The Cooper Colour Code SystemCooper Colour Code System

The Cooper Colour Code system was invented by US Marine Jeff Cooper.  It relates to the degree of peril you are willing to do something about and which allows you to move from one level of mindset to another to enable you to properly handle a given situation. It is a fantastic tool which is used by Military, Law Enforcement and Professional Security and Self Defence agencies throughout the world. As a professional bodyguard this system is extremely valuable whether providing security for an individual, for oneself or for ones family.

The Cooper Colour code system Explained


No awareness – not paying any attention to people around you or your surroundings. You are a potential victim.

Example 1 – Walking along with your head down and iPod playing.

Example 2 – Generally having no real awareness or anticipation that there are any potential threats.

“The world is a kind and friendly place”!

When to be in code white:

You should only be in code white when you are at home with your feet up, watching TV with all doors and windows locked, and the alarm active. You should not be in code white at any other time.


You are aware of the people around you and your surroundings. There is no specific threat identified but your mindset should be “the world is a potentially unfriendly place and I have to be on the lookout for potential threats”. This doesn’t mean you have to be paranoid. Just be aware.

Examples of when to be in code yellow:

Shopping, pubbing, clubbing, driving, walking, running – etc.

When to be in code yellow:

You should always be in code yellow whenever you are out and about, in unfamiliar surroundings, or among people you don’t know, including the general public.


Whilst in code yellow, you have identified something suspicious. You are now in code orange. Evasive action may be needed such as crossing the road or turning around. Look for escape routes and/or weapons. This is where you plan and assess your options, look for others involved, and either plan your evasive action or prepare yourself for physical conflict.

Examples of when to be in code orange:

As soon as you have identified a threat.

When someone’s approaching you in a sinister way.

If you think you are being followed.

When you are in a heated argument.


You are now either about to be physically assaulted or you are being physically assaulted. This is fight or flight time. Either you (a) run to avoid the physical conflict that is going to happen, or (b) you pre- emptively strike to protect yourself or, (c) it is too late and you are now being assaulted and you need to defend yourself. With both (b) and (c) you must reply with overwhelming force.

NOTE: The USMC uses condition Black, although it was not originally part of Cooper’s Color Code.

COOPER COLOUR Condition Black:

Catastrophic breakdown of mental and physical performance. Usually over 175 heartbeats per minute, increased heart rate becomes counter productive. May have stopped thinking correctly. This can happen when going from Condition White or Yellow immediately to Condition Red.



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