Adaptability: the flexibility to fit changed circumstances. The ability to adapt to your circumstances is also a key trait for those who walk the path of the warrior. In all of the martial arts exist different “styles” and methods to achieve this goal. In some practices it is through training to defeat an opponent in the sport of hand-to-hand combat. In a more serious vein it is to achieve victory over your enemy on the field of battle.
There is an old saying “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” This is something warriors spanning generations have agreed upon. The ability to properly react is vital to success on the field of battle, or in any other ventures that people deal with in today’s world.
The recent incident in which an officer in a school in South Carolina slammed an uncooperative student in the classroom in his effort to force her compliance with his directive is a case in point. His actions have sparked considerable outrage.
For purposes of this discussion, I will assume, though, that the officer’s actions were lawful and that he had the legal right to arrest the uncooperative student. The officer’s attorney says, “We believe that Mr. Fields' actions were justified and lawful throughout the circumstances of which he was confronted during this incident.”
Officer Fields initially ordered the young student to leave the classroom. Once she refused to get up, instead of adapting to the situation, the officer let his emotions get the best of him. The confrontation was recorded on a cellphone and the footage has gone viral. Essentially, his inability to adapt led to him being fired.
“When I myself think about adaptability I think about “not intentionally training rigidity”; adaptability is a state of mind that can be trained. For those of you who don’t know me, I have been a Special Forces Operator. For me and Tu Lam from Ronin Tactics in our many missions together, being adaptable meant being able to operate in organized confusion, remaining pliable, preserving your own life and the lives of others’’. – Mike
Along my journey working closely with veterans, and particularly veterans of the Special Operations community who have made careers surviving very dangerous circumstances by adapting to the situation at hand, I have once again come face to face with hammering home the lessons of adaption. You can flip through the pages of history and find instances where the ability to adapt won the day.
A good example is the Mongolian Empire, and history’s most prolific conqueror, Genghis Khan. His many successes in battle were due to his ability to keep an open mind, and to adapt his strategy to the situation. Often meeting a numerically superior force, he used the rigidity of his opponents to his great advantage.
One of his strategies consisted of sending a small number of archers on horseback to conduct hit and run tactics. Killing a few men, he was able to enrage his enemies, tricking them to send their forces after his smaller more agile units. Wearing little to no body armor they were able to quickly escape and lead the pursuers on a chase.
Genghis Khans’ men lived in the grey, they didn't have to conform to guidelines, rigid rules and regulation, which contributed to their adaptability.
The European warriors they engaged were the exact opposite. They fought in specific formations. They tended to carry heavy armor and weapons. After a time, their horses would tire, and that’s when the Mongolians would spring their ambush. When the style of fighting of the Mongols did not match their own, the Europeans were confused. The inability of the numerically superior forces to adapt to the Mongolian’s hit and run tactics led to their defeat.
Understanding the importance of adaptability leads me to conclude that this is something we each must master in order to survive in our ever-changing universe.
"Using no way as way, having no limitation as limitation" -Bruce Lee
*Special thanks to Mike Glover CEO of Field Craft, LLC., for his insight into adaptability and for his ongoing support of veterans everywhere.