Adaptive Response

So what is Adaptive Response and why should it matter? Well Adaptive Response is basically for all intensive purposes the difference between learning and memorizing. When I say memorizing I mean you see something and you can duplicate the movement to someone else but it doesn’t really mean you know it. You don’t really own that. In reality it’s simply a muscular exercise and if it fails your pretty much stuck. Whereas with learning you actually own the skillset so to speak.

So let’s get down to it and get real for a moment. There are alot of defensive tactics and self defense courses out there. Most have some good techniques that you can take back and a few that you can toss. That seems to be the norm, but should you accept it? Well we don’t think you should. Let me give you an example.

A couple years ago I was sitting in the office with a police chief discussing programs. He was a big proponent of one of the bigger name programs that had been out awhile. I asked him why? He simply said,”Well I learned several things from it maybe 5 things that helped me out of a jam in my career.” He said the class was 40 hours of unarmed training. Now don’ get me wrong it’s good that those things helped him out of a jam but let’s look at the math. He went to a 40 hour course over 5 days. He took away 5 good things. This means in an 8 hour day full of techniques he only came away with 1 thing that he could remember or that he thought was good. 1 thing? Excuse me but that doesn’t sound like a very good course to me and I don’t think it should be acceptable to police and security.

We’ve all been to courses where you are bombarded with tons of tactics and in the end you can’t remember half of them. This is a huge problem. Not only can you not remember half but the half you do remember are all designed for a specific circumstance. Which means if it fails you won’t have a plan B fast enough. Let’s be straight up about this, there is no such thing as a tactic that works 100% of the time. It does not exist nor will it ever exist. If you go to a course that teach nothing but a bunch of techniques no matter how good they are all your doing is rolling the dice with your life because self defense is situational.

So let’s take a look at how the brain itself processes things and then afterwards we’ll look at how we bypass it. The following is an excerpt from the article Hicks Law:Reaction Time in Combat by W. Hock Hocheim

“A visual image is picked up by the retina and is transmitted to the visual center of the brain in the occipital lobe. From there the image is sent to two locations in the brain. On the one hand, it goes to the higher levels of the cerebral cortex which is the seat of full conscious awareness. There, in the frontal lobes, the image is available to be recognized, analyzed, input into a decision process and acted upon as the person considers appropriate. Let’s call this “the slow track,” because full recognition of the meaning of a visual image, analyzing what it represents, deciding what to do and then doing it takes time. Some psychologists also refer to this mental process as System II cognition. If you used System II cognition in critical situations like a skid, you wouldn’t have enough time to finish processing the OODA Loop before your car went over the cliff.

Traditional training methods cannot bypass this process. They require tons of follow up training to build these skillsets. It’s training time you will probably never get. That is the reality of the situation. So we need to think outside the box and come up with something different because normal methods simply do not get the job done in the alloted time that you need it. So how do we bypass System II Cognition and get what we need? Well, we access System I Cognition instead. Here once again is an excerpt from the above mentioned article.

Fortunately, there’s a second track, which we’ll call “the fast track,” or System I Cognition. In this system, the image is also sent to a lower, pre-conscious region of the brain, which is the amygdala. This area of the brain stores visual memory and performs other mental operations as well. The visual image is compared here on a pre-conscious level at incredible speed with many thousands of images that are stored in memory. Let’s call each image a “frame” which is a term that Dr. Erving Goffman used in his book Frame Analysis to describe specific, cognitively-bounded sets of environmental conditions. I like to use the word “frame” here because the memory probably contains more than just visual information. There may be sound, kinesthetic, tactile, olfactory or other sensory information that also helps complement the visual image contained within the frame – fortunately, the fast and slow tracks are usually complimentary, one focusing on insight, the other on action. Together they produce a synergistic effect that enhances the actor’s chances of survival.

I would like to point out that often System I and System II Cognitions can in fact be complimentary but they become that way over time with long term training. This will not happen simply by training in a course for a day or even a week which makes bypassing System II Cognition all the more important. So let’s look at how this program does exactly that.

The first way is referred to as Sequential Learning. This is the act of stringing several tasks together in a sequence that can help reduce reaction and selection time. I found found this to be paramount to learning especially in remembering tactics and being able to recall them quickly. I explain it to my classes this way. Let’s say I’m teaching someone how to play guitar. Generally you would start with rhythm and teach some basic chords. G,C, and D are pretty basic. If I taught someone those 3 chords and that’s all well big deal. Just like if all I taught someone was a tactic. What tends to happen is they can’t do anything with the chords and no one wants to just hear chords so they fall into disuse and will have to be memorized again. Just like tactics. However if I taught them a song with those 3 chords they are more likely to remember them because now they can actually do something with them that is relevant to them. It means something now there is weight to it. Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you to do something and you asked them why and they said,” Because I said so?” It wasn’t very satisfying was it? There is another reason that sequential learning is important. Let’s say you go to a class and learn a choke defense. It may be the best choke defense you’ve every seen. So you learn that technique and move on the the next one in your class which could be something different. The reality is even if you use that choke defense in an altercation once you escape the choke the fight isn’t over and now you still have to wing it because there is no map or pathway on where to go next. It isn’t connected to anything. In sequential learning you can string techniques together until the altercation comes to it’s natural end. In this case, the bad guy in handcuffs. Just doing a bunch of random techniques regardless of how great they may be is also why you can’t remember half of them by the end of you class and your students have difficulty as well. This is something we cover in great detail in the S.T.A.R. Method

The next tool is called Conceptual Learning. Conceptual Learning is more big idea thinking. Instead of learning 10 techniques for the same function you learn one concept. I find this very conducive in ground survival. You know where you are and you know where you want to be. Through understanding the overall concept of what you need to do it allows you to be more adaptive and intuitive. For example an escape from a full mount where someone is straddling you with their bodyweight on you. You can learn to buck your hips but as long as they can post a hand to the side on the ground they can stop you from rolling them off of you. You take that basic idea and look at the situation logically it isn’t as difficult as it seems. Sure there are probably a hundred different ways to escape that position, but if you understand that one point it can be alot easier to escape than you think and with a much smaller skillset.

The last one we incorporate to get to the System I Cognition is Procedural Memory. Procedural Memory is a form of Implicit Memory where physical tasks are subconciously stored into long term memory. They are usually accessed by visual cues or triggers

In Dr. Lee Dye’s 2009 article for ABC News, “How the Brain Makes Quick Decisions,” he reports: “[People] …have been helped by a kind of human memory that scientists have been struggling to understand.” Dye reports that people use “Implicit” memory, a short-term memory that people are not consciously aware they are using. Doctors Ken Paller at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., Joel L. Voss, from the Beckman Institute and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have conducted long-term research on this subject and while they did not specifically involve athletics, the conclusions are consistent with other researchers who are also studying how top athletes can make split-second decisions and take action. How does a batter hit a fastball when he has to start swinging the bat before the ball even leaves the pitcher’s hand? “He relies on visual cues, even if he doesn’t know it.” Athletes and people learn to predict and act, and react spontaneously based on very little information. One way is implicit memory.

For our purposes let’s go back to those takedowns. Judging which takedown to use based on head up or down would be recalling procedural memory. Further more in our programs the self defense positions we find ourselves in are also reference points for which these visual triggers are used. Because of this when an officer ends up in a position it will be close enough to a position they’ve already done that they can still use it as a reference for escape. In other words what I’m actually saying is that our learning model is so strong by taking our courses clients will be able to escape positions we don’t even cover. This is the difference between learning and memorizing. This is what you need. This is Adaptive Response and every one of our programs uses it.
I hope this has shed some light on what we do and if you have any questions feel free to send me an email using the Contact US link at the top o the page anytime. We are here to make a positive difference. Thank you