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I believe that self-defense is mostly mental and intellectual. I estimate that self-defense is one-third self-awareness, one-third social awareness, and one-third physical ability. As a result, learning self-defense is learning to have the right information and mindset. First, you learn to identify potentially violent encounters by recognizing patterns in social environments and the warnings that your body provides you. Then, you learn to deescalate or avoid those encounters. Finally, if deescalation and avoidance don't work, then you use your physical abilities to survive.

Essential reading:

  • The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker
  • Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps' Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life by Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley
  • When Violence Is the Answer: Learning How to Do What It Takes When Your Life Is at Stake

The Gift of Fear introduces the self-, social, situational awareness aspects of self-defense. Left of Bang expands on social and situational awareness. When Violence is the Answer explains the physical abilities that you need to survive truly unavoidable violent encounters.