Comprehensive Guide To Self Defense
Presented by Rob Pincus
This DVD is a bit of a departure from most of the Personal Defense Network productions that I’ve viewed. It’s entirely lecture-based, presented by Rob Pincus in a studio setting, and it’s also one of the most information-dense of the productions I’ve seen!
Comprehensive Guide To Self Defense is Pincus’ “50,000-foot view” of self defense, covering a wide range of topics all of which relate to personal defense in some important way. As he points out in his introduction, personal defense isn’t just about shooting or fighting; the viewer should consider where his or her weaknesses are and spend time working on them, even though they might not be as much fun as getting out and putting ammunition downrange!
Its scope is, in fact, a bit reminiscent of Massad Ayoob’s well-known book “The Truth About Self Protection” but with less specific detail. This is actually good, because Ayoob’s book — which came out in the early 1990s and has never been updated — is largely out of date. A DVD by necessity can’t include as much detail as a thick book and therefore has to focus on the important concepts, the things which aren’t really affected by the passage of time. The tools may change, but the ideas presented are valid at any date and this DVD is full of ideas and concepts!
Pincus starts with a discussion of awareness, but not the “keep your head on a swivel” kind of talk which passes for awareness. In his view, awareness is more like reconnaissance: finding out things where bad things are happening, what kinds of crimes are being committed, and most importantly just how these crimes are being perpetrated. As he points out, every police agency in the country keeps track of this kind of information and it’s available if you go looking for it. The little things — like knowing your neighbors and staying involved in the community — can also pay dividends in your overall level of safety, and he explains how and why.
The very next segment on the DVD is one that might actually anger some people, and that’s the topic of defensive fitness. Let’s face it: if you’re overweight or if exertion makes out of breath due to bad habits like heavy smoking, you’re simply less able to defend yourself. I know some of you reading this are probably feeling like I’m picking on you, but understand that I’m not perfect, either. As I’ve gotten into my mid-50s my weight has crept up, and it seems like I’m perennially 15 or 20 pounds over what I should be. That may not sound like a lot to someone who needs to shed 100 pounds, but it’s enough to significantly affect my strength and stamina and I feel it every day. I could stand to do more work in this area myself, and judging by what I see on the street a lot of my fellow Americans could as well. I think this is an important chapter of the DVD for most people to watch, even if it does make us just a little uncomfortable!
Pincus presents segments on hardening your home, understanding the laws regarding self defense and the use of lethal force, unarmed defensive skills and tools, and the need to get solid, formal training. In all cases he explains his rationale for the recommendations he makes, which is a hallmark of his teaching style. It’s also worth noting that there’s not a lot of talk about firearms in this DVD; the lawfully used defensive firearm is a small part of a total self protection plan but is sadly the one which gets the most attention. When looked at from Pincus’ 50,000-foot view, the firearm becomes less prominent and we can see all of the other stuff that actually prevents us from needing the gun in the first place.
The last segment is one that I think should have been put first, and it’s called Establishing A Practice Regimen. As Pincus points out, this is far more than going to the range and burning up ammo; it’s also about spending the time and money to keep up on all of your skills and knowledge, to maintain or increase your level of skill. He explains the difference between training (which is learning something new) and practice (working on those things that you know or you’ve already been exposed to) and that all practice is an enormous investment — done properly, it will consume a significant portion of your resources. It’s also not as fun as training, so it requires more dedication to do properly!
(On a personal note, I believe that you should spend the majority of your resources on practice rather than training. The person who takes a training course and then religiously practices the skills he/she has learned will, I believe, be far better prepared than the person who trains constantly but never actually cements and develops the skills, knowledge and attitudes they’ve been exposed to.)
Practice isn’t just the repetition of your physical skills; it’s also getting into the habit of putting your other knowledge and tools to use. Things like always activating your alarm system or keeping up on the latest crime trends in your community are part of practice, too. These aren’t the kinds of things we usually think of when the word “practice” comes up, but the point of practice is to deeply ingrain skills *or* knowledge, to make them a part of daily life to the point that they happen automatically when appropriate.
He also explains his belief in the value of “front loading” your practice: practicing skills and habits as close to the point that you learn them as possible, to start actually developing the skill or habit before you actually need it. Waiting for a month or so before practicing a new skill means that you may have forgotten important aspects of what you’ve learned and may never develop the skill properly.
His expanded definition of the word practice is an important concept and one which I think more people need to understand; being toward the end of the DVD many people might skip or gloss over it, but it may be the best segment of the entire presentation.
This DVD is perfect not just for gun owners, but also for those who have no desire or interest in using a gun for self protection. It’s the kind of DVD you can give to that sibling who doesn’t like guns or that co-worker who is nervous about the whole idea of defending themselves, but who want (and deserve) to live a safer life. Though Pincus has in the past described himself as “the gun guy”, this DVD goes far beyond just shooting. It’s a great resource and, no matter what your age or living situation, you’ll find something in this DVD that you can use to help make yourself safer.
– Grant Cunningham
Disclosure: This DVD was supplied by the Personal Defense Network for review. I am affiliated with PDN as a contributor, and have worked with Rob Pincus on many projects over the years, but I receive no compensation should you purchase this DVD.