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Friday, November 26, 2010

"The Killer T's"

As I alluded to in a previous entry (PDP: Do You Have One?) I’ve held the belief that the core principle of functional self-defense (FSD) is its being holistic. And just so I’d be annoyingly redundant about it: 


Makulit ba? What am I trying to drive at? By way of analogy, let’s consider the mechanics of a simple but amazing structure: the tripod. Yes, the three-legged kind that holds-up cameras, cooking pots, and the simple wooden stools we all sit on. Moreover, the next time you go to a restaurant, notice how many fingers the waiter is using to balance the tray with the food on? Do you see a common three-prong/legs theme in all of those? 

Going with how Goldilocks succinctly put it, three (3) legs was “juuust right” since anything less definitely isn’t enough while adding anything more might just complicate the equation. More to the point though, these were three distinct points working as an integrated whole to support a greater structure. The principle is how distinct elements by themselves might not work as successfully, yet when functioning together as a whole (holistic), the desired outcome becomes significantly more achievable. 

This is where the concept of the “Killer T’s” comes in. They are regarded as killers because we get into harm's way when we fixate on any one of them singly, turning our awareness and abilities to be applied in a disparate way. This can lower our "PDP quotient" considerably.  They are Tool, Technique and Tasks.

Tool – I’ve often come across questions from well-meaning individuals wanting information who ask a variation of: “What kind (gun/knife/weapon/gadget) is good for self-defense?” While it certainly is true that being empty-handed can be a disadvantage, you also can not simply rely on said tool thinking that it will solve all your problems defensive-wise. This is like saying there’s only one magical solution for every difficulty you come across. BTW, just how reliable is that tool? Specifically under stressful or adverse conditions? Do the bad guys out there have one (maybe several already [!]) as well? 

Technique – This is an extension of the above idea but in terms of individual skill and personal attributes. Just like with tools above, the bad guys out there also have their own techniques which are constantly refined by surviving the mean streets and living a harsh existence. Think you're tough enough? This is also where we unexpectedly get into fanatic debates about “Which martial art is the best (for self-defense)?” then is being zealously defended by its students or practitioners. Frankly, that’s all academic and can quickly devolve into a "pataasan ng ihi" (pissing contest) match. 

For those with little or no empty-hand training to speak of, merely “picking up” random techniques can adversely turn them into mere self-defense “tricks.” These are usually the quick moves you learned from your dad/uncle/brother/friend. This is probably worse since merely picking-up techniques becomes no different from fruit picking. What you end up with is just an accumulation or mishmash of moves that you have not really included into your core abilities. It might come as a rude awakening or tragic shock then to realize too late that you can’t really pull off such “techniques” without the benefit of practice, dedication and mindset when trouble actually finds you.

Tasks – Lastly, this might be the most successful killer among the three. They are the minor, routine or occupational “tasks” that capture our attention and which our lifestyle patterns revolve around. Because of our gross preoccupation with what we are currently doing, say trying to dig inside your handbag for your keys in the middle of the street or busy marketplace for instance, we become oblivious to our surroundings. These tasks can also be predictable because of their consistent nature; consider for example a fairly regular schedule comprised of the daily grind of leaving for our jobs in the morning, fetching our loved-ones or children from school, then buying groceries from our suki supermarket in the early evening. Herein lies the danger since predators know when to exploit certain precise vulnerable moments (POV's) when our guard is down. It is when our attention is engrossed too much on said tasks that our defensive readiness lowers. Many pickpocket victims became a “mark” in the first place because of either being engrossed or distracted by something else, a common dynamic exploited by thieves. 

Being holistic in FSD can’t be stressed enough as we have to harness our awareness, attributes and resources in building up our overall defensive readiness. On the whole this is also why in FSD, tactics supersede techniques . . . but that’s for another entry. 

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