As with everything else in this world, the term is often up for interpretation on many levels. But, for the purposes of my site, my brand and why you’re here… Having a Combat Mindset, simply means that you have developed the ability to act effectively and ethically under adversity, stress or extreme pressure.

Being able to act effectively under stress, doesn’t mean you’re a sociopath wanting confrontation. It means that you have conditioned yourself to overcome emotional and involuntary instincts that might keep you from reacting to an attack.

There should also be no moral dilemma or question on whether countering an attack is ethical. I can think of nothing that defines ethics more than life-saving and life-protecting values in action.

The 4 Legs of a Combat Mindset

There are four legs that make a solid mindset and should be constantly used and developed. If one of them fails, the entire foundation of your Combat Mindset will collapse. Each begins to work, even before a threat is realized.

Some things, like your situational awareness, play a big part in actually preventing trouble or creating a hard target for any would-be attacker. After all, the best way to survive an attack is to avoid one.

  1. Technical: repeatedly practicing techniques equips you to respond with gross muscle memory under stress, when your fine motor skills are unavailable.
  2. Tactical: what should you do when confronted with an attacker? should you flank them? hit left and dodge right? attack the weapon first, always, before worrying about the person holding it!
  3. Mental: fight, flight or fright. are you gonna freeze up and cower when attacked? run? are you mentally strong enough to do what needs to be done in the situation?
  4. Physical: are you in good enough shape to even handle an attack? do you have what it takes to put them down?

A gun is good. A knife is good. A stick is better than nothing at all, and your hands, arms, legs and muscles are to be relied on when nothing else can be. But, without your brain, without thinking and without cognizant awareness you are little more than an animal fighting for survival in a dangerous situation.

– Col. Jeff Cooper, USMC

Situational Awareness

Your situational awareness – a state of mind and capability in any given situation – plays a big part in actually preventing trouble and creating a hard target for any potential attack. To put this intangible necessity in perspective, I use a color code system that was created by United States Marine Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Cooper to explain the different levels of situational awareness.

The Cooper Color Code, originally introduced as White, Yellow, Orange and Red, had nothing to do with tactical situations or alertness levels, but rather with one’s state of mind. It’s not meant to give you an indication of how much danger is around you or apparent – it’s not a freakin Spidy Sense – but rather to help you to think through a difficult situation.

It directly relates to the degree of danger you are able to do something about. It allows you to move from one level of mindset to another to properly handle a tough situation. In short, the Color Code helps you “think” in a fight. As the level of danger increases, your willingness to take certain actions increases.

If you ever do go to Condition Red, the decision to use lethal force has already been made and your mental trigger has been tripped.

If you really want to develop your Combat Mindset, then start today by reading one of our most recent articles. Seriously, we write this stuff to help you, so you might as well use it…

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