Jeff Cooper; The Principals of Personal defense.
In defense we do not initiate violence. We must grant
our attacker the vast advantage of striking the first blow, or
at least attempting to do so. But thereafter we may return
the attention with what should optimally be overwhelming
violence. “The best defense is a good offense.” This is true,
and while we cannot apply it strictly to personal defensive
conduct, we can propose a corollary: “The best personal
defense is an explosive counterattack.” Those who do not
understand fighting will at once suggest that numbers, size,
strength, or armament must make this instruction invalid.
They will insist that the aggressor will not attack unless he
has a decisive preponderance of force. This is possible, but
it is not by any means always, or even usually, true. Consider
the Speck case, in which the victims outnumbered the
murderer eight to one. They disposed of far more than
enough force to save their lives, but only if they had
directed that force violently and aggressively against the
murderer. This they failed to do. There are countless other
The victory of an explosive response by an obviously
weaker party against superior force is easy to observe in the
animal world. A toy poodle runs a German Shepherd off his
property. A tiny kingbird drives off a marauding hawk. A
forty-pound wolverine drives a whole wolf pack away from
a kill that the wolves worked hours to bring down. Aggressiveness
carries with it an incalculable moral edge in any
combat, offensive or defensive. And the very fact that the
assailant does not expect aggressiveness in his victim
usually catches him unaware.
If the intended victim is armed, skill becomes a factor
more critical than numbers. A man with a powerful, reliable
sidearm, and who is highly qualified in its use, can ruin a
rifle squad at close range if he can seize the initiative by
instantaneous aggressive response to a clumsily mounted
attack. Of course such skill is rare, even (or perhaps especially)
among our uniformed protectors, but it can be
acquired. Great strides have been made in recent years in
the theory of defensive pistolcraft. The results are available
to respectable parties. But never assume that simply having
a gun makes you a marksman. You are no more armed
because you are wearing a pistol than you are a musician
because you own a guitar.
In a recent case, a pupil of mine was assaulted by four
men armed with revolvers as he drove into his driveway
after a late party. Being a little the worse for wear, he
violated (or just forgot) all the principles of personal
defense but one and that was the principle of aggressiveness.
At their first volley, he laid down such a quick and
heavy barrage of return fire (twenty-two rounds in less than
twenty seconds) that his would-be assassins panicked and
ran. He did most things wrong, but his explosive reaction to
attack certainly saved his life.
Now how do we cultivate an aggressive response? I
think the answer is indignation. Read the papers. Watch the
news. These people have no right to prey upon innocent
citizens. They have no right to offer you violence. They are
bad people and you are quite justified in resenting their
behavior to the point of rage. Your response, if attacked,
must not be fear, it must be anger. The two emotions are
very close and you can quite easily turn one into the other.
At this point your life hangs upon your ability to block out
all thoughts of your own peril, and to concentrate utterly
upon the destruction of your enemy. Anger lets you do this.
The little old lady who drives off an armed robber by
beating on him with her purse is angry, and good for her!
The foregoing is quite obviously not an approved outlook
in current sociological circles. That is of no consequence.
We are concerned here simply with survival. After
we have arranged for our survival, we can discuss sociology.
If it is ever your misfortune to be attacked, alertness
will have given you a little warning, decisiveness will have
given you a proper course to pursue, and if that course is to
counterattack, carry it out with everything you’ve got! Be
indignant. Be angry. Be aggressive.