Naturally people studying self defense and preparing themselves for potential life and death encounters with criminals are interested in what gives someone an advantage in a fight? This is the critical question of reality based self defense (RBSD). When an attacker chooses you or a loved one as a target and they make a commitment that they are going to take you down, what will you be able to rely on as you make the opposite commitment to stop them at all costs? No attacker gets into a conflict wanting to lose, they are never going to make it easy, you will need to create an advantage in that moment and press it to the finish to successfully escape and/or END the fight. But where do advantages come from and are all advantages created equal?
There are many ways you can break down the subject of advantage and what creates it. For this discussion I will use a hierarchy of advantages going from mindset, strategy and tactics. These advantages are not weighted equally. Mindset advantage you could think of as weighted the heaviest, with strategic advantages weighted next and tactical last.
This means that even if you were a very physically talented martial artist and you have not developed a mindset that is fully committed to fight and you face a regular “untrained” opponent who is fully committed to harm you, then the mindset advantage will negate the tactical advantage of the martial artist and all the extra knowledge about how to strike, kick, etc will mean little as the “untrained” animalistic attacker overwhelms the uncommitted mindset of the martial artist typically with simplistic but fast paced attacks.
Mindset really is about intent and commitment. Under the appropriate parameters, when faced with an imminent and unlawful threat to yourself or a loved one will you utilize appropriate violent force to stop the attacker(s). Saying I would if I had to is a non commitment as there will never be a point that an external source will tell you that you “have” to and further by the time you can confirm that you “have to” fight then you have already been attacked and it is too late.
Having mindset means that you have made the commitment that when faced with an criminal threat you will CHOOSE to use appropriate force to END the threat. You CHOOSE to face the risks that come from engaging the enemy combativly and you prefer those risks over the risk that comes from submitting, complying and hoping that they don’t hurt you too badly. Making such a commitment can yield a decisive mindset advantage over a potential attacker as many attackers have simply not made the commitment to the same degree.
After mindset advantage comes strategic advantages. Volumes have already been written about strategy and all of it is valuable but often belabors the core aspects of strategic advantage. Three simple advantages that will play into a real life fight are 1-weapons differential, 2-numbers differential and 3-initiative/surprise differential.
Strategic factors are weighted next after mindset advantages and are heavier weighted than tactical advantages. Assuming that both opponents are committed and have a legitimate combat mindset then who seizes the strategic advantage will be the one likely to prevail. Even if you are the better fighter and could take the other person toe to toe, a street fight will likely never start out “toe to toe”. If the enemy has a weapons advantage, superior numbers and surprises you then your tactical advantages will likely be unable to overcome the deficit.
One problem is that as a “good guy” you often start with a strategic disadvantage. As the “defender” rather than the attacker you will essentially never have a numbers advantage, you can choose to carry lawful weapons lawfully which can help to mitigate the weapons disadvantage and then by developing as strong of a mindset as possible and as complete of a tactical skill set as possible you can ensure that you are able to seize the strategic initiative. This is why people should train in RBSD. It allows you over time to generate a significant mindset, strategic and tactical advantage to overcome the inherent strategic disadvantages you may be up against in realistic scenarios.
Tang Wei Fighting Method focuses on giving people a realistic perspective about realistic modern self defense scenarios. Having advantages does not guarantee anything, there are no guarantees in fighting, but everyone will naturally recognize when everything you care about is potentially on the line, you want as much advantage as you can. First think first is to work to develop a realistic, viable combat mindset, then it is about studying strategy and tactics in order to be able to fulfill the mindset commitments you have made.
Mindset while it is the heaviest weighted advantage and as a self defender if you lack it, it is essentially an insurmountable disadvantage, it is not by itself sufficient. You still need to study strategy to make sure that the deck is not overly stacked against you and that you give yourself a tactical shot at victory. Further, if tactics are completely deficient then even mindset and strategic study is not viable.
This is the difference for example between people who carry guns and people who are effectively armed. Guns cannot effectively and legally deploy themselves and protect you. If you carry a gun (a strategic factor) without the mindset and tactical training to be able to use the advantage you probably end up hurting yourself or unwittingly end up losing your gun to the attacker as you fail to deploy it correctly.
In the end Mindset, Strategy and Tactics are all interrelated but training that integrates them and gives comprehensive approaches are rare. Tang Wei focuses on incorporating as much as possible for sources modern and traditional to give students as complete of a combat perspective as we can. The idea is to give you as much on an advantage as possible.
Tang Wei Martial Arts Assocaiton