Why FAST Defense Works

For too many people, too often – an adrenaline release hinders or even stops entirely their ability to perform as required to achieve a positive outcome. In fact, the freeze response when threatened is the most primordial self-preservation response we have. Though this response may have improved our chances of survival when faced with a threat, such as being hunted by a sabretooth tiger, a freeze response in modern times, more often than not, results in a greater likelihood of our being victimized.

It is because of our instinct to freeze first, that training to flee or fight becomes even more crucial. And ultimately, more difficult. Most self-defense instruction focuses on long term repetition to ensure that an optimal fight response is achieved. Though some training is better than no training, long-term high repetition doesn’t always result in an optimal response when threatened. We often train this way because, it appeals to our current cultural concepts of learning. However, at FAST Defense we believe that in order to survive in an asymmetrical world with asymmetrical threats, the best way to train is, asymmetrically.

Through an intricate and finely choreographed instructional process, students learn in very short order, via safe, and fun stress induced scenarios how to transition from a freeze response and into a fight response in a real-time, real-world threat. These scenarios become the motivational fuel that generates the energy, passion and commitment of the student to not only survive the confrontation, but to have control of themselves and the confrontation outcome.

Learning how to manage a stress induced adrenaline release and use it positively helps us to:

  • Avoid, defuse and, if absolutely necessary, stop violence directed at us; 
  • Perform well when addressing the many professional pressures we face; 
  • Manage the various challenges we face in our personal lives and relationships; 
  • Manage and change our internal, negative self-talk; 
  • Develop self-esteem and ensure physical and psychological wellbeing.

And most importantly, how to ensure that you’re personal OODA Loop is faster than a predators!

The Science

Science has shown that our brain does not harden. In fact, the human brain remains plastic throughout the course of our life. Though a young brain is more pliable in terms of new information molding, our capability to have neurocircuitry transformations does not end with age. In other words, you can teach old dog new tricks.

Signal Transfer

Signal Transfer (Neurons/Axons/Myelin): Neurons are the basic cellular building blocks of the brain. A neuron is made up of dendrites, which receives signals from other neurons; the cell body, which processes those signals; and the axon, a long cable that reaches out and interacts with other neurons’ dendrites. When different parts of the brain communicate and coordinate with each other, they send nerve impulses, which are electrical charges that travel down the axon from one neuron to the next neuron in the chain. This process repeats from neuron to neuron, until the nerve signals reach their destination. This is what allows us to respond to any given situation. Though these firings happen at incredibly fast speeds, the speed and strength, at which they do it, depends on the myelin that surrounds the axon and the diameter of the axon itself.

Myelin Sheath

Myelin is the fatty (white) tissue, which runs along the outside of the axon (that interconnects our neurons). Myelin grouping on the length of an axon is called the myelin sheath. This sheath increases the speed and strength of the nerve impulses by insulating the electrical charge traveling through the axon. Myelination generation around axons happens naturally via new or reinforced neuro input process (experience, training, practice, etc.). And much of that generation happens during childhood. However, as we get older, we continue to generate more myelin onto our axons, though at a slower rate. Scientists believe that two non-neuron (or “glial”) cells that exist in the brain play a role in creating new myelin. The first is a glial cell called an astrocyte. Astrocytes monitor neuron axons for activity, and lots of repeat signals, or stress induced signals, from a particular axon triggers the astrocyte to release chemicals that stimulate the second cell (known as an oligodendrocyte) to produce myelin, which wraps around the axon. Another strong point in favor of myelin’s performance-enhancing abilities is what happens when it’s missing. Demyelination is a known factor in multiple sclerosis and certain other neurodegenerative diseases which cause symptoms such as loss of dexterity, blurry vision, loss of bowel control, and general weakness and fatigue. This suggests that myelination is a critical factor in allowing us to make the most of our physiological functions.


The critical role that the myelin sheath and the axon diameter play, in terms of the strength and speed in which a nerve signal travels down the axon, is called the action potential. It is a short-lasting event in which the electrical oodaloop2membrane potential of a cell rapidly rises and falls, following a consistent trajectory. The faster the nerve signal travels, the faster the action potential. The rate of action potential conduction limits the flow of information within the nervous system. Action potential conduction requires passive and active flow of current and one way of improving passive current flow is to increase the diameter of an axon, which effectively decreases the internal resistance to passive current flow. In other words, the velocity of propagation of an action potential depends on axoplasm resistance and membrane resistance. Axoplasm resistance explains how fast a charge can move within an axon. The larger the diameter of the axon, the more quickly it can pass through. Membrane resistance describes how permeable the membrane is to the ion. The less permeable, the faster the propagation of the action potential. Myelination increases the membrane resistance and ultimately allows for fast propagation. *Truly understanding the action potential is the key to understanding the OODA Loop. The faster your action potential the faster you’re OODA Loop.

Training Modalities

Positive Bio-Feedback

Biofeedback is typically associated with neuro-therapies. In general it is training that is intended to help you learn more about how one’s own body reacts physiologically to various neuro inputs. The general purpose is to help the student develop better control over their response to those various neuro inputs. The biofeedback used in FAST is entirely experiential and positive. When positive reinforcement is added to experiential process, there is a greater likelihood that the correct, and potentially lifesaving reaction to an external input will be strengthened. Science has shown that biofeedback can optimize the propagation of action potentials along the axons.

Deep Practice

In his book Talent Code, Daniel Coyle searched out what he calls “hotbeds of talent” around the world, including a soccer field in São Paolo, Brazil. Through his research, he developed a theory of what he calls “Deep Practice” that helps produce amazing success. This means “training on the edge of your capabilities.” In FAST, though mistakes are made, the students are cognitively self-correcting at a very detailed and expedient way. This increases the speed of skill acquisition at least 10 times faster than long term repetition. In FAST students decide the most appropriate response to the threat on their own, and not consistently told what to do or how to respond by the instructor. By working through their own mistakes within any given scenario, the students train their minds to work faster and more efficiently. This is a scientifically proven fact. This will not happen if you continue to pursue the command style of teaching, where it is all about the knowledge and skill of the instructor and not that of the student.

As deep practice is occurring, the FAST student is creating and wrapping even more myelin around each circuit. The thicker this myelin sheath gets, the better it insulates and the faster and more accurate our movements and thoughts become. This not only increases the student’s skill, but the speed, strength and accuracy in which they do it.

Stress Inoculation

Stress Inoculation is intended to safely prepare the students in advance to handle threat events successfully before, during and after the event. The use of the term “inoculation” in FAST is based on the idea that the instructor is inoculating or preparing students to gain greater awareness and enhanced response when faced with a real or perceived threat.

Students are first educated about personal and external situational awareness. They are educated into how we go from high brain activity to low brain activity when in a high stress situation. Within this modality, students are trained how to transition from a freeze response (which is our most basic neurological human response when threatened) and into a fight or flee response.

Stress Inoculation is accomplished via the asymmetric scenarios. Each individual scenario becomes an ignition that becomes an awakening of sorts. This ignition is the motivational fuel that generates the energy, passion and commitment of the student to not only survive the confrontation, but to have control of themselves and the confrontation outcome.

Social Learning

Social learning theory combines cognitive learning theory (which posits that learning is influenced by psychological factors) and behavioral learning theory (which assumes that learning is based on responses to environmental stimuli). Albert Bandura integrated these two theories and came u with four requirements for learning: observation (environmental), retention (cognitive), reproduction (cognitive), and motivation (both).

While the behavioral theories of learning suggested that all learning is only the result of associations formed by conditioning, reinforcement, and punishment. Bandura’s social learning theory proposed that learning can also occur simply by observing the actions of others. Known as observational learning (or modeling), this type of learning can be used to explain a wide variety of behaviors.

Bandura explained:
“Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.”

In any FAST series course, social learning is at the heart of every instructional activity. FAST students learn by watching the other students go through their own unique scenarios, in real time and also via video at the culmination of the course. What also capitalizes on this learning process is the Positive Biofeedback that the student class provides to the student within the active scenario.

Masterfull Coaching

In any FAST course, the lead instructor and coaches become the binding agent that seals the instructional seams. They create a learning environment where the students are actively engaged and are led via guided discovery. FAST is student centered not instructor centered, where the instructor and coaches only step in at the appropriate moments to make corrections in a positive constructive way. Like a farmer, FAST instructors and coaches deliberately cultivate the myelin growth and facilitate the increase of the axon diameter. For this reason, FAST is very careful to only train future instructors that are focused on the growth and outcome of the students and not about their own ego.