The Gift of Fear

by Gavin de Becker

ISBN 10: 0440508835

Do yourself a favor and read this book. I have probably read hundreds of self defense and martial arts related books over the years and only a few stand out for me. This is one of them (although it is not in fact either a MA or a SD book).

The information this book provides regarding assessing threats, responding to your intuitive fears (without resorting to ridiculous claims based on phony mysticism or telepathy), the utility of restraining orders, and so much more is extraordinarily useful. I will be recommending it to all my karate students.  I think it will go further towards keeping them safe than years and years worth of technical training, or reading stacks of martial arts related books.

Last year our group at Washington University hosted an extraordinary seminar by Ellis Amdur called “Grace Under Fire” that dealt with deescalation skills for people facing conflict. The book reminded me of the seminar a great deal, not so much in terms of the content but in the maturity with which the subject of violence was treated.

There have been periods in my life that have been extremely scary and violent. Some of the incidents during those periods still haunt me. The straight forward manor in which de Becker describes even the most horrific crimes  left me feeling less anxious (which seems counterintuitive). The author is not a scare monger,  he carefully distinguishes healthy fear which we should take heed of,  from unhelpful worry.

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