3 Self-Defense Summer Reads

"What would you do if..." 

If you're anything like me, you tend to think ahead, running scenarios in your mind about how you would handle any given situation, good or bad. I do this when I'm waiting at the doctor's office, driving along a long stretch of highway or during any other relatively mindless activity. It's entertainment for me as well as a means of preparing for "the unthinkable" as recommended in the personal protection and self-defense training I've taken.

I've learned through self-defense training that the more you imagine yourself working through various scenarios in your mind, the better prepared you will be should they happen in real life. Your brain tends to "click" into gear, and your reaction time is faster, allowing valuable seconds to act and escape danger when it's had the opportunity to "rehearse".

The following books are highly recommended by Personal Safety & Self Defense instructor Preston L. Taylor.  Preston Taylor  (aka “PT”) is a police officer with over 20+ years of experience and a vast knowledge of personal protection and self-defense.

Within his course, he mentions the benefits of reading three books. Add them to your list of must-reads, to prepare for the unthinkable.  I'd say it's a "win-win" situation, you can never be too prepared.


#1. The Gift Of Fear - Gavin deBecker

True fear is a gift. Unwarranted fear is a curse. Learn how to tell the difference.

A date won't take "no" for an answer. The new nanny gives a mother an uneasy feeling. A stranger in a deserted parking lot offers unsolicited help. The threat of violence surrounds us every day. But we can protect ourselves, by learning to trust—and act on—our gut instincts.

In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker shows you how to spot even subtle signs of danger—before it's too late. Shattering the myth that most violent acts are unpredictable, de Becker, whose clients include top Hollywood stars and government agencies, offers specific ways to protect yourself and those you love, including, how to act when approached by a stranger, when you should fear someone close to you, what to do if you are being stalked, how to uncover the source of anonymous threats or phone calls, the biggest mistake you can make with a threatening person, and more. Learn to spot the danger signals others miss. It might just save your life. Amazon


#2. Survivors Club - Ben Sherwood

Which is the safest seat on an airplane? Where is the best place to have a heart attack? Why does religious observance add years to your life? How can birthdays be hazardous to your health? 

Each second of the day, someone in America faces a crisis, whether it's a car accident, violent crime, serious illness, or financial trouble. Given the inevitability of adversity, we all wonder: Who beats the odds and who surrenders? Why do some people bound back and others give up? How can I become the kind of person who survives and thrives?

The fascinating, hopeful answers to these questions are found in THE SURVIVORS CLUB. In the tradition of Freakonomics and The Tipping Point, this book reveals the hidden side of survival by combining astonishing true stories, gripping scientific research, and the author's adventures inside the U.S. military's elite survival schools and the government's airplane crash evacuation course.

With THE SURVIVORS CLUB, you can also discover your own Survivor IQ through a powerful Internet-based test called the Survivor Profiler. Developed exclusively for this book, the test analyzes your personality and generates a customized report on your top survivor strengths.

There is no escaping life's inevitable struggles. But THE SURVIVORS CLUB can give you an edge when adversity strikes.  Amazon


#3. The Unthinkable - Amanda Ripley

Discover how human beings react to danger–and what makes the difference between life and death

Today, nine out of ten Americans live in places at significant risk of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorism, or other disasters. Tomorrow, some of us will have to make split-second choices to save ourselves and our families. How will we react? What will it feel like? Will we be heroes or victims?

In her quest to answer these questions, award-winning journalist Amanda Ripley traces human responses to some of recent history’s epic disasters, from the explosion of the Mont Blanc munitions ship in 1917–one of the biggest explosions before the invention of the atomic bomb–to the journeys of the 15,000 people who found their way out of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. To understand the science behind the stories, Ripley turns to leading brain scientists, trauma psychologists, and other disaster experts. She even has her own brain examined by military researchers and experiences, through realistic simulations, what it might be like to survive a plane crash into the ocean or to escape a raging fire.

Ripley comes back with precious wisdom about the surprising humanity of crowds, the elegance of the brain’s fear circuits, and the stunning inadequacy of many of our evolutionary responses. Most unexpectedly, she discovers the brain’s ability to do much, much better–with just a little help.  Amazon

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3 Myths We All Believe

There are 3 myths we tend to believe when it comes to safety.

Myth #1. There are people whose job it is to protect me.

Know this, government alone cannot and will not keep you safe. A police officer will not be right around the corner in your time of need.

Myth #2. Nobody really pays attention to me or notices me.

Believe it or not, you are always being observed.  It doesn't matter if you are not attractive, overweight or old.  Assaults happen to anyone regardless of age, maturity or physical attributes. Regardless of your personal self-image, you are at risk of attack. It could be the sound of your voice, the fragrance you wear, your demeanor any number of things could be a trigger that attracts a would-be attacker.

Myth #3. Nothing has ever happened here, and nothing has ever happened to anyone I know. 

Things that "never happen", happen somewhere all of the time (complacency kills!) Fear is a necessary evil, just don’t let it control you.
You cannot rely on the fact that you live in a very safe area, you need to be prepared. You don't want to be afraid, but you must be aware and prepared for any situation.


How others see you will dictate how they respond to you.

  • Walk with purpose; chin up, direct eye contact (especially you ladies)
  • Appear confident yet approachable
  • Keep your appearance neat and tidy
  • Remain orderly; hands-free focused and persistent
  • Stay organized: ensure anyone you deal with realizes you are clear and methodical in your planning

Be prepared for the unexpected!  Learn this and more in our extremely popular Personal Safety and Self Defense course.  Instructor “PT” Taylor (with over 20 years experience as a law enforcement officer) will teach you the skills you need to learn to keep yourself safe at work and at play. The skills learned in this course can also be applied to the workplace. In fact, we’ve combined this course into our curriculum for Real Estate Professionals. To find this course for your industry, visit Certified Training Institute, then choose your industry and state.

Want to Learn Self-Dense from the Comfort of Home?

This online HD Video Course enables you to learn self-defense at your own pace.


11 Personal Safety and Self Defense Rules Of Engagement Everyone Should Know

11 Personal Safety and Self Defense Rules Of Engagement Everyone Should Know

Our minds can be very a powerful tool when it comes to personal safety and self-defense. Instructor Preston "PT" Taylor gives you 11 rules of engagement or generalized safety tips to remember for safe daily living. 

  • A winning mindset is the most important skill you bring to any potentially life-threatening situation.
  • Your mind and your mouth are the two greatest weapons you'll ever possess… Use them wisely!
  • Defensive tactics, like many physical skills, are perishable. Visit them often and they will be there for you in your time of need.
  • Remember to breathe. Your muscles and your mind will require a constant supply of oxygen during a confrontation. Constantly remind yourself of this!
  • The bad guy is just a man. He bleeds and breathes just like you! He's just a man!
  • No technique or weapon is 100% effective.  Don't be fooled into believing otherwise!
  • If you treat your body like a Chevette, don't expect it to perform like a Corvette!
  • The bad guy will not fight nicely or with any rules or reservation. Pay him the same compliment!
  •  Remember "Healthy Rage." It can mean the difference between life and death.
  •  The chances are exceptional that a police officer will not be right around the corner in your time of need… Always be prepared! This is not optional!
  • If you act like prey, eventually you will be!

Personal Safety is for everyone, every day!  You'll find this and more in our Personal Safety and Self Defense 4 Hour Continuing Education online course. 


Self-Defense for Men

Self-defense for men is often a forgotten but incredibly important skill. Males between the ages of 18 and 25 are more likely to be attacked than anyone else in American society. Some men may feel pressured to engage in dangerous situations to avoid appearing weak but, any self-defense professional will tell you that it is best to talk your way out of a dangerous situation rather than resort to violence. 

  1. Don't try to emulate TV or movies. Most on-screen fights are nonsense. Assuming your assailant will behave in any way similar to an on-screen attacker is a good way to get injured. 
  2. Your first course of action should always be de-escalation. Try to speak in a slow calm voice. Avoid touching your attacker or standing with your arms crossed, these are often seen as signs of aggression.
  3. Don't let your ego run the show. Many men avoid de-escalation because they feel it makes them seem less "manly". Instead, remember the other guy is also a human. Try ignoring your ego and diffusing rather than furthering a situation where you both may be hurt.
  4. If these options fail, be prepared to defend yourself. Some self-defense holds can render your attacker incapacitated without causing long-term harm. If possible, start with less harmful methods and resort to the more harmful counterattacks only when necessary.

From Lipstick Stun Guns to Locking Panties There’s a Vast Array of Self Defense Weapons Literally at Your Fingertips.

Do a Google search on self-defense gadgets and you’ll be amazed at the volume of items you’ll find. Anything from commonly known gadgets such as Pepper Sprays and Mace to items that seem futuristic and could very well become a reality in the very near future. I’m sure you are quite familiar with pepper spray and stun guns, but let’s look at a couple of the more uncommon and futuristic options.


The ARMSTAR (pictured above) was inspired by the events of a 2004 mountain lion attack in California by inventor David Brown. The BodyGuard™ is a Hands-Free less lethal self-defense system worn on the arm. The forearm is protected by a platform equipped with a LED flashlight, green laser pointer, and camera for capturing evidence and identifying assailants. The basic unit also includes a stun device, activated by a pressure pad trigger in the palm of the glove. 

This futuristic looking device has attracted the monetary support of Actor Kevin Costner who felt that the product would be an asset to law enforcement and the military.



A sexual assault survivor in Germany has created Safe Shorts, a line of underwear and running shorts designed to be slash and tear resistant. They are equipped with a padlock and a 140-decibel alarm. The alarm will trigger if tampered with by an attacker or the user themselves can set it off to sound an alert.

The shorts were created by Sandra Seilz from Germany, who was attacked by three men while out running. Luckily for her, a man happened to be walking his dog nearby and chased the attackers away.

The likelihood that you’ll actually use one of these products is slim, but knowing they are there gives us food for thought.  You should always be thinking about what you would do in the case of an attack. Personal preparedness should be at the forefront of your mind if you are inclined to activities where you are going to be alone in remote areas or in a profession where meeting strangers in unfamiliar territory are likely to occur. 

There are many options available to the general population for personal protection and self-defense including online classes.  Certified Training Institute offers an online Personal Safety and Self Defense course that you can take in the comfort of your own home or office. This four-hour course is designed to provide important safety tips and precautions for personal safety in the workplace. This is especially true for real estate professionals as they are very often in situations that expose them to unknown situations, with unknown persons. Instructor Preston Taylor has worked in law enforcement for over 20 years, is a Police Academy Instructor, and a Defensive Tactics Instructor for over 15 years. He has acted as a speaker/trainer for the National Association of Realtors and the Michigan Association of Realtors. 


Why Hotel Employees Should Be Trained In Self Defense

Did you know that you can cripple your attacker with just the grab of their “pinky”? What do you do while waiting for the police arrive? If you are attacked, how do you know whether to run or beat the snot out of your attacker?  If you do beat the snot out of them, are you going to get in trouble for assault? Is there something you can do to prevent the whole incident from happening?  These are things every hotel employee should know.

Do you know what to do if you are the target of an attacker?

  • In 1998, an 18-year-old college student working as a desk clerk was found raped and beaten to death at a beachfront hotel in Traverse City, Michigan.
  • In 2009, a beloved Laguna Beach hotel manager was bludgeoned to death in his onsite apartment.
  • In 2013, it took two weeks to find 21-year-old Elisa’s body hidden in the hotel water tanks.
  • In 2015 a 22-year-old Atlanta man was strangled by his boyfriend in a hotel.  Crimes of this extreme are not the norm at hotels, but they do happen.

It is critically important that all hotel staff be trained on security procedures before their first day of work.  The program should include at least a basic course on self-defense tactics and Rules of Engagement.  The ability to defend yourself is an education that will always be beneficial.  Hotel employees should be taught how to recognize, respond and reduce a potential situation. If an altercation should occur, they should know how to conserve energy and use basic survival skills.

Simple things like keeping your chin up and making direct eye contact with you attacker can delay their movements.  Keeping your hands free and demeanor focused can make you look like the sheepdog, rather than the sheep.

As a Hospitality Manager, you can greatly increase the safety of your staff without spending an arm and a leg. Having every employee complete a simple 4-hour video course devoted to their own personal protection and self-defense is a great addition to your security plan.

Certified Training Institute has created a 4-hour Personal Safety & Self Defense course that teaches self-defense tactics from the stand-up position utilizing gross motor skill (easy but effective) techniques as well as ground defense and ground avoidance (rape prevention) tactics which can be used anywhere in any situation. Having a staff that has been trained to be aware of their surroundings is not only important for them as individuals but also for Hotel guests.

Our course instructor Preston L. Taylor “PT” is a police officer with over 20+ years of experience, and is extremely knowledgeable in the realm of personal protection and self-defense.


Why Does Crime Increase Over the Holidays?

A recent VICE interview with professor of criminology, Dr. Janet Lauritsen and an Oxygen interview with Dr. Sherry Hamby, the founding editor of the Psychological Association journal Psychology of violence, shed some light on this question.

Lauritsen sees an increase in two kinds of crime over the holidays: robbery and personal larceny. She believes this increase in holiday crimes has more to do with opportunity than desperation. There are a lot of people out shopping for expensive goods, making shopping bags and cars full of gifts tempting targets. Criminals also benefit from increased traffic as it makes it easier for them to blend in and escape after committing a crime.

According to Hamby, "Crimes spike on days off-- so, all year round, crime rates are much higher on Friday and Saturday and is higher at night than in the morning. So any increase during the holidays might be simply due to more idle time and more drinking and other drug use."

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of holiday crime is to remain alert to your surroundings. Make sure your car is always locked while shopping. Try not to carry so many bags you are unable to defend yourself in the case of an attack. 


Tools for Self Defense

Self-Defense instructor, PT Taylor breaks down popular tools for self-defense and legal issues that come with each.

Firearms. They are not for everyone. It is a huge responsibility! Make no mistake; your life will be completely altered once you use deadly force. If you do decide to use a handgun, find a gun store you trust, and that you can rent or practice with the gun. Try before you buy! Make sure the gun fits you! Make sure you are well trained. If you do find you have to use a firearm as a form of defense, be prepared for a legal investigation. It is probably best to seek legal counsel.

Pepper Spray. Pepper spray is considered an intermediate weapon, therefore you must be justified in order to use it. Be sure to research and purchase a quality product. A stream pattern is best for outdoor use. It has a longer range of dispersion and is less likely to be disrupted by the wind. You will know right away if it is working. Remember, no method of defense is 100% effective. Around 15% of the population will not be affected. The primary advantage of pepper spray is that no one will be permanently injured. You will, however, feel the effect as some product will blow back on you. Be sure to keep and carry the spray someplace it will be available. Keep the product out of extreme heat or cold. Pay attention to expiration dates.

Stun Guns Electronic Conducting Device (ECD). There are two methods of deployment:

  • Touch: very painful, but the pain is gone when the device is removed from the skin. It does not incapacitate the assailant.
  • Probe: sends out a fish hook type probe. These will stop an assailant in their tracks, but not knock them out.

You must have a permit to use an ECD. Finally, it is not recommended to use both pepper spray and an ECD. Pepper spray is highly flammable, and there is a chance of setting the assailant on fire.



Must Reads for Those Interested in Personal Safety

Instructor PT Taylor's 'Must Read' list for personal safety: 

Survivors Club by  Ben Sherwood
The Survivors Club is pretty much what it sounds like - an in-depth look at the science of survival: why some people live through disasters while others don't. Sherwood speaks with Holocaust survivors, psychologists, geneticists, and a slew of other experts about how to survive a catastrophe. 

Unthinkable Amanda Ripley
Ripley follows human responses to some of history's worst disasters, from the explosion of the Mont Blanc munitions ship in 1917 to the stories of the survivors of 9/11. The book details the brain's fear circuits, group reactions to emergencies, and the inadequacy of our evolutionary responses.

Fear Less: Real Truth About Risk, Safety, and Security in a Time of Terrorism Gavin De Becker
De Becker provides advice to individuals fearful of terrorism. He suggests ways to take charge of personal security and options for the United States to prevent and overcome future terrorist attacks.

A snippet from the "Personal Safety and Self Defense" course.



Legal Issues that Arise from Self Defense

A snippet from "Personal Safety and Self Defense" course

Legal Environment
We as individuals need to take ownership of our personal safety. Police cannot be everywhere at once, and it is unlikely they will be right around the corner. We can no longer just say "what if"…and must adopt the mindset that when it happens, I will be ready. You have the right to defend yourself against an assault!

Stand your Ground. You have no obligation to flee from a situation. There are five standards or criteria by which your actions will be measured.

  • Innocence: Did you provoke the situation in any way?
  • Imminence: Was the event happening RIGHT NOW?
  • Proportionality: Was the use of force to prevent/stop the situation proportional to the threat?
  • Reasonableness: Was the use of force reasonable? It must stop when the assault ends.
  • Avoidance: Was there any way to avoid the situation?

Anything you put in your hand to use as a defensive tool against your attacker will be viewed as a weapon. A club, bat, knife, gun, keys, kubaton, pepper spray, frying pan, wasp spray, rock, the list can go on and on. If you chose to take up a weapon to defend yourself make sure you are justified in doing so.

If you find yourself in a situation where you must defend yourself it is important to know you may only use deadly force if you are facing imminent great bodily harm, sexual assault or death, thus, avoidance is ideal. The local prosecutor has the final say on the legality of any action you may take. If you use force to protect yourself, be prepared for law enforcement to investigate. The case will be reviewed by the local prosecutor, defense attorney, judge, and jury.