Classic Book Review – Principles of Personal Defense

Classic Book Review – Principles of Personal Defense

This is a discussion on Classic Book Review – Principles of Personal Defense within the Defensive Books, Video & References forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; A friend brought up the fact that not everyone is familiar with some of the classic literature of personal protection. So, I am going to ...

Results 1 to 9 of 9
Like Tree5Likes
  • 2 Post By HeadHunter
  • 1 Post By BadgerJ
  • 1 Post By BadgerJ
  • 1 Post By HeadHunter

Thread: Classic Book Review – Principles of Personal Defense

  1. #1
    Member Array HeadHunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Hotel Carlton
    Posts
    312

    Classic Book Review – Principles of Personal Defense

    A friend brought up the fact that not everyone is familiar with some of the classic literature of personal protection. So, I am going to write a series of articles about some of them in my library. Here is the first.

    “[T]his booklet was not written for cowards.” That statement is contained in the Preface to Principles of Personal Defense, written by the late Jeff Cooper, founder of the private sector firearms training industry. This short book is considered a piece of classic literature among those who take personal protection seriously. In it, Cooper describes seven principles for staying safe in what can often be an unsafe world. His perception is that concentration on technique, without focusing on underlying principles, is conceptually unsound.
    Classic Book Review ? Principles of Personal Defense - Atlanta Firearms | Examiner.com
    gatorbait51 and JD like this.


  2. #2
    Distinguished Member Array BadgerJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Mid-Atlantic
    Posts
    1,530
    Assuming that's your blog and you're writing reviews, here's my take on what Cooper had to say.

    First ask yourself, for whom did he write that book? Did he write it for a person who has self-defense concerns, say a female being stalked or a widow who is living out in the country? Because, when you think about it THEY are the ones who need good, solid advice about how to defend themselves. A burly, aggressive, ruthless, decisive, quick man does not need anyone's advice on how to defend themselves.

    When you are giving someone self-defense advice you have to tailor make it to fit their needs, and I almost doubt that a macho ex-marine would be capable of giving a small, somewhat frightened person who is reluctant to be a killer good advice.

    I'm of the opinion that 'what works' has to be built up from a base of a certain type and then have layered on some reasonable concepts (including familiarity with the law) to allow the person to not only defend themselves, but to also stay out of jail and the poor house. In reality it's better to avoid the need for violent self-defense, even if it takes moving out of the person's state and going anonymous than trying to learn to be a ruthless killer with a firearm.

    We talk about self defense here, but few of us have an actual concurrent threat from which we need to be on high vigilance on a daily basis. We can afford to be somewhat casually prepared, get basic firearm training, a carry permit and some idea of the law. But would Jeff Cooper's methods be adaptable to a female with a determined stalker who is nearly twice her size? I'm not sure it is.

    I guess what I'm reacting most to is his opening 'this book is not for cowards', because let me tell you faced with a REAL frightening threat from an actual determined predator we all are cowards to a degree.

    I do like the idea of you reviewing your books, I'm just saying I'm not a big fan of the Jeff Cooper method (for other than law enforcement or bodyguards or professionals who need to carry a firearm).
    gatorbait51 likes this.

  3. #3
    VIP Member
    Array gatorbait51's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Loozianna
    Posts
    2,930
    I think Cooper and a lot of the trainers out there try to find that happy medium, such as it is , in a self defense scenario. Cooper was fairly harsh as was Bill Jordon and Elmer Keith. Something to be said for that, really. On the other hand, getting women to accept these harsher methods is difficult , though no one is more fierce than threatened mom. So, where do we find the reference to bring the two together? Cooper is a primer in my mind, what's left of it.

  4. #4
    Distinguished Member Array BadgerJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Mid-Atlantic
    Posts
    1,530
    Gator - finding the path to the right training method is EVERYTHING. It's called a 'delivery system'. It includes things like specificity, functionalization, low-attribute based methods, and training with 'aliveness' (footwork, timing and resistance).

    If you have to teach a class of females the necessary elements of self-defense with a firearm and you just force a method on them that they don't get, demanding they comply, you have shorted them. It's -easy- to teach a bunch of burly, ruthless guys how to be 'non-cowards'. It's easy to give a list of attributes and say 'do this'.

    The question that matters is 'how' do you teach this so it works? One example is realizing that 80% of your success comes from 20% of your training. You look around for people who have been successful despite not a lot of natural talent and try to understand (by asking?) what they did.

    The interesting thing about modern firearms trainers is that a lot of them are very good at verbalizing, getting results and individualizing their approach. They can do things like use a laser-equipped blue gun to help fix certain draw and aim issues. They can use timers and specific drills. It's pretty amazing.

    I'm just saying that listing a bunch of attributes like Cooper did (get tough, be mean, be ruthless) is the 'what' of training. The key is in the 'how' you get those attributes, how you get effectiveness. I happened to pick female trainers because generally they have to use things like precision, timing, attention to details to get results, not 'brute force' or machismo. These are low-attribute-based technical methods.

    Cooper seemed to be saying 'first be Wild Bill Hickock'. This is now known to be less effective than modern technique and practice based methods.

    FWIW
    Last edited by BadgerJ; November 10th, 2013 at 10:35 PM.
    gatorbait51 likes this.

  5. #5
    VIP Member
    Array gatorbait51's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Loozianna
    Posts
    2,930
    All good points . I failed to place the fact that it is both a generational thing and lessening of those whose original training was from the Big Green Machine.

    You're of course correct, explanation,repetition, and explanation again followed by practice and, advanced practice .

    I stand corrected . The dinosaur ways have not quite left me yet.

  6. #6
    Member Array HeadHunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Hotel Carlton
    Posts
    312
    While I can understand taking issue with Cooper's preface, I think that his body of Principles is quite sound. He may phrase his interpretation of them in a bolder way than is common now but that doesn't negate them.

    Just today, I came across an interesting incident in The Armed Citizen from 1973.

    Posted on October 1, 1973

    A pistol hidden in a stereo saved the day when three men tried to rob former West Virginia Secretary of State Robert D. Bailey and his wife Jean. Two of the intruders, one armed with a gun, forced their way into the Bailey's Pineville, W. Va., home and demanded money. On the way to the vault, Mrs. Bailey lagged behind because "I knew I was going to pass the stereo" where a cal. .38 pistol was hidden. She grabbed the pistol and got the drop on the two robbers. Her husband at gunpoint then made a third accomplice release their son, who was being held hostage in a nearby mobile home.
    That lady applied every single one of the Principles to her situation successfully.

    1. Alertness - She watched for an opportunity to change the status quo.
    2. Decisiveness - She took the opportunity she saw.
    3. Aggressiveness - She acted aggressively enough to convince the criminals that her intent was focused.
    4. Speed - She acted before they could counter.
    5. Coolness - She didn't fumble or hesitate.
    6. Ruthlessness - She made the value judgement that her and her family's well being was more important than the safety of the criminals.
    7. Surprise - "She grabbed the pistol and got the drop on the two robbers."


    As I pointed out in my review, even 'Ruthlessness' has to be put in context. We might phrase it differently but ultimately, even the smallest woman who wishes to defend herself or her family will have to make a value judgement. Without doing so, she will be powerless.
    Some people may object to one or more of the Principles, particularly Ruthlessness. However, reading that chapter more clearly illustrates his point of view. “[W]e are fully justified in valuing the life and person of an intended victim more highly than the life of a pernicious assailant.” So, in fact, what he means by “Ruthlessness” is actually a form of triage or a value proposition. Someone who is being attacked or whose loved ones are being attacked must place a higher value on their own or family’s well being than the well being of an attacker. That is what Cooper means by “Ruthlessness.”
    I agree we might need to phrase what we say in a different way than Cooper did. However, I think he ultimately enumerated quite succinctly the concepts we will be trying to convey, regardless of the words we use.

    I guess what I'm reacting most to is his opening 'this book is not for cowards', because let me tell you faced with a REAL frightening threat from an actual determined predator we all are cowards to a degree.
    I would disagree with you about this. Being afraid in the face of danger is not cowardice. Merriam-Webster defines cowardice as:
    : fear that makes you unable to do what is right or expected
    : lack of courage
    Courage or bravery is the ability to act correctly in spite of fear. As Cooper puts it in the sentence preceding his statement that the book is not for cowards:
    When a coward is offered deadly violence, his reaction may be to surrender, or cower, or flee, or call for help; not one of these choices is likely to obviate his peril.
    I am unable to fault his logic there.
    Eichorn likes this.

  7. #7
    Distinguished Member Array Hoganbeg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    1,657
    Whether or not the book is for cowards is a moot point. What he has laid out in this short treatise really hits the nail on the head. It is, indeed about the principles, not the techniques, of personal defense.

    I heartily recommend this book for everyone's library. If you have not read it--you should. I pull mine out every so often & re-read it just to meditate on the principles & how they work together, and their relevance to today's environment.

    As far as teaching goes, the principles are the first things that must be impressed upon the students and then continuously reinforced because without them in place, all the technique in the world is useless. This is especially challenging when teaching women because they tend to be nurturing sorts and seem to have more natural aversion to the sudden violence required.
    Last edited by Hoganbeg; November 11th, 2013 at 10:39 PM. Reason: word transposition

  8. #8
    Member Array HeadHunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Hotel Carlton
    Posts
    312
    Quote Originally Posted by Hoganbeg View Post
    As far as teaching goes, the principles are the first things that must be impressed upon the students then and continuously reinforced because without them in place, all the technique in the world is useless. This is especially challenging when teaching women because they tend to be nurturing sorts and seem to have more natural aversion to the sudden violence required.
    Very true. Technique and hardware are useless without the will to Win. That's one of Cooper's main messages to me.

  9. #9
    Member Array Eichorn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    123
    While I haven't read Cooper's Principles of Personal Defense, I do enjoy his works, particularly To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth. He was a man who spoke his mind and did so eloquently; something lost on our current generation I believe.
    "Hell is truth seen too late."

Sponsored Links

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Search tags for this page

principles of personal defence review

Click on a term to search for related topics.