Understanding the following ten interconnecting factors may mean the difference between victory and defeat in combat. The factors may be available to you, but remember, they may also be available to your attacker. You may be strong in some of the factors while simultaneously being weak in other factors. You must concentrate on weaknesses, both yours and those of your attacker, to achieve victory.
Weapons. Weapons are any attacks and defenses that are available to you or your opponent. These include internal weapons, such as kicks, punches, blocks, parries, etc. and external weapons, such as guns, knives, sticks, etc.
Power. Power is the amount of force that may be brought to bear on a target by a weapon. Power may be estimated based on physical size and muscle mass. As a rule, larger and/or more muscular persons generate more power than smaller ones.
Speed. Speed is the ability of a person to move a weapon. The speed depends on the weight of the weapon used and the strength available to propel the weapon. Be careful of a large person with a high muscle to weight ratio. You may expect large people to be slow, but they may be very quick.
Agility. Agility is the ability to move the entire body by dodging, evading attacks, or switching from one stance or body position to another. The less mass to move, the more agile the person may be, so smaller, lighter people tend to be more agile than larger, heavier ones.
Timing. Timing is the knowledge of when to perform a specific technique so it has maximum effect. A mistimed technique may miss its intended target, be blocked, or its power may be ineffectual.
Endurance. Endurance is the ability to inflict or absorb damage over time without a decline in physical abilities. It may be increased by physical training. The ability to absorb punishment without injury may increase ones endurance. Padding such as muscle, fat, or clothing offers protection from injury. Larger, heavier people can absorb more punishment than smaller ones. However, the added weight of the padding may reduce endurance. Attitude may affect endurance. Some people simply refuse to feel pain while other cringe at the slightest pain. Drugs or alcohol may affect endurance. They may dull pain but they may also reduce endurance.
Mindset. Mindset is your confidence, desire to win, and your belief that you are capable of winning. You also need to know your opponent's mindset. Body language may tell you something about the mindset of your opponent. The way the opponent stands, whether his or her shoulders slump, or whether he or she makes eye contact are all good clues. The eyes may express a person's inner unexpressed emotions, which may differ from the outer expressed emotions. Most people have not been taught how to conceal their emotions. By studying people through simple observation, you may learn to read an opponent's mindset. If you are observant, you may perceive the anger, hatred, or fear of your opponent. You may be able to determine whether an opponent thinks he or she can defeat you. Remember, the eyes are windows to the soul.
Tactics. Tactics are the ability to use your weapons effectively and efficiently in actual combat to counter your opponent’s attacks and defenses. It is also the knowledge of what weapons to use in certain situations. Your tactics are determined by your available weapons and ability to use them. You need to determine some things about your opponent so you may plan your tactics, such things as, is your opponent an aggressive attacker or a counter fighter, a brawler or technician, seeking a quick defeat or a long drawn-out fight, or trying to hurt you or just humiliate you?
Intuition. Intuition is the ability to predict your opponent’s actions, based upon his or her physical cues, such as shoulder or hip movement or eye contact.
Luck. Luck is when something with a low probability of happening, happens. What determines whether it is "good luck" or "bad luck" is the level of preparedness. Remember, chance favors the prepared mind.
Assessment is the key that unlocks the mystery of these factors. It is important to be honest with yourself when assessing these factors. You should not sell yourself short and yet you must not over estimate your own abilities. Your own factors may be assessed before a confrontation occurs, but you must see your opponent in action before his or her factors may be assessed. Once you see which areas your opponent prefers to attack and which weapons he or she prefers to use, you will be able to predict his or her most likely actions.
You should be familiar with many different fighting styles and theories so you may quickly evaluate your opponent's possible actions. If you understand your opponent’s tactics and motivations you will not let them lead you into a position of weakness, instead you will be able lead the opponent into defeat. A way to achieve an understanding of the intricacies of tactical combat is to study all the martial philosophies and fighting arts, not just Taekwondo. With a greater martial knowledge base to draw from, it is less likely that you will be surprised by an opponent.
Of the ten factors, intuition and luck are virtually impossible to determine in your opponent. However, it is very important to determine how strong these factors are within yourself. While luck, good or bad, is a factor that you must be prepared to contend with, never ever rely on it to win a fight.