Speed is considered of primary importance in defensive and tactical studies, and it is, of course, a significant element. It is the significant element in many situations. But often we place emphasis on the wrong kind of speed…
Shot timers, so we can determine just how fast it is you draw from concealment to shots in an A zone…or which shooter finished a course of fire first and by how much.Shaving off tenths of a second becomes the goal.
Then, we are taught mantra such as “speed, surprise, and violence of action” and the paradoxical almost Zen-like “slow is smooth, smooth is quick.”
And when asked “how fast do we move?” The chorus returns with “Only as fast as we can accurately shoot.”
How about “only as fast as we can accurately think.”
The problem with speed as a defining factor is that in skills training, it is usually completely divorced from conditions. And knowing conditions, as the warrior-artist Musashi used to say, is important. When the only thing is to get the gun out and get fast, accurate rounds on target, there is nothing to slow us down.
When the thing is to get inside a building, find a shooter in and amongst a few dozen people, get the gun up and engage the shooter (while not mistaking a good guy for the shooter), not hitting anyone around the shooter, or anyone behind the shooter, and while getting shot at by the shooter..things become a bit more “conditional,” don’t they?
How fast can we move before we start making mistakes? Not before we start missing a target, but before we start mistaking our target? How fast can before we don’t even see the target altogether, moving right past it to show it the back of head? How fast before we fail to make critical observations in our environment?
Tactical mistakes can be sorted through in the moment, for sure. Piling on of tactical mistakes one after the other can have a cascading effect until eventually the pile may be too big to work out from under.
The way to progress is through training. But doing so in ways that add more ambiguity, more complexity, and more variables that force us to adapt fundamentals to a wide variety of conditions in which things aren’t always as they seem.
To learn to move fast enough that we can “take a second,” and not simply to shave the seconds off until there is time only to act, and not enough to think.