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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As originally posted at TeddyTactical:

States of Awareness, the Cooper Color Codes

By Tom Givens

Most people stumble through life, blissfully unaware of the world around them. They remain preoccupied with thoughts of work, or personal problems, or how to get a date, or other trivialities, with no thought to their immediate environment. By not paying attention to their surroundings, they place themselves in needless jeopardy.

Go sit in the intake area in your neighborhood hospital emergency room one evening, as an educational exercise. Observe the unfortunates who come in for treatment, and you will get an excellent illustration of this point. About twenty percent of the customers are actually sick-discount them. The remaining eighty percent are there because they were inattentive to their environment. These will be people who walked off loading docks, or stepped off ladders twenty feet up, or backed into running machinery, or stepped into the path of a vehicle, OR allowed a thug to walk right up to them un-noticed and bean them with a brick. You can be stupid, inattentive, and oblivious in your work environment day in and day out and get away with it until one day the odds catch up with you and you are injured. The same applies on the street. You can be stupid, inattentive, and oblivious and get away with it until your path happens to cross the path of a criminal. The vast majority of criminals are opportunists, who only strike when presented with a viable opportunity. Remove the opportunity and you remove the risk to you!

By learning to observe your environment, constantly evaluate it, and react appropriately to what you see, you can achieve a large degree of control over your fate. This requires you to learn to shift up and down a scale of readiness, just like shifting gears in a car, so that you can match your level of awareness/readiness with the current requirements of your situation. In a car, you shift gears based on the grade encountered or the speed desired. On the street, you must learn to "shift gears" mentally, to match the threat level encountered. There is a sliding scale of readiness, going from a state of being oblivious and unprepared to a condition of being ready to instantly do lethal violence if forced. One cannot live stuck at either end of this spectrum.

If you try to live at the bottom of the scale, you will fall victim to an accident or to a criminal, eventually. It's just a matter of "when", not "if". On the other hand, you can't go through your daily routine with your hand hovering over your holstered pistol, ready to shoot if anything moves! What you must learn to do is escalate and de-escalate up and down this scale as the circumstances around you dictate. This is an easily learned system, and one that will help you be in the right frame of mind to deal with any conflict you encounter.

If you should find yourself faced with a life-threatening attack by a criminal, as a typical normal person, you will be faced by three enormous difficulties. They are:

1. Recognizing the presence of the predator in time;
2. Realizing, internalizing, and accepting that THAT MAN, RIGHT THERE, is about to kill you for reasons you do not understand; if you don't stop him; and
3. Overcoming your reluctance to do lethal violence against a fellow human being.

Let's look at each of these in turn. First, you have to see him and realize that he is a threat. Thugs are flesh and bone, and are not invisible. Contrary to public opinion, they do not beam down from the mother ship, attack you, and beam back up. They typically walk right up to you un-noticed because of the fog most people operate in daily. Learn to lift that fog and see the warning signs earlier, so you can be prepared.

Second, it is very difficult for normal, rational, socialized, civilized people to grasp that they live cheek by jowl with people who are NOT normal, rational, socialized, or civilized. There are people out there who do not care about your hopes or plans for the future, they do not care about your family, they do not care about the pain and suffering they inflict-they just don't care. They may kill you for the contents of your wallet, so they can buy one more day's supply of drugs. They may rape you because they feel powerless, degraded, and abused except while they are degrading and abusing someone else. They may kill you simply to move up one rank in their street gang. Guess what? It doesn't matter "Why?". A typical victim reaction is, "But why would anyone want to hurt me?". Who cares why?

Third, it will be difficult for you to put your sights in the center of a human being's chest and press the trigger, knowing that you are turning a vertical, living, breathing person into a horizontal pile of meat. Don't let anyone tell you that will be easy. As a society, we don't want it to be easy, do we? This is why legally armed citizens don't shoot people over arguments, or traffic accidents, and so forth. In fact, shootings by armed citizens are almost always ruled justifiable by the authorities, while almost a third of police shootings are ruled questionable or improper. Private citizens are reluctant to actually shoot, even when it is necessary. You must overcome this obstacle if your life is on the line. You will have to realize that there are times when lethal violence is not just excusable, or justifiable, or acceptable, but actually required.

Fortunately, there is a system available to help you overcome all three of these problems. By learning to use this system, practicing it, and making it part of your daily routine, you can be assured of seeing an attack in its developing stages, and become both mentally and physically prepared to defend yourself. Jeff Cooper, who taught it at ‘Gunsite’ and later gave an excellent videotaped presentation, first publicized this system, called the Color Code. I had the great good fortune of being taught this by Jeff early in my career, and I can say without reservation that this system saved my life on several occasions. Not what kind of gun I had, nor the brand of ammo, but this mental system. I feel so strongly that this is one of the most important weapons in your arsenal, that I feel it is my duty to share it with you.

I mentioned earlier learning to move up and down a scale of readiness, just like shifting gears. The scale consists of four mental states, which Jeff gave color names. The colors simply let us conceptualize and discuss the basic mental states. You must learn to go up and down this scale as the situation and circumstances around you change, as they invariably do as you go through your daily routine...

This complete article can be found at; of Awareness.htm

- Janq

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4,133 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
DJ 9iron said:
More people should know this so they don't just dismiss themselves or others as "paranoid."

Myself I've learned to pretty much live this way from an early age, and it works.
The few times I've written it off I've been for the worst as a result.
It's good in som many levels of life use too not just security/self defense but on the job and with getting a 'feel' for other people who you might interact with.

I started to do my norm and post this in OT as well but didn't figuring it's too long of a read and you know how OTters tend hate to reading anything longer than two sentences. :\

Anyway I hope Gunatics do take the 15 minutes to read this, and understand.
I see on shows toward rape of women that victims say/repeat stuff nearly exact same as this to which they have learned the hard way after the fact.

- Janq

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996 Posts
I've grown up this way as well. Sometimes putting it into practice has actually drawn attention to myself from the would be pursuer though. In utilizing the techniques, I've been caught looking at someone when otherwise they would have dismissed me... I've had more time to think about it now.

You're exactly right. I too apply on a daily basis for my job. I'm a surveyor, and working all over Western PA, you meet a huge range of people. Needless to say, having a character gauge is vital.

Yep, you see this on SVU all the time.

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