Cultivating the Kill Switch

The real world as the combatives litmus test 

By Tony Blauer  |   Mar 7, 2017

What needs to happen for you to flip the switch? With all the memes floating around social media these days, you’d think its as simple as ‘mantra, mindset or motto.’

It’s not.

Everyone seeks the Holy Grail move. We all want to believe in the magic move or the secret technique. And every system develops an unconscious bias. Every. Single. One. (Mine too.)

But there must be a congruent connection between multiple factors for there to be a complete victory. Winning the physical fight is not enough.

Legal: Your decision must be congruent with the danger.

Moral and Ethical: The decision must be congruent with your own moral and ethical makeup.

Procedural: Are the use of force policies and tactics congruent with the scenario at hand?

The Reframe

1. Violence doesn’t care what martial art or DT system we study.

Therefore, the actual movement you choose must be congruent with the danger, the fear, and the aggression. It also must be functional in a confined space.

2. The litmus test would be what we see, not what we believe.

Acknowledging the idea of an ‘unconscious bias’ allows you to assess your training against what really happens during a true violent encounter. Self-awareness improves situational awareness. (For more on this, reread the “Theory of Presumed Compliance”).

Bottom line: Your arena isn’t the mat room or the ring.

Study real violent encounters. Do you see technique on either side? Do you see technical martial movement? (Me neither.) The litmus test is real life. And this is where many “systems” fail.

The myopic fixation on technique prevents the defender from seeing, thinking, and moving tactically in the reality that has been delivered.

I reverse engineer all our training. I only look at the bad-guy. I study how the enemy moves. I then create all drills and counters to address the opponent’s behavior. This makes training moral, ethical, and legal. It also makes it scenario-specific and very effective. Our system is simply the study of human movement as it relates to violence, fear and aggression. It is not a style. Nor is it a martial art.

When it comes to real-world violence, we cannot confuse technical with tactical. And in a real fight, make no mistake, we must be tactical. As I’ve said before: Be careful what you practice you might get really good at the wrong thing.

It’s not who’s right, it’s who’s left.

Stay safe and train hard,


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Tony Blauer
Tony Blauer is one of the world’s leaders in the research and development of scenario-based training for the military, law enforcement and self-defense communities. He’s best known for the development of the SPEAR System, an evidence-based defensive tactics program built around human physiology, physics and psychology. He also developed 'High Gear', the world's first impact reduction scenario-training suit. Mr. Blauer and his team are available for seminars and he can be reached at [email protected] If you're new to SPEAR, click here:
Tony Blauer

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