Sunday Rant – Cooper Principles of Personal Defense

Principle Seven: Surprise

This is put last on purpose, for surprise is the first principle of offensive combat. However, the privilege of striking the first blow is a luxury we must usually grant to our attacker, so in a sense there can be no strategic surprise in defense. But that does not mean that the defender cannot achieve tactical surprise. By doing what our assailant least expects us to do, we may throw him completely off.  

 As we have seen, what he usually least suspects is instant, violent counterattack, so the principle of aggressiveness is closely tied to threat of surprise. One of the most hilarious episodes in recent cinema presents a bank teller debating the spelling of a written demand passed through the wicket by the bank robber. The whole affair shifts from banditry to an argument about whether the money can be handed over in the face of so badly constructed a missive.

Pretty far-fetched, of course, but still stimulating. The unexpected is disconcerting. A disconcerted felon is momentarily less in charge of his own thoughts than the moment just before or just after. At that moment, his victim may be able to turn the tables.

On a realistic note, I can point out that in every single successful defense against violent attack that I know of and I have studied this matter for nearly three decades -the attacker was totally surprised when his victim did not wilt.

The speed, power, efficiency, and aggressiveness of the counterattack varied greatly, but the mere fact of its existence was the most elemental component of its success. If you have friends in law enforcement, ask them to tell you the “April Fool” joke. It’s a bit gamy for a publication of this sort, but it makes a point-and it is very funny. Its moral is the moral of this manual: The criminal does not expect his prey to fight back. May he never choose you, but, if he does, surprise him.

A Final Word

There is a purpose to be served by this essay. The combination of modem medical science and the welfare state has brought about a condition of general overcrowding and boredom which, magnified by vast worldwide increases in population, has resulted in an unconscionable drop in personal safety. Before World War II, one could stroll in the parks and streets of the city after dark with hardly any risk-at least no more than was involved in driving on the highway.

 A young woman needed no escort. One could safely ask for help on the road. Meeting with another rifleman in the woods was occasion for comradeship rather than a red alert. This is true no longer.

Today, and for the foreseeable future, the problem of personal risk is much more serious than of yore. Our police do what they can, but they can’t protect us everywhere and all the time. All too often they cannot even protect themselves.

Your physical safety is up to you, as it really always has been.

The principles herein enunciated are the result of a great deal of study and consultation, plus a fair amount of actual experience. Taken to heart, they may save your life. There is always an element of luck in any sort of conflict, and I know of no way to guarantee success in every instance.

What I do know, however, is that if the victims of the dozen or more sickening atrocities that have gained nationwide fame in recent years had read this book, and had heeded what they read, they would have survived those actions.

Additionally, a small but select number of goblins would not be alive today, bounding in and out of courts and costing us all money that could be much better spent.

George Patton told his officers, “Don’t worry about your flanks. Let the enemy worry about his flanks.” It is high time for society to stop worrying about the criminal, and to let the criminal start worrying about society. And by “society” I mean you.

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