The O-O-D-A Loop is a widely recognized and frequently discussed element of combat training. Military strategist and US Air Force Pilot Colonel John Boyd was the first person to articulate and document the human decision-making cycle in combat. His studies and experiences led him to develop Boyd’s Cycle, better known as the O-O-D-A Loop.

Colonel Boyd applied this concept. He would get into his opponent’s decision-making process so fast that he would force them to make the decisions and take actions he wanted them to. This led to his unrivaled success in combat. It is said that he never lost a dog-fight in a fighter plane and would consistently win bets in under one minute. This led to Col. Boyd being given the nickname 40-Second Boyd.

Col. Boyd initially studied ground combat. He noted the successful unit presented a series of unexpected and threatening situations the opponent couldn’t keep pace with. Eventually, the slower side was always defeated, even if they were the larger, stronger, and better-equipped unit. Col. Boyd’s theory indicated combat could be seen in a time competitive environment that was cyclic in nature.

Colonel Boyd developed a concept that is being used by law enforcement, military, and civilian trainers. Each instructor may explain the loop differently, but the essential meaning remains consistently the same. This is the process you must go through or interrupt to win during combat.

In today’s show, I will discuss the elements of the O-O-D-A loop and how you should consider applying them. Likewise, I will touch on using this concept to interfere with or interrupt your opponent’s loop.

O-O-D-A Loop Graphic


Episode Resources

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed The Art of War


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