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How To: Make Sure You Survive a Lethal Confrontation

This is WAY more important than any gun, gear or martial art (Coopers color codes)

What is the absolute BEST way to stay safe and make sure you survive a lethal confrontation? If you start to talk to me about martial arts, the type of gun you should carry (or how big the bullets should be), or anything like that then you are already wrong. There is one single thing that’s a million times more important than all of that when it comes to keeping you and your family safe. And it works no matter WHERE you are in the world no matter what weapons you have (or don’t have) on your person and no matter your age, strength, size or physical ability. In fact, it’s so important that it doesn’t matter what type of training or experience or skills you have either. Without this one thing, even a Navy SEAL is completely vulnerable and would almost certainly not survive a violent encounter.

What is it?

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The Proper Mindset.

There is a reason why the proper mindset tops the list. Simply because most people live their lives blissfully unaware of what’s going on in the world around them. They are either preoccupied with thoughts of work, pleasure, recreation, personal problems, or something else — it’s VERY rarely they’re actually tuned into the present moment in time that they’re occupying and what they’re doing. In today’s world, it’s almost a certainty that the person is more concerned with their cell phone than what they’re doing in the physical world at that moment in time.

Why Is Your Mindset So Important?

Tom Givens, the only firearms instructor I know who has had over 60+ of his student involved in gunfights with ZERO losses explains:

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.

Now, there’s something else to point out here.

As a Good Person, a “Law Abiding Citizen” You Are Always At a Disadvantage To Criminals …

Do you know why? Tom Givens explains, “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.”

And this is why it’s so important to develop the proper mindset.

Introducing The Cooper Color Code

Jeff Cooper, the founder of the first civilian firearms training school and a legend in the firearms world developed what is now called the Cooper Color Code.

It’s a color scale is made up of four mental states, which Jeff gave color names.
The colors simply let us conceptualize and discuss these 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.

  • In White you are unprepared and unready to take lethal action. If you are attacked in White you will probably die unless your adversary is totally inept.
  • In Yellow you bring yourself to the understanding that your life may be in danger and that you may have to do something about it.
  • In Orange you have determined upon a specific adversary and are prepared to take action which may result in his death, but you are not in a lethal mode.
  • In Red you are in a lethal mode and will shoot if circumstances warrant.

Let’s Break This Down

*** In White you are unprepared and unready to take lethal action.

This is the color that 99% of the world stays in every day and you should never be in this color unless, to quote the man “When in your own home, with the doors locked, the alarm system on, and your dog at your feet. Then, you can turn off your mind, if you wish, because you have sufficient layers of protection and warning to enable you to get up, get your gear, and get your head running.

If you leave your home, you leave Condition White behind. The instant you leave your home, you escalate one level, to Condition Yellow.

*** In Yellow you bring yourself to the understanding that your life may be in danger and that you may have to do something about it.

As a person who takes responsibility for their personal safety, this should be your standard mode of operation–it’s simply you keeping your “head up” and being aware of your environment.

*** In Orange you have determined upon a specific adversary and are prepared to take action which may result in his death, but you are not in a lethal mode.

This is if something–anything–seems “off” to you.

Everything should be viewed as potentially dangerous, until you have a chance to assess it while still remaining aware of what else is going on around you.

Think of a cat or dog smelling something or hearing something — they do NOT repress their natural instincts — they are wary of what’s going on and investigate further, slowly, until they’ve determined the appropriate risk …

This is where you’re playing the “what if” game with the situation you’re investigating … “That guy looks sketchy … and he’s looking at me … what if he suddenly draws a gun?”

This puts you ahead of the curve because you’re aware that something might go down …

*** In Red you are in a lethal mode and will FIGHT if circumstances warrant.

It’s important to remember that at this point you may or may not be fighting, but you are MENTALLY prepared to fight.

This, again, helps you get ahead of the curve.

An Example of How The Color Code System Works

Tom Givens gives an excellent scenario of the color code system:

Let’s work through a scenario to illustrate these principles. Let’s say you are working in a jewelry store today, a small storefront shop in a strip mall in suburbia. All of the other employees went to lunch and left you here alone. There are not even any customers in the store at the moment, you’re alone. What mental state are you in?  (Yellow. You are not ensconced in your home; you’re out in the real world.) So you keep your head up, and occasionally you scan out through the glass storefront and check out the parking lot. Since there is no one else in the store, any problem will have to come from outside. You want to know about a problem while it’s out there, not when it’s standing across the counter from you.

As you glance through the glass, you see two men in their early 20’s back up an old car to your store, get out in identical jogging suits, enter your door, and split up. Immediately, you go to Orange. They have done nothing illegal, and nothing aggressive, but they are out of place, out of the ordinary, so you escalate your mental state, and begin to think. “This looks like a hold-up in the making. I may have to hurt these guys. What should I do know? If things go bad, I’ll drop behind this safe and I can shoot into that wall without endangering anyone on the parking lot. I have a plan.”  At this point you watch them, and continue to monitor their movements. If they leave, you de-escalate to Yellow once they are gone.

If they stay, they will probably get together on the far side of the store and briefly discuss what they have seen. They will then move toward your position at the counter, and after trying to distract you (Can I see that ring back there?) pull their guns and announce a stick-up.  If you have been using the system, you went from Yellow to Orange when they came in, and went to Red as they approach your counter. You are ready. Because criminals have to be adept at reading body language (their lives depend upon this skill), they will see that you are prepared and simply leave. About nine out of ten pairs will leave at this point, without a confrontation. As they drive away, de-escalate from Red, to Orange, to Yellow.

What about the tenth pair? They are drugged, drunk, or both, and failed to recognize your level of readiness. They may go ahead foolishly with their hold-up. According to FBI studies, probably 80% of the ones you will actually have to fight will be under the influence of drugs/alcohol/drugs and alcohol at the time. What’s the good news? They’re drunk and/or drugged, which plays Hell with their reflexes, reaction time, and motor coordination. They’ll be relatively easy to deal with, IF you are mentally prepared (Condition Red) and have done your homework.

If they come in, and upon observing them you go to Orange, then as they approach, to Red, but then they leave, and you de-escalate, you will have gone all of the way up the scale without even reaching for your gun, which is very common. The point is, you would have been ready to reach for your gun if necessary.  This is how you win fights, by being mentally prepared to win.

The Bottom Line

And that’s really all there is to it friends. You can’t go walking through life with your hand on your gun ready to shoot people and it’s not safe to walk around with your head up your butt. So learn how to be aware of what’s going on, and if something seems “off” to you, listen to your instincts and it might just save your life. In the end, your mind is your most important survival tool.

About the author

Urban Survival Times Contributer

At Urban Survival Times our mission is to be the best survival blog providing a vast array of knowledge, tactics, and skills in the survival and preparedness fields, to any and all who wish to become more prepared for whatever may come.

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