Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Jonh Boyds OODA Loop For Self Defence

John Boyds OODA Loop For Self Defence Training


The second premium model covered under evaluation and awareness is the OODA Loop. The OODA Loop is an acronym used to describe the process that we use when responding to some type of stimulus, and was formulated by Col John Boyd in the 1950’s. Boyd was a fighter pilot in the Korean war and used the OODA Loop to train pilots under him. The training resulted in a 10:1 kill ratio. Col. Boyd believed that even at a disadvantage, a competent pilot could overcome his opponent by attacking the mental process or state of mind. The OODA Loop stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act (Figure A).

Figure A:


This is the stage where an event is just beginning. We may observe a person stepping out of the shadows, a group that splits up when we come into their view, or a person seemingly following us. The process of decision making cannot even begin until there something being observed. This brings us right back to awareness, as awareness is the first major element of practicing good self protection. What is described above might go completely un-noticed if someone is engrossed on their smart phone or has their head phones in listening to music. It is better to have 360 degree environmental awareness than to be sucker punched from behind.


Assuming we are aware enough to notice something beginning to happen, the next step is orient. An example of this stage is the following : A person steps out of the shadows. Our brain would straight away determine whether or not we know them, if they appear threatening, and other things such as our position relative to theirs, as well as whether or not we are about to bump into them. These are going to be determined by the most healthy people without the need to consciously go through a list of questions. Someone properly trained may even instantly note whether the person stepping out from the shadows had anything in their hands. This level of training takes time, but is very nice to have, and worth the effort to develop.


Once the information is processed, the actual decision must be made. The brain is going to decide what to do, but the more we clutter it with information and different choices, the longer this stage of our process will last. People should be aware at this point of ‘Hicks Law’. At the basic level, Hicks Law states the more options you have, the longer it will take to decide on one. If we are able to keep it down to few choices, we will be much better off in just getting through the stage quickly. At this stage it is important to understand that there is no perfect choice, even if there seems there is.


In this stage, you have decided on an action and now you must put it into play. The single most important piece of information is that you are being attacked and you must act. It’s important to note this is not an exact science. You are testing your hypothesis and must constantly adapt and rearrange your model as the information.

Using The OODA Loop To The Advantage

Understanding the OODA Loop will allow you to use it to your advantage by making your assailant get stuck in the observe-observe-observe short circuit. In self-defence, we want to get through the OODA Loop and keep the attacker in the loop. Therefore, for example, in ESP our weapon disarms always have a strike or destruction in them. If we just use leverage and attempt to take the weapon away, the attacker can observe, orient, decide and act to pull the weapon back or fight for it. If while the attacker is observing and orienting to our defence and we kick them in the groin or finger jab them in the eye, their brain will automatically go back to observing and orienting. When they get to orienting about the strike we knee them in the groin and start the loop all over again for them. Keeping the attacker in the loop while we are on the action phase of the loop is a big step towards winning the encounter.

Watch this video for more info :

Written By ESPA Head Coach : December 2014

Monday, 30 April 2018

Womens Self Defence & Personal Safety Workshop January 2018

Women’s 3Hr Self Defence Workshop 28/01/18

The womens self defence workshop was conducted at Hornsey Town Hall in Crouch End on Sunday the 28th January.

The session commenced with the ESP coach introducing everyone to Eclectic Self Protection, how we train people, and how we improve people’s awareness, confidence, personal safety and personal security as well as a brief overview of what we were going to cover on the course, including the soft and hard skills of self protection.

We divided the class into 3 groups, and asked for feedback about how they felt self defence issues. Lots of vlauable points were made about class members.

The ESP coach did a presentation on self defence and personal safety defining 1) personal safety, 2) self protection, 3) self defence, and the differences between them.

A brief overview of self defence and the UK law was explained with relevance to 1) the perceived level of threat, 2) the appropriate and necessary response, and 3) a justifiable use of force. We also covered the criminal law act.

Moving on we discussed the main acts of intrusion and violence, and emphasised some key points.

The importance of awareness, avoidance and escape was summarised with a clearly defined explanation of Jeff Coopers Colour Codes : White, Yellow, Orange and Red.

As the course progressed we covered domestic violence in more depth, and looked at the SDF’s theory of ‘The Escape Gambit’ and its applications.

We also covered sexual harassment and sexual assaults in more depth and how to use power talking effectively as well as mentioning the devastating effects these types of attacks can have.

In addition, an explanation of how to handle basic knife threats was mentioned with emphasis on compliance, control and pre-emption.

We also looked in detail at the actual ‘physical’ or ‘hard skills’ of self defence. We practiced techniques relating to the natural weapons including the fence, defensive and offensive push, hammer fist, heel hand strike, v-strike, power slap, elbows and knees, kicks, face wash, head turn, the trip, cover and smother, releases from chokes, defence against grabs, and defences against basic knife threats.
Students were divided into pairs and practiced a selection of these techniques in a safe and controlled environment.

The hard skills section concluded with a discussion and demonstration on UK Legal Expedient / Improvised Weapons namely ‘the strobe torch’ and the ;’criminal identifier spray’. A full surprise demonstration was conducted of the identifier spray, its effectiveness, and differences from the ‘pepper spray’.

Overall it was a constructive afternoon with a big turnout of students and some great feedback was made.

(I would like to thank ASMMA-SDF, WSA & ASW for the training I received from these organisation regarding conducting this course as I had great feedback)

For a condensed down version of the women's self defence presentation please click here:


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Here is what some people said:

“I am a mother with 2 daughters, and this course was a great insight into the complexities and dangers women can face in their environment and society”

“I really enjoyed the practical hard skills of the course especially natural and simple weapons females can use”

“I learnt far more on female self defence in this workshop than training in Karate for 6 months”

“I now feel more aware and confident in my ability to protect myself if a situation ever arose”

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Adult Learners Week Martial Arts & Self Defence Workshop 2004

 Adult Learners Week Martial Arts & Self Defence Workshop 2004

Adult Learners week is a festival of learning and national celebration of life-long learning with ‘have a go’ learning events taking place in May and June every year. Fortunately, enough a martial arts and self-defence instructor was required to run a 3 hr workshop and seminar at the Peabody Trust in South London on Saturday 22/05/04. After gaining a 1st Degree Black Belt Instructorship and University sponsorship, Eclectic Self Protection's (Now) Instructor conducted the workshop. The event was planned and booked 2 to 3 months in advance by a senior sports coordinator. With plenty of marketing, advertising and collaboration between the parties involved there was a modest turnout with a good mix of men and women aged 16 above eager and hungry to go.

The session commenced with a gentle warm up including limbering up movements to introduce synovial fluid into the joints, exercises to increase blood flow and warm up the muscles such as star jumps, running on the spot, and sports specific stretching for the major muscle groups. Basic striking was taught against assailants / opponents including the front rising kick, crescent kick, lead/reverse punch, hook punch and the front kick stationary and free-direction. Stress was made on visualization and mental and physical determination to destroy your opponent.

Students were divided into pairs and more advanced striking against pads was taught with emphasis on how to use ‘elastic potential energy’ for effective speed and strength. In between pad work drills small circuits were introduced including press ups, lunges, squats, sit ups and burpees. We looked at various combinations including lead/reverse punch followed by lead/reverse hooking punch, front kick to turning kick, side kick to reverse spinning back kick, elbow strikes etc.

Students were instructed to line up and practice striking combinations against each other with maximum aggression, precision, accuracy and self-control. This included the defenders executing light blocking with palms, forearms, knees and shins in a safe and controlled environment, and with protective equipment. The roles were reversed, with the same drills been executed in free-direction format.

A small part of the session analysed how to fall safely on the floor with basic break falls including the front, side, back and foreflap which were Kuk Sool Won & Sakiado based. In addition, students were taught the four most effective strikes from a grounded position – front kick, thai kick, side kick and back kick to the low/mid and high sections of the body as well as how to execute basis takedowns with the legs against assailants. Emphasis was made on not to be on your back ‘like a dying fly’ and to stay in a mobile semi side-wards position on the ground with strong mobility and a nice striking range of movement. In addition, we also looked at how to get up safely and correctly from the floor in the fastest way whilst in a protected guard.

The second half of the class looked at kata/form application from Sakaido, Taekwondo & Kickboxing for fast, effective and dynamic self-defence. This included simultaneous blocking and striking with a note and demonstration made on how difficult it is in reality to actually block. A defence against strikes and reaction testing was role played and drilled. We also looked at the diagonal palm block, middle section outer forearm block, higher outer forearm block and palm deflective blocking combined with simultaneous striking with use of the finger-tip thrust, eye gouge, groin strike and knee strike for self-defence purposes.

Students practiced a variety of self-defence techniques against general assaults and weapon attacks including the glass bottle and blunt instruments. Stress was made on protecting the head with hands and arms whilst making attachments to the assailant and striking pre-emptively, disarming the weapon and evading to safety. Fine points were made on reacting on the back swing and striking simultaneously and putting the assailant into ESPA’s theory of ‘un-known territory’ and making use of forward striking pressure with maximum aggression. The technqiues and concepts mentioned above along with the SDF's self defence theory form the basis of Eclectic Self Protection.

The final part of the session looked at situational positioning and defence against multiple attackers which has also been ingrained into the Eclectic Self Protection syllabus. Students were divided into three’s with one person in the middle making use of the fence and verbal commands and pre-emptively striking the closest assailant and then using them as shield between themselves and the the 2nd attacker and escaping to safety. Takedowns were also introduced with more power talking drills. We also drilled a group activity where one person was in the middle with all other practitioners surrounding him/her making ‘controlled sparring’ contact with the main emphasis of the person in the middle making an attachment to the assailant, shielding themselves, and getting out of the circle and evading to safety. These group activities used concepts and drills from Geoff Thompson's BCA videos.

A gentle cool down of running around the hall followed by developmental stretching was conducted finishing with a 5 minute cool down mediation session. Students were told to meditate on 2 or 3 techniques and to visualize themselves achieving mastery and excellence. The session concluded with a talk on martial arts and self defence, and their respective differences. We concluded with a 5 minute question and answer session and some good questions were made with valuable feedback.

A big thanks to all those who attended!!

(Due to copyright and ownership of the photos taken and working on behalf of another organization I have been instructed not to upload them on the Internet so I have used other non-copyright images to replace them)

Public Comments:

“This was a fun packed session with lots of valuable tools to take home”

“I really enjoyed the blocking and striking parts of the session and it showed me actually how difficult it is to block and punch without injuring yourself”

“I have never done martial arts before and after this session I now feel more confident in how to protect myself”

“Being brittle and small I learnt some excellent techniques against bigger opponents that were applicable to female self-defence”

“The meditation made me feel much more relaxed, positive and confident about myself”


Written 2004 (Edited 2013)