How To Be Your Own Bodyguard

How To Be Your Own Bodyguard: Self defense for men and women from a lifetime of protecting clients in hostile environment
© 2011 Nick Hughes
326 pages

What can you do to protect yourself in the event of a natural disaster, a home invasion, or an active shooting? Nick Hughes served in the French Foreign Legion prior to putting his security skills to use as a professional bodyguard for celebrities and other prominent personalities.  In How to Be Your Own Bodyguard, he urges readers to look beyond self-defense:   from the perspective of a bodyguard, the best way to prepare for conflict is to avoid them when unnecessary. To that end, most of this book consists of ‘soft skills’, advice on conflict deescalation, reading rooms and personalities for signs of trouble, and general preparation. Only at the very end does he review weapons, tactics, and melee training.

From the outset, Hughes divides conflicts into those that  develop — the kind that erupt from arguments between people in bars or traffic or wherever — and those that are preplanned, like ambushes.    After separate sections on each, he examines special situations, like travel, or active shooting instances — before moving on.   Time and again Hughes stresses the importance of avoiding conflict: ego is the enemy, whether in a baroom or during a traffic jam.  Hughes urges concerned readers to strive to be the ‘little grey man’ who is never noticed, avoiding wearing clothing that would cause offense or gather too much attention.   He also advises readers to maintain a state of background alertness, being aware of  people in their room, moving in and out —  keeping an eye out for anything abnormal.  In addition to this background awareness,  Hughes  stresses preparation in general, giving suggestions for  what to keep in one’s car in case of an emergency.    The book’s hard-skills section reviews weapons and their best uses (hand guns are recommended over shotguns  in home defense scenarios, for instance,   and knives are surprisingly ineffective at stopping adrenaline-charge attackers)  before advising readers on what areas of the body are the most vulnerable to specific kinds of attacks.

Although the cover doesn’t do the book any favors — I would have ignored it had I not encountered the author being interviewed, and been impressed by the author’s specific approach and his background  —  How to Be Your Own Bodyguard   is most helpful to anyone — though, moreso for those who  live or work in areas where crime is common.   I was most impressed by the variety of content here, from interpersonal conflict to home security to  disaster preparedness.


Inside the Mind of a Thief”,  some notes I shared last year after watching an interview between a chronic home invader and a sheriff.
Verbal Judo: The Art of PersuasionGeorge Thompson.   Read, reread, but not reviewed. I’ve watched the lecture this is based on numerous times. 
Kick-Ass Home
Security.  Read but not reviewed: this is a very functional book written more like an instructional manual,  educating readers on the best practices for making their homes more burglar-proof.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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4 Responses to How To Be Your Own Bodyguard

  1. Anonymous says:

    I imagine that most people’s situational awareness is pretty poor… especially if they’re concentrating on their phones instead of ‘reading the room’. A useful skill to have these days.

    • Indeed…Hughes often comments on people’s “task fixation”, which could include constant phone use (even while crossing the street!) or being a tourist and concentrating on staring/taking photos.

  2. Your review is most helpful, because that cover is ridiculous and I too would have passed on it.

  3. Pingback: The Unthinkable | Reading Freely

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