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Online Situational Awareness Training

Online Situational Awareness Training

Those involved in decision-making in business and law might have heard of the OODA loop. Standing for Observe-Orient-Decide-Act, it is a methodology for treading carefully, avoiding unnecessary conflict, and winning in challenging situations by performing actions based on rational decisions. To make those decisions, one must first fully understand the situation by observation, and get to know one’s opponents’ intentions and likely actions by orientation. The four steps in the loop are:

  • Observation the collection of data through the senses
  • Orientation: the analysis and synthesis of data to form one’s current mental perspective
  • Decision: the determination of a course of action based on one’s current mental perspective
  • Action: the physical playing out of decisions.

In any conflict situation, whether physical, legal or business, the OODA cycle should be churning away and providing information for the next decision and action. It’s also a good idea to try to disrupt the opponent’s OODA cycle by acting quickly and confusingly, thus gaining a momentary upper hand that could be decisive. Strategy writer Robert Greene wrote that the OODA loop was ‘deeply relevant to any kind of competitive environment: business, politics, sports, even the struggle of organisms to survive,’ and declared himself ‘struck by its brilliance’.

The concept comes from a great military mind, Colonel John Boyd of the U.S. Air Force. This renowned fighter pilot and military strategist was known as ‘Forty Second Boyd’ for his standing bet that he could beat any opposing pilot in a dogfight, from a position of disadvantage, in under forty seconds. In later life he became a strategy consultant to the Pentagon. So he knew a thing or two about situations and how individuals and organisations should handle them.

Many people in their jobs or in everyday lives are faced with behaviours of concern. When it comes to the crunch, a balance of intelligence and toughness is required. You need techniques that work in the real world, based on understanding the physiology and psychology of a potentially violent encounter. Modern Defensive Tactics Australia teaches the OODA loop as part of its online course in Optimal Situational Awareness.

This course is taught by an academy that specialises in self-defence training, but it deals only with situational awareness and leaves the physical side of combat to other courses it teaches. Alongside OODA, it also teaches the White-Yellow-Orange-Red model of the stages of alertness, with White as relaxed and unaware (i.e. vulnerable to attack) and Red as prepared to act immediately. It’s all about ‘know your enemy’. Behavioural Analysis to gauge their intentions is a key part of the course.

The Optimal Situational Awareness course is a stand-alone course that complements the school’s video tutorials in self-defence and physical training which are available via an ongoing subscription. It is taught by Modern Defensive Tactics Australia’s Principal Instructor, Karl Thornton.