Phases of a Confrontation
Confrontation consists of five phases: initiation, reaction, control, execution, and completion. Initiation and reaction are the most critical phases.
Initiation. Initiation is a psychological phase where one perceives that conflict is imminent and that physical force may be necessary. Without this decision to commit to the confrontation, no conflict may occur, and thus no reaction to the threat is needed. A wrong decision may result in your being injured or killed. A correct assessment of the situation at this phase may mean the difference between there being a fight or no fight occuring. This assessment often occurs at a subconscious level, since there is usually no time for conscious thought.
Reaction. Reaction is the defensive or offensive actions taken in response to an attack. This is perhaps the most critical of all phases since error or hesitation may result in defeat. Any reaction must be executed calmly, smoothly, quickly, and with authority. During the reaction phase, or at least at its beginning, the opponent is strong and active. Psychologically, the opponent feels superior and confident or there would not be an attack. Always give the opponent the choice of not to attack. It will keep you safe—morally, legally, and physically.
Control. Sun Zi, in his strategic military treatise "The Art of War" says to never attack a strong and psychologically prepared opponent. The wise way is to turn the enemy's strength to weakness before attacking or counter attacking. This may be accomplished by yielding, absorbing, blocking, or neutralizing the attack and then striking to incapacitate. Relatively little force is needed to control the opponent since he or she has been caught at his or her weakest point. Psychologically this method is devastating because the opponent loses just as he or she feels on the verge of victory.
Execution. In the execution phase, finishing techniques (if necessary) are applied to ensure the opponent does not continue to fight.
Completion. After execution, the situation is reassessed as to whether there is still a threat and whether further action is required.