HOW NOT TO GET HIT: The Art of Fighting Without Fighting | Staying Safe in a Violent World
When it comes to self-defense books, there are generally two approaches. Books that try and teach you physical skills through descriptions, photographs and books that teach awareness and avoidance tactics.
Despite being an instructor in a style of Jiu-jitsu that is primarily self-defense and law enforcement oriented, I prescribe to the awareness and avoidance school of thought when it comes to self-defense. My views on this topic mirror Lori O’Connell Sensei’s, and anyone who has attended her self-defense for busy women classes, or been taught by us at a corporate seminar can attest to the fact we spend more time on these concepts than the physical skills.
90% of self-defense, in my opinion, is awareness, avoidance and safe practices. Violence should always be the last resort, and when violence is used, it’s for the purposes of creating an opportunity to escape.
That’s how I would quickly sum up any of the seminars in self-defense that O’Connell Sensei puts on, and it’s also how I would quickly sum up this book.
Author Nathaniel Cooke looks into the physchology of an attack, the different types of attackers people face and the how to use this knowledge to keep you safe. Backed up with just enough statistics to make it a good book to go with coffee, Cooke’s amusing and sometimes corny explanation of the predator/prey mentality is a must read for anyone new to the concept.
The section I enjoyed the most is probably the least useful for a normal member of the public. Cooke interviewed several professionals for whom use of force is part of the job. While I found the stories interesting, and picked up a few tidbits from the security professional interviewed, the big lesson to be derived from this series of interviews is that those who may need to use violence have many more tools at their disposal than regular members of the public, and that violence should be avoided at all costs. It’s an important lesson to learn, but didn’t require a chapter and 30 pages to be made. In Cooke’s defense however, had it not been for that section piquing my interest in the first place, I would never have read the rest of the book. And his point about avoiding violence at all costs is more forcefully driven home by including the professionals’ viewpoint.
The book does have some weak spots, and Cooke makes a few statements that I would disagree with. Never making eye contact is certainly one of them. That’s one of those contextual things where I feel a blanket statement is grossly misleading, especially in the case of women. Cooke doesn’t ignore women in the book, and definitely spends some time talking about violence against women in the statistics section; but he doesn’t spend much time addressing how their approach to self-defense should be modified.
The author spends a chapter going through principles of self-defense, deftly explaining simple technqiues with the goal of creating opportunities to escape. He also stresses the need to actually train to get them.
At the end of the day, I liked this book. Like all books there are weaknesses, and as I said, points I disagree with, especially with his use of an overly long title.
But for men who don’t generally feel like they need to attend a self-defense course, this is a great book. For people entering the security profession for the first time, this is a good resource for better understanding the psychology of an attack, and dealing with intoxicated individuals, and I’ll be recommending it to those new to the profession.
For women, there is some pertinent information that can be helpful, but I would recommend reading more women specific defense literature, or better yet, (shameless plug alert) for women in the Vancouver area to attend our Self-Defense for Busy Women class.