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Decision Making Skills

One of the most challenging skills to learn in the martial arts is how to make decisions under pressure. Being able to create an effective defense against an unscripted, unrehearsed attack, what we refer to in To-Shin Do as ‘Free Response’, is what anyone who trains in self-defense strives for. This course looks at how the idea of decision making, as it relates to self-defense, can actually be broken down into many smaller skills. Each one of these skills can be focused on, drilled, and improved. And once the individual skill is improved, the decision making process and the Free Response result is improved as well.

Often if you are struggling with decision making in Free Response, one of three things are likely getting in the way:

  • You don’t have enough time to make a correct decision
  • You are trying to make too many decisions
  • You don’t have enough information to make a correct decision

This course covers nine separate skills. Each one plays a part in decision making. You’ll get to practice ways to focus on the inside to make faster decisions, ways to position your body to make fewer decisions, and ways to recognize what the attacker is doing to make more effective decisions. Through practicing these skills, you will counter each of the challenges that keeps you from effective decision making.

The best way to use this course is to watch it completely to get an overall idea of the skills and how they effect Free Response, then concentrate on one or two of the skills until you feel comfortable that you’ve made some improvements. With each lesson, there are examples of drills you can use to isolate and grow each of these skills. Several of these lessons allow you to drill right along with us as we go through the course. Keep in mind that each skill could easily have an entire course of its own (and some already do!) and this course is designed to introduce how these skills work with decision making. Once you’ve gone through the individual skills, you can test out your decision making by adding simulated pressure with some of the drills later in the course, and eventually put them all back into that unscripted and unrehearsed Free Response.


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