EASE: The Philosophy of Kinetic Survival

By Frederick Sauer (Reposted with permission)

It has long been coded into our instincts: the fight or flight response. Our instincts tell us to flee or fight when confronted with a dangerous scenario. However, we have been conditioned to think of the two as separate entities, when classical tactics shows how both can be integrated. The "tactical withdraw" and "covering a retreat" are familiar tactics on the battlefield and in certain games and sports. A covered retreat and organized evacuation are much more successful than a panicked rush for safety. For natural disasters and accidents, emergency personnel must be able to evacuate and assist victims in a timely, safe, and efficient manner. However, emergency responders and personnel cannot respond instantly. Thus, there are times where an individual must be able to handle themselves in dangerous scenarios.

Many martial arts teach the practitioner to avoid these dangerous scenarios. A person should use common sense to avoid potential 'trouble spots.' These include sticking towards well-lit streets, avoiding dark allies, traveling in groups, and similar tactics. However, there are certain situations which cannot easily be anticipated. In an age where people live in fear of terrorist attacks, shooting sprees, and other disasters, a new philosophy of survival, and relevant tactics, should be developed.

I call this hypothetical system "EASE," or "Environmental Assault-Survival-Evasion." It would be a physical discipline based on two systems: Martial arts and parkour. Parkour, or the 'art of motion,' is a physical discipline that focuses on the most efficient way to maneuver around obstacles. If martial arts is training for the 'fight,' than parkour can be viewed as training for the flight. The philosophy of parkour, originated by Davide Belle, us about finding the most efficient way over and around obstacles. While the flashier movements of free-running are often associated with parkour, parkour is fundamentally about an economy of movement. Descended from the obstacle course, parkour is not about competitive spirit as much as efficient movement. Professionals that train on an obstacle course, such as soldiers, police, and firefighters, tend to be more proficient at navigating around obstacles.

Close quarters battle tactics have constantly changed with humanity's own weapons. In recent history, a number of close combat fighting systems have emerged. For purposes of simplicity, I shall refer to these as the 'combative martial arts,' a category of unarmed and close fighting that includes krav maga, military combatives, Defendu, and similar systems. The combative martial arts often focus on using knives, firearms in close, and unarmed attacks to kill, disarm, or disable an opponent. Traditionally, these skills are often seen as the 'last ditch' alternative to conventional firearms, and rightly so. Firearms are a much more efficient weapon for groups of enemies than drawing each foe into melee.

However, a creative opportunity arises for people unequipped in a conventional sense. There are law enforcement and intelligence officers operating undercover, as well as civilians who happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. A comprehensive physical discipline would cover ways to fight and flee from dangerous situations. The proposed integration of both combative martial arts and parkour is referred to as Environmental Assault-Survival-Evasion (EASE). While not all hostile situations involve combat, the raised awareness of the environment, and mobility granted by parkour, are applicable to other disasters as well. An escape from an unstable building, or evading a pursuer, are both non-combat applications.

The combat aspects should emphasize efficiently moving behind cover, and maneuvering into a better position (including a withdraw from the situation). Since a determined shooter with even a low caliber weapon may be able to shoot through walls, movement and evasion can represent a better course of action than cowering behind flimsy cover. Even if pinned under suppressive fire, the ability to move in unconventional ways out of the line of fire can mean the difference between life and death.

A logical students of EASE may be civilians looking for a proven method of self defense, operatives that may encounter close combat in a less than prepared state, or emergency personnel operating in 'unfriendly territory.' Optimal weapons for a practitioner of EASE would be small, concealable, and able to be secured. A knife, collapsible baton, or compact pistol are all logical weapon selections. A student of EASE should also be aware of the "Twenty One Foot Rule," or the distance a melee attacker can close upon them in a second.

The basic techniques for EASE already exist. They are extrapolations of the obstacle course and combatives. Further analysis at simplifying these motions should be conducted, with the aim of making every motion as natural and fluid as possible. Combinations of moves should be drilled, as well as changing an obstacle course to ensure the student is able to adapt to sudden changes in terrain. Students should be given cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility drills, and be adept at lifting their body weight.

Not all applications of EASE are for life and death manners. It may also be suitable for recreation, as well as sport. A 'sporting' version of EASE may resemble a cross between UFC and "Ninja Warrior," with contestants navigating an obstacle course as well as fighting opponents. (The term 'assault course' becomes much more literal in this case.) Likely venues for EASE training include military, law enforcement, emergency responders, defensive-minded civilians, and sporting contestants. I propose that someone interested in starting this discipline train in two fields: Parkour and krav maga, and begin to 'cross pollinate' both. Other backgrounds that can contribute strongly are those familiar with the obstacle course, those with close combat training, and those with acrobatic conditioning. All of the techniques and movements already exist in separate physical disciplines, and a more fluid, accessible integration will be economical for all sectors of society.