The OODA Loop

The OODA Loop in Fairbanks Alaska?


John Boyd, an air force pilot, is the founder of the OODA loop. It stands for Observe, Orient, Decision(s), Action(s). What is this and how does it relate to us?


     Boyd's idea came from a tactical mindset while being a fighter pilot. His thought was that if he could see an enemy before he was seen and execute his plan first that he had a decisive advantage.  Or, if the enemy had an advantage, disrupting the enemies thought process and stymie or disrupt their plan of attack.


     This is often referred to as the thought process of action/reaction.  You must first observe the actions and behaviors of the opponent. You then orient your body and mind to dealing with the opponent whether it be to engage or not.  This is a quick analysis. You then make your decisions about the plan and whether to execute them, change them etc. Lastly, you act upon them.  If you complete and initiate your OODA loop first the advantage is yours and vice versa.


      If the opponent has the upper hand and is executing their plan, you must disrupt it! Boyd was famous for this when training young pilots. He would place wagers, cash in hand, that he could beat any of the pilots there even if they had a decisive advantage. Many scoffed in disbelief at Boyd's claim...however, none collected the reward.  How was this possible? Simple, he disrupted their plan which caused them hesitation or pause then was able to execute his plan seizing the advantage. 


   Boyd recognized that when the OODA loop was disrupted that an individual had to start the thought process all over..from the beginning! Even when they had the advantage if he could keep them thinking and changing the situation that they couldn't formulate or reformulated their plan. Therefore, they couldn't effectively act on their plan and eventually would get frustrated and do something silly which allowed Boyd to seize the advantage. 


    This is still used today with military and police today. This can be done by physically moving, verbal judo or sensory stimulus (flash light).  This keeps the individual thinking and guessing what is happening, so they cannot focus on their plan. This gives police officers and advantage if the suspect has bad intentions.


    How this relates to us. Folks can find themselves in situations they never would have thought possible. From the parking lot of the grocery store to the workplace, we never know what people are thinking or planning. We try to have good situational awareness, but we need to be thinking on our feet as well.  When faced with that threat situation we want to make sure we have the advantage. Having the advantage is winning and fighting even or "fair" is losing.  Having the ability to keep your opponent(s) on their heels and guessing means they are not harming you! It allows you to execute your plan whether it be to engage or escape.


     Distraction techniques are often seen in jiu jitsu, boxing etc. They are meant to throw off the opponents timing and rhythm, so it essentially shuts down their ability to execute and keep them "on their heels". Work these into your training and be proficient in their use.   The best fight to the one you're never in or in the case disrupt..Train hard..stay safe...


Written by AKM Staff member “Rick”

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