ... %20101.doc

Darren Laur

Good stuff as always from Darren.
Rick Wilson

Postby AAAhmed46 » Mon Sep 26, 2005 2:54 am

This sounds like the ten commandments...kind of.

Its common sense, yet no one actually listens to it. The answer is so simple.
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