Thursday, March 3, 2011

Attitude Adjustment Part V

We have just been surprised by a predatory assault. We have managed to survive the initial onslaught of the attacker and used the Reversal Attitude to stop, or slow the cadence of the 
assault. Before we can bring the problem to a successful resolution we must Engage it.

Rules Of Engagement

To engage is to enter into battle. Picture this. You are the target of a predatory ambush. The predator is an invading army attacking your fort (yourself) in the middle of the night, while only a few soldiers are standing watch (Alert Attitude). These “soldiers” start defending the “fort” (Survival Attitude) while sending the alarm to the ones that are sleeping. The first few that arm themselves join their comrades at the wall and their increased numbers assist in repelling the enemy (Reversal Attitude). Finally  a sufficiently armed group of skirmishers is sent after the invading force to ensure the enemy is sufficiently pre occupied (Engagement Attitude) while a larger contingent with an aggressive plan can move in to effectively contain all enemy forces, escape and evacuate, or destroy all opposition (The 3 Resolution Attitudes, Control, Escape, and Harm Respectively).

Tools of Engagement

Following the metaphor above, the initial group of skirmishers sent out after the enemy would only take primary weapons and ammunition. The weapons which we use to Engage our attacker must be few and fundamental.
These weapons must also be gross motor skills, easily deployable while under stress and from our basic instinctive protective movements, without too much deviation. In the Functional Edge System the Palms, Forearms, and Elbows form the basic Engagement Arsenal.

Loving the Monster

When we Engage we must also be aware that along with instinctive protective movement, we humans, also possess strong instinctive predatory behaviors. Some of these we should avoid altogether while others can be temporarily embraced.
While in the Engagement Attitude we must capitalize on the predatory behaviors that will lead to success and recognize when our body/mind system is locked in a detrimental pattern.

Let’s Do It Again and Again; But Not Again

One of the behaviors which we can temporarily embrace is the repeated dominant arm strike. It is very easy while in “predator mode” to launch the same weapon over and over again. This is a quick way to put “rounds on target” and press an advantage. The problem comes when we continue the repetitions to the point where our enemy can time us or habituate to the onslaught, thereby turning the tide.

In the Functional Edge we developed drills that allow the trainee to experience and use this particular behavior to their advantage. In training we allow the good guy, if he is so inclined, to engage with the same weapon up to three times at most. After that he must change the weapon or the target.

This allows the trainee to fully develop and embrace his predator mentality while fighting and at the same time using judgment and cognition to change strategy as needed.

What’cha Looking At?

A predatory behavior that may cause some trouble is target fixation. Once we decide to Engage, our binocular, predatory vision likes to lock on our prey and remain there until the job is done.
This can present problems when dealing with weapons, and multiple opponents. While we are Engaging the bad guy we must focus on getting our head in motion in order to  break this target fixation. Simply putting your head on a “swivel” will help tremendously with your awareness.
Another strategy we use in the Functional Edge is to move your entire body, or your attacker’s body if possible, sufficiently to change the “backdrop” view. This allows your peripheral vision to pick up other potential dangers in the environment.

So What’s the Plan?

The goal of the Engagement Attitude is to cause temporary dysfunction of our attacker’s movement, breathing, and/or structure. This temporary dysfunction opens the door for the Resolution Attitude we decide to use.
It is very important to note here that causing dysfunction is to clearly impair a person’s ability to Move, Breathe, or Stand. The “Stun and Run” strategy, although it sounds like a great theory, is merely putting somebody in more danger. Women are being told to use a couple of strikes and then run from a bad guy that now is going to follow and continue his onslaught and is even more prepared for counter attack.
Our Engagement must result in the attacker’s diminished capacity, to pursue us if we decide to Escape, resist us if we decide to Control, or defend himself should the situation call for Harm.

The relationship of the Engagement Attitude to Survival and Reversal is also crucial to understand. If a predator telegraph’s his intentions and we detect the assault coming, we may be able to go straight to Engagement Attitude. We must be careful that the weapons we use for Engagement also offer us the same protection of our Survival Attitude, and affect our enemy’s balance as much as the Reversal Attitude.

We must also be ready, even when we are successfully Engaging our opponent, for circumstances to force a shift back to Survival or Reversal Attitude. Like the soldier’s in our metaphor, we might have to fall back to our fort and rally our troops before Engaging again.

Tony Torres
Copyright Tony Torres 2011


  1. Great piece of work my friend...keep it up
    Stay Safe Charlie

  2. I love how the attitudes align with a resilient philosophy for training. It is refreshing to have a self defense coach tell people that the tide can turn, and tactics need to change to suit the moment.

    So many videos of experts saying do this, then this, then the bad guy is down. Also, to expand on the repetitions, I once read about a "law of 3's" which basically states that the basal ganglia in the brain needs to see something 2-3 times to establish a pattern.

    While not necessarily a conscious response, the brain fires a protective response once that pattern is picked up. Further defense of mixing up your engagement tools and practice.

    The Attitudes philosophy makes resiliency much easier to condition because it adapts to the moment for training evolutions. We can clearly see that some engagements are waves of positive and negative momentum, and we must adapt quickly. Modeling that environment makes the response more supportive of the favorable outcome, regardless of your starting attitude!

    I like where this is going.....

  3. These Attitudes are really helpful!

    On "Embracing the Monster", I had a thought: for some people, the monster needs to both embraced and *tamed*. When the monster gets out of the box when he is not really needed, or he gets off the leash for a little longer, further than he is needed, then the result can be just as devastating if he drags you over the line of 'reasonable force'.

    I am thinking specifically of an example we had in the UK in 2010, where two otherwise law-abiding citizens - the Hussein brothers - got into very hot water during a very high-intensity moment when their home was invaded.

    The "red-mist" descended when these brothers caught some violent burglars in their home, the monster got out of the box and both brothers ended up with convictions for assault. It was a controversial case:

    "temporarily embracing" the monster therefore, seems bang on the money, both tactically and legally.

    Thought-provoking, as always - thanks T!

  4. Thanks for the comments guys!
    It is true that we must be careful in the professional field when it comes to embracing the monster.
    Use of Force must always be reasonable. I have found however that most people require more training on being comfortable engaging and applying force.
    When professionals go into the real of excessive force it is almost never the tactics taught that are at fault. It is usually not choosing the correct Resolution Attitude.
    Security Pros must understand that Engagement's goal is that of Temporary Dysfunction so that we move on to Resolutions.
    Only in extreme cases the resolution attitude of Harm is appropriate