Reflections on Principles of Personal Defense by Jeff Cooper

They call it the "Self-Defense Bible." Of course I am referring to Jeff Coopers "PRINCIPLES OF PERSONAL DEFENSE". I quickly learned this book is well known for a reason. James Yeager recommends it to all his students before taking a class at Tactical Response. Gun professionals and self-defense people rave about it constantly, so during my trip to the NRA Headquarters I decided to jump on the bandwagon and check it out!

The 7 commandments/contents are: alertness, decisiveness, aggressiveness, speed, coolness, ruthlessness, surprise. Mastering all 7 of these aspects in life is the key to personal safety and defense.

Alertness (fully aware and attentive; wide-awake; keen: an alert mind.) Jeff Cooper describes this as somewhat of a personality trait, but can be developed and practiced over time. In my opinion maybe through experiences as well. Most people live the same life everyday. They wake up, eat breakfast, go to work, go to the gym, come home, go to bed. Most people notice things that might be out of the ordinary or different in their homes and in public, but its those who subliminally look for it that are always one step ahead of everyone around them. Some of my favorite words from the alertness chapter is "observe your cat. Is it difficult to surprise him? why?" This is something I've never question myself. All animals are hard to sneak up on. Even predators. Why? Well, in the animal kingdom its an everyday thing to run for your life or defend yourself. Theres no cops, no jurisdiction, no prison or punishment, just death and birth yet a house cat will still be on guard. Its in there blood. We as people are surrounded with danger everyday. The danger of getting too comfortable with society around us not realizing we too (humans) can all be predators. This book opens your eyes to a new perspective on everyday things and I really appreciate that.

Decisiveness (characterized by or displaying no or little hesitation; resolute; determined) "Most of us are unused to violent emergencies, especially those which can only be solved by the use of force and violence on our part." One of my favorite words from this chapter. You would think a lot of the things Jeff Cooper talks about in this book are just common sense, but you would think people always being on guard and defending themselves would also be common sense. Much like a child touching a hot stove we don't always think with logic but more with feeling. Once that child feels the pain of the stove they will never touch it again. Experience changes people more then teachings. Not only did this book motivate me but it opened my brain to many new thoughts. Decisiveness is the ability to take action on a threat and complete that choice until the job is done or to not take action. Which ever you choose, you must always fully commit to your actions.

Aggressiveness ( the quality of being bold and enterprising; nerve, officiousness, boldness.) Favorite words "Your response, if attacked , must not be fear, it must be anger." To me, this means using emotions as a tool for your benefit. Emotions are a powerful tool and something I have never thought about but experience everyday. Anger has no limits, fear does. Fear is one emotion that can get people killed! One that stops you from achieving big things. Controlled anger can be one of the most important self defense tools you can obtain. Learning this has opened my mind. Have faith in yourself and in your training.

Speed (rapidity in moving, going, traveling, proceeding, or performing; swiftness; celerity.) "I may lose a battle but I will never lose a minute." Favorite words in this chapter. Time is everything in self defense. There's no pause. There's been many times in my life were I wish I could redo something or I would have done something differently so to me this means treating time as if it were the most important thing never to be wasted. To me this book reminds me that it doesn't matter if my threat is bigger, stronger, older, or smarter, as long as I'm ahead and willing. As a female this is very important.

Coolness (to become less ardent, cordial, etc; become moderate.) It can be very easy to lose your cool under stress or fear. Especially for me. However, if you have the stop at nothing mindset, that will keep you going. This chapter helped me understand what it means to "keep your cool". Something most people tend to not talk about. To maintain a warrior mindset, you not only need to have passion but peace. Now I don't have military training or any specific set of skills but having a survivor mindset is key.

Ruthlessness( without pity or compassion; cruel; merciless.) Ruthlessness is something I would have never described myself as. In this book when they talk about a criminal, they remind you that a criminal has no mercy. A criminal has no understanding. To respond with anything other then violence to him is unfair and harming to yourself. I think in my past, I myself like many other people tend to react with compliance because violence is the thing we are trying to avoid. This book really helps with the warrior mindset. To take down a criminal you must think like a criminal.

Surprise (of something unexpected, cause someone to feel mild astonishment or shock.) I like to call this an odaloop. Jeff Cooper's book really points out what many of us at first would normally consider obvious, but with creative details and beneficial approaches many would not have considered. We as humans are distractible and predictable. I get sucked into this a lot. Always doing things a certain way or going through a predictable regiment. I really like the idea of being unpredictable. Never leave tracks, never grow stagnant.

After reading this book, I realized some of these things were a part of me and some were not. These are the fundamentals of building a warrior mind set. With the right skills, attitude, and knowledge anyone can be a warrior. Prior to reading this book, alertness, decisiveness, aggressiveness, speed, coolness, ruthlessness, and surprise are all words I would have never described myself as. After diving in to Mr. Coopers definitions of these words, I now know I have some of these traits and some I will still have to work on.

Share this book with anyone in your life that might have doubt in themselves. Anyone who might not understand or have a "fighting" mindset. We all have fight or flight in us. Some ( like myself) just don't realize we may have more fight then we realize.


Brickell Clark

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