Principles of Personal Defense

posted on December 19, 2011
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As I said in an earlier blog, combat mindset is the most difficult of the three skills necessary to defending yourself with a handgun. The other two being marksmanship and gun handling. It is truly a difficult task to encapsulate all of the various factors that go in to developing the kind of mental attitude that will help triumph over a violent criminal attack. Of course, Col. Jeff Cooper did just that in the slim volume called "Principles of Personal Defense." Above all else, one must remember that Cooper was a teacher, and a darned good one.

In "Principles of Personal Defense," Col. Cooper sets out seven principles that are critical to the combat mindset. Those are Alertness, Decisiveness, Aggressiveness, Speed, Coolness, Ruthlessness and Surprise. In his introduction, Cooper says, "This booklet is essentially a digest of a presentation I developed while working in Nicaragua (before the Communist take-over there)....Individual conduct in lethal confrontation is not, however, something that is confined to any one locale or era, and if there are principles guiding its conduct—and I believe there are—those principles do not change according to geography, history, or sociological whim."

Everyone who is serious about personal defense should have a copy of Cooper's booklet. It's the sort of book to leave on the nightstand and re-read on a regular basis, thereby refreshing our focus and goals. Some might be concerned at the aggressive approach that Col. Cooper takes toward the violent criminal. Truly, he doesn't suggest that we show that social parasite much mercy. Regardless, the book is a great guide to developing the combat mindset. And, as the good colonel points out, it wasn't written for cowards.

"Principles of Personal Defense" is available through the Gunsite Academy and Paladin Press.


Sheriff Jim Wilson
Sheriff Jim Wilson

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