tactical and technical


An argument/debate that I have had in various internet forums is the relationship between the physical techniques of the martial arts and their tactical application. I think that people have different conceptual grasps on what “tactical” or “technical” mean.

Let me give a little example of my understanding of the tactical/technical relationship in training from the LEO side of the house.

In the late 60’s to the late 70’s police officers were being killed on duty at a staggering rate compared to today’s stats. In my dept alone, 2 officers were killed at separate robbery calls within 2 months of each other in 76′. The 80’s ushered in a more modern “tactical” approach to police training. While firearms and defensive tactics were revamped, it was the “other” issues that made the difference; how to approach a car stop, proper distance/blading to the subject, how to respond to alarms/robberies, etc.

If you look at firearms skills as “techniques”, yes better “technical” skill may give us an edge in a gunfight, but its wasted if we stand still in a doorway or stick our heads in car windows and the BG blasts us from the other side. Some modern gunfighting gurus place firearms survival components in this order; Tactics 40%, Accuracy (shot placement) 30%, Power (caliber/ballistics) 20%, Speed 10%. While these may sound like, “rules of thumb”, they have to be experienced in application to experience the benefit they provide and to ingrain them as habit. My SWAT team training almost always follows the same matrix; weapon/range training, team employment (dynamic entry, officer rescue, stealth clearing, etc.), and a scenario to bring it all together.

The danger of depending on your technical prowess is that you may take risks that you shouldn’t. In the 70’s many cops believed the way to handle a robbery was to walk in and due to their “technical” mastery of gunfighting shoot it out and win….didn’t work….even if i made myself into a Ferrari of a gunfighter (which I do strive for), I wouldn’t just solve a hostage situation by kicking in the front door and beating the BG to the shot, although that may be a last resort option.

No, you cant train EVERY tactical possibility, what scenarios attempt to do is reinforce basic tactical principles that can be applied across most situations. And don’t think for a minute that LEO/Military personnel couldn’t benefit from “civilian” tactics either. We also are “citizens” and frequent all the same locations/situations any “civi” would. Ive met quite a few that could use such reinforcement. What is key is a thought out, purposeful application of scenario training that attempts to evaluate and improve the students tactics, not just scenario training for its own sake.

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3 thoughts on “tactical and technical”

  1. Excellent post. I haven’t heard those breakdown percentages before, 40% tactics/30% accuracy/20% power/ and 10% speed, but they seem logical and an excellent breakdown of the key elements to prepare for in a gunfight. Training in our industry has obviously had deficiencies but we are making headway because of information like this.

  2. Good point, Tom on tactical training. Training tactically is not about addressing every situation that could arise, but training the individual/team to develop the ability to size up a situation and come up with the best case response given the factors you have to work with. Will it be the ‘best’ solution in all cases? Probably not, but that’s why they say hindsight is 20/20, not foresight.

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