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The OODA Loop

OODA Loop is a concept created by USAF Colonel John Boyd. It is an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Action.

He created this primarily for helping fighter pilots get through the mental process for taking action more quickly. In the business world, "time is money" but in life-and-death situations, "time is death."

If one can minimize the time it takes to take a correct action greatly increases one's survival rate. Taking too much time or getting hung up in the Orientation Phase can kill you.

First, let's remember that we have dealt with the Observation Phase of OODA by discussing the Levels of Awareness. Being more aware of your surrounding, gets you through that phase much faster.

As I said, most people get caught up in the Orientation Phase. This is where one must filter the information collected in the Observation Phase and process it. One's ethics, morality, religious inclinations, and such have a tremendous impact on how long this phase takes. For example, if someone believes killing is always wrong, it will be extremely difficult to overcome this in a real-life situation.

Unfortunately, many people never consider how they feel about this until it is too late. Instructors should regularly help their students confront the question of whether they are prepared to injure or even kill another individual if the situation arises.

Mental imagery can be used to help one answer these questions and pre-program their minds to take action when necessary.

We have also looked at the Decision Phase with the study of Hick's Law. As you may remember, fewer decisions leads to a faster response time.

The final step is the Action Phase. If one reaches this point, strikes and/or defensive actions are taken and then the process begins again. After fighting back, more Observation is needed to determine how the opponent reacted. This information must then lead to Orientation, more Decision, and likely more Action.

The possibility exists, however, for an individual to get "stuck" at some point in the loop. If fear is not controlled, it will escalate into a "Fear Loop" which can get stuck in a repeating cycle if one does not break out of it, but more on that later...

It is also possible, for someone to get to one phase such as Orientation and decide they do not have enough information and thus go back to more Observation. This can happen at any point. It may even happen just before taking Action, thus delaying Action until more Observation, Orientation, and Decision.

It should be real obvious by this point that we must learn to get through this process as quick and efficiently as possible to survive an attack. It is also interesting to note that an opponent goes through the same process. Wanna bet who typically gets through it faster?

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