Western Rifle Shooters Association

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Suarez: The Search For Simplicity -- Hick's Law

From Gabe Suarez:

The fighter (gunman, knifeman, or whatever) of today is far more sophisticated than in years past. This is partially due to the vast availability of information on trainers, different systems, and training methods, but its also due to the lack of the exclusive “system loyalty” that existed a few decades ago. Fifteen or twenty years ago a point shooting devotee of Fairbairn would never consider training in sighted shooting with a devotee of Cooper, and its quite possible that neither would even give the study of Filipino Knife or Muay Thai more than a passing thought.

The fighters of today are very likely to have a broad exposure to a variety of martial systems both armed and unarmed. They are inclined to train in many different schools and with many instructors.

This openness is unprecedented in martial history, and in most cases, it is a welcome development. Although it is wise to learn different ways to solve tactical problems, it's important that the actual responses or techniques that you'll rely on in a real confrontation be kept simple and with as few variations as necessary. The idea of having a vast repertoire of fighting techniques is tempting disaster in a real life and death conflict.

This is where many career martial artists start throwing their popcorn at me. It’s a common practice by some instructors to overload students with dozens of techniques and variations for a particular attack. Defenses against a caveman knife attack, for example, can easily encompass thousands of techniques and countless variations. Literally, an entire year's training curriculum! Many martial artists train this way and operate schools this way. Don't misunderstand. I'm not putting down any style or any instructor. But I'll tell you this. If you train that way, and someone actually throws a surprise caveman knife attack at you, you'll have a very difficult time trying to choose which of those hundred defenses to deploy. Multiple possible solutions to the same problem will dramatically increase reaction time. This means that you will be much s-l-o-w-e-r than if you learned a single simple technique and turned it into a reflexive action via repetitive practice.

The reasons for this are simple. Under extreme stress the human mind has trouble selecting the tactically correct solution for a given problem if there are a large number of possible choices. The more possible choices, the longer it takes to select from among them. I have seen this in real street gunfights as well as in force on force training.

Human reaction time in a fight is drastically affected by the way we train the techniques we’ve learned, as well as by the variety of potential responses that we've made available through our training. These phenomena are illustrated by Hick's Law. Hick's Law is a scientific model of human reaction time, or the time it takes the human being to respond to a particular stimulus...

Read the rest.


Blogger Carl said...

I agree completely. As I neared the end of my blackbelt training, I found that my skills were not as focused as I wished. I began studying other styles, looking for practical, simple techniques that were more universal than what I had learned. Oddly enough, it was in the police academy that I found some of the best basic and universal techniques for restraint, joint manipulation, and nerve strikes. KISS rules, and hesitation due to multiple overchoice will get your butt kicked.
Learn the basic moves that will keep you alive and practice them until they are automatic. If you have to stop to think, you lose. These are the kind of techniques that I have passed on to my children and friends that wanted to know. KISS works for hand-to-hand, knife fighting, and gunfighting. Keep It Simple and stay alive.

May 11, 2010 at 6:34 PM  

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