Muscle Memory is the Key to Survival

Most in the private security industry have seen the video of the 1972 attack on Imelda Marcos, wife of Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

On December 7, Carlito Dimahilig tried to stab her to death, but not only failed – was said to have been killed in the aftermath. This post, however, is not about the popular belief that this was a staged attack, to get sympathy votes for the unpopular president – its also not about the blatant tell-tale signs of the assassin moments before the attack that should have been addressed by her security (which is another post in itself) but rather to demonstrate the importance of muscle memory as it applies to everyday security concepts.

Philippine history is rich in combat arts, especially with weapons systems such as Arnis, Eskrima and Kali. Much like other martial art-rich cultures,  especially in the 1960s and 1970s, some young Filipino children have been raised and groomed in their family’s chosen art. These blade wielders are more like ceremonious dancers making eloquent sweeps back and forth, up and down, side to side to create a constant flow of energy and movement with their body and weapon. In addition, for those that were not privy to the martial way – knives played an integral part in their everyday lives.

It would stand to reason – that someone who grows up wanting to be an assassin would have at least become familiar with his instrument of death in an intimate way. And someone whose culture is rich with bladed weapons, would obviously choose to learn to use a blade before attempting to assassinate the wife of his country’s president.

The video below shows that, either this was not the case – that the attempted killer had just grabbed the knife from his mothers kitchen cabinet the morning of the incident – OR, everything he had learned in training went out the window during the most important event of his life and his motor skills resorted to the most basic form of less-than-fluid movements.

Muscle memory is everything. Whether its performing movement (like walking or breathing), or reloading an empty magazine without thinking about it, or striking an intended target with an elbow, open hand or forearm. If you have to rely on conscientiously thinking about something – under stress when it really matters – you will fail.

Train like you fight. Fight like you train.

Michael Saad is an International Security Consultant providing bodyguard and security services to corporate VIP’s, dignitaries and celebrity clients. To learn more, please visit his bodyguard website, or his celebrity bodyguard blog.
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