Survival Principles

A few years ago, James Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response, put out a video called Survival Principles. Yeager named four principles: mindset, tactics, skill, and gear. Although I don’t agree with everything James preaches, he was on target with this video. Here is the original video.

Here is my take on the survival principles:

Mindset – I agree with James. Mindset is the least talked about principle and not just in the gun community but in a lot of martial arts circles. It’s not that the instructors don’t talk about mindset, it’s more that the talk is inadequate. I’ve mostly heard things like look around, pay attention, it’s life or death. Basically, just blanket phrases as substitutes for real discussions. Topics on mindset need to be covered in detail in order to be effective. Telling someone to pay attention doesn’t help if you don’t teach them what they are paying attention to. Likewise, telling someone it’s life or death makes things black or white, which isn’t reality. What about the gray area? Paralysis, traumatic brain injury, or loss of certain motor skills? These happen too.

Mindset is more than just situational awareness, will power, aggressiveness, etc. Mindset is also about knowing yourself. For example, I know that there is always someone bigger and badder out there. If I end up having to defend myself against that person, I have to know what I’m willing to do and what I have to accept. We all have to accept that we can’t always win. It may be better to submit than die. Don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not saying quit. Submit only until there is an opening for escape, to gain an advantage, or to create chaos. My point is that it’s the instructors job to properly prepare students for reality, not just skimming the surface.

Tactics – Tactics are more than just what allow us to land more rounds or strikes than our aggressor. Tactics are also about movement, target areas, cover/concealment, escape/evade, and of course absence/avoidance. Don’t get tactics confused with techniques or strategy. Strategy helps achieve your overall vision, the goal. Tactics are what you use to out maneuver your adversary, and techniques are what cause damage. Here is a detailed post on strategy and tactics.

Skills – Everything Yeager said applies here. I’m just going to add that the skills needed are dependent on the goals of the individual. For example, a boxers goals are different than someone who trains in Krav Maga or MMA.

Techniques – I’ve replaced gear with techniques. I find that techniques are the most discussed aspect of self-defense. How many YouTube videos are titled knife/weapon disarms, stop an attacker, or something similar? When people find out you take self-defense or martial arts classes, do they ask you, “how do you [fill in action here]?” Most techniques have too many steps to be effective or are not realistic to begin with (here is a link for evaluating techniques). I’m not saying techniques aren’t important. I’m saying there is an extent to their importance and that techniques alone won’t help. My point is that in order for techniques to be effective, the other principles need to be in play.

Remember, this is a hierarchy and mindset is the most important. Mindset alone will get you through a lot but not everything. An aggressor with mindset and good tactics is hard to defend against if you have mindset alone. The overall goal is to understand and gain realistic and proper mindset while learning efficient tactics and gaining the needed skills through practical techniques.


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