Review: Defensive Mindset DVD
Over the years there has been much written and said on the topic of the defensive mindset. Many defensive shooting courses start with and claim to develop such a mindset, but usually amount to little more than trite sayings and broad exhortations.
Call me jaded if you will, but to be honest that’s what I was expecting when this DVD arrived in my mailbox. It was a pleasant surprise to find something very different than what I anticipated!
This is another in the studio lecture series by Rob Pincus, and it’s more comprehensive that I thought it would be. He starts off by talking about awareness and acceptance: awareness that bad things happen, and acceptance that those awful things could happen to you. As he points out, this is foundational; if you aren’t aware of the crimes that are happening and don’t accept that they can happen to you, your preparations will be incomplete (or perhaps non-existent.) He talks about the need to research and understand crime types and criminal behaviors, looking at what crimes happen, how often they happen, and where they happen. He suggests that such knowledge should change your behavior, whether it’s your habits or even where you live.
Pincus spends a lot of time explaining how to do this research and the resources you can use. The takeaway from this segment is that the crimes themselves need to dictate how you prepare, rather than letting your preparations fix in your mind the kinds of crime you expect to encounter. (From my experience, a large portion of the self-defense training world revolves around the latter approach!)
There are two segments that at first glance might seem to be redundant, but cover two subtly different areas: Commitment and Dedication. Commitment is your personal promise to yourself that you will make the changes in your attitudes and habits necessary to reduce your risk. Part of that commitment is deciding that you will learn and train in what you’ve learned; commitment is a personal, inward-focused concept.
In contrast, the section on Dedication is outwardly focused and is all about apportioning your resources — time, money, and effort — to implementing and practicing your defensive skills. How to budget, how to schedule your practice, and in general using your safety resources consistently are all part of dedication. The section on Dedication addresses things that are rarely discussed and thus often ignored, especially about discipline in putting your skills and training to work every day. Commitment gives you the roadmap, Dedication is following that map.
Preparation and training, as he points out, are synonymous. The segment on Preparation and Training Areas gives an overview of the various ways you can develop skills and knowledge. For instance, being physically fit is an important part of self defense and Pincus talks about what defensive fitness looks like and why it’s important; knowing how to use hands and feet in self defense is another area where some knowledge and ability is valuable. Areas of preparation might also include learning to use firearms, improvised tools, and how to deal with trauma through medical training.
There is a theme that comes through loud and clear in these segments, and that is “change”. As Pincus points out, becoming safer requires change on your part. The first part of the program is really about why you need to make changes; where you need to change; how you actually make those changes; and how you maintain your new lifestyle in a practical and non-paranoid way.
Once you understand the preparation and training aspects, it’s time to deal with the fight itself. Pincus includes comprehensive sections on The Will To Fight, Survival Mindset, Motivation, and even the Emotional Aftermath Of Defensive Events. As he points out, self defense ultimately comes down to a readiness to take violent action against another person in order to protect yourself or your loved ones; you need to have established, in your mind, the boundaries at which other’s behavior will result in your taking defensive action. Deciding ahead of time that you will not give up even if injured and that you will protect what you love are vital parts of your defensive mindset, as is the discipline in actually doing the training, practice, and habit-building that will keep you safe.
There is a bonus segment, apart from the main presentation, on the choice of being armed. It covers the ramifications of deciding to introduce the firearm into your defensive preparations, and gives some no-BS talk about what the firearm can and cannot do along with the importance of proper training and understanding of its strengths and limitations. He looks at the firearm in the context of the material already covered and explains how it might fit in. The choice of being armed, as he points out, isn’t for everyone and should be made only after a thorough and rational analysis of both need and commitment.
Some people might be offended that Pincus doesn’t advocate the firearm as necessarily the best, first or even a good choice for everyone; however, I felt that his rational analysis of the place for the firearm, combined with the strong undercurrent of personal responsibility in this segment, did a good job of communicating the gravity of choosing to be armed as part of a total defensive strategy.
This is a great DVD for anyone who is starting on the path to a more secure lifestyle, or perhaps has been on that journey for a time but is having trouble understanding how all the pieces fit together and integrating everything into a cohesive plan. Since (except for the bonus segment) the DVD doesn’t focus on firearms at all it’s a good resource for those who live in restricted areas or who are simply not ready for the use of lethal force.
In reality, while the firearm is a very efficient tool it’s range of application is quite narrow; there are a lot of areas of defensive preparation that are more likely to be used and have a wider range of use, and that’s what this DVD is really all about. It’s a thoughtful and introspective look at the realities of staying safe that’s empowering, not frightening.
– 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 several projects over the years, but I receive no compensation should you purchase this DVD.