In 2011 I was brought into the office of a government agency, and they told me that they were overhauling their defensive tactics program. They brought out two stacks of paper, each being around 200 pages.
The first stack was the current defensive manual. The second was the PowerPoint presentation which went with it. The head officer in charge, who at the time was just tapped by President Obama to take over the agency, said that too many of their undercover agents were being assaulted in the field, and they needed a change.
As he explained the current program, and I looked through the massive stack of pages, their problem was two fold. First, their program was too “MMA” based, obviously as it was taught by a “MMA” enthusiast who was also their Defensive Instructor.
Secondly, their current program was too complex. There was simply too much information for their agents to digest, much less come close to being effective in. As a result, I started focusing on their needs, and how we could make the program into “bite sized” modules.
Over the next six months I rewrote the entire Defensive Tactics program, including a manual and PowerPoint presentation, which I would be teaching to their head instructors.
The course was named the Defensive Response Tactics program (DRT, pronounced “Dart”), for a specific reason. First, its full name includes the main needs this program fulfilled.
The dictionary notes that “defensive” means to serve, to protect. This program served to protect the agent in cases of meeting attacks of any form, while also protecting the threat’s safety in the process by replying with the needed amount of force.
The definition of “response” is to give an answer. The program they were about to learn addressed the fact that different threats have different answers and hence need different tools to accomplish those objectives. Responses are dictated by the adaptability of not just the strategies, but the agents who are using them. This training specifically built these qualities (attributes) into the agent to be successful.
Tactics are defined as the “mode of procedure for gaining an advantage”. Tactics state the end goal of defensively responding to a threat. This program was very clear and precise as to the specific steps to accomplish such goals, in addition to the steps needed to learn them.
The acronym DRT or “dart”, also gave an illustration of how this program was to be viewed. Think of a person throwing a dart, the dart itself and the target it is hitting. The person (agent) throwing the dart uses a simplistic technique aimed at one focused object. The dart itself (program) is simple, sleek and sharp, ready to travel quickly. The target (objective) is the bull’s eye, where both the person and dart are focused.
Although a game of darts, which almost everyone has played is simple, it still takes skill, and time to build that ability, and I relayed this to the instructors which I taught. The same holds true for executing a defensive response tactic. It must be simple, and time must be allowed to build the skill of hitting the objective’s bull’s eye.
The interesting point in this story was that almost 10 years later an agent from this organization showed up at my self-defense academy, wanting to enroll his family in my classes. As we talked more a couple days into the program, he explained how the program he was taught looks similar to what I taught in my classes. During the next class he brought in a tattered old manual of the one I wrote almost a decade earlier, as they still were using it. He didn’t notice who the author was until he found the manual again, and put two and two together that he accidently found me by chance.
My reason for telling you, a civilian this story, was to have you use the same outline and objectives as highly trained agents. Your self-defense strategy has to be Defensive in nature, Response adaptable and Tactics focused. Just as the program before mine, sometimes I see people training under the wrong framework (i.e. MMA) and then making it way too complex. Keep your mindset and training like that dart: simple and effective.