It’s late at night and you are out of gas. You should have done it earlier, but now you don’t have a choice. You stop at your local gas station to add a few gallons of fuel to get you home. As usual, one of the dozen lights illuminating the pumps is flickering. Before you turn off your car, you circle the parking lot to make sure there are no suspicious cars or people in the vicinity. You see an employee and a customer at the register through the wall of windows in the front of the store. You park and get out of the vehicle only to discover the credit card reader isn’t working. You walk quickly toward the store checking behind you to make sure no one is following you. As you enter, the double doors close behind you and you find the “customer” is holding up the employee with one hand reaching out demanding the money from the till and the other on what looks like the largest black pistol you have ever seen. Your presence has startled the robber and you now find yourself looking down the barrel of a handgun and 4 yards from a very jittery criminal.
What do you do?
Well that depends. You have to wait for your brain to tell you what to do, but first your brain has to work through the all the available options that it can imagine, then provide you what it thinks is the best solution.
How long will this take?
Well that depends on how easy it is for your brain to process the information based on what it knows from information gleaned over the course of your life and instruct the rest of your body to get to work.
How long does that take?
Well that depends on how much data your brain has to rely upon to develop a strategy. Maybe not enough to be successful. And by “successful” I mean being able to return to your loved ones at the end of the night. This is not the time for your supercomputer brain to respond with an ‘insufficient data’ error message.
How can I improve my probability of success?
By embracing recognition-primed decision-making (RPD) and Image Based Decisional Drills (IBDD).
Recognition-primed decision-making is a psychological technique developed by Dr. Gary Klein (Sources of Power). It’s a model for how people make quick, effective decisions when faced with a complex situation and has been used extensively in careers that deal with emergency situations where microseconds can mean the difference between life and death, like law enforcement and medical professionals. The decision maker chooses a possible course of action in response to a scenario, compares it to the constraints imposed by the situation, and selects a course of action. RPD combines two ways of formulating a decision. The first is recognizing which course of action makes the most sense. The second is evaluating the cause of action through imagination to see if the actions resulting from that decision make sense. A major factor in the valuable time it takes to come to a decision is the difference between experience and inexperience.
This is where Image Based Decisional Drills from The Complete Combatant fills in the experience gap. Shelley and Brian Hill developed IBDD to help the user evaluate the strengths or weaknesses of strategies and decisions through visual cueing. The student is shown an image card with a scenario then given 5 seconds and a set of options, or tools, that include non-lethal, less than lethal, and lethal choices to help them “deal” with the scenario. The options can include either walk away or run away, and/or the use a phone, verbal commands, tourniquet, flashlight, O/C spray, or a firearm. The student has to make one good first decision and, if necessary, the next good decision and so on until the student finishes the scenario. The IBDD kit can be purchased for home use or can be used by a certified instructor to guide the students through the scenarios. You can also purchase additional scenario cards, or expansion packs, created by a diversity of best self-defense organizations in the country, like A Girl and A Gun and Active Self Protection. I recommend that you take the class to get the best idea on the extensive number of ways to use the program, then purchase your own set to use at home. If one of your tools is a firearm, IBDD can also be used as a dry fire exercise or live fire for students who are a little more advanced shooters.
How does Image Based Decisional Drills help me make quick decisions in life threatening situations?
IBDD creates experience “files” in your brain, like you have on your computer, that make it quicker for your brain to access courses of action, make a decision, and disseminate the information to the rest of your body. Visuals are very effective ways of learning in that they decrease learning time, improve comprehension, enhance retrieval, and increase retention. As human brains are not designed to be multitaskers (doing two or more things at the same time), but serial processors (doing one thing, then going on to the next thing quickly), cycling through the tools is essential in dealing with the scenarios. The more you use the tool, whichever one it is, the easier it is for your body to “automatically” deploy the tool in a real life situation.
If you take a class from a certified Image Based Decisional Drills Instructor, the coach will discuss how, when and why you might use the tools you have available. It will start with a few scenarios presented to the entire class so that everyone understands the process. Then individuals will approach a table set up with the tools and a target 4 yards away, then they are shown a card. The time pressure, selecting tools, and the audience adds to the adrenaline of the exercise. Actual use of inert O/C spray and a SIRT pistol or blue gun ups the ante of the experience. However, if you don’t carry O/C spray or a handgun daily, the instructor may take that option away from you, making some scenarios significantly more difficult. In the class, you may also learn about proactive mindsets, proxemics, altered perceptions, the criminal mindset, pre-assault indicators, the attack cycle, and layered protection. Of course, there will be lots of discussions of the scenarios from your classmates which enhances the experience exponentially.
I had immense pleasure in taking the IBDD two day instructor course directly from Brian Hill at KR Training with about ten other highly qualified, outstanding individuals. It was unfortunate that Shelley was not able to attend, but I know she was there in spirit the entire weekend and her hard work in developing the program was clearly apparent. Brian has a great way of pushing students forward in just the right way that is most conducive for learning. He was able to very quickly discover my learning style, as he did with all the other students, and bring out the best experience for us all. Whether you take this course through The Complete Combatant, a certified instructor, or on your own, it is an imperative program for filling in your self-defense training gaps. The IBDD visual cues and use of tools allows your brain to imagine life threatening situations you may encounter, store effective solutions, and more easily access these solutions when time is of the essence. All of this is done in a safe learning environment prior to any dangerous situation actually occurring, possibly giving you the advantage over the criminal when it really matters.