R.A.C.E. (recognize, analyze, calculate, execute) is an acronym that will help you understand what must happen in order for you to “react” to a given stimulus. In the following piece, we will be discussing how R.A.C.E. applies to mental sharpness for self-defense. R.A.C.E. will occur very rapidly. The more you practice (perform) a skill, the faster you can R.A.C.E.

You may possess a multitude of ninja style techniques, but if caught unaware, every one of those technique are useless. In understanding how your mind processes information and transmits it into action, you will stand a better chance at avoiding or defending against an actual assault.

(R) You must first recognize a threat exists. Something will usually present itself to you as a either a known threat (obvious) or a subtle cue (i.e. spoken words don’t match body language). This recognition is the first stage of “reaction” timing.

(A) The second stage of your reaction process is to analyze the situation. It may be processing the information of a person trying to grab with his right hand to your shirt, punching at you with the left hand or seeing a knife in the left hand.

(C) Next your brain would begin to calculate a plan of action. In a split second, you would make a decision on “how” to move. It may be a subtle shift in position or a movement to stop the threat.

(E) Once the decision has been made, the brain must transform the information into action and execute the movement. Then the entire process repeats itself.

Think about it like this:


An example of R.A.C.E. in action:
You are driving back to base from the hospital where you just dropped off your patient. While approaching an intersection, the green light turns yellow. You have plenty of time to make it through the intersection. Just as you enter the intersection, a car runs the red light and begins to enter your path. You have recognized a threat exists. As you analyze, you notice there is oncoming traffic to your left, a telephone pole to your right, your ambulance can’t stop in time and you don’t have enough acceleration to outrun the car.

You decide (calculate) stepping on the brake and taking the right in an attempt to miss the pole and minimize the damage. You depress the brake and turn the wheel to the right (execute). Now the process of R.A.C.E. starts over — the car passes through the intersection in front of you. In turn, you turn the wheel back into the driving lane and wipe the sweat from your brow.

You must have a R.A.C.E. in order to R.E.A.C.T.



R.E.A.C.T (redirect, evade, advance, control, tell) is an acronym meant to teach you how to handle both verbal and physical attacks.

Once you have entered your R.A.C.E. you must R.E.A.C.T.

(R) The first action you may take would be to redirect. In the verbal sense, redirect would mean to bring the patient back to the task or conversation at hand. In the physical sense, it would be to redirect or apply the parry from the Double Tap Parry (DTP). It is a simple non-aggressive movement to keep you from absorbing the initial assault.

(E) In a verbal attack, you would work to not become a part of an argument, simply “evading” the verbal assault.  In the physical sense evade the strike.. Now with the DTP redirection and evasion happen together.

(A) Now you would move to advance. For the verbal assault, advance would mean to move toward finding the cause of the conflict and working to resolve it. Using the DTP in the physical realm would mean to advance into the angle of the physical attack. Advancing in an angle places you into a better position to escape.

(C) Moving into the control aspect, For a verbal assault, being in control of your emotions can help you bring the patient back into a state of rational discussion. Using the DTP, there is always a search for momentary elbow control. Even the slightest touch on a person’s elbow can help you find an escape route.

(T) The tell portion of R.E.A.C.T. has several components. Using tell in the verbal setting would mean to explain all of your actions to the patient and the course of treatment needed to benefit all involved. In the physical (self-defense) setting, it is giving verbal commands (i.e. Let Go, Stop etc.). Tell also means to report the incident to your supervisor and law enforcement in the event of an assault.

Special thanks to Col. John Boyd (Ret., Dec.) for his creation of the O.O.D.A. Loop