Book Review — A Warrior’s Guide to Self-Defense

A Warrior’s Guide to Self-Defense by Kyle Swinehart

A Warrior’s Guide to Self-Defense by Kyle Swinehart is a practical guide to self-defence. Swinehart served for five years as a Marine Corps infantry machine gunner and martial arts instructor, and fought in Afghanistan twice in the Battle for Marjah. Since leaving the Marine Corps, he has dedicated himself to sharing his unique perspective on combat operations, and teaching practical self-defense tactics and principles that will actually be helpful in real world scenarios

When you think of practical hand to hand combat, it’s hard not to think of the Marines. In boot camp, I remember hand to hand combat, bayonet training, and pugil stick training. Hand to hand instructors taught us to use what was at hand as a weapon or how to take the opponent’s weapon and use it against him. Later on while in school for Embassy Duty and while serving we repeatedly trained on defending from knife, gun, and random weapon attacks. We practiced takedown moves as well as incapacitating moves and we learned the weapon was not the firearm, but the Marine.

Swinehart presents something a bit different than the mass market view on self-defense. There is no understanding your attackers mind, blowing whistles, or talking down your attacker. The primary premise is meeting violence with great violence. That is something not taught to civilians, but familiar to Marines. Marines in civilian environments, like Embassy Duty, are not trained to kill, but to immediately incapacitate the victim and end the threat. This means a variety of things as Swinehart mentions a few times of how to snap an attacker’s neck. Gouging eyes, popping eardrums, and sensitive parts of the body are mentioned. He also works on putting the reader in the proper mindset to realize the seriousness of the threat and the need to react.

Although Swinehart does not go into detailed moves, he tells the reader to practice and to practice enough so your training becomes a reflex action. Be aware of your surrounding. He tells the reader what to look for in his surroundings and how to look like you belong and are not “the weakest member in the herd.” A Warrior’s Guide to Self-Defense presents two main ideas. First, do not be a target. Second, meet violence with greater violence. The book is light on the actual mechanics of self-defense but makes up for that in what is needed first — confidence and knowing that you can react to a threat. A very realistic and practical guide.

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