Jeff Cooper vs. SPEAR?

Sorry to make the title sound like a's not a versus situation.

At work I sit next to a guy who was in the military and seems very interested in combat tactics (both personal combat and team tactics), so I was discussed the SPEAR system a bit with him..not in detail, but I asked him:

"What would you do if you were ambushed..the attack came and you were not prepared?". He then went on about some guy named Jeff Cooper who apparently pioneered a lot of the "readiness" tactics out there today (I've no idea on the validity of this).

My friend went on tot alk about "color conditioning"..if you're in the White "zone", you're oblivious to things around you, and are essentially a easy target.

Condition Yellow is where you're aware of your surrounding, open to the possibility of being attacked at all times.

Condition red is where you are in a mental state that combat is imminent, and usually means you have an identified opponent and are making preperations to fight (you see a mugger coming, you know there is no're about to fight).

Condition Black is when you're already fighting, basically.

I pressed further to ask him "well..if you're in the condition white..what do you do then?". He goes on to explain how he'd gain control of the situation by backing up..turning around [insert incident control move here] to face his enemy.

So ultimately I see I'll need to get through to him somehow, but for now I'm wondering who Jeff Cooper is (or was..not sure if he's deceased or not), who apparently pioneered the "readiness mentality" concept that the marines use.

Can anyone shed some light?

Cooper is a legend and did pioneer many training insights.
many gems within.

check out:



Found this on

"Born 10 May 1920 in Los Angeles, USA, John Dean Cooper is widely recognised as the father of modern combat pistol shooting.

Jeff became a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Marines, having served in the Pacific during World War 2 and later re-enlisting for Korea.

In the 50's Jeff was a guiding light in the Bear Valley Gunslingers in California, later to develop into the Southwest Combat Pistol League. Many techniques new to pistol shooting which revolutionised the use of the handgun in combat can be traced back to these beginnings and Jeff's later work at the American Pistol Institute at Gunsite Ranch, Arizona (which Jeff founded and developed). Jeff has also been influential in the development of the modern rifle, notably with the "Scout Rifle" concept.

Of special note are Jeff's writings on the combat mindset, particularly in Jeff's books Fireworks and the later To Ride, to Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth. Jeff holds an MA in History, and Jeff's clear and precise writing style complements the intelligence of Jeff's writings.

Jeff is Editor at Large for Guns & Ammo magazine, where edited versions of the "Commentaries" can be found. Jeff is the Founding President and Honorary Lifetime Chairman, the International Practical Shooting Confederation. Jeff is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association of America.

As is noted in these "Commentaries," Jeff's writings have always garnered controversy, and are read with interest by all true students of the use of firearms in the social context. They have a wider relevance to those seeking insights into the condition of modern man."

Further biographical information can be found at,

Unfortunately, I have run into many people who fixate on one small part of someone else's research and make it take on a twisted life of it's own. Color coding is nice. Now how do I use that to get me home at night? If this guy doesn't know what the relevance is or thinks that a real "fight" is just an opportunity for him to apply a technique, then I think he is missing something important.

As for Mr Cooper, his accomplishments speak volumes.

I think your friend has missed the point. The object of the color codes is to help one make the decision to use deadly force. (Also applicable to deciding to throw the preemptive strike.) The idea is that as you observe the situation you move to orange: "This has the potential of being a threat." to red: "He's reaching in his pocket, if I see a gun, I'll draw and shoot." The concept is to mentally set 'triggers' that will allow you to execute immediately, instead of assuming the victim mindset of "what? What's this? I can't believe this is happening...fah dee dah."

Cooper is a fantastic author, a pioneer in small arms employment, and a critical curmudgeon of modern life. His writings are enlightening and amusing. Defensive pistolcraft is just as contentious as unarmed combatives, so there are many alternate opinions, but IMO, Jeff Cooper is much like Tony Blauer. Jeff studied use of the pistol in competition and combat to see what was most effective, and using that as a starting point studied and experimented with his students to constantly improve. He incorporated mindset (much as Tony has) and formalized what he learned so that others could learn as well. Jeff has perhaps become a bit dogmatic about certain things, but is well worth reading. I recommend all of his books:
To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth
Principles of Personal Defense
Another Country
Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip vol. I & II

Very interesting guys, thank you very much. I've still got to research more on Tony's work long before I'd get into anyone else's work, but I've copied and pasted those book titles and I'll look for them in the bookstores.

Cool thread, thanks guys.


No problem.