Tactical vs. Art



of, relating to, or constituting actions carefully planned to gain a specific military end.
(of a person or their actions) showing adroit planning; aiming at an end beyond the immediate action.


the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.


It seems the the word "tactical" is the new buzz word today. Everything is "tactical." Tactical defense, tactical fitness, tactical leadership, tactical shooting, tactical storytelling, tactical workshops, tactical flashlights, pens & weapons of all sorts (probably even kitchen utensils), tactical guide books on every imaginable subject from business to parenting, it's ridiculous!  

I must make a confession; I use the "T" word a lot myself *blush.* My love affair with it started out innocent enough (it always does), we were young, impressionable; it was a time in "T's" life before it was so promiscuous. 

So, my humble definition of something being "Tactical" is:  

A quick, down & dirty method that is high probability and easily learned/used by an individual.  

When it comes to martial arts, nothing says down & dirty more than Krav Maga. Krav is a no BS way to handle high probability physical attacks. Simple, effective. However, due to it's goal of simplicity it tends to lean on the more violent side. It's both easier and higher probability to show someone how to kick their attacker in the balls or stick their thumb in their eye than it is to successfully pull off a hip throw, omate gyaku wrist lock, or some other technical maneuver that may take years rather than hours to learn. Krav focuses on high probability attack & response scenarios w/minimal time invested to learn and train. 

When it comes to "Art" I would describe that more this way: 

A pursuit, a perspective, a lifestyle, something that you immerse yourself in for the long haul something you become. It's an expression that reflects in who you are and how you live. It's counted in years, decades & lifetimes, rather than hours weeks and months. You are heavily invested in resources and commitment. 

An art can (often) turn possibilities into probabilities. They make the complex look easy. An art can open up options and different methods that may not be obvious to others. Some things may seem counter intuitive or even impossible to those who are less dedicated to their "art."

The art is typically where the breakthroughs happen. 

When I think artists I think people who really delve into what they do. People who spend a lot of time and resource to continue to explore their craft. They continue to learn, grow and create. 

My approach to martial arts & tactical training involves both ends of this spectrum: 

Tactical is Probability -  Art is Possibility

If you don't have a lot of time to train, you probably should gravitate toward the tactical approach. Short, sweet, down and dirty, but be ready for it to be more violent, because violent is simpler. Be forewarned, because this more violent approach may open the door to other problems. Violence often leads to more problems and sometimes those problems get big!

If you are looking for more options and have the time and resources to train, then you may choose to pursue a more holistic approach, an art. Something where the journey never ends. You will need someone to help you. A good (if not great) teacher, perseverance, time and clarity, but this path can help you in ways that will defy measurement. 

My approach in both training and teaching is to begin with the tactical then expand into the art.  Gimme the "Reader's Digest" version first, the cliff notes, then the novel. 

A question to ask yourself is what do you want to put into your training? Do you have hours or years? What do you want to get out of your training? Do you want probabilities or possibilities? If your going to be a protector, a PeaceWalker it's going to be dangerous, so you have to be good.

For me, Budo Taijutsu, Silat & bjj bring the art to my tactics. They collectively open thousands of years of history and experience for me to distill into what I do and teach. Krav Maga brings the simple, no nonsense, down and dirty tactics. High probability low BS... but I'm always careful of the ripple effect, because limited choices can hurt and leave a residue in many ways. I think it's best to practice both probability and possibility. Understand the difference, train to keep your options open.

A final thought:

I used my martial arts / tactical training as an example here. The Art v. Tactical approach can be related to everything that you do in life. Look for the necessity, appropriateness and benefit in both the tactical and art approach, use each as needed and as always, Keep Going!

All the best,


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