Speed Aggression Surprise

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Speed, aggression, and surprise. Those 3 sum up just about everything you need to know about being successful with violence (not just physical violence).

The 3 aspects of successful violence work synergistically. Even having just one of the factors in your favour increases your odds. Having all 3 working for you? That’s the holy trinity of combat operations.


Let’s watch a few examples:

Example 1 comes from Brazil. I would venture to guess that the BG was surprised.


Example 2 also comes from South America (Argentina, is it?)


Now neither of those may seem very fast to you (they’re not wearing knees pads and sprinting along a range after all), but to a BG who’s not expecting it, it’s faster than they’d like.


Why does this work?

Why do speed, aggression, and surprise, combine so well to screw people over? It overwhelms them. Humans cannot act or react instantly, we require time to adjust to a situation, decide on an appropriate action, and even more time to carry that action out. In other words, it takes time to cycle through our OODA loop.

This applies to BG’s just as much as to GG’s and Neutrals. So when you take action (that the BG has to respond to) then he has to cycle through his OODA loop and react to you. Now he’s reacting to you, i.e. you have the initiative. And if you keep stacking action on top of action onto the BG, then he never gets time to fully adjust to the situation before you’ve acted again. And that’s how someone gets overwhelmed.

It’s not that anything in particular is lighting fast, it’s that it seems fast because he’s still dealing with the first thing while you’re unloading your fourth thing on him.


If you leave off too many factors

What happens if you leave out, say, speed? Can you win with only aggression and surprise? Abso-fricken-lutely! But if you’re not careful, if you don’t act quickly enough/aggressively enough/with enough surprise, then you’re giving the BG a chance to catch up to you (in terms of OODA loop cycling). And if the BG catches up, then he might get a chance to take action, as opposed to being stuck with only reacting.

A not-so-spritely 90 year old who surprises a home invader and aggressively attacks the BG, has a decent chance of winning. But if he’s very slow then the BG stands a better chance of recovering and winning.


They overlap, intertwine, and feed off each other

Speed, aggression, and surprise, are (usually) not stand-alone phenomena. In our previous example, the 90 year old’s lack of speed actually robs him of aggression. You can be aggressive of mind all you want, but if you cannot move fast, then your barrage of punches is too slow and soft to actually be aggressive.

Speed makes aggression seem more aggressive. Aggression can make your punches harder, which makes the BG take longer to adjust to them. So when the next punch lands, it seems like it’s landed even sooner – i.e. aggression can make you seem faster (at least to his OODA loop, which is all that counts really).


What about surprise?

Surprise is that most valued of things. It’s kind of the secret sauce of violence. Armies, muggers, and Chuck Norris have always sought surprise. Surprise can make a mild action seem aggressive. Surprise can make your actions seem faster. All due to not giving the BG any warning (hence Rory Miler’s drills on not telegraphing your movements or intentions).

A sucker punch hits a guy out of nowhere. As far as this guy is concerned, it was blazingly fast. Why? Because to him it was instantaneous. He got no warning. He didn’t get to see the fist coming and have time to mentally adjust. Same effect as if you were the Guinness World Record fastest puncher.

That same sucker punch is also aggressive, simply because of the zero-to-punched thing.

Surprise can create the impression of speed, and the impression of aggression.

Surprise can be reverse engineered

While nothing but surprise really surprises, we can reverse engineer it to a certain extent. Speed and aggression can be surprising. For example the docile soon-to-be-rape-victim that morphs into a screaming ball of fury can surprise a rapist on an emotional level. People spend most of their day at a low emotional energy level. Encountering someone at a very high level of aggression can make us freeze (reset our OODA loop). This is the same effect as surprising them.

Remember, they intertwine and feed off each other.


S A S – applies to everything

Speed Aggression and Surprise don’t just apply to punching. And you don’t only apply them to the BG. Just as importantly you apply them to thoughts, mindset and emotions. And you apply them to yourself.

A few examples spring to mind. Ruthlessly admitting to yourself when things are going sideways. Mentally switching gears. Decisiveness and self-evaluation.

Let’s take a mugging. First of all, if you can spot it coming, then aggressively decide to use speedy movement to evade the mugger. That can surprise the BG because his victim has vanished before he got anywhere close.

If you get mugged and decide to go with Submit*** as your response, then submit. Co-operate and give him your wallet, watch, phone and shoes. Be decisive about it. It’s when you half-ass it that things go wrong. You decide to Submit, but you Posture a bit to soothe your ego about the fact that you’re submitting. So you mouth off a little while digging for your wallet, or handing over your phone. Well, that’s when shit goes sideways.

Pick a course of action, and commit to it with speed, aggression and surprise.


Same thing goes for counterattacking

Let’s take a home invasion. You live in a place where home invasions don’t end well (South African farmer/Argentina during its every-decade economic collapse) so you decide to counter attack###. Use speed, aggression, and surprise in your decision. Don’t take 3 hours to decide to counter attack.

You can speedily and aggressively decide to Submit, and then after 3 hours, if circumstances change, you can decide to counter attack. Or even wait for 3 hours until you have a good opportunity for Surprise. That’s fine. It’s when things are going wrong for you and you take 3 hours to build yourself up for the counter attack that you have a problem.


If you need to change your mind – then CHANGE YOUR MIND

As much as I’ve just said “be decisive and act”, you can, and should, check to see that you’re succeeding. If you find that what you’re doing isn’t working, then change it – again, speedily, aggressively and with surprise. If you find that submitting to the home invader isn’t working out for well for your family, then adjust. And commit.



Aggression does not mean angry. While you can, and probably should, be aggressive emotionally, you must not be angry! At least not uncontrollably so. It’s like lifting a heavy weight, or running faster, and being decisive in a negotiation – you can use some anger as fuel for your fire – but that’s it. Anger is a useful servant, but a terrible master (to borrow a phrase).  Kelly McCann calls it “rage within reason”.


*** – There are 5 possible responses to a situation. Fight; Flight; Posture; Submit; Freeze. Each has their place in your arsenal.

### – Always remember your Suarez: There is no “defense”, there is only attack and counter attack.

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