What is a Situational Response Theory (SRT)? Do you have one that you follow? Have you ever even heard the term Situational Response Theory? Situational Response Theories are concepts that give us guidance and a set of guidelines for dealing with critical incidents or avoiding them to begin with. For the average person situational response starts at the response to the attack itself. They skip the essential starting point of awareness, your ability to be alert and observant, which is where all self_defense begins. It is possible that the fight or attack can be stopped before it gets to the point of physical harm for either the intended victim or the bad guy. The only fight we win is the one that didn’t happen. When we train we are often so focused on the physical confrontation we often skip the elements that occur prior to the attack. After all we are here to learn how to defend ourselves or others. Aren’t We? Whether it is some system in the Martial Arts or Defensive Shooting or edged weapons and tactics we want to get into the nuts and bolts of defense on the physical plain and dealing with the imminent threat. Because of this many SRT’s start too far into the situational response. Here are some SRT’s that start more appropriately. At awareness!
Because just about everyone is familiar with the Color Codes I won’t spend a lot of time on them. Developed for the US Marines in WWII and later modified by Jeff Cooper. The Color Codes are probably the most taught.
White; Unaware, unprepared, and oblivious to surroundings
Yellow; Relaxed alert and aware of surroundings
Orange; Specific alert, something or someone has your attention
Red; Fight, defend, or run
Black; Complete catastrophic breakdown of mental and physical performance. You shut down and fail to perform.
The OODA Loop concept was the brain child of USAF Lt. Col. John Boyd during the Korean War. Today the OODA Loop concept has been applied to business practices, military strategies, and self_defense. I’ve also heard it called the Boyd Cycle. It has been taught widely for law Enforcement and self defense. For the purpose here it will be applied to self_defense. Using the OODA Loop in this context makes it a SRT. What does OODA loop stand for?
Observe; Awareness, looking at the possible threat.
Orient; turning toward the possible threat. Here I like to say to align your center to the attacker. This is where I am strongest. In other teachings they tell you to blade out and take a stance.
Decide; make a decision how to deal with what you are seeing and whether or not you must or need to act. Asking questions like; “Is it a viable threat?”
Act; Can be a number of things; Walk away and avoid the threat. Run. Talk the threat down. Engage and stop the threat by going as far as necessary up to and including Deadly Force.
Both sides have their own loops. The bad guy has one and the defender has one. The one who completes the loop first will most likely be the winner. However, the loop can be interrupted causing a reset of the loop. The concept is; At some point in your response to the threat do something that interrupts the bad guys loop and cause a reset. You stay in your loop giving you a momentary advantage. It is momentary because, depending on the bad guy’s experience and ability to reset the loop. It may only take a split second for the reset of the loop or cycle to occur. This break in the bad guys loop may give you just enough time to complete your loop and stop the treat. How do we force the bad guy out of his loop? Start with Observation. Just by being aware and your observations you can force the bad guy out of his loop. Once the bad guy sees you have picked up on his intentions he may decide you weren’t a good victim and move on.
Lateral Movement is a good way to break the loop. By training to move laterally on the draw of your weapon, during malfunctions and stoppages, and during reloads, we train to break the bad guy’s loop. Besides getting out of the way of the attack and not being a stationary target, “Getting off line”. As the bad guy tracks your movement, as in pointing a weapon, he has momentum that carries the weapon past the point where you stopped or changed direction. The bad guy swings his weapon past, stops, changes his direction of travel, and attempts to reacquire the target. The bad guy’s reset process gives you time to complete your loop and take control of the fight or stop the threat.
In close quarters you may break the bad guys loop by gouging the eyes, blocking a strike, a grab and control, even if only momentary, of the striking hand (gun hand, knife hand, or fist), or you may pull the attacker in closer to decrease his distance to you. Or it may just be a sharp shove or push to gain a working distance from the attacker. It may be a throw or takedown to control. Remember if you are in full control of the attacker Deadly Force may no longer be an option.
The next SRT (situational response theory) is one I share with my students in defensive firearms classes. The context for this SRT is for the critical incident involving the Use of Force and self defense and defense of others. Again it starts at awareness and follows through the aftermath. Included are basic definitions of the concept.
Situational Response Theory for CCW
1. Awareness; Eyes open, Head up, Listening to sounds that are present. You must limit distractions (cell phone, I _pod headphones). Pay attention to the environment you find yourself in. Avoid places of potential ambush. Typically people watching is important part of awareness.
2. Recognize; Prioritize activity in, near, and around your area.
A. Observe; Watch the possible threat.
B. Orient; Turn toward what caught your attention.
3. Decide; How much interaction is required by you.
4. Actively Respond; Use the defensive technique that fits the situation. A. Avoid; Walk away, Run Away B. Talk; Let the attacker know you don’t want a problem. Attempt de-escalation techniques. C. Empty Hand Techniques; If you can’t get to your weapon or lethal threat is not present.
D. Use of Deadly Force; Last resort! Only use enough force to stop the threat.
5.Secure the area
A. Visual Check; Look around. Make sure the threat has stopped, is controlled, or
left the area.
B. Call 911; Give vital information only.
2. Location of incident.
3. Use of force to stop a threat. (Use of a firearm? Use of a knife? Use of other? Fear for your life or the life of another.
4. You are armed and have a permit. 5.Give vital descriptive information about the bad guy. C. Secure your weapon; When the threat has ended, holster your weapon. Weapons make people nervous and not everyone will know what occurred even within the critical area of the incident.
D. Wait for Law Enforcement; When law enforcement arrives they will be responding to a critical incident and will want to secure the area first and foremost. Be prepared to be detained and placed in restraints. Cooperate and give minimal information.
E. Call Your Lawyer; In the event of the use of force, deadly or not you’re going to need a lawyer to handle the legal and civil fallout from your actions of defending yourself or others.
The last SRT I want to discuss is from the defensive martial arts system of Bushi Tai Jutsu. Bushi Tai Jutsu was developed by Larry Farrell an 8th Dan and a holder of multiple black belts in multiple systems. It is possibly the most extensive SRT conceptually anyone will see. The basic outline is just that basic but fundamental. The underlying concepts get very detailed as it is studied. BTJ’s SRT addresses many issues of situational awareness and response that many miss or don’t even think about. The BTJ SRT is applicable to most any defensive situation, whether it involves de_escalation techniques, avoidance, empty hands techniques, or various defensive weapons including firearms. The concepts here deal with the critical incident on psychological and physiological levels not necessarily separated and often occurring simultaneously.
Situational Response Theory
A. Recognize types of activities by priority in, near, and around you area.
B. Determine the amount of interaction needed by you.
C. Respond to pressure, intent, and energy extended toward you in one of the following ways;
2. Walk away
3. Talk away
4. Disarm (of mechanics)
5. Take away (purpose)
D. Attack Back using combinations of (C) in one, two, or three dimensions; intermixing ranges for the purpose of defense and protection by adding the following;
1. Take away method of operation
2. Take away his guns
3. Take away the fight (control the fight)
4. Take away his sight (finger jab eyes, strike to nose)
5. Take away breath (strike ribs, solar plexus, or throat)
6. Take away the stance
7. Go phoric (remove intent)
Never fight the attacker’s where, when, or how. You take total control of the fight. The attacker no longer decides.
E. Secure Situation by going as far as necessary to ensure the attacker cannot retaliate. Always secure stance.
Considering every critical incident in itself is a living thing that takes on a life of it’s own. No two are the same and dynamics within it can change in an instant. In an instant you will be required to make life changing decisions. Those decisions are made in a split second. A SRT can aid you in a effective and efficient response. The SRT’s mentioned here are in basic form and are in no way complete thoughts or fully detailed concepts. Utilizing a Situational Response Theory (SRT) as part of our training program can help you better prepare for a critical defensive situation. You can use them as guidelines as you mentally prepare during scenario training. Run a critical situation through your head and apply the SRT as necessary and imagine how the steps apply. Consider the Situational Response Theory as part of your psychological training to help develop your defensive mind_set. Controlling yourself and psychological preparation are just as important as controlling the bad guy and physical training and control.