Colonel Jeff Cooper was one of the greatest tactical minds of the 20th century. A Marine officer, firearms pioneer, and the founder of the world-famous Gunsite Academy, Col. Cooper developed an easy-to-understand series of color codes to teach awareness. These are broken up into four sections.


In Condition White, you are unaware and relaxed. Generally, you are unaware of what is going on around you. The times when you may be in this condition are when you are sleeping or safely settled in at home for the evening. This is also the state that most people enter, however, when they obsess over their mobile devices in public. Condition White is essentially being unprepared to respond to any form of danger.


In Condition Yellow, you are relaxed yet aware of what and who is around you. You are “plugged in” to what is happening and paying attention to your surroundings. This is the optimal condition for day-to-day life and should be the basis of your awareness. Being in Condition Yellow allows you to react to threats quickly should they arise, because you will not be surprised.


In Condition Orange, you have become aware of a potential problem. While it may be nothing, it has caught your attention and increased your level of alertness. If you are attacked during this state, your response time will be much faster. You have identified a problem and are already searching for solutions. Your mind is running through a series of possible “what-if” scenarios as you look at options.


In Condition Red, you are ready to fight. You may not actually have to act on that, but your body and mind are now prepared for physical conflict. While this does not mean you instantly attack someone, you are certainly ready and waiting for a specific trigger or predetermined action that will launch the process. This state is where you have made a decision that you are ready and willing to fight back.

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