Cooper’s Color Code


As Connor learns in RECRUIT, the key to effective security as a bodyguard is “Constant Situational Awareness”.

If you’re aware of your surroundings, you’re less likely to be taken by surprise. And in a real threat situation, your awareness level could mean the difference between life and death for both you and your Principal.

According to Marine Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Cooper, the most important means of surviving a lethal confrontation isn’t a weapon or martial arts skills but the correct combat mindset. He identified four levels of awareness – White, Yellow, Orange and Red.

Code White

Code White means being totally switched off, tuned out to what is going on around you. This is where 95% of people spend 95% of their time – living in their own bubble, such as when you’re on a mobile phone and you cross the road without looking.

Code White is no place for a bodyguard to be. If you’re suddenly attacked, you’ll get a massive surge of adrenalin your body won’t be able to cope with. It’ll trigger a state of “fight, flight or freeze”. This is comatose level [black] – where you go into shock, your brain ceases to process information and you simply cannot react to the reality of the situation.

Code Yellow

Relaxed awareness at all times. You are alert; not paranoid. There’s no specific threat, but you’re conscious that the world’s a dangerous place. In this state it is difficult for someone to surprise you. The trouble with this state is that you can easily drift back into Code White without even realizing it. So you have to stay switched on.

Code Orange

This is a focussed level of awareness due to a specific alert. Having noticed or sensed a potential threat (a knife, an argument, a speeding car), you evaluate your choices and formulate a plan. Run, fight, or wait and see, depending on how the situation develops.

Code Red 

This is the trigger – the high alert.

The threat has escalated into a hazardous situation. You are now taking decisive and immediate action. Having made your decisions in Code Orange, you’re now acting on them. You haven’t jumped from Code White to Code Red in a single leap, resulting in potential “brain-fade”. Since your mindset is already in a heightened state of awareness, your body can handle the rush of adrenalin.

This means you can run faster, hit harder, think quicker and jump higher than you could seconds before.

In short, the Color Code helps a bodyguard to stay in control and think clearly in a life-threatening situation.

© Chris Bradford 2017