Quoting from Wikipedia:

The OODA loop has become an important concept in both business and military strategy. According to Boyd, decision-making occurs in a recurring cycle of observe-orient-decide-act. An entity (whether an individual or an organization) that can process this cycle quickly, observing and reacting to unfolding events more rapidly than an opponent, can thereby "get inside" the opponent's decision cycle and gain the advantage.


There isn’t all that much to say.  Training can shorten your loops, allowing you to get inside a less trained person’s loop.  Fast loops are good, slow loops are bad. Being unpredictable even to the point of chaos is generally an advantage if it keeps forcing the opponent to re-loop without being able to execute an effective action.

The problem with martial arts games of all types (wrestling, boxing, MMA, push-hands) from a fighting point of view is that they limit you.  When you have a lot of training and you are suddenly confronted with a new set of rules which deny you those training options or action, you will likely get stuck.  Why?  Because you train for speed, and when you train for speed certain conditions will trigger a certain kind of action.  If you train to pull off particular types of set-ups, or throws or strikes, your body will just start doing them when the opening appears.  If the rule set doesn’t allow it, you will have to spend a second stopping your body from making the move.  Your mind can get stuck making sure that you really aren't allowed to do what your body has trained to do.  Your body won’t believe that it isn't allowed to do that thing which has worked so well in the past until it has had time to adjust to the new set of rules.

If you are training self-defense, you are training people to break the rules, to do the unexpected, to temporarily abandon social constraints.  

This is related to the observation that oftentimes martial artists aren’t able to use their training in a surprise attack. The conditions just don’t seem right, you’d have to keep telling yourself, yes, go, do it now.  The second time you get attacked it probably has a better chance of working, but who gets surprise attacked twice now-a-days?  

The OODA loop is also important for training to win games in which both people are trained with the same set of rules.  It is still possible to be faster and more difficult to predict.  There are also things you can do to disorient or shock your opponent.  A great deal of tai chi is focuses on the disorientation aspect of the OODA loop.  


One of the interesting training questions that comes up in partner work is the distance vs. action ratio.  Acting first usually trumps waiting because it forces the opponent to re-loop, dealing with an attack rather than attacking.  But if you are ready for an attack there is a certain distance where any action is a mistake because it will reveal your intent too soon, giving the opponent time and options for a powerful response.  This is why in Greco-roman wrestling, for instance, there are these long stand-offs where both wrestlers are waiting for the other person to make a mistake.   Swords and knives have this quality too, as long as both parties want to avoid getting cut any thrust of the knife makes the hand vulnerable to attack.  Tai Chi is famous for playing in this close quarters realm where whoever acts first loses.  But of course a player of great skill will disorient their opponent on contact.


OK I've said enough about that.  It came up a while back with Tabby Cat, who has a new video.

The problem is obvious if you watch it.  The guy Tabby is pushing with looks like a loaded gun forced to keep the "safety" on.  He sees ways to act, but then remembers he isn't allowed to do that: OODA loop shut down.  It's very different then two people who train with the same set of rules.  There is something else important and valuable to see here, namely that Tabby is easily uprooting his opponent by using his opponent's tension.  It is a very difficult skill to learn because you have to comprehend what is happening and melt all the tension in your body.  But what I always look for in a Tai Chi guy is, can they do it in the form?  Can they do it in a big range of motion?  Can they do it to the side?  Up, down, left, right, front, back, circle? From behind?  On the ground? or over their head?  (While sipping tea is my goal.) Notice he only has the skill upward from a low position close to the body.  That would be the easiest position.  Sort of like treading water in the deep end of the pool.  Swimming in the arctic it ain't.  

Anyway that is my conceited opinion and that is what I was thinking when I got to the later part of the video where he wraps the red pregnancy cloth around his arms.  OK perhaps it is because I've been doing too much relaxation of deep unconscious tension lately, but when I saw that, I just about busted a gut!  Now that we know you can tread water in the deep end, why not try it in the kiddie pool!


Well, if you've read this far I have a little treat for you which is mostly unrelated.  I have been thinking about advice to give beginners who what to go far in internal martial arts.  Here is my advice.  Don't try to make any technique work.  It is quite counter intuitive, but the problem is, if you try to make a technique work you will be conditioning yourself to feel either 1) a type of active resistance, or 2) success.  The problem with the feeling of active resistance is that when you actually have the internal gongfu you won't feel any resistance.  The problem with the success feeling is that when your technique fails in a violent confrontation you are likely to freeze.  Now I don't know from experience that the feeling of success in a flaw, but my gut tells me it is.  Anyway, to win by force is a mistake.  What we want is that you just practice the techniques, if there is resistance change, if not keep going.  In the beginning it is the outer forms that really matter.  Know the technique, don't try to make it work.  A subtle difference perhaps, but I'm finding it is a powerful teaching key.

Waiting to Exhale, Not!

Here is a post on a Psychology Today blog by Alan Fogel, and a comment by Loretta Graziano Breuning.   Alan correctly notes that it is unlikely that any type of breathing method would directly help with shallow or constricted breathing.

Seems like this is a type of freeze, as in fight, flight, or freeze.  Rory Miller says that when a violent event happens the first thing to do is break the freeze that normally consumes us.  That is done by taking two actions, preferably actions with movement you can see.  Shouting is good too.  When people freeze, sometimes they imagine themselves acting instead of actually acting which just continues the freeze.  One action isn't enough because one could just refreeze, which might happen anyway which would mean it's time for another two actions.

Richard Mansfield (1857-1907) Portrait sitting in chair smoking cigar-Photo-B&W-ResizedAlan suggests that an increase in "Body Sense" will improve breathing.  This is partly a vocabulary problem but he is also partly wrong.  What causes a freeze, or shallow breathing, or constricted breathing is  the retreat of a persons spacial mind to their own body.  In normal social interactions the spacial mind is a bubble around the body.  The bubble is always changing, sometimes it is big, imagine a couple of cowboys smoking rollies on the front porch; and sometimes it is small, imagine polite people on a crowded subway.  Stand on a stage confidently and joyously singing the national anthem and the spacial body will get big.  On the other hand, with stage fright the bubble becomes like plastic wrap on the body.  In a challenge confrontation between two males of the same tribe, these spacial body bubbles stay close to the body in order to de-power the confrontation--because the goal is for one guy to submit to the others dominance, not to do life threatening damage.

Allow me to go a little deeper.  There are two bodies.  An inner body which is primitive, clumsy, very powerful, without memory, it has simple desires and doesn't carry around preferences.  Then there is an outer body, this is the body with muscles, and shapes and pain that most people think of and feel as a body.  When the mind sets these two bodies against each other we get all the things that only people can do, like playing baseball and writing letters.  There are tons of variations in how these two bodies can mix, but they all include some sort of retreat of the spacial mind into the physical mass of the bodies.  The mind is amazing, it can be active both inside and outside the bodies.

There is a simple difference between a male asserting a dominance challenge and a woman experiencing constricted breathing while listening to idiots rant.  They both have a shrunken spacial mind with an outer body that is constricting their movements.  In the case of the male asserting dominance the spacial mind will suddenly grow then suddenly shrink in a tit for tat dance with the other male.  His inner body will be very active, the slang for it is "chomping at the bit,"  the more he "cuts loose" the more his outer body lets the inner body act--'though he will still be self restricting.  The woman with constricted breathing is trying to force the inner body to stay still by constricting it with the outer body.  The inner body wants to go bananas but this is socially unacceptable so the mind uses the outer body to contain it by shrinking the spacial mind tight to the surface of the body.  It can be quite painful, especially in the abdominal region and around the neck and shoulders.

So to answer Loretta's question, basically you want something that will literally lift your spirits--making your spacial body big.  An action that will get your spacial mind outside your body.  A big loud socially rude sign could work.  Aaaaggghhh!  Bleachhhhh!  Going to a window sticking your head out and shouting something silly at the birds.  Running for the door?  Basically action trumps inaction.  Throw your arms to the sky and say in your deepest rumbling atheist voice, "Oh God Almighty!"  Whatever it is you do, it has to be inappropriate.  It has to be rude.  Maybe get right in between the ranters, grab them around the waist or the shoulders and say in the most May West voice you can muster, "Heeeeyah, can we talk about SEX NOW?"