Mindset and pre-ordered responses.
We do a lot of things in our life because we have done them before. We work out what works for us and then we do it again and again.
It’s a method of solving a situation without having to stop, think, plan and react. We don’t stop on our bikes to work out a plan of action but we should use a system all the same, it’s a method that keeps us doing the right things.
There is a system called IPSGA. Which means Information Position Speed Gear Acceleration. It’s a system that is designed to get you into a practiced rhythm of working with your riding environment to think, plan and react on the move without the stopping bit.
It is a very good strategy but the problem here is that it works by allowing you enough time to think plan and react, not so well when you have something thrown at you without that time. I personally believe we need to learn the IPSGA system but we also need to learn the Mindset approach to the REACTion.
IPSGA is a system designed to get you the time to flow consistently and safely through your riding and also put you into a position, speed and gear (the PSG part) where you can react to obstacles in a calm and appropriate manner. It sets you up to succeed in the execution of a trained practiced skill.
The Military, Police and most Martial Arts have for many years known about Mindsets. They know that you can talk a lot about a way to do something, you can put in place procedures and processes such as IPSGA which help but ultimately when your life is threatened all thought goes out the door, it is no longer a rational process a controlled process. You fall back on the panic reaction you have learnt (or not) and you do that, you slip into a mindset reaction.
Have a quick read of this (Taken from Tom Perroni in a discussion paper on Combat Mindset):
“I also tell my students that just merely having the Handgun is a false sense of security. You must be trained in how to use your Handgun. But you also need to be trained in the “combat mindset” You must realize that nearly 80% of all shootings happen in low or reduced light. How much low light training have you had? We are also trained that the average contact distance between perps and officers or civilian concealed carry permit holders is less than 3 feet. How often do you practice your Draw and CQB weapon retention? We are trained that the average number of rounds fired in a gun fight at that distance by police is 10 rounds. We are also trained that the hit rate of those rounds fired is about 20% or to put it another way an 80% miss rate. That means that 2 in 10 rounds hit the intended target. Do they suddenly loose the marksmanship skills they have developed over years? The answer is NO. Lou Ann Hamblin a veteran Police Officer explains it like this “…many elite athletes fail during competition because of a lack of mental control. One of the major psychological characteristics of Olympic Champions is their ability to cope with and control anxiety. In reality, athletes do not lose their physical ability, technical skills, and strategic knowledge during a competition. Rather, they lose control of cognitive factors such as the ability to concentrate, to focus on relevant cues, to engage in positive self talk and so forth.”
We call this the “Choke” Phenomenon. “
What the hell does this have to do with riding a motorcycle???? Well sorry to burst your bubble but what happens with Combat Mindset is a sudden life threatening incident engages the human bodies survival reactions and the ability to think, reason, focus and decide disappear and the exact same thing happens when that car crashes through the red light and into your vision from the side; you stop thinking and start reacting!!! Your breathing stops, you mind stops and your body just reacts with what it maps directly onto the situation through habit. Usually this means you grab the brakes!!!!
Firstly are you in the right position, right gear and speed and have you assessed the risks so you are prepared to some degree? But secondly HAVE YOU PRACTICED YOUR REACTIONS will it be automatic, will your unthinking, automated reaction save your life or lock the front wheel and pitch you under the front of the approaching car so he can drive over you? Or will you grab a handful of throttle and get the hell out of his way? What will you do, when you don’t have time to think about it?
I can tell you what you will do is what your body and brain has settled upon as a practiced mindset, something you do so often in a similar set of circumstances that you do it, without thinking.
CHAMBER THE MINDSET
But wait a minute!!! There are different appropriate reactions for different situations, how do you make sure you do the right one?
Well remember I said that IPSGA is a good method, in fact I think it is a brilliant method. If you are using it correctly you will be identifying obstacles as you approach them, you will be assessing (The information part (Vision)) and you will be choosing your position on the road, speed and gear. You should also be choosing an escape route or reaction.
I call it loading the chamber, you’ll prep in your mind the escape and guess what…. That is what you will do. So long as that is what you have been practicing!!!
PRACTICE THE MINDSET
So one of the most valuable things we can do for staying alive on a motorbike is practice a well sorted out mindset reactions to circumstances that might get us killed. A great example of this is braking practice. I do braking practice all the time and demo’s for newer riders as I train. As part of this I often lock the front wheel and lift the back wheel, I’m pretty used to it now and guess what, last time a car suddenly stopped in front of me I just reacted, I went straight into what was a well practiced SR (Survival Reaction) I braked hard, I lifted the back extremely high and moderated the brake to stop it flipping. I maximised my braking effort and effectiveness without even thinking about it, I had reacted, nearly flipped and saved it before I even registered in my conscious brain that I needed to brake let alone that the bike was flipping. I stopped with my foot against the rear of the car in front but safely. The well practiced mindset had just taken over and done its job!!! My mind was racing to catch up, I couldn’t get a logical explanation in my head for how I ended up vertical against the back of the car, yet I had still displayed amazing reactions and skill… all without “Me” getting involved.
This is “Survival Mindset” This is the practice that will save your life.
A word of caution here, you need to practice this stuff at your level but ultimately you need to practice it to the level where you it is real or your SR will run out of practiced control, if I hadn’t been used to locking the front wheel and lifting the back I wouldn’t have been practiced at controlling that problem and bringing the bike to a safe stop despite the vertical challenges.
Think of this list of things worth practicing to keep yourself alive:
1. Locked front wheel under brakes
2. rear wheel slide
3. Stoppee control (i.e. rear wheel off the ground)
4. Rapid direction & speed change
10 and One
10 and one, was the title of this article. There was a reason for that. I am a great believer in IPSGA but, as I have said I don’t believe it gives you all that you need. But it does give you a huge advantage and 10 and one is an example of the execution of IPSGA.
10 and one is a technique that I teach using IPSGA to set your up for a successful SR reaction to a life threatening event in your riding. It works like this:
Your riding along safely maximising your vision of the road and cataloguing the potential dangers along the way (I). You notice a car approaching from the left hand side road that does not appear to have seen you; you load your SR by thinking about what you would like to be doing if the car does jump out in front of you. Then you slow down by 10Kph and potentially drop a gear to be ready (SGA). In this case you move yourself closer to the centre to maximise your position options just in case (P).
You might have loaded a SR that meant if he came out you would accelerate around him onto the opposite side of the road and avoid him by using speed. You might have loaded the SR of stopping short so he could pass in front of you, doesn’t really matter, you are prepared, your positioned and your speed and gear is right for the manoeuvre.
Then you notice a car approaching from the opposite direction, your option of using the opposite side of the road has been removed. You slow another 10Kph or so and possibly drop another gear, you re-asses your SR and prepare for it.
By now you are getting quite close to the intersection and the car in front of you suddenly indicates an intention to turn right and begins to stop in the centre of the road. Not only is any escape in front of the car turning from the left now out of the question you have to avoid the car stopping in front of you.
Again you drop your speed; you change your road position and check the gear you need to be in (10 and one). Perhaps you now choose to prepare for sudden emergency stop as you pass on the left hand side of the car stopping in front of you if the car approaching from the left does not giveaway.
You in effect visualise the wonderfully controlled stop you will execute if he jumps out, you, in a split second, see yourself controlling the brake and balancing your body. You are in the right gear, you’re mentally prepared and you are in effect locked and loaded for a successful execution of the right SR.
As you begin your pass the car does move out. You didn’t actually think he would, you’ve prepared like this a thousand times, you are completely shocked and you mind just panics!!! But a split second later, after a squeal of brakes, a momentary front wheel slide that you somehow controlled you find yourself stopped with inches to spare between you and the now stopped and surprised car driver, as your back wheel comes back to earth.
A perfect result. Staying alive on the road is not about avoiding potential accidents completely it is about managing them successfully. You have used the Information you gained through your Vision to set yourself up for the speed, position on the road and gear that would maximise your potential. Your preloaded and well practiced Survival reaction had kicked in and under the right conditions, those that you setup using IPSGA they saved you with no more than a fright.
So Practice your IPSGA, its something you can practice every day with safety, infact it will bring safety to your everyday riding in merely practicing it.
But also practice your SR’s those emergency braking, avoidance, slides and every skill combination that can be used to save your life.
Stay safe out there and a final word of advice; I’m a great fan of riding in the dirt, because still after all these years few places will allow you to practice your SR’s with relative safety and relative frequency and still be called fun.