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Real World Self-Defense
A Guide to Staying Alive in Dangerous Times

Jerry VanCook

Practical solutions to violence? Real World Self-Defense offers savvy advice for dealing with everything from an unwarranted physical attack to the legal aftermath.

As a former undercover police officer, Jerry VanCook also devoted much of his life to studying martial arts and weapons training. And he knows from personal experience what works -- both on the street and in the courthouse -- and what doesn't.

Pulling no punches, VanCook explains the need to develop a working personal defense system. He also strives to instill the mindset required to put that system to work when violence threatens.

His simple, streamlined approach to self-defense keeps the focus on survival, rather than fancy techniques more suited to a martial sport or art.

Presenting tactics and techniques that are basic, easy to learn and effective under the stress of attack, he covers everything from unarmed defense to improvised weapons to edged weapons and firearms.

Real World Self-Defense: A Guide to Staying Alive in Dangerous Times (Paladin Press) 1999, 204 pages, ISBN 1-58160-044-5

Softcover,  Item# BrealworldSD
Book -- $18      Retail: $20

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Reviews of Real World Self-Defense include:
Interested in staying alive in dangerous times? Then this is the book to help you do it! Whether you're a beginner or advanced, this book has something for everyone. Many books "Claim" to be the ultimate defense book, but you don't see very many on here being reviewed. That's because most of them are overly complicated, lacking real world approaches or scenarios, or the info is just plain wrong... Not so with this book. Jerry covers each section and chapter in DETAIL, and then backs up that advise with more techniques throughout the book. He's obviously a believer in "stay aware and keep it simple"! (My kinda guy!) -- Detra Fitch

I spent 20 years as a NYC court officer and I found the authors description of what to expect from the criminal justice system to be (unfortunately) deadly accurate. The rest of the volume is superb! Good, solid, practical and, no doubt, hard won knowledge. This one rates right up there with the works of Rex Applegate and W.E. Fairbairn. Get this book!!!. -- Matt Temkin, New York City


Jerry VanCook has more than 30 years of experience instructing civilians, cops and military personnel in defensive tactics. He has also spent 14 years in law enforcement as an undercover officer, which he claims gave him a better perspective on the self-defense needs of civilians vs. cops since he was usually in the same situation most civilians find themselves -- alone with no backup and restrictions on the type of weapons they can carry. His system for self-defense is very much like mine and includes firearms, knife, impact weapons and unarmed techniques. He also shares the secret of the "unbendable arm" trick. Too bad, because I have been using -- and exposing -- that trick for a few years myself as a teaching tool.   I like this book very much and can recommend it highly for all levels of self-defense students and martial artists. -- Brad Parker

VanCook has written the best introduction to the field of self-defense since Franco's general work on the subject some time back -- and he's gone Franco one better for the ordinary Joe who wants to be able to defend himself, but doesn't necessarily want to be an athlete. My personal bookshelves have 4 feet of books devoted to this subject area, and I've read many more than I own. I can say without reservation that VanCook's work is the best general introduction to the field that I have read. Beyond that, it is a provocative and unconventional treatment of self-defense that has much to offer even to an expert. Real World Self-Defense covers mental preparation, legal issues, weapons from firearms down to OC spray, unarmed combat and training considerations. Further, his conclusions in all these areas take into account the findings of recent research on the body's capabilities under the severe stress of having to fight for survival -- a whole area of research that the self-defense field in general has failed to take into account. If you only buy one book on self-defense -- why anyone would buy only one book on anything, I don't know, but anyway, if that's you -- buy this book. -- T.R. Nichols, Class 1 instructor, American Combatives

One of the many things that I appreciate about Jerry's book is that it addresses issues that are seldom considered by most so-called "reality based self-defense" instructors and their groupies. A good example of what I am talking about is his discussion about how you are dressed and how you conduct yourself when dealing with the police. These are going to have major influence on how the officer -- who is taking the report -- will react to you. The way that report is written up is going to determine if you are arrested, and prosecuted with criminal assault or if you are going to be let go on self-defense grounds. That's the kind of look at the 'real world' of self-defense this book covers -- Marc MacYoung

Real World Self-Defense: A Guide to Staying Alive in Dangerous Times by Jerry VanCook is a very good addtion to any self-defense library. In it you will find practical advice regarding some of the violence that permeates today's society.

In Part 1, VanCook explores concepts such as the warrior mindset and attitude, psychological and physiological changes during combat, and the legalities and politics in self-defense. I especially like that VanCook talks about how different situations demand different levels of response. VanCook is far from politically correct, and he tells it like he sees it. I agree with many of his views, and regardless if you do or don't, you should read this book and listen to his perspectives. They may just save your life.

Part 2 of the book contains chapters on Martial Arts, Firearms, Knives, Canes, Umbrellas, and Other Impact Weapons, Nonlethal Weapons and the Overall Defense Package and finally Unarmed Combat. VanCook provides some excellent advice in these chapters as well. However, I do disagree with his choice of cane instruction. I believe there are much better cane resources out there than he recommends, mine included. But since mine were not release yet when this book was written, I can't hold anything against him for that. In fact, the cane instructional set that VanCook was a part of with Ray Ellingston and Kelly Wordon is much better than the resource he recommends as well.

Part 3 ends with chapters on Training and the Psychological Motivation to Train, Martial Art Schools and Self-Defense Courses, and then his Conclusion. Again, VanCook offers some great insights into these topics.

Overall, I found this to be an entertaining and practical book related to self-defense. VanCook covers a lot of areas in this volume and his insights may be just what you need to keep yourself alive if you ever face the violence he writes about. Hopefully, your studying of self-defense and increased awareness will enable you to avoid violence and you won't need the physical skills this book discusses. Add it to your self-defense library to increase your chances of staying safe
-- Alain Burrese

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