On Boyd at Sonshi.com


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Sonshi, if you aren’t aware, is the Japanese pronunciation of Sun Zi/Sun Tzu.

Boyd, in turn, was steeped in Sun Zi. James Holmes, a former professor of strategy at the US Naval War College, wrote an article posted here.  The article is dated, but still relevant. I’ve been delving again into these teachings as they have applied recently in some tactical stuff.

Some excerpts, with my commentary in italics:

“The combatant who was best able to adapt to an environment that was perpetually in flux, and thus to keep his opponent off-balance, would enjoy a nearly insuperable edge in battle.”

Adaptability comes from Situational Awareness (SA) wedded to ability. Both are important, but SA is more important.

Combat is “…hinged on getting your opponent in a position where he was already reacting to something you had done, then making a quick change in altitude, speed, or direction that would put you in position to make the kill. The ability to cause and react to changes – “fast transients,” [Boyd] called them – was decisive.”

Boyd was talking about air-to-air combat, but we can apply this teaching in general terms to things like position, whether in a fire and maneuver or even ground fighting context. In this realm is where skill plugs in.

Think of it as “positional maneuverability theory” and its applications to close combat should be obvious…

“In the frenzied environment of combat, whoever could observe his surroundings, orient to new circumstances, make a decision, and act most swiftly would win. The winner would sow disorientation in the loser by getting “inside” his decision cycle, thus outwitting and outmaneuvering him. Brute force was a secondary concern.”

Force and skill are part of the calculation, but again, secondary to observation and in particular orientation. A close struggle with an adversary armed with a knife is different from one with an unarmed person, is different from a struggle where one person isn’t aware the other is armed… Training strategies that do not include such variables aren’t complete.





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