Tactical Principles

If you have read the previous articles you should be coming to grips with the fact that there are neither guarantees in a fight for life, nor are there any wrote patterns or solutions that you should be looking for in your tactics. Additionally, theoretical concepts and excellent technique without intellect, speed, and certainty of action will cause your tactics to be formalistic, rigid, slow, predictable, and easy to overcome by your adversary.

While there are no patterns, there are basic individual tactical principles that you need to become familiar with that you should strive to understand and which you should also make a part of your trained response. That is to say that you need to understand and practice the techniques sufficiently enough that they become a part of your trained response – actions and things that you do without your having to consciously think about them [Unconsciously Competent or “U.C.”].

The principles which we are about to lay before you set the educational groundwork for your training and give you reference from which you can start to build and modifying your own particular tactical techniques.

1. The principle of scrutiny: Think of this principle as the holistic color code of mental awareness. Using the principle of scrutiny, you will be utilizing all of your senses to observe your surroundings.

What should you be observing? All relevant information and input while allowing the non-relevant input to take a lesser priority or a back seat and wash over you. We are not necessarily disregarding anything, but certain observations will be more important to us and yield more relevant information than others.

If a potential adversary is not immediately evident he may be purposefully or inadvertently concealing himself to our observations, in either case, we are looking for what we call “target indicators” (we will develop the subject of target indicators in the next post) We aren’t talking about hyper-vigilance or paranoia here, just mental alertness full scrutiny of the incoming data and how/if it is relevant to you in this particular situation. Link this state directly to the color code yellow.

For instance: You wake up for some unknown reasons and while lying in bed trying to figure out why you woke up when you hear commotion coming from your living room. You get up to investigate and then you see flashes of light now emanating from your kitchen. You then notice the faint odor of stale cigarette smoke, and as you creep forward, you can feel your left foot slipping in some kind of liquid.

In the above scenario we have used the sense of sound (auditory), sight (visual), smell (olfactory), and feel/touch (tactile) to take in information that will help us orient ourselves to the situation at hand.

2. The principle of brutality: One of the most important tactical principles that we want to drive into your soul is this: The most important tool in your tactical tool bag is your intellect and willingness to decisively and instantaneously deploy violence in the most ruthless manner available to you once you have determined that violence is the appropriate action.

Your main goal in violence is to immediately mentally, morally, and physically destroy your adversary at the earliest opportunity. This is best achieved through the principle of shock, which is brought on by surprise, speed, and violence of action (the shock triad) on your part. Shock is best exploited and leveraged at the exact moment when you flip the switch from Mr. Social to Mr. Asocial and you become your adversary’s worst nightmare.

While we would agree that violence is very rarely the answer, we strongly believe that in those rare instances when violence is the answer, it is the ONLY answer that will save your life.

The principle of brutality is endosymbiotic with the core principle of transitioning from reactive to proactive, which we wrote about earlier. The idea is that once you have flipped the switch, all communication ceases and you are now focused on one thing; destroying your adversary, and thereby becoming the chaos and change in your adversary’s life.

3. The principle of instantaneity: This principle works hand in hand with the principle of brutality. It is precisely the ability to do something unexpected instantly, which brings about surprise and can cause a reaction in your adversary, thereby giving you the opportunity to snatch the initiative for yourself. By mixing the speed of instantaneity with surprising violence, you can generate shock in your adversary. This is at the very heart of the Pulse methodology.

It is this endosymbiotic relationship between observation/orientation and decision/actions (both of which can only be gained through life experiences such as real life events or quality RBT) that gives you the power to produce the end results of shock and chaos in your adversaries that allow you to shape the situation to your advantage and thereby decisively win.

4. The principle of reality: Understand that things in life are the way that they are, not the way that you might like or wish for them to be, and then build your paradigms on the solid foundation of reality, not fantasy.

Your survivability depends upon your ability to see things as they really are, as opposed to the way you might like them to be or the way your adversary wishes for you to see them.

Robert Ringer had once said that “…deep down inside of each of us, we want to create our own reality, it’s human nature. But no matter how great our desire to create our own reality may be, it always gets down to the fact that reality is not the way we wish for it to be, nor the way it appear to be, but the way it actually is – reality is what it is, and it’s up to us to discover it.”

This is important to understand because while we need to learn and master techniques and tactics, we need to keep an open mind towards how things are developing in our environment at the moment and adjust our techniques and ourselves accordingly. That is to say, while we need to learn techniques perfectly, we also need to keep an open mind on how to best mold and modify a technique/tactic for the situation that we are actually in, not the way we wish it to be. What we should not attempt to do is to force a technique that may be inappropriate into a situation that it does not fit or is inappropriate in.

For instance, if you are in a situation where a flashlight is needed and you have a certain technique you have been taught or know, yet the situation doesn’t quite seem to fit the technique, don’t be afraid to modify the technique or use something that perhaps looks silly yet works in that particular situation.If it looks stupid but works, it’s much better than using something that looks pretty – or is the established method – yet is inappropriate for your situation. The old maxim of “If it looks stupid but works, it isn’t stupid” is what we are driving at.

If it looks stupid but works, it’s much better than using something that looks pretty – or is the established method – yet is inappropriate for your situation. The old maxim of “If it looks stupid but works, it isn’t stupid” is what we are driving at.

Above all, remember that the situation will dictate your actions and that you will need to make the best decision for your particular circumstance instantaneously so that you can leverage the shock generated by your speed and the violence of action you project.

That being said, you must not let your desire to “just do something” (which, contrary to popular belief, is NOT always better than doing nothing at all) override your solid assessment of what options are available to you immediately and what is needed at the moment.

As an example, if you hear a door crashing and your child screaming, you might feel a need to run to your child’s room, and while such a mad dash may feel like the right thing to do, such a mad dash may not be needed nor wise at that precise moment.

If, for instance, you recognize the child’s cries as fear rather than duress or pain, and if you feel that you could wait for your wife to stack on you (place herself directly behind you in a manner that affords the both of you an extra gun and set of eyes covering those areas that you would not be able to cover alone as you move forward), it may be worth your while to wait an extra couple of seconds.

By waiting an extra couple of seconds you have gained the principle of plurality (see below for definition). Therefore you will arrive at your destination with greater firepower and more leverage because you will be presenting your adversary with multiple problems (two moving, dynamic, and deadly people). This situation bodes well for you and badly for the adversary who now must deal with two truly lethal and determined attackers.

While on the topic of making quick appropriate decisions now is a good time to make the distinction between speed and haste.

Speed is maneuvering quickly, certainly, and with purpose in order to affect change as it best benefits your situation.

Haste, on the other hand, is committing to action without taking advantage of prior coordination to support your action when such support is available.

By hastily and unnecessarily presenting yourself to a prepared adversary will not overwhelm his decision making process.

However; coordinating your effort to present the adversaries with multiple choices all requiring appropriate actions on his part at the same time (much like the example above where there are two dynamic threats to deal with) will most likely overwhelm the adversary’s decision making process and allow you the tactical advantage you need to resolve the issue in your favor.

5. The principle of duality: understand that most principles and techniques explained in this manual have two sides that can be exploited to your advantage depending on where you find yourself in the tactical situation. As with most things in life, these tactical principles have give and take; that is to say you are gaining something while at the same time you losing something in the process.

For instance, the target indicators we spoke of under the principle of scrutiny can cut both ways… if you are conducting a reconnaissance of your home (trying to locate and identify someone), it would most likely be in your benefit to conduct such a search without being discovered while you to gather the data that you need. This type of stealthy search usually requires slow and deliberate movement.

By moving slowly and deliberately, you are increasing the odds of remaining unobserved yourself, and therefore you may be able to gain the advantage of positioning yourself in an area that gains you leverage (such as surprise and superior fields of fire) while denying your potential adversary certain assets (avenues of approach, cover, concealment, etc.).

While this slow and stealthy movement gains you many advantages what you are giving up is speed (time to target) in exchange for surprise and actionable intelligence that you are gaining from your reconnaissance. Conversely, if you give up the advantage of stealth in your reconnaissance in favor of speed, your adversary would then more likely detect your movement, and you would probably lose the advantage of surprise, and thereby possibly losing the leverage you were hoping for.

Another example is the proper use of cover.

In our courses, we explain why we consider concepts such as “pushing off” of cover as a necessary and good practice most of the time. Additionally, we explain to what advantages you might gain by being closer to cover and what advantage you lose while being too close to cover. Then, once you have that firmly in your mind, we would ask you to turn the tables and think of how you could use the very same simple principles against your adversary.

If this still seems a little fuzzy, don’t worry; we will walk through some of these ideas in future articles.

6. The principle of plurality: It is always better to have more (and properly trained) fighters coordinating their efforts with you than it is to attempt doing something by yourself. Conversely, unless you are sending people out as sacrificial sheep, cannon fodder, or decoys, it is better to be by yourself than working with a poorly trained individual.

For instance; in clearing areas (searching an area in order to either safely bypass or occupy it) it is almost always better to have a well-trained friend(s) with you to help you clear the area. By having more than one person, we are now able to extend our area of observation and protection beyond our singular cone of vision.

This concept goes hand in hand with the concept of the division of labor… each teammate is assigned a vital job that he must be well trained and capable of performing. By careful coordination and training, you can divide up sectors of responsibility (a general direction which you are responsible for) which thereby allows each person to fully focus their attention and efforts on their own sector, rather than dividing your focus and effort in many directions and tempting to see it all directions by yourself.

As you will soon come to realize, clearing an area is dangerous to even a well-trained team, and downright hazardous to your health as an individual. Unfortunately, sometimes you simply don’t have the luxury of working with a team and must clear an area on your own.

The good news is the principles that govern good individual techniques and tactics will cross over well to team tactics and are well worth the effort to master as an individual operator.

7. The principle of moving tactically: Which is using a broad brush stroke to state that your movement should fit your situation. Many times you will want to move stealthily (swift, silent, and deadly), and sometimes you may not have the luxury nor desire due to the situation.

This also means keeping in mind two additional factors: distance and spalling. Spalling are the pieces of projectile and whatever matrix they have struck that could ricochet into you when someone shoots uncomfortably close to you or you are using cover inappropriately, thereby turning a nearby miss into a “spalling hit.”

There is a gun fighting maxim that states “Distance favors the better shooter” and this concept carries over to the proper use of cover to avoid spalling as well.



a. On the first factor (distance in relationship to your adversary) it is highly advisable to observe our adversary as soon as possible, and from as a great of distance as possible. Doing so gains us the ability to engage in the decision making process and activates a level of performance arousal instead of activating a SNS response, with which we will receive a performance degrading adrenalin dump due to the close proximity and surprise if we have not been properly trained and don’t have enough experience operating in.

b. On the second factor (distance from your cover) you generally wants to stay as far back from cover and concealment (even corners that you are pieing off) as best one can (there are exceptions to this rule, such as when someone has an elevated position relative to yours). Staying back from cover also helps you by giving you a much wider field of view (directly related to your distance from cover) and helps you avoid the effects of spalling.

Using cover correctly shortens your decision making process by allowing you to address the situation faster (you are able to see and act faster over a wider area), and by staying back from cover you are able to keep your firearm and appendages working freely and swiftly while preventing them from being grabbed by your adversary. While this may not always be possible, these are elements that you should take into consideration when available to you.

The shooting of the Dallas Police officer in this video (around the 35-second mark) is a prime example of why you need to stay back from cover.

We bring up cover now, because cover is one advantage you should either be seeking prior to the fight (if you are in condition yellow and can see the fight developing) or something you should be maneuvering towards immediately upon starting your engagement. When you maneuver towards cover will be totally dependent upon your skill level and situation.

Regardless of the timing (before, during, or after shooting) one of your primary goals should be to get to cover immediately (see our previous article on definitions).


If you have any doubts as to what may constitute viable cover, you can take the matrix you have questions about out to the range, and under the watchful eye of a certified range safety officer, run some tests for yourself. Do this only if you can do so safely.

8. The principle of eventuality: Simply states that we will only prioritize our time, invest into and prepare for what we truly believe we have a reasonable chance of facing in our lives. For instance, if you lived in a region of the u.S. where tornadoes are prevalent, your property probably has a storm cellar. Why do people invest in storm cellars? Because they know that when the random act of nature rolls through, it will demolish most structures above ground… they believe (through prior experience, either direct or indirect) that i.) tornadoes are real and present a real threat to themselves and their loved ones, and ii.) a properly built storm cellar will help protect both themselves and their family in such an event.

This principle is important because as we discuss in the Strategic manual, the lack of this principle (also known as the gladiator’s mindset) is what condemns most people to becoming unwilling victims.

As the coach Bobby Knight once said, “most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win.” Or as someone wisely once said, “People don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan.”

The good news is – if you are reading these articles you are probably not one of the many who fail to plan, as you wouldn’t have even gone through the trouble of reading about tactical principles.

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