Westgate mall attack (courtesy businessinsider.com)

The other day I posted about my recent trip to a local hospital. During my visit I encountered a mentally challenged man pacing around the cafeteria. I wrote that I thought about using the napkin dispenser as an improvised weapon. My plan: should he get violent, I’d clock him with it. Thinking about it, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder‘s quote bubbled-up from my subconscious: no plan survives first contact with the enemy. More simply, sh*t happens. What if the napkin holder was out of reach? What if it was a swing-and-a-miss? Should I have a plan B? And if that was true, what about a plan C? And if I went through my daily life formulating plans self-defense plans A, B and C every time I went somewhere, what kind of life would that be? So I called the rabbi . . .

 “You don’t want a plan,” the rabbi (a.k.a., gun guru David Kenik) advised, with characteristic bluntness. “A plan can be very dangerous.”

The rabbi confirmed my suspicions: if you’re responding to a potentially lethal situation by trying to implement a pre-ordained plan – in a self-defense situation that will be both fluid and chaotic – you could well end up doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Who’s to say your plan will be appropriate for the situation?

“Your pre-ordained plan will be a reaction to a specific, imagined threat,” the rabbi warned. “The problem lies in the fact that the actual threat could play out a million different ways from the scenario that you invented. The chance of your preplanned plan being the right solution for the real threat is nil.

“If you have a plan in mind and a threat actually appears, instinct will kick in and you will try to carry out the plan that is already in your mind. You may not discover that the plan is wrong until after you start to implement it. The time that you waste implementing the wrong plan increases the amount of time that it takes to implement the right plan, and that could have serious implications to your health and well-being.

“The trick to surviving is to respond appropriately, as quickly and decisively as you possibly can. Sometimes it means leaving. Sometimes it means fighting. Sometimes it means hiding – then fighting . . . You can’t know ahead of time who’s going to show up, what they’re going to do, and where they are going to do it. Therefore, you can’t know what you need to do ahead of time, either.

“How many bad guys are there? Where are they? What weapons do they have? What do they want? Are they robbers or murderers? Gang bangers? Terrorists? A disgruntled employee? Who’s with you? Where are they? What are they doing? There are too many potential variables to rely on pre-planned action.”

So . . . stay wary and go with the flow? No. The rabbi is a big believer in being prepared. (We’re talking about a guy who routinely carries two guns and occasionally carries three.) David instructs people who want to prepare for a violent attack – and then relax and forget about it – to scan their environment for defensive options. Possibilities.

“I’ll enter a room and take stock. I’ll look for exits, cover and concealment. I might have to go through a window. Is there a chair I could use to break the glass? I figure out my options, and store them in the back of my mind.”

And then? Then, if the s hits the f, then you make a plan with all of your options in mind. And implement it—fast.  Only one problem: who can think – and think clearly – during the stress of a life-or-death self-defense scenario?

“Some people can, some people can’t,” the rabbi admitted. “Most people operate out of pure instinct – including armed people who depend on ‘muscle memory’ to react to a threat. Which can easily get you killed.”

After some discussion about genetics and self-selected sample groups (people who carry guns are likely to have different threat responses than unarmed people), we agreed that there’s only one way to test and improve an armed American’s “plan under pressure” abilities: force-on-force training.

“Good force-on-force training inoculates you to stress,” David said. “It helps make it possible to think and act under pressure . . . All that training on how to draw and shoot and reload and move is great, but there’s nothing more important than strategy and tactics. Knowing what to do and when to do it, and making those determinations fast is what you really need to survive.”

“Shooting skills must be so well engrained that you can shoot without thinking about it. Winning a fight is determined more by the plan that you implement and the speed at which you implement it. Surviving a lethal encounter is more mental than physical.”

“The biggest benefit that force-on-force training has given me is the ability to analyze threats, make a plan and implement it very quickly. This has to happen in fractions of a second.”

Question: is thinking under stress a frangible skill? The rabbi says yes, although not as frangible as shooting skills. What that means, exactly, is anybody’s guess. But this much I know: I’m heading back to Patriot Protection for some more training, to learn how to think under pressure. With a child in tow. At least that’s the plan . . .

86 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Don’t Have A Plan

    • Exactly. I would recommend anyone with a nearby airsoft field that has rental guns to go over there and give it an afternoon’s worth or time.

    • Indeed. Two hours of force on force training (even if it’s just airsoft, rather than something a bit more realistic, such as MMR or Simunitions) is worth a thousand rounds fired at stationary targets from an isosceles stance.

    • Simulation is always good training but never forget that real life doesn’t have a reset button when you die. In the real world the resurrection comes in a galaxy far far away in a indeterminate future.

      The Navy found this out in 1942 when submarine commanders who were hyper aggressive in prewar exercises suddenly became fearful and indecisive when it was real. Knowing that you will alive tomorrow even if you are “killed” today changes your behavior from what it would be if being dead today means being dead for all time.

      • Building off of tdiinva’s point, I agree 100%. It is only valuable if the proper structure is in place to make it educational in addition to fun. Casual games can reinforce behaviors that are dangerous in real world applications. Playing a milsim game won’t make you a super operator and if you enter with that attitude, you definitely won’t get anything out of it plus you’ll be a chuckle head to everyone else.

        But you can learn some basic things about covering your ass in a fluid environment, covering your buddies, setting up ambushes, working choke points, setting up defenses, and some small unit tactics. The part that I always found missing in my experiences with those chuckle heads was a balanced attitude and the experience with real firearms. If they have no reference point to understand why standing behind a bush is bad in a real situation they aren’t going to understand it in an airsoft game and so on. If their attitude isn’t right and their expectations not realistic, then their is no hope of anything that can be translated from airsoft to real world coming their way. Many are just not open to hearing why what they think is 1337 operator and super tactical is foolish in even just a shooting range let alone any real conflict.

        YMMV but that’s my experience playing for about 12 years.

    • Took the words right out of my mouth. I’ve been to a good deal of large milsim games (Irene, Pine Planes, some regional ones, etc.) and the stress level can get pretty high when it is you hiding in a room with 20 guys bearing down on you ready to all shoot you at once.

  1. “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

    I very much dislike when people show a misunderstanding of the concept of “planning” as this “rabbi” shows. Deciding to carry a gun is a plan. Deciding which gun to carry is a plan. Deciding to get trained with it is a plan.

    And as we proved at the Naval Safety Center, NOTHING “inoculates you to stress.” Training can help, but anyone can get stress overload in the wrong situation and stress degrades everyone’s performance to some degree. And there are very few people in the world who can truly “wing it” under intense stress, including jet pilots. Do you want your airline pilot making it up as he goes along when he has an engine fire? So plans, checklists and procedures are an essential part of stress incident management. Are they right all the time? No. Is “shoot(ing) without thinking about it” about it right all the time? Certainly not.

    BTW, when I took the Active Shooter class at NRA HQ, they used that picture above from the mall in Kenya as an example. To sum up the advice of that class, you need to have plans for active shooter scenarios, so you have thought through the major variables. Planning forces you to think. As one of the instructors of the class said, “The body can’t go where the mind has never been.” But active shooter plans have to be flexible plans. You do have to notice where the shots are coming from, etc. But that is part of good planning, not exclusive of planning.

    • Great Eisenhower quote. I was going to use it but you beat me to it. The Plan helps you think about the problem and organize, train, and equip the force. In the self defense context that means you. What von Moltke meant by the famous quote of “No plan survives first contact with the enemy” is that you should not be wedded to a course of action but be ready to “improvise, adapt and overcome.” Since we are into quotes here is one that I heard at a outdoor survival class I once took. “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”

    • Bravo and amen. The kind of planning I teach is really quite simple, though the execution of it can get complex of course. I teach my students to decide right then (a plan) to survive, to do whatever it takes to survive, to fight as long as they can draw breath if necessary, or to run away and hide if that seems to fit the survival plan best. Here is my latest advice to students:
      Imagine That!
      http://www.thepriceofliberty.org/?p=5715

      The problem for most of us is to plan and train to overcome the all too often natural response of panic, denial, indecision. The paralysis of fear is all too common, especially in women. And it is a mostly LEARNED response, so it can be overcome. I know, because I’ve seen that happen over and over as women train and gain confidence in themselves and accept the absolute worth of their own lives and happiness.

      As to this “force on force” training thing, I’m sure that’s absolutely wonderful for a lot of people, especially men who may encounter combat like conditions. But you have to look at the big picture. The astonishing thing is how many people manage to fight back, use their guns wisely and well, and survive a vast assortment of situations with little and sometimes NO training at all – at least none beyond the basic function of the gun.

      Attitude, the will to live, the willingness to fight no matter what it takes. That’s the survival necessity. Planning and training… much the same thing, I think, is good, even essential. But without the attitude, they are not apt to happen anyway.

      • I plan. A lot. But I am never married to them. I carry concealed, and I do maintain a Condition Yellow pretty much everywhere, as the good Colonel advocated. Mentally, I’ll pick a person, imagine what they might do, then think out my responses. Of course, I do not do the old “I’ll do A, he’ll do B, then I’ll do C.” It’s more like “What might be some good options if he were to do this?” I’ll often practice a few unobtrusive ways to draw my weapon from it’s various hiding places when I’m at the range. No, I don’t go for speed very much, the stroke I suffered 7 years ago put paid to coordinated speed. So I work on unobtrusive draws, keeping them smooth and deliberate. I also work on taking cover first, sometimes. But I’m a Daddy and husband, and most places I go, I have a kid with me at the least. So a lot of my practice is on how to force the child to cover, accepting that I might take a bullet, and determine to return fire until one if us ceases. At home, it’s easier, of course. The family is all upstairs, and they all know their own escape routes and meeting places, and at the house, there are at least 3 shooters available.
        No, a step-by-step plan isn’t necessary, but you DO need a plan that you can modify at need. And I have some.

        • Yep, flexibility is key. Sorry to hear about the stroke, I have two friends that are dealing with that right now and it damned well changes everything.

  2. I actually strongly disagree with this. If you spend your time before the action coming up with a plan, your mind is going to be more clear to consider other possibilities while you are putting it in motion. Countless battles have been won through speed surprise and violence of action, indecision tends to get people killed. If you are at all worried about your ability to respond, getting a good idea of what you want to do beforehand is probably the best way to solve that. Even if you have done loads of force on force training with plenty of induced stressors to get to the point that you feel confident in your ability to think on the fly, I still think planning ahead can be beneficial. Even DEVGRU (guys who are somewhat more experienced than us) built a mockup of Bin Laden’s facility to plan and practice their mission beforehand.

    • I think you missed the entire point of my comments. The point is to not bog your thought process down by having a plan that won’t work because it was based on a fictitious threat, but to immediately develop an execute a plan based the actual threat.

      • Yeah, I thought that was pretty clear.

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the point is that if you have come up with a completely napkin holder-based defensive response and suddenly the threat appears in a way that is non-napkin holder respondable, you might still try to tactical napkin holder when you should potted plant because you slotted your brain instead of pie-slicing, and you can bet your brown-bricked 5.11’s someone’s getting dynamically Bel Aired on that nasty business.

        Operator.

      • In the cyber realm I remind people that “Your Plan is nothing, but planning is everything.”

        Clinging to some detailed list of intended actions will leave you bewildered when the always inconsiderate adversary, being unaware of your Plan, does his own thing.

        Continuous planning, however, will increase your SA and make you more aware of likely deviations and give you a better sense of which countermeasures are most likely to be effective.

        We use a variant of Boyd’s OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) known as PDRR. PDRR (Protect, Detect, Respond, Recover) provides a continuous adaptive model that is useful in meat-space applications as well.

        • “Clinging to some detailed list of intended actions will leave you bewildered when the always inconsiderate adversary, being unaware of your Plan, does his own thing.” No plan survives contact with the enemy. Fluidity of thought, flexibility of action. Having a set in stone “plan” often leads to worse problems than having a loose set of operational guidelines when responding to enemy actions.

        • “Clinging to some detailed list of intended actions will leave you bewildered when the always inconsiderate adversary, being unaware of your Plan, does his own thing”

          I witnessed this while playing chess with my (at the time) 11yo niece. She was all prepared with some sort of Casparov maneuver or something, and my wildly reckless (AKA I suck at chess) play left her totally flabbergasted. She turned to my brother and asked, “What is he doing?” And in case you’re wondering, yes I did wind up losing so it worked out for her… that time. Wouldn’t want to bet lives on it though.

        • @timmy

          At one time in my life I was a few point short of Master. Trust me, she will beat pretty much 100% of the time. Not knowing may work the first time but after that you are pretty much toast.

        • 2hotel9 says it best and is on point.

          Being prepared with instinctive S/A and keeping your functional skills and physical conditioning sharp is very important for success in a ‘situation’.

          One’s response goes with the flow of the unfolding event including ultimately terminating the danger in one fashion or another through resistance or retreat.

    • Yes, improvise!

      That said, improvisation still requires having a foundation of knowledge, skills and training.

      Apollo 13 has got to be one of the world’s best examples of improvisation upon improvisation upon improvisation.

    • Yeah, don’t over think it.

      A great plan without the will to survive will get you killed.

      A lousy (or no plan) together with the grit and determination to survive might just save your bacon.

      • Very true. The value of sheer willpower cannot be overstated. You hear stories of soldiers who continue to fight and win despite being shot 4, 5, 6 times. It has nothing to do with training; it’s all about the burning desire to not only survive, but to WIN.

  3. Be like WATER…don’t freak out. You seem a mite paranoid RF. I worked with crazy folk many years ago. Most aren’t coordinated. Just be prepared if you are forced to disarm.

  4. I still constantly play the “what would I do if” game in my head.
    Having a survivor mentality helps. Reinforce to yourself that no matter what happens, you will survive.

    And remember… Just because you might be paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

    Edit: Aikido is an excellent art for dads and kids.

  5. Immediate Action Drills are a plan that is trained, rehearsed, and executed when certain criteria are met – and you have to have them to survive, especially in a situation where you are working as a group.

    Example: the reaction drill for a close ambush is simplicity in itself. Assault, Assault, Assault.

    If you stand there – you die. if you go to ground – you die. If you’re the guy in the squad that doesn’t execute the drill immediately because “reasons” – you die. Even if you execute the drill immediately and correctly you STILL might die (because the enemy is engaging at a time and place of his choosing for a reason), but at least you have a chance.

    Maintaining tactical flexibility is important, but there are times when you just need to execute.

    • We’re talking personal self defense here, not taking on the Taliban or al-Qaeda.

      Most perps flee at the first sight of a gun.

      And mass shooters tend to commit suicide or give up.

  6. With all due respect to the learned Rabbi, that is about the dumbest advice I’ve heard. It ranks right up there with our battalion commander in Afghanistan telling us, “The focus of our battalion effort will be outside our battalion’s Area of Operations.”

    Have a plan. It doesn’t need to be in great detail, but have a plan.

    • Your idea is to have a plan (that probably won’t work because it is based on a fictitious event. My concept is to make a plan based on actual events.

      • You seem to think that the infinite possibilities of threats all have a different ideal response. This is silly. Almost all situations can be handled in just a few ways. There’s always a chance you’ll be surprised by an event, but that’s better than intending to be surprised by every event.

  7. In the Richard K. Morgan novel “Altered Carbon” the UN envoys specifically don’t prepare for certain situations. Their motto is “by planning for nothing you are equally prepared for everything.” Now, this doesn’t mean don’t prepare- skills are still skills. Look at the Russian Systema martialart as an example. Or the Jeet-kune Do system of Bruce Lee. Both styles are philosophies instead of set moves. Both are considered very effective.

      • I think part of the problem in this thread is that we are fighting the terminology/semantics.

        I believe the Rabbi is saying that you should have several options available to you, and know which options are most appropriate for particular situational criteria. I’m talking about what is happening in one instant in time and a few seconds before that instant, not the whole big situation. When the SHTF, you need to determine what the situation is during that instant in time as you perceive it (including determining that you don’t know everything about the situation), then determine which criteria are present in that situation, then implement the options which you have pre-determined are most appropriate for those criteria. As the situation changes from moment to moment, the criteria will change and the most appropriate options will also change.

        For example: I’m walking through the mall. There is a store doorway 10 feet to my right. There are several other people (strangers) around me. I just heard a shot, sounded pretty close. I think it was in front of me, down the mall concourse. Everyone appears to be ‘panicking’. I can’t see the shooter. Appropriate reaction: Run towards the store doorway (to get some concealment), while looking around, (trying to determine what is going on). As I am running towards the store doorway, I see the shooter 20 yards down the mall concourse with his gun pointed at another person and that person is collapsing onto the floor in front of him. I will add this information to my current list of criteria, and react accordingly in the next instant in time.

        I’m talking about planning for ‘micro-situations’ (for the next moment in time), not planning for a specific scenario or sequence of events in something like “an armed robbery gone bad at the mall”, for example.

        This was a pre-planned reaction to a specific set of criteria in one specific second of time. Not a plan for the next minute or even the next second. Once you have gained additional information (assessed the situation, or as the situation changes), you will continue applying preplanned responses based on the known criteria in every moment.

        This is using your prior preparation and situational awareness, to create a plan in the midst of a very high stress situation. When executed properly (if your preparations have been adequate), your actions will become instantaneous reactions to the criteria you are observing. You will not so much be deciding on a sequence of actions (planning). It is more about determining what the situational criteria are (assessing) and reacting to those criteria (responding). The Plan will create itself in your head as the situation progresses.

        Nevertheless, sometimes the situation in any given moment will be so unique that you just have to improvise. There will still be situations (sets of criteria) that you never prepared for. In that case, you must choose the “best’ option, based on a ‘best-match set’ of criteria, while prioritizing which criteria are most meaningful in this situation. In other words, improvising is making educated decisions based on prior planning and the best information available. Improvising is not a “Try this and see how it works” thing. However, generally the situation in every moment will be something you have pre-planned, IF you spent the time doing the pre-planning.

        Is this what you were trying to say, Rabbi?

        • You should have plans for several ‘micro situations’, and implement those plans as the big situation (and your perception of it) changes from one micro-situation to another, moment to moment.

    • That reminds me of the communist sympathizer who visited China in the Mao era and remarked how wonderful it was that everyone was equally shabby.

    • Now THIS is what I got out of the article. Have a philosophy of survival and defense and not just just a set response (plan) to a threat. Much like football. While each team has “plays” and formations each player must react/act/respond to the other sides “plan”. The better response wins.

  8. At some point you have to know yourself. Training in hand-to-hand and action shooting on-the-move is fine, but on a given day the training is over and you’re just a person walking down the street or into an office. You should know what you are good at, know yourself, before you start walking. You have to play to your strengths.

    My view is that a person is either fit, reasonably trained, and possessed of just a bit of a mean streak, or they’re not. It’s good to know where you stand, what kind of fighter you are. Have you been in fights? Real ones? Do you think you’ll be prone to second-guessing yourself in the middle of a response to aggression? Training is fine, but a bit of hard living in a tough neighborhood or front-line unit is better.

    And then there’s the untrained middle-aged woman who just pulled the .357 out of her purse and shot the bastard. A lesson in the relevance of personality and simplicity.

    Nobody ever became a partner in a good firm or an admiral in the US Navy while devoting so much f’g time to what-if self-defense ruminations every time they entered a room or plaza. If you have a gun and can use it….and you have no better option under the visible facts…then use it. If you don’t have a gun, flee to cover, to concealment, or to the next neighborhood. If you can’t flee, then hit the bastard with something or use the unfair fighting skills you actually have some command over.

    I’m not sure I’d call improvising or shooting skills frangible, meaning brittle. They degrade a bit, but they’re still there, unshattered. My experience is that people operate on automatic when physical-threat trouble comes. I know I have. Sure, if you have five minutes to think, you can calm down and get clever, but that’s a damned rare defensive situation. You’ll be “gun and done” in seconds. If it’s a mano-a-mano, you’ll be punching, gouging, squeezing balls, and so forth…for twenty or thirty seconds at most. You either win or lose.

    I think the main issue is determination to prevail, before a fight even happens. Fight or Flight is a very healthy adaptation in animals, including human animals. Just as you need to know “when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em,” you need to know when the best thing to do is run. Running successfully isn’t a failure to prevail. It’s prevailing by other means, in relation to the punk trying to take you down. How fast and far can you run?

  9. “Don’t think! Feel. It is like a finger pointing the way to the moon…don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”

  10. I think there are some basic skills or sequences that can be applied to most possible fluid situations,
    that can be discussed and practiced in advance, ideally with significant others.

    Training to draw and shoot while moving, or from a kneel behind cover, etc. once you have the basics down at square range, covers a lot of the ONCE THE THREAT IS IMMINENT, but you should practice what to do to GTFO, first.

    On hearing gunfire, crouch or drop to floor, to assess the situation, and direction of the threat.
    Wingmen look all around but follow the leader.

    Quickly move to cover and/or best exit, or defendable hiding spot, from threat.

    Move with hand on holster until ready to draw, with those you are defending, moving close behind you.
    (so you aren’t shot by the first responders, or if they do, you will shield them).

    Once clear, call 911, if possible to give descriptions and locations of the threat, and your own id, movement.

    Drop weapon immediately when ordered by first responders in uniform.
    Be prepared to be handled roughly and do exactly as told until they identify you as NOT a threat.

    • “On hearing gunfire, crouch or drop to floor, to assess the situation, and direction of the threat.”

      This is the exact thing that I am talking about. You have a preplan. No matter what happens, you will probably drop to the floor, because that is what you have programed yourself to do based on some invented scenario.

      What if the actual events require immediate action, but instead you drop to the floor? You have now wasted several seconds and require a completely new thought process in order to react. You have now lost several valuable seconds which could mean the difference between survival or not.

      My point is to know your options at all time, and make a real plan based on the real situation and do it FAST.

      • In the Active Shooter class I took at NRA HQ, they analyzed several incidents, including, the mall in Kenya, the theater shooting in CO, the Newtown school shooting and others. The showed floor plans of where the intended victims where, what the shooter did, what the intended victims did, who died and where they died and who survived.

        It was very clear that those who “hit the floor” immediately had a much higher survival rate than those who didn’t. Another consistently successful survival strategy included moving quickly and immediately, away from the gunfire, keeping as low as possible. Yet another successful strategy was barricading, with the caveat that the barricade had to be effective. Knowing how to effectively barricade a room takes a plan. There are right and wrong ways to do it.

        Were all these “plans” 100% effective? No. But they were consistently highly effective. Most people who got shot in the these incidents did nothing. They were frozen by fear, not knowing what to do. If they had had a plan, more of them would have lived. It is a very exceptional person who can make up and execute an effective plan on the spot.

        Just like fire exits and fire drills, Active Shooter plans may on rare occasions lead people in the wrong direction. But we have them because the vast majority of the time, they increase survival, especially among people who are not trained tacticians, which is most of the people in the world.

  11. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/James_Mattis

    – Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.

    – I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all.

    http://www.military.com/special-operations/seal-training-fighting-tips.html

    Violence of action means the unrestricted use of speed, strength, surprise, and aggression to achieve total dominance against your enemy. I’m repeating this to drive home the concept that any fighting technique is useless unless you first totally commit to violence of action. Don’t be afraid to hit first, and when you do, hit hard. Remember, you are fighting because this is the best and only option. Pull the trigger — because you are in a battle for your life! Your instincts, assessment, and situational awareness have told you that you are in mortal danger. You don’t know the other person’s intentions fully, and you never can. What you can do is survive — it is your right to not be killed or harmed by another person. As with most things survival-related, fighting has its own set of priorities that need to be addressed at lightning speed.

    1. Protect your face.
    2. Stay on your feet and keep moving.
    3. Hit hard.
    4. Haul ass (a.k.a. get off the X.)

  12. Sometimes these convoluted posts make me think of the olde lady with absolutely zero tactical training who still manages to defend herself with a firearm.

      • Maybe I’m just thoroughly tired, and I shouldn’t be posting anymore, but I found this article confusing. Perhaps it should have been titled “Have a Flexible Plan” or “Your Plan Is Probably Gonna Change Because Murphy’s Law Is A Pain In The Ass.”

        I mean no disrespect in saying that, and I appreciate your discipline to carry multiple guns. Choices like that give Murphy much less room to operate.

        • A flexible plan means you wasted valuable time going down the list. Think about the VA Tech shooting. What if your plan was “if a gunman comes in shooting, I know where the nearest exit is so I am going to run toward the doors and get out”. Only, you find a chain lock around the door and now you are cornered.

        • Or that nearest exit has an armed criminal standing in it. Flexibility, it applies to more than plans and yoga!

        • We may be getting into a semantic argument here but my take on “flexible” here means you know exactly what you are going to do in a given situation but when the situation is not one you foresaw, or it is exactly what you envisioned but your planned course of action has been preempted, then you have to be flexible to change course. No shit. What choice do you have? Now you are reacting so what was so wrong with starting off reacting? As far as the Yoga thing goes, that is usually a routine and you transition from pose to pose. There is nothing routine about survival in an attack. Learn how to run. Learn how to fight. Learn how to hide. Where and when to do the above should be determined only at the time it is needed. Of Mice and Men.

        • Its not a given situation. It is a sh*t storm that popped out of no where, no matter how situationally aware you are. Sh*t happens. Believing you can have “a plan” in your head to deal with every situation that could possibly occur is hubris of the WORST kind. Please. Take this from a man who has had the best planned shit go sideways on 2 different continents. Sh*t. The. F**k. Happens. And flexibility is not just something you worry about while having sex or after slipping on an icy sidewalk.

        • Yea, I just have to take every opportunity to try and break people out of the “I can plan for everything in life” mind set. It leads to complacency and rigidity of thought.

          I tend to get snarky/sarcastic on subjects I find myself having to repeat, and this “a plan for everything” thang is one of them. At the last large group shoot I was on we spent half the afternoon on this, and at the end of it I was left with a bunch of very smart career oriented type people sticking to the answer “Yes, but,,,,,”. It is singularly frustrating.

        • Those type of people can’t function without a plan.
          In my line of work, the thought process has been nearly completely removed from the operation. You do A, B, C then standby for another assignment where you will follow these steps precisely. The problem is, there are too many variables that disrupt this plan. Weather being one and the nature of human beings being another. Not to mention equipment malfunctions or the big one…Information Technology failure. When TSHTF at work…I go to work. I have been at my position for 28 years so I have been there before all the technological upgrades came along. These upgrades have certainly helped speed up the industry however when it goes down, no one hired after 2000 can function. I work better with a goal…not a plan. My company went from “Here is what we want to achieve” to “Here is how we want you to achieve this”. You can fail to do your task but as long as you followed procedure, you will get a pat on the back. I may stray from the plan to work around a system failure and meet or exceed customer expectation, then receive a reprimand in written form.

        • One of my nephews was among the first into Afghanistan, and he told me of the rising flood of hysteria that accompanied the wave of electronic toys crapping out. People easily get locked in to “a plan” mindsets and it is damned hard to get them out of it. When the fire flies both ways it is amazing how much easier it is.

  13. Like every soldier that has entered the battlefield I plan to survive. The older I get the slower I get and I have the fluidity of the Tin Man before Dorothy oiled his joint but I still plan to defend myself.

  14. If shit hits the fan and you don’t have a plan, you will need to make one. It might be simple, but you will have to take the time to make one, and that’s time you may not have.

    Having a plan is always good. Just don’t make it too complicated and don’t be afraid to change it. But not having a plan isn’t a good plan.

    • Are you on Mr. Kenik payroll or are you his pro bono acolyte?

      At best, you can say that his advice is poorly transmitted or you could say that after receiving fire from those who understand planning he “improvised, adapted, and overcame” by modifiy his views to fit reality.

        • How childishly predictable.

          Either Mr. Kenik mispoke in a poorly written article and failed to properly communicate his ideas or he doesn’t know what he is talking about. I have enough respect for him to give him the benefit of the doubt because everybody has an off day.

          You on the other hand never have an on day.

  15. Again. Still. Stop over thinking. Being situationally aware is key. Being determined not to be a victim is more important than having a rigid, set in stone plan for every single scenario you can try to imagine.

    It is the same as driving in heavy traffic, you don’t have a plan of action for every single other vehicle around you. You remain aware of what is happening around you and respond accordingly. Right up to the point some a$$hole blindsides you. It happens. Having the mental flexibility to handle the situation you find yourself in is key.

  16. If you can’t go hands on with out resorting to bashing in someone’s head upon initial contact, the question you should ask is,”do I need to refocus some of my training energy/time/dollars?”
    Seems like everybody wants to deal with the gunfight, no one takes time to learn how to handle an agrresive drunk. Or retard.

  17. An agitated paranoid schizophrenic is a mobile disaster looking for a place to land. Your first task is to go on full-alert without giving any outward sign of alarm. You don’t want to set the guy off so it’s not a good idea stare at him, make comments, etc. This is especially hard to accomplish when you are with adolescents, especially young girls, who are usually completely naive about this kind of danger. If the guy’s pacing and getting closer, quietly get up and leave.

    Or. Sometimes we can’t do that. Rather than “have a plan” it’s better to ask yourself this simple question: do you know how to fight? If the answer is “yes” then your light years ahead of people who answer “no”. It’s often the people who can’t fight or don’t know how to fight, that get into trouble.

    Finally: A napkin despenser? Really? Robert, why weren’t you carrying a knife?

  18. You did “frangible” for “fungible” again – and in more than one place. Let’s recap.

    “Frangible” means “can break into little bits [and is supposed to]”. It’s close to “fragile”, but not quite the same because of that “supposed to” part.

    “Fungible” is something completely different. It means that something is fairly general purpose and interchangeable, so it can be switched from one use to another without much trouble. Money is fungible, spouses usually aren’t.

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