The Power of Preemption

Posted: September 29, 2011 in Armed Combatives, UnArmed Combatives
Tags: , ,

Whether it is the US Militaries use of stealth fighters, or a sucker punch; all warriors understand that preemption, or throwing the first punch, is critical to winning a violent encounter.

The problem we have in “polite” society is the Hollywood notion of “fair play”. Also, we have the very real problem of proving the legal issues surrounding self-defense.

Too often we attend courses, such as martial arts or firearms, that work everything from the “block-counter” or “from the holster”. This may seem strange on a blog that specifically addresses the issues of the ambush. But, the best way to survive an ambush, is to avoid or detect it ahead of time.

Some schools solve this issue by focusing on “situational awareness”. I agree that situational awareness is the first step in avoiding, or detecting, an ambush. But, very few address the issue of what to do next. Usually, you are taught to observe the threat and then react.

Unfortunately, anyone who has studied human conflict, and specifically Col. Boyd’s OODA loop, knows that action is faster than reaction, and you do not want to be “behind the curve”.

So, how do we deal with a threat without having to wait until they make the first move?

Preemption. Strike First, Strike Hard.

Great, now I just hit, or shot, someone that everyone, and every video camera, will say that I hit him first. Do I just go to jail solaced by the knowledge that I was, “judged by 12 versus carried by 6”?


I was taught by my Training Officers that what I did was only less important than what I wrote. My report set the stage and explained my actions, regardless of what video or eyewitnesses thought they saw. My ability to articulate made the difference between going home, or going to jail.

We do not spend enough time writing about what just happened. It is one of the reasons I began this blog. I need to practice expressing my thoughts in writing.

The next time you see someone, in person or on video, that you would consider a threat, try writing a note to yourself, explaining why. Then ask a partner to read it and see if it makes sense to them. Once you master the skill of articulation, preemption becomes a real tool in your arsenal.

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