Action Vs. Reaction: Stages of Mental Processing

Posted: December 19, 2017 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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Action (Pre-Emptive) vs Re-action (Re-Active)

When it comes to a human vs human situation action is always faster than reaction. Humans brains are all made up of the same stuff and operate in relatively similar fashion. We all have neurons, and our brains generally operate with the same brain chemistry and processes. Generally, most people will approximately have the same action-reaction potential with regards to response times. While there are of course exceptions like extreme athletes most people will fall within similar parameters. Below, the action vs. reaction concept is broken down into the 4 basic steps to processing information for the purposes of self-defense. The names given may be similar to standard process models but are simplified for the purposes of the self-defense model.

Mental Processing.jpg

  1. Perceive

This is the initial identification of an attack or action, or the “Oh-Shit” moment has identified an imminent threat.

2. Analyze

At this point, your brain examines the threat and situation to determine what to do, considering the speed and trajectory of the threat, his or her size and shape, the direction of any escapes, and numerous other identifiers

3. Formulate

Now, you are consciously thinking about what to do and searching your memory for the appropriate response. Do you run? Do you fight? Do you freeze?

4. Action

Finally, based on your perception and analysis, you now act based on your plan.

Both an attacker and defender are going through these same stages, which can take approximately 0.25 seconds to go through all 4. However, in a life or death situation, this can seem like an eternity. If you failed to recognize and attack and find your self re-active action over a pre-emptive action you are now playing a game of catch up. Your attacker may be at stage 4 with for example a punch while you are at stage 2 or 3. If you fail to give your self enough space, or can not counter react fast enough that punch will now hit you.

Your goal is to always engage in an aggressive fashion should you find your self in mental colour code red, so that you are constantly resetting your attacker’s mental process to 1 or 2. This can be done by Off balancing, causing pain or resetting their mental process through distraction. (See Off Balance, Cause Pain or Reset)

Because of this model, and how the brain processes information action is always faster than reaction.The 4 stages of Self Defense as taught by UTKM must keep this processing in mind and approach violence in the appropriate order so that a defender always has to option to engage with a pre-emptive action rather than a reactive action.

*Topics under any principle category (EX. Krav Maga Principles) may be updated from time to time so always check in every few months to see if the posts have been updated.

**A similar model is the OODA Model of Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.

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