When I say “sophisticated adversary” sometimes people think I’m talking about fancy footwork and cool blade manoevers….no. A sophisticated adversary has three primary characteristics and these can be seen regardless if they are lone wolves, cartel members, or government employees in special services: Premeditation, training, and willingness to commit murder. This may seem grim but keep in mind, 90% of the martial arts you practice today were developed by people who would be considered unsavory by our more romantic standards in 2018. Those past masters, many of whom were cutthroats and murderers turned teachers, refined their skills in the back alleys on their enemies. They were sophisticated adversaries and they survived the violence of their respective times because of that mentality they carried with them everywhere. That mentality also applies to techniques. When I say “advanced technique” I’m also referring to techniques suitable to handle a person who understands what I’m going to do to them and will counter me. I anticipate resistance because I’m a sophisticated adversary also, so whatever you plan I’m planning three times against you.
Now let’s get into those characteristics.
1. Premeditation – they plan what they want to do to you prior to the meet and prepare as best they can to take you when you least expect it. You are their intended target, nobody else, so they study you and make sure they understand your routines, weaknesses, and strengths prior to ever meeting you. In the video, you can clearly see the victims were leisurely walking and completely oblivious to what was coming to them. This is the best type of takedown. There is no fighting here, only well-practiced and determined movement for the purpose of ending the target’s life. The victims could have resisted and probably would have had a solid chance if they didn’t comply but the level of training between the two groups is very clearly mismatched.
2. Training – they train to handle conflict and resistance so they maximize their chances of success when engaging with their intended target. These adversaries anticipate that you will resist them and they plan for it. Because they study you, they know your strong points and plan multiple contingencies against those points, then select the most opportune moment to strike. An example of this would be targetting you on the way to the airport if you’re a regular business traveler because the likelihood that you’re armed and on your way to the airport is very low. Especially if traveling on international flights to countries with strict anti-carry laws.
3. Willingness to murder – most martial arts practitioners have never and will never train with the intention to murder another human being in cold blood. This is a fact…and it’s a huge weakness when dealing with a sophisticated adversary. So if you are in a line of work that might put you in front of one of these types of people, or you are otherwise put in harm’s way and might face them, you seriously need to modify your training to integrate the mental and the hardcore physical skills needed to survive. Because when it comes time to pull that trigger or drive in that blade, hesitation is the main thing they will take advantage of and are counting on because you, the martial artist, are trained to be the “good guy”. But in this level of the game, good guys finish dead. And your adversary knows that very well and is counting on you not knowing it.
So keep these things in mind and focus on modifying your mentality and training to fit the requirements of the situations you might face…if you feel you need this level of training or simply want it because you’re a person who wants to know. And if not, drink your Starbucks and forget the article. You’re safe….for now.