Cooper’s Color Codes Says That 10% Of Self-Defense Is Physical Technique. What Is the Other 90%?

Cooper’s Color Codes Say That 10% Of Self-Defense Is Physical Technique. What Is the Other 90%?

Self-defense is a crucial skill that everyone should possess in order to protect themselves and their loved ones in dangerous situations. While many people believe that self-defense is solely about physical technique, Cooper’s Color Codes theory suggests otherwise. According to this theory, only 10% of self-defense is based on physical techniques, while the remaining 90% is attributed to other factors. In this article, we will explore what those other factors are and why they play such a significant role in self-defense.

Cooper’s Color Codes is a system developed American firearms instructor, Jeff Cooper. It categorizes a person’s state of awareness and readiness for self-defense into four color codes: White, Yellow, Orange, and Red. Each color represents a different level of awareness and preparedness, and understanding these codes is essential for effective self-defense.

The first color code, White, represents a state of complete unawareness and lack of preparedness. In this state, individuals are oblivious to their surroundings and potential threats. Unfortunately, many people spend a significant amount of their time in the White state, making them vulnerable targets for criminals. Therefore, the first step towards self-defense is to be aware of your surroundings and maintain a Yellow state of readiness.

The Yellow state is characterized relaxed alertness. In this state, individuals are aware of their environment and potential threats. They pay attention to people’s behaviors, body language, and unusual activities around them. Maintaining this level of awareness allows individuals to detect potential dangers and take necessary precautions. However, being in a constant Yellow state can be mentally exhausting, so it is important to find a balance between vigilance and relaxation.

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The next level is the Orange state, which represents a specific and imminent threat. In this state, individuals have identified a potential danger and are mentally preparing to respond. It is important to note that the Orange state does not necessarily mean a physical confrontation is imminent. Instead, it signifies the need to mentally prepare for potential self-defense actions. This mental preparedness includes considering escape routes, identifying potential weapons or improvised tools, and formulating a plan of action.

Finally, the Red state is the last level of Cooper’s Color Codes and signifies a state of physical confrontation. At this point, individuals must rely on the physical techniques they have learned to defend themselves. These techniques may include strikes, blocks, joint locks, or grappling maneuvers, depending on the situation and the individual’s training. However, it is crucial to remember that physical techniques alone are not enough to guarantee self-defense success.

The other 90% of self-defense, as mentioned earlier, is not solely dependent on physical techniques. Instead, it encompasses various factors that contribute to an individual’s overall preparedness and ability to defend themselves effectively. These factors include situational awareness, mental preparedness, confidence, communication skills, de-escalation techniques, and understanding legal aspects related to self-defense.


Q: Why is only 10% of self-defense attributed to physical techniques?

A: Physical techniques alone are not enough to ensure effective self-defense. Without proper awareness, mental preparedness, and other non-physical skills, physical techniques may be rendered useless. Cooper’s Color Codes emphasize the importance of being mentally and psychologically prepared before resorting to physical actions.

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Q: How can one improve their situational awareness?

A: Improving situational awareness requires conscious effort and practice. Start paying attention to your surroundings, identifying potential threats, and observing people’s behavior. Avoid distractions like mobile phones and headphones when walking in public areas. Engage in activities that enhance your observational skills, such as martial arts or tactical training.

Q: Is it possible to defend oneself without physical confrontation?

A: Yes, self-defense techniques encompass a range of skills, including verbal de-escalation, assertiveness, and effective communication. These skills can help diffuse potentially dangerous situations before they escalate into physical confrontations. It is always better to avoid physical confrontation when possible.

Q: Are self-defense classes necessary to learn these skills?

A: While self-defense classes can be highly beneficial, especially for learning physical techniques, one can also develop situational awareness, mental preparedness, and other non-physical skills through self-study and practice. However, formal training with experienced instructors can provide valuable guidance and feedback, ensuring that techniques are learned correctly.

In conclusion, self-defense is not merely about physical techniques. Cooper’s Color Codes theory highlights the importance of situational awareness, mental preparedness, and other non-physical skills, which account for 90% of self-defense. By understanding and practicing these aspects, individuals can enhance their overall readiness and ability to protect themselves and others in potentially dangerous situations.

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