Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Implications of Thinking Under Stress, "Blink" and the Utility of Speed in Self-Defense Situations

YES, there will be a test on the title alone!

Actually, the Time article referenced in an earlier post got me thinking about a whole slew of self-defense implications. I used the Canary Island plane crash info in TRAIL SAFE, because I think it points to what I termed the Index Card Theory of Life, in short, when the proverbial feces hit the proverbial fan, it's helpful if your brain can flip through the ole index card file and find an appropriate response.

Ah ha, you say! If I model all the potential things that can happen to me self-defensewise, I'll have just the right index card when the balloon goes up. Well, yes, except that life is pretty much a chaos system, that is, small non-recurring events effect the overall system in unanticipated ways...butterfly wings, hurricanes, Ashton Kutcher bopping Demi Moore, all that stuff. The net result is that we are faced with an infinite number of singularities, which would require an infinite number of index cards with all the appropriate responses spelled out for the Index Card Theory of Life to work. Flash to a crappy dojo, where they teach "if/then" martial arts — if he throws a right cross, you respond with a spinning back kick blah blah. Don't work...good way to get your chimes rung.

Instead, you end up with Saint Bruce the Divine's concepts of internalizing a large number of basic moves, then let your mind's rapid response system pick the appropriate response at warp-plus speed. The rapid response system is amazingly well defined in Malcom Gladwell's book, Blink. If you haven't read this, you're behind the curve, dude!

The key to making this system work, however, is a strange one...you have to believe it works. Not think it works. Not hope it works. But absolutely believe it works. You have to trust the portion of your brain that you can't directly access. I used to teach mnenomic tricks to learn how to do this, but I got tired of being called nuts (or worse, New Agey). Suffice to say, it's a learnable skill.

The necessity of speed is built into the process. Both processing speed and reaction speed. One of my absolute laws is, "When in doubt, go faster." Got me a lot of speeding tickets in high school, too! But if I am in motion, I have options. Things can be assembled on the fly. I might be able to get my ass out of this, whatever this is. Over the last decade, I've come to believe that speed is the primary determining factor of whether you succeed or fail.

Of course, I've been wrong a lot before!

Finally, the plane! It's on to Boise, Garden Spot of the Sorta North West!

2 comments:

OXEN said...

I saw the author on C-span's BOOK TV one weekend.

He had a lot of things to say and made great points about 1st impressions, that had much to do with analyzing a situation and coming to the correct and judgment in a Blink. As would be applicable to those of us that carry and gun where seconds count.

Sounds like a really good book. I'll pick it one of these days.

BTW Gladwell reminds me of Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons.


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Oh, off topic. If you haven't heard what SoS Rice said about gun ownership you should check it out.

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