Book Review – Violence of Mind (Varg Freeborn)

Through all my experiences on both sides of the tracks, I have accumulated the widest range of violence experience and training that I have ever heard of anyone having for the narrow lane of civilian criminal violence.

Freeborn, Varg. Violence of Mind: Training and Preparation for Extreme Violence . One Life Defense LLC, Varg Freeborn. Kindle Edition.

I bought this e-book based on Greg Ellifritz’ recommendation. According to his website, Varg Freeborn is an author, self-defense and gunfight instructor, lethal force educator, fitness coach, a father and a family man.

Varg’s written an excellent book on mindset and human behavior, sharing his observations and perspective on violence and what it takes to be prepared for a violent situation. It’s presented in blunt, plain talk. No acronyms, no cool phrases, no sheepdog/military/cop lingo.

The first section of the book is all about “mission”. What is your mission, and how it can change in various situations. Understanding your limits, responsibilities and universal legal concepts. He writes about prison from the perspective of an inmate. Most books on self-defense ignore or downplay the possibility that use of violence in self-defense could lead to jail time. The typical armed citizen is unlikely to have firsthand (or even secondhand, through a friend or family member) prison experiences like the ones Varg writes about in the book.

He closes the first section with a chapter on risk assessment. One of the concepts he emphasizes is learning to look for, and react to, abnormalities — something you notice that seems out of place. Learning to see those things and change your behavior in reaction to them is important for avoidance as well as survival.

The second section is all about training. Principles, skills, standards, techniques, tactics, testing, and validation. He emphasizes the value of “woodshedding” (putting in lots of practice out of public view) to develop skills and encourages people to turn off the ‘selfie machine’ that drives many to concentrate more on getting a perfect take to post on Instagram than on actually improving during a practice session.

He includes a long section on how to choose an instructor, discussing the different types of backgrounds and mindsets instructors can have: not just the usual mil/LEO/competition split, but the differences in individual performance, whether they train with others outside their primary expertise, whether they continue to develop their own skills, and other elements. His opinions in that section closely match my own thoughts on that topic.

The final section on “Conditioning and Orientation” covers physical and mental conditioning. It starts with the usual “spend more time in the gym so you are harder to kill” material and progresses to a discussion of mindset and mental preparation. The final chapters deal with concealment and daily considerations – how to be armed and prepared without being an abnormality when you are out in public.

It’s a book full of well presented, solid advice, and ideas that align with and sync up with what the best of the trainers I’ve studied with over the past 30 years have taught– no matter what path they took to get to those ideas. If someone asked me tomorrow for advice on how to be a well rounded, well prepared armed citizen, I could hand them a copy of this book and tell them: “learn what this book teaches, take the actions this book recommends.” Or to quote the author:

Violence ruins lives. It changes things forever. It can take away loved ones, freedom, opportunities…changes that last a lifetime and oftentimes from which there can be no recovery, ever. Some of us know this all too well. Be ready, but don’t glorify it in your mind. Practice the things I have talked about in this book, and focus on living a strong, happy, productive, and protected life.

Freeborn, Varg. Violence of Mind: Training and Preparation for Extreme Violence . One Life Defense LLC, Varg Freeborn. Kindle Edition


You can order the book in print or digital format from Amazon.

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