Hello, this is John Fallon.

I am an English professor at Rhodes State College and a Verbal Defense & Influence Instructor.

One of the interesting things about verbal defense is how it connects to other closely related disciplines, such as listening and proxemics, both of which are an integral part of the VDI program.

However, if I want, I can go off on a tangent and learn more about these related skills, as I did recently when I read the article online called “How to Develop the Situational Awareness of Jason Bourne” by Brett and Kate McKay.

The article talks about Bourne’s uncanny ability to scan a crowd for anomalies. According to Patrick Van Horne, instructor in the Marine Combat Profiling System, “Anomalies are things that either do not happen and should, or that do happen and shouldn’t” (McKay & McKay).

Think of the scene of Bourne in the diner and how he has memorized the license plates of all the cars in the parking lot; how the waitress is left-handed; and how the best place to find a gun is in the cab of the gray truck outside. How does Bourne put all this together—Hollywood smoke and mirrors? Not according to McKay and McKay.

Also not according to Dave Young, proxemics expert at VDI.

We can be taught situational awareness. Proxemics is one approach to situational awareness.

The O.O.D.A. Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act) developed by John Boyd, a military strategist, is another approach. Having multiple mental models, says Charlie Munger, is the way to success. Munger is Warren Buffet’s business partner at Berkshire Hathaway.

If we only operate with one doctrine, one mental model, we will, says Munger, “torture reality so that it fits [our] model…” (McKay & McKay).

Unlike my VDI law enforcement counterparts, I have had no exposure to O.O.D.A. principles until recently, coming as I have to VDI as an English teacher. For more on Boyd and mental models, see “The Tao of Boyd: How to Master the OODA Loop

As for me, I think O.O.D.A. should be taught as part of the VDI program. There is plenty of research on the topic of situational awareness, as we have seen.

For example, according to Van Horne, there are six domains of human behavior that “Marine Combat Profilers use on the battlefield in order to quickly determine whether someone is friend or foe” (McKay & McKay).

I believe we can expand the situational awareness abilities of the VDI student by incorporating these observational as well as profiling techniques, much the same way Gavin de Becker does in his book The Gift of Fear.

At this point, the conversation reminds me of Bruce Lee’s philosophy in Jute Keen Do: No way as the way. Be open to every technique, every tactic. Open your mind to every possibility. To a man with a hammer, everything is a nail. It’s time to dip into the kaleidoscope of situational awareness to see how we can improve VDI.

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” – Bruce Lee