Holiday Reading

If I don’t write again for this website before 2010 I would like to take the opportunity of wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Below is some recommended reading material for you to enjoy over the holiday period. I am guessing that it will probably be too late to get hold of them before Christmas, but maybe something to spend your Christmas money and book vouchers on.

Daniel Gardner’s “The Science of Fear” is exactly the sort of text that needs to be read at the “grown-up table” of self protection. It came out in 2008 and delivers a sober and scientific examination of why humans fear irrational things. If you are a long time participant in the combatives and self defence training and haven’t read this book then I urge that you do. Subjects in evolutionary biology and behavioural psychology that most of us only touch on are given the detail they deserve in this book. It makes Gavin Debecker’s seminal work, “The Gift of Fear”; seem positively partial after you read the first two chapters of “The Science of Fear”. You are provided with a proper explanation and breakdown of the system one and system two functions of the brain, and how we act upon their stimulus. Gardner also authored “Risk” and is definitely a writer for self defence experts to look out for if we are to be ahead of curve.

Ben Sherwood’s “The Survivor’s Club” deserves a strong mention here too. This also brings us more up-to-date science and thorough research into how our minds and bodies react in extreme circumstances. The book is commercially produced, so it’s not hard reading, but it doesn’t stint on facts or dress anything up with mythology or confusing and ambiguous allegories.

Mark Dawes’s “Understanding Reasonable Force” has finally caught the attention of some UK self defence instructors. I am glad. The law section of most courses is often looked at derisively. And yet I know way too many people who would have benefitted from the information provided by this excellent little book. This includes people who ended up getting a criminal record unnecessarily and those who were got violently injured for fear that they would end up on the wrong side of the law. Ignorance can seriously damage lives.  This book focuses completely on your rights in a violent situation and how the law understands self defence.

Jeff Cooper’s “Principles of Personal Defence” is definitely worth a proper read through for serious self defence coaches or at least those who use his famed colour code. Are you teaching it correctly? Many of us quote it with abandon without really considering common sense or ever actually consulting the original text. I have seen the code taught countless numbers of times and often it reflects little of what Cooper wrote.

I think if there is a uniting theme with my reading recommendations it is about defeating paranoia. As self defence coaches, we preach on and on about awareness without properly considering the dangers of paranoia. We are too easily led by junk media reports and urban legends. This is why I want those who train with me to be critical thinkers. These books are superb resources for us to make some steady progress in a section of the combative subculture that is beginning to sink into the same mysticism and ignorance it once sought to eradicate.