Why did the Fairbairn and Sykes Method Fall Out of Favor?

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

To answer this question we really need to look at the historical context of it all. The Fairbairn and Sykes method (FAS) was the predominate fighting system of WWII. It had a long history as a very successful fighting system from the very early 1920’s and was used by some of the very best gunfighter’s to ever live. This was a very well-rounded fight focused system that was built around the typical physiological responses of a life threatening confrontation. It took many aspects of fighting into consideration and led to a very well-rounded and versatile fighter. This system was adopted, adjusted, and copied by other Instructors such as Rex Applegate, who brought its use to America.

At the end WWII, the men that saved the world put away their guns and came home. The vast majority had zero interest in using their weapons any longer and simply wanted to start families and reap the benefits of their sacrifices. The information from the use of the FAS system and the experience that was gained from the successful application of the methodology was something that was simply dropped and nearly lost.

In the early 1950’s, Western television shows began to dominate the entertainment scene. Men began to be fascinated by the whole “quick draw” aspect of the shows…..which naturally led to the men beginning to pick their guns back up as a form of entertainment and competition. In the 1950’s Col. Cooper began to run “leather slap” contests out of Big Bear, California. The competitions were a man-vs-man contest of speed and accuracy. The context of the competition was typically seven yards on 9 inch plates or balloons. Hip shooting as taught inside of the FAS system, within the “quick draw” context of the western TV shows were the main focus inside of these competitions. Speed was often prioritized above accuracy, because of the coolness factor inside of the “quick draw” aspect of the competition. Of course this led to less than stellar performances, because the context of the competition was not really correct for the necessary accuracy at the distances that the competitions were taking place.

Jack Weaver was one of these competitors. One day he wondered if, if he took the time, bought the gun up to the line of sight, and got on his sight whether he could improve on his performance inside of these competitions. As he dedicated himself to this new strategy to win the competitions, he steadily rose to the top-tier of the shooters. As always, Col. Cooper noticed this successful change in strategy and included it in his codifying of “The Modern Techniques.”

This form of shooting became the direction that the vast majority of the competitors went and became the status quo.

As we sit back here in 2014 and Monday morning quarterback this change in strategy, it is clear to us that the FAS system and its “hip shooting” was the incorrect application of skills inside of the context of the competition. It was not the system that failed, it simply was not the best way to achieve success inside of the context of the competition.

For a good 50 years “The Modern Techniques ruled the roost inside of firearms training and competition shooting. As in most things that involve men and their egos a certain dogma became attached to the methodology. This dogma took on a life of its own and nearly wiped the FAS system off the face of the map. But there were still a few men out there that understood “the context of the fight” and took on the dogma to make sure that this combat proven system was not lost to the world.

On 9/11/2001 the world changed and we were thrust into a time period of war that surpassed all other wars fought by Americans. Soon we were kicking in doors and fighting from house to house……just like we did in WWII. All of the lessons from the past came flooding back. The younger men were thinking that they had discovered something new about fighting inside of this context, but the old timers understood that they had seen this before and that in reality, there is nothing new under the sun.

The men that were fighting the dogma were now joined by the men that were fighting “house to house.”

It is clear to me that the FAS system fell out of favor due to the fact that competition had become the focus and that the context of the FAS system had not been needed in the Korean and Vietnam wars at the levels of “the global war on terrorism.”

“What is old is new again!”

Sure, the technology has changed, but the concepts established inside of the FAS methodology are now seen as what they are…..a very well-rounded, combat proven fighting system, that takes the physiological effects of a life threatening encounter into consideration. The integration of the old and the new has taken on a much more significant role in regards to fighting,

It is good that the attempt to wipe the FAS system off of the face of the earth was not successful…….but man were they close! The world has changed dramatically. What I specialize in used to be seen as heresy, now it is much more accepted, and quite often copied.

The Learning Progression

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts


As in anything there is a learning progression, it is no different in regards to firearm skill sets. Many of us started shooting, plinking, and hunting when we very young and were taught the fundamentals of safety and marksmanship by our fathers and grandfathers. This got us by for many years and we were able to hit whatever we wanted to hit. Many Americans have done very well with these types of skills while protecting themselves inside of their homes and businesses, as is demonstrated in the NRA “Armed Citizen.” This is often done with nothing more than an old shotgun or revolver that has seen very little range time. This entry-level skill set would cover the vast majority of the American gun owning public.


The next level of the learning progression usually comes due to an “event”. This event can be a million different things. It could be something that happens to you personally, to a loved one, to an acquaintance, to a fellow countryman, something you simply read about, or a lone decision due to changes in your life style or responsibilities. My event was as simple as a realization of the hazards of being out in the wilderness with a beautiful wife and three young children. Whatever the event is, there was a conscious decision that you just do not know as much as you should about the use of a firearm to protect yourself or your loved ones. This realization is usually followed by some sort of training. Many people will seek out basic firearm self-defense training, as is offered by the NRA or the local range. This moves us past the “plinking or hunting” concept and gets us thinking about the possibility of using a gun against a two-legged predator. Often this leads to some form of “Concealed Carry Permit.” For many, this is a huge step…. so huge that this is where they stop. They now have the same basic fundamentals and safety as the entry-level group, but they have taken on the decision that they “may” be willing to use their firearms against a human being. The legal discussions during this type of training, usually leads to two distinct groups. The first, being the group that is scared to death about ever having to use these new-found skills. The second is the group that realizes that they have a whole lot more to learn.

The instruction required to reach this level is very important, yet at the same time extremely limited.


For some people, while they are learning the fundamentals of self-defense, they find that there are many unanswered questions. The realization that they have only scratched the surface becomes more and more apparent. They can see the growth in themselves and the fact that there is still so much more information out there. The legal discussions have raised many concerns. The realization that they do not know what they do not know has led them to the decision to get more training. As they search and question, they discover that there are people out there that will teach them everything that they would like to know. They begin to hear about and learn of businesses that specialize in “Tactical Training.” These courses are set up in a manner where you progress through the curriculum as your skill/knowledge level progresses. These courses cover a wide variety of topics and it becomes a virtual smorgasbord of what you want to know and what you feel that you need to know. This is the point in your learning where you have the most options available to you. This is the place where you pick up the majority of your skills/techniques and spend the most money. This is where you find out if you are a training junkie or just a casual learner.


”Force on Force!” This is where the rubber meets the road! This is where the skills that you have picked up either fail of succeed in the crucible of FOF. This is where you find out exactly what needs to be discarded and what heeds to be honed. This is the point where you decide what is best for you and your particular situation. Here is where you find that the situation dictates strategy, strategy dictates tactics, tactics dictate techniques, and techniques should never dictate anything. Here is where you find out if you are well-rounded, versatile, and have your bases covered. This is the point where you discover that nothing will ever be the same. Your thinking moves from techniques to concepts. This is an absolute vital portion of your learning that can not be passed up on if you ever want to reach the next level of the learning progression.


To be a master is very different from being an expert. Experts know everything…..masters know the same things but only uses what is necessary. By mastery, you have now trimmed down your self-defense plan to only the most useful and successful concepts. All other techniques or skills that did not hold up in the crucible of FOF have been dropped. You have tailored your self-defense plan to your exact situation, with full knowledge of your strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. Mastery now becomes a living, breathing, growing entity. It must be fed, played with, nurtured, and grown. New concepts need to be added and tested. Mastery should never become stagnant.

Mastery will continue to evolve due to the fact that our situation will continue to change. As we begin to age our strengths, weaknesses, and limitations will change. Our strategy and tactics will have to adapt to these situations. These changes will be constant and adjustments will need to be continually made.

An Inclusive Approach to Movement, Chapter 9

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Inside the fight continuum there are a number of other continuum’s or concepts. There is a reactionary concept, the take off concept, the movement concept, the retention concept, the draw stroke concept, the sight concept, and the grip and trigger concept.

React as you need to react, take off as the need to take off, move as you need to move, draw as you need to draw, deal with the retention problem as you need to deal with the retention problem, see what you need to see, and work your grip and trigger as you need to work them……. within the context of the specifics of the fight. This is very straight forward and simple, yet each of these are intertwined. Each works in conjunction with the other and each has an effect on the other. The dynamics of the fight will be dictated by your position in the reactionary curve, the proximity of the threat, and the urgency of the situation. How you deal with the specifics of the fight will depend on your mindset, experience, training, and skill level.

When it comes to training and skill level, I believe that we should strive to be as well-rounded and versatile as possible, to understand the fight continuum thoroughly and to cover as many bases as possible within that continuum. There needs to be a priority set on “the most likely situations.” But training should not stop there. We have already discussed the reactionary concept in great lengths. The next concept that we are going to look at is the movement concept. Necessary movement is all about the perfect balance of “to hit and to not be hit.” The higher the chances are of being hit, the more you should move. On the other hand, the lower the chances are of being hit, the less you should move. I have broken the skill sets into five categories.IMG_1113

Stand and Deliver is the entry-level skill set, this is where you nail down your fundamentals. You should have “stand and deliver” skills down cold to truly excel in the skill sets that follow. This form of movement works very well inside of the proactive gun fight and  from the dominant position. Stand and deliver can also be a very advanced tactic, employed by truly exceptional men. Many very good men have made it home after some very tough nights using a stand and deliver skill set…. a few of them I know personally. One should not discount this skill set when it is used within the correct context of the fight. Knowing exactly who you are within that context of the fight may allow for you to accomplish things that are simply not possibly for the majority of people who carry guns on a daily basis. There is no doubt about the importance of “stand and deliver” skills. I have spent thousands and thousands of hours on this skill with hundreds of thousands of draw strokes. If I chose this solution to the problem, that skill will be there. If you are in ahead in the reactionary curve inside of a fight, focus on your marksmanship and dominate the fight with well paced shots with solid ballistic effect. Movement degrades accuracy ,only move when the perfect balance “to hit and to not be hit” dictates that you move.


Controlled movement is an intermediate skill set, which would include many of the skill sets that are commonly taught inside of the Modern Techniques. They include “just walk,” “the side step,” (crab walk) and “the Groucho” (duck walk.) Controlled movement has it place when the urgency is not very high and the proximity/distance requires more precise shooting (sighted fire.) Controlled movement is designed to allow for the use of the sights, everything is smoothed out as much as possible in order to be able to achieve a sight picture. This smoothing out process leads to a very slow form of movement and these slow speeds need to be accepted for what they are. Inside “the balance, to hit and not be hit” controlled movement priority is more toward making the hit. The ability for an adversary to track you and put hits on you does not require a high skill level. It is my opinion that controlled movement is best when used outside of seven yards or when the difficulty of the shot requires some form of precision.

The “just walk” concept is an entry-level movement concept in my opinion. While it does work well marksmanship wise, the speed potential is extremely lacking. Due to the upright nature of the movement, there is very little “smoothing out” potential, so the ability to use the sights is very much dictated by the slow pace of the movement. I have real concerns about this upright nature. It does not take into consideration the physiological effects of incoming rounds and the body’s natural desire to make itself a smaller target.

The “side step” is a decent form of movement that is designed for specific situations. The number one situation would be geared towards the use of a ballistic vest. By staying squared up to the adversary, one is able to get the ballistic plate in the front of your body. The second situation is for the use of a stable two-handed shooting platform. We must accept the fact that many people have very limited skill sets. They only know how to shoot in this single manner. It is my opinion, that without the use of a ballistic vest, the side step is a “lowest common denominator” type of movement.

The “Groucho” is a very high quality form of controlled movement. The application of the lowered base, the bent knees, the rolling off of the heel/toe, in conjunction with the turret of the tank concept leads to a very nice skill set that dove tails perfectly with the dynamic movement concepts. It puts to use the exact same concepts, with the ability to give outstanding precision. This type of movement has your upper body working independent from your lower body, “like a turret of a tank.” Toes point the direction you are headed, body turreted the direction that you are shooting. This type of movement brings your ambidextrous skills into play. Shooting to the firing side can be done two-handed to a certain point, eventually you need to go one-handed. The possible speed out of this type movement can cover the full spectrum, but the faster you move the less ability you are going to have getting to your sights. This form of movement also works perfectly with the physiological desire to make yourself a smaller target when you are taking incoming rounds.

ARG Feb 26-27_2011 054

Move/stop/shoot/move is another form of movement that can be use outside of seven yards and when cover is not readily available. I see this as low priority skill set, but one that can be employed effectively if used in conjunction within “the rifleman rule of three” (I’m up, he sees me, I’m down.) This skill set is often advocated by those that simply do not own “point shooting with dynamic movement” skill sets. Since they are limited in their knowledge base and skill level, this is the very best that they can do. If you find yourself to be a limited to a squared up, two-handed shooting platform, this may be one of your limited options. If this applies to you, I would highly recommend that you seek out some form of training that releases you from the confines of that tight little box. This form of movement does not do well inside of a reactive gunfight inside of seven yards.

Dynamic movement is a high quality and high priority movement skill set. This is where you will most likely find yourself when you are behind in the reactionary curve, the proximity is close and the urgency is high. This type of movement really works well when you are behind in the reactionary curve, in conjunction with your point shooting skill sets. The use of high level point shooting skills takes this skill set well beyond what has been considered possible in the recent past. The body mechanics of this form of movement is nearly identical to the Groucho, the combat crouch, the PekitiARG Feb 26-27_2011 026  take off, and huge number of extremely athletic base movement principles. The lowered base, the bent knees, the rolling heel/toe, and the toes pointed the direction that you are headed, in conjunction with an extremely fast turn over takes the dynamic movement skill set to an extremely advanced level. Since 2001, the advancement of this skill set has been one of my primary focuses. My student base now, makes what most people believe to be impossible, seem ordinary.

“Get the heck out of Dodge” movement is simply sprinting to cover without engaging until you are behind cover. This has its place, especially inside military applications where distances are usually greater and long guns are the primary weapons. Its use by a civilian defender is becoming less and less desirable due to the huge advancements in the art inside of the dynamic movement skill, sets since 2001. If cover is a couple of yards away…..by all means get to it! But do not die trying to get to something that is just too far away, without making your adversary consider their own mortality.

On Being “Inclusive” Chapter 8

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

It is impossible to look at one aspect of the fight without looking at the intertwined skill sets that make up an effective and efficient response to a lifeIMG_9079 threatening encounter. The specifics of these life threatening encounters can loosely be described as the situation. The situational elements have been pretty well laid down in the past. They are as follows;

Who Are You?

The single most important factor inside of the “situation” equation is YOU! This is the one known variable. This is the one variable that you have complete control of. This is the one variable that has (or should have) received the most thought and preparation.

What is your mission? What is your strategy? What is your mindset? Who are you to your very core (genetically?) How much experience do you have100_3542 in violent confrontations? What is your training level? What is your skill level? How old are you? How big or strong are you? What level is your athleticism? What are your strengths and weaknesses? These are all questions that we need to ask ourselves and answer truthfully, without ego. These are the questions that will give you the answer to the most important questions of self defense…..”What do I really need?”

Position in the Reactionary Curve

This position is all dictated by who has the initiative and to what extent do they have the initiative. You can be proactive, you can have equal initiative, you can be reactive where you are behind in the reactionary curve, you can be way behind in the reactionary curve, and everything in between. The average time that it takes for someone to react is around .25 of a second. If you are in a truly reactionary mode .25 of a second is really the very best that you can hope for. A quarter second is an eternity in a gun fight. Your position in the reactionary curve has a huge effect on your options during movement, draw stroke, aiming, and grip/trigger.

Criminals are not always stupid. They usually want what they want and they want it in the easiest manner as possible. They cheat! They lie, deceive,100_3639 distract, and wait for the perfect opportunity to attack, in order to gain the initiative. They understand initiative and use it to dominate the encounter so they can get what they want as easily as possible. We must understand that we will most likely be behind in the reactionary curve……..because if we are not (due to awareness)…..then we will most likely be deselected.


Distance is key, every aspect of fighting is dictated by distance. It does not matter if it is H2H, knives, guns, artillery, etc, etc distance considerations dictate the best strategy, tactic, and technique. Distance equals time! In a gunfight, distance will dictate whether you have to go “hands on” first, whether you have to concern yourself with retention so that you do not hand your adversary your gun, whether you can go to full extension, or whether you just “Get the heck out of Dodge.” Distance also has a huge effect on your options during movement, draw stroke, aiming, and grip/trigger.

Criminals use the distance to dominate the encounter. They get in close, because they understand that distance equals time also. The less distance, the less time, the more likely that they will get compliance from the victim.

The Threat

This one factor can be the most difficult to ascertain. Correct threat identification is not a “cut and dry” proposition. What appears to be the threat may only be a portion of the actual threat. More and more, bad guys travel and work in packs. It is a very common tactic for the bad guys to have accomplices that are not initially seen. Keep this in mind and do not allow yourself to tunnel vision in on one aspect of the fight. Take care of the primary threat with the knowledge that there is most likely a second or third threat. Once the primary threat is taken out of the fight, immediately turn your focus to the probability/possibility of additional threats.

Situations dictate strategy, strategy dictate tactics, and tactics dictate techniques.

6874balance_scaleAs we look at these realities, it is plain to see that the focus on the “proactive” gunfight in the past 50+ years was an “exclusive” approach to training. It excluded the fact that we are all different and that we bring different strengths/weaknesses to the table. It excluded the fact that our mission or strategy was very different from that of law enforcement or military application. It worked under the myth that awareness, along with stand and deliver sighted fire was all that you would ever need. It worked under the myth that the threat would be obvious and easily handled without any concern with “The Balance, to hit and not be hit.”

By being inclusive and understanding that situation is the dictating factor, we can pick and choose the very best strategy, tactics, and techniques for the specific situation. By owning skill sets, that make up fluid concepts, that cover the a more complete fight continuum we are in a much better position to fight the fight…..no matter what it is. Learn the fluid concepts, work the fluid concepts with the correct context of the fight in mind, and ingrain the fluid concepts through mental imagery of the situation. When you need the best solution to a specific situation, the response will be there at the subconscious level.

Be inclusive! Understand that everything has its place inside of the fight continuum. Work it all while taking common sense into consideration and prioritize your training to “the most likely” situations. When the pressure is really on, the most logical response will be happening before your conscious mind has even had the chance to have gotten into the fight.

A quarter second is all the time in the world, if it is your final quarter second. Put in the work to be the very best you can be inside of that quarter second. This goal can not be reached without being inclusive and without putting in the work.

The Balance: “To Hit and To Not Be Hit!” Chapter 7

By Roger Phillips, Owner of Fight Focused Concepts

Since 2001, there has been some very nice work done in the arena of the “reactive” gunfight. This had largely been a forgotten/missing piece of the puzzle. As we have worked on bringing this piece of the puzzle back to the forefront, many exciting, effective, and efficient methods have been discovered, or more aptly rediscovered. These less well know methods have caught many people’s attention and the study of the reactive gunfight has taken on a growth at an exponential rate. The excitement at this growth and the wealth of knowledge that has come out of it has led to some of the very best training courses that the private sector has ever offered. These courses have raised the reactive gun fighting skill sets to a status that will never allow for them to be forgotten again. With such great success and focus, the reactive gunfight skill sets have taken a very predominant role inside of the training industry. The amount of change that I have witnessed since 2001 is simply astounding.

As soon as we became comfortable with our new-found training philosophy, Murphy reared his ugly head. With the recent cases of mall shooting and church shooting, along with the threat to see even more of this type of attacks, it has become very clear that there needs to be a seamless integrationIMG_9059 between the proactive gunfight and the reactive gunfight. The focus can not just be on typical combat distance. They must include all distances, with priorities made to “the most likely.” Now, great strides are being made to seamlessly integrate the proactive gun fight with the reactive gun fight.

“Gun fighting is a thinking man’s game.” Responses to specific situations have to be firmly grounded in common sense and logic. This is what strategy, tactics, and mindset is all about.

As we look at the fight continuum, we need to understand that the “fight or flight” response is a continuum also. It is not “either/or,” it is about varying degrees of the combination of “fight or flight” to come up with the best solution to the problem. This is all about offense and defense and the varying degrees of the usage of offense and defense.

There is no doubt, that in the right place the old saying “the best defense is a good offense” is the very best solution for the problem. This is usually from an extreme dominant position or one where extreme domination of the action is the best solution, tactically and mindset wise, physically and psychologically.

The ultimate goal is to win. If winning is best achieved by taking the adversary out of the fight as quickly and ruthlessly as possible…..then just do it.IMG_9282 This is where “The Balance” swings to the offensive minded “to hit” response as the priority response that will end the fight, with you as the victor.

There are also times where the offensive minded “to hit” takes on an equal importance to the defensive minded “to not be hit.” Once again, this is probably from a dominant position or one where dominating the action is the best solution tactically or mindset wise, physically or psychologically. The biggest difference comes down to the extent of initiative that the confrontation started out with and the distances involved. Since it is not an “extremely dominant” situation “to not be hit” has to enter into the equation.

Unfortunately, there are times where we must think defensive first. “Too not be hit” takes on the predominant role, due to the fact that you must survive the initial contact before you can even get into the fight. This is where all of the recent hard work has paid off. Without nailing down the reactive gunfight there simply could not be a seamless integration of the proactive – equal initiative – reactive continuum.

FOF April 16-17, 2011 LV 065We now have everything in place. We just need to put it in its proper place. There is a definite balance between the “To hit and not be hit” concept that allows for us to have the very best solution to every situation possible.

The Fight Continuum: “The fight will be what the fight will be”

“Situations dictate strategy, strategies dictate tactics, and tactics dictate techniques.”

We must have the techniques down to cover all of the possibilities. These techniques become fluid concepts inside of the continuum’s. We must be able to access these fluid concepts, within the correct context of the fight, at the subconscious level. We must be able to apply the concepts, within the balance “to hit and to not be hit” to solve the problem by the most effective and efficient means as possible. From one inch to two hundred yards, from a dominant position, to being way behind in the reactionary curve, and everything in between. We must understand and train with visualization in “The Balance”.

A Fluid Situational Response, Chapter 6

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

In the world of the gun there are two types of responses to a life threatening event. The first and most popular is the conditioned response. A few examples of conditioned responses would be stand and deliver, the controlled pair, and to always make use of your sights. These are responses that we train into ourselves with the hope that when we are called upon, we will default to our training and this programming will save the day.

While I was learning the Modern Techniques, (MT) I constantly questioned the logic behind many of the conditioned responses. To me, there was very little common sense attached to these conditioned responses. Even as a newbie I knew that I would never fight in this manner. It went away from the reality of all of my past experiences. As I trained and trained in the MT, I always held on to the realization the MT was just going to be a foundation, a foundation that I could build my fighting style on top of.

As I progressed, I began to incorporate what I thought a common sense fighting style would entail. I began to seek out people who thought as I did. My observations were confirmed again and again by highly respected “been there done that” guys. They would write posts of their real worldPSP SLC 6-10-2010 048 experience that coincided with my experiences, thoughts, and observations. As my suspicions were verified, my training progressed into an area that relatively few people have explored. I began to embrace the second type of response, the concept of natural human response.

As I participated in and witnessed FOF encounters inside of my training , it became very clear that the vast majority of the people who trained on a regular basis, cast aside their training when the action was fast and close. They would default to their natural human response. They solved problems at a sub-conscious level. I witnessed many people doing things that they had never been trained to do. After the encounter I would talk to them about their response. Many of these students actually did not know what they had done to solve the problem. As I informed them what they had done, they would often look at me in disbelief that they reacted in that manner. This furthered my interest in the subject, which lead me to my next level of enlightenment.

I call this level fluid situational response. The concept is that you can incorporate your natural human response and your conditioned response and use them fluidly in the appropriate situation all along the fight continuum. I know some of you will say that this does not stay within the KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle, or that it does not conform to Hicks law (the more options you have, the longer it will take to access an option). IMHO this is just not so. Hicks law may apply to conditioned responses, that is why you should have a mastery of a number of essential techniques. Hicks law does not apply to natural human response. There is no lag time to access these responses. Your body will choose the solution to the problem in a microsecond at a subconscious level. Accepting this to be fact opens up a world that relatively few have explored.

My training is now geared to my fluid situational response. The response is dictated by time, distance, and where you find yourself in the reactionary curve. The position on the reactionary curve is the most important factor to your response. This is where natural human response of “fight or flight” PSP SLC 6-10-2010 058takes over. IMHO you should embrace the “fight or flight” response and train within that response. One thing to keep in mind, when it comes to firearms “fight or flight” is also “fight and flight.” The direction you move, the speed of your movement, the necessary visual input to maneuver and to comprehend the problem, the necessary visual input needed to make the hits, and the necessary visual input to recognize the situational changes in your position in the OODA loop, are all dependent on your position in the reactionary curve.

There is no doubt that at certain distances, going hands on before you access your handgun is the very best response. But for now, let’s take a look at responses that are outside of hand to hand ranges.

If you have succeeded in being ahead in the reactionary curve due to awareness, deception, distraction, or metsubushi (throw something in the face of your adversary) you are in a dominant position. Conditioned responses are excellent for this situation. Stand and deliver, sighted fire, aggressively advancing to your 12:00 are all appropriate responses.

If you find yourself even in the reactionary curve, your response will have to be different. Conditioned responses may not get the job done as well as natural human response. The fight and flight response will kick in and you will want to get out of the kill zone. Move as you draw, put hits on the adversary as soon as you can using point shooting skills, work towards getting inside of the adversaries OODA loop by your movement, ballistic effect, and acquiring his flank. Once you have turned the OODA loop in your favor, embrace your fluid situational response and shift from a reactionary position to the dominant position and eliminate the threat.

If you find yourself well behind the reactionary curve, your response will have to change even more. A conditioned response could be suicide, your best hope is a natural human response. A surprised response can be use to your advantage and you must train to be comfortable within your surprised response. Flight may override fight, because you must survive the initial contact so that you can get into the fight. Explode out of the kill zone while drawing your weapon, move to cover if near, put hits on the adversary using point shooting skills, look to turn the tide, and if the situation changes flow into the next appropriate response.

Once you embrace your fluid situational response you will go places that you never thought were possible, where your mind is the weapon and yourPSP SLC 6-10-2010 076 body and gun are simply tools that are just an extension of your mind, where everything flows with no conscious thought.

The inevitable question arises, “what is more important, to get the hits or to not get hit?” The fluid situational response helps answer that question. When you are ahead of the reactionary curve, it is more important to get the hits. You are in the dominate position….ELIMINATE THE THREAT! If you are even in the reactionary curve and at equal initiative, the importance is equal. Use a balance of speed (of movement) and accuracy to solve the problem. If you are behind in the reactionary curve it is more important to not get hit. Get out of the kill zone by “thinking move first.” Sprint to cover if it is near or access your handgun on the sprint and put hits on your adversary. Always look to get inside of the adversaries OODA loop and progress through your fluid situational response until you are either dominating the confrontation or have put yourself in the position to terminate the confrontation.

Individual Prioritization, Chapter 5

By Roger Phillips, Owner of Fight Focused Concepts

 “There are no short cuts, there is only the individuals priority of what they need and when they need it.”

It is my opinion that learning, training, and practicing is a never-ending process. What we have is a huge self-defense puzzle and we should be looking to acquire pieces to that puzzle in a manner that reflects a prioritization of what we need and when we need it. This can be a very difficult decision-making process because from our very first course, we realize that we know so very little. Even for guys like me that have been hunting and shooting my whole life, my first course only let me know how little that I really knew.

As we look to prioritize, we need to look at our situation. What is our mission, goal, threat level, occupation, life style, responsibility, and mindset.

What so many people do not understand is that you do not have to be an LEO or Soldier to have a high threat level. I have met a number of people, from a number of different walks of life that can articulate a very substantial threat level. This is usually from their occupation, but it can also be from their life style (where they live) and responsibility (protection of self or a loved one that is being stalked.)

I have trained with a number of people who have made the decision to train with me, to learn combat shooting fundamentals before they learned marksmanship fundamentals. Many of these people do not have the time to get to the advanced levels of combat shooting through the marksmanship path. They recognize the fact, that path would take too long and not give them what they need “right now.” They recognize that the marksmanship path does not take the physiological response of the reactive gunfight into consideration. Most of all they realize that the chances of a reactive encounter is much more likely, to their specific situation, than a proactive encounter. They are fully aware that they do still need to acquire the marksmanship skill sets. They want to have the time to make that fine motor skill happen, all the while having their “most likely” situations covered in a very effective and efficient manner.

This type of thinking, for these people, is very good to see. When I first started training (due to a high threat level occupation) I did not have the resources that are available now. There was virtually one path and that path was slow and inefficient. That training was all about reprogramming your natural instincts, abilities, and reactions out of you, replacing them with condition responses that did not take the typical physiological responses of the fight or flight response into consideration.

All I know is that I am very happy and lucky to be in the position to give these people an option that is far superior to the options that I had.

It is my opinion that nobody is in the position to direct a student on which priorities he needs to be learning, but the student himself. As Instructors, all we can do is provide information so the student can make the very best decisions, for his very personal situation.

The question then arises, how do you help prepare yourself for the best decisions possible? IMHO an honest and realistic threat assessment must be made. This means that we must educate ourselves to the threat level that we face on a daily basis. This edification can be a very large job encompassing a number of different factors and elements. As we do this we must be careful about becoming too extreme in our thinking, we mustlion1 avoid the “tinfoil hat” paranoia. As we come up with our well researched, honest, realistic, and non paranoid threat assessment, we begin to get a picture of what we need and when we need it.

Just as an example, here is a very quick list of priorities that would seem to make sense to me, inside of my very personal situation.

Mindset; Know the enemy, know the pre-attack indicators, know yourself, know the laws, have your line firmly drawn in the sand, eliminate or mitigate concerns that may make you hesitate. “He who hesitates, dies!” Get your mind right!

Home Defense; Develop a multilayered approach to home security. Become competent in quality home defense weapon systems that handle your personal situation the best. Rifle, shotgun, or handgun each tool has its place where it shines. Foster knowledge and competence in tactics. Develop the knowledge that “hunting” “clearing” or “searching” as a lone home owner is extremely risky undertaking. Prioritize securing the loved ones, taking up a fortified position, staying under the cloak of darkness, and laying in wait to engage from a proactive position.

IMG_9521Conceal Carry; Being away from home can put you in some of the very worse of positions. I consider the concealed carry skill sets as some of our most important due to the high possibility of starting the fight from behind in the reactionary curve and working through a low light situation. Get the very best training that you can find for these situations. It is my opinion that the hand to hand skill sets, integrated with the draw stroke from concealment, coupled with dynamic movement, and point shooting skill sets are the absolute core to self-defense with a handgun.

IMG_2447 For TraceHand to Hand, Edge weapons, Blunt weapons, and Improvised weapons; We should be able to defend our loved ones and ourselves with whatever may be available. The art of violence for defense is not about a specific tool, it is about making yourself the weapon. A complete weapon must be versatile and well-rounded.

IMG_0290SHTF Situations; Events such as The Boston Marathon Bombing, Katrina, Rodney King Riots, The Watts Riots, etc, etc have proven to us that things can go very wrong…..very quickly! Emergency preparedness is a must. More specialized training, such as we see offered by Dr. John Meade, Eric Pfleger, Don Robinson, and myself are very important tools to add to the tool box.

IMG_0711This is just a real quick example of honest and common sense approach to an individual’s list of priorities. They may be different from your personal list, and that is perfectly alright. We all need to come up with a personal fighting system that is built around who we are.

 There is a certain realization, about the amount of time that most of us can dedicate to one aspect of the fight. Once we look at the context of “the fight” it becomes very clear that we can not just be specialists. We must be well-rounded, we must be versatile. This does not allow us to focus on being “the best” on any one thing. Most of us are working stiffs, with families, responsibilities, and other interests. We do the best that we can do, within our busy lives, to be the best that we can be at defending our loved ones and ourselves. We must come up with a way to cover as much of the “most likely” as we can.


If we keep an open mind, if we develop an “inclusive” attitude, we can easily pick and choose common sense concepts that take care of the “most likely” at an efficient and effective level. To reach this efficient and effective level we must make compromises. These compromises need to be geared to the individual prioritization. A prioritization concept that may never allow for the individual to reach the level of the best shooters in the world……but may make him the very best that he can be within the specifics of his personal situation.