Thursday, November 8, 2007

Principles of Personal Defense

Principles of Personal Defense by Jeff Cooper is all about mindset, and mindset is the essence of successful self protection. Some people make the mistake of thinking that defense of self or others is all about technique. "If I could just learn that secret oriental technique to paralyze any aggressor, I'd be okay." Well, you wouldn't be okay. Not without the proper mindset. Writing about firearms in combat, Cooper once said, "It's not the rifle; it's the spirit of the man behind it."

Someone has said that combat is 95% attitude and 5% technique. I remember fondly our jujitsu club in Pennsylvania where one lady had a tough time remembering techniques. I think the instructor promoted her from yellow belt to orange belt largely on her mindset. When practicing individual techniques, she was stiff and wooden, but then the instructor jumped her, and she went into Rambo mode like a kitten that's all sharp teeth & claws when it wants to get away. That's just one example of why Principles of Personal Defense is all about mindset.

Principles of Personal Defense is a short book, but it's a brilliant distillation of what you need to survive a violent encounter. In it, Cooper covers alertness, decisiveness, aggressiveness, speed, coolness, ruthlessness and surprise.

Don't get me wrong. Technique is important; the better your technique, the better prepared you'll be for all situations. But technique without mindset is a recipe for disaster. For that reason alone, if I could have only one book on self defense, it wouldn't be a book on strategy, tactics or techniques. It would be Jeff Cooper's Principles of Personal Defense.

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