A Plan to Ride a Tiger

Vetting Your Plan

The purpose of a reaction partner is to provide a proving ground for concepts you want to test. In the late 1970s, when the army was putting together a combat shooting program for the soon-to-be Delta Force (SFOD-D), they invited “experts” from all over to offer their techniques. However, when applied to their newly constructed SAS-inspired training facility, dubbed the “Kill House”, very few of those techniques survived. It was that emphasis on a vetting process that forever separated Delta from what everyone else was doing.

Your Reaction Partner Is Your “Kill House”

In our two-day Crash Course it’s common to observe trainees over-leveraging snap-on tools (knife, baton, etc.). They attempt to employ them in unnatural ways where a simple stomp might have been preferable.

It’s often the first time someone has ever held a tool with the intent to use it on another human being (or maybe even held one at all). Consequently, they are so enthusiastic about their new labor-saving device that they try to use it for everything, every turn; essentially treating it like a magic wand instead of an ice pick. However, they recognize these kinds of errors in short order after working through the problem with a few reaction partners.

Get In Where You Fit In

You wouldn’t try to use your knee to access the eye of a standing person when you could just use your fingers. Likewise, you wouldn’t one-knuckle a person’s ribs with a knife in your fist…  you’d just reorient the tip and slot it in. When you feed ideas into your kill house, very few of them will survive. The ones that do are keepers!

No Plan Survives First Contact

In follow-on training we introduce vectors (incoming punches, kicks, swinging baseball bats, slashes, stabs, tackles, etc.). When students have a preplanned series of strikes they want to execute, they ignore the incoming vector and end up getting clocked.

This is a good thing. You want to work problems with a reaction partner until the solution presents itself. If someone really comes at you with a meat cleaver, you don’t want it to be your 1st time… you want it to be your 1,001st time.

A Plan To Ride a Tiger is NOT the Same as Riding a Tiger

In elementary school, you get the lesson first and the test after. In life, it’s the other way around. When violence is the test, very few pass/survive on their first go-around, and, if they do, the lesson is often ambiguous or misinterpreted due to small sample size and altered consciousness. Using your reaction partner on the mats allows you to take the test — and fail — as many times as necessary until you learn the lesson.


— Taylor Good

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