Review: PDN’s “The 5 W’s of Personal Defense”

Review: PDN's “The 5 W's of Personal Defense”

Personal Defense Network has a reputation for rock-solid training and training materials, and “The 5 W’s of Personal Defense” is an excellent starting place for those interested in self defense. Presented by William Aprill and Robert Pincus, the focus as the title might suggest is on the who/what/when/where/why of violent crime:

  • Who will be involved? Both sides of the interaction are discussed in full. From the oblivious civilian through the self-defense minded to armed CCW holders and law enforcement. On the other hand, we have the entities you might encounter in daily life, from humdrum ordinary people through violent criminal actors.
  • What goes into it? What does the criminal want to do? What approach will they take to establish dominance? What do you do to establish yourself as a target?
  • When will it happen? As Aprill so wonderful puts it: “Certainly not at a time of our choosing!” Violent criminal actors select their moment of advantage—so when is that?
  • Where will it happen? This portion might contain the most surprises—the point is that will some locations should be avoided, crime often comes to us where we feel safe.
  • Why does it happen? Aprill breaks this down into two categories: instrumental violence, in which violence is a tool to accomplish an end—generally material gain; and expressive violence, in which the violence itself is the goal. The implications for self defense are huge, and explored in a fair amount of detail.

The focus is on Aprill, with Pincus filling the role of the informed interviewer and asking questions to enrich the presentation.

William Aprill’s dual backgrounds in law enforcement and mental health both shine through. He situates a violent crime as an interaction between the violent criminal actor and their target—and me makes a distinction between a target and a victim. This is a journey through the criminal mindset, the circumstances of crime, and how the two shape each other.  Aprill is an engaging presenter, with a matter-of-fact, relateable manner and a knack for clearly imparting knowledge to the viewer.

The information presented is meant to be introductory, but nonetheless thorough. This is not a DVD for  high-speed-low-drag tactical operators; it’s for everyday people who want to understand what they’re up against. The focus is on the kinds of encounters and interactions that are most likely to happen. And the approach offered is proactive: April spend a lot of time discussing the ways in which targets of crime interact with violent criminal actors, often without knowing it. As an advocate for an armed, informed citizenry I really liked that. We’re not helpless targets, but actors with full agency who have a say in what happens to us, even while under attack by a criminal. 

In conclusion: this is a great starting point for those seeking a better understanding of violent crime and  the various responses available. It’s a fairly easy and engaging watch, so buy a copy and spend an hour taking notes. You might be glad you did.

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