Friday, November 11, 2011

Improvised weapons for self Defense

Hello Fernando
I just wanted to drop you a line to say thanks for your excellent book and advice.  I ordered it a couple of years ago, and just re-read it.  I recently had cause to be grateful. 
Here in the UK as the world crisis beds in, we are seeing more and more desperate people, who have no entitlement to benefits, and no jobs, and no money.  I was coming home from the train station one evening and felt someone far too close to me on an uncrowded pavement.  I stopped and let the guy go past.  He then stopped and let me go past.  I turned off into the park which is on my way.  He did too, closing fast.  I stopped, turned to face him, looked straight at him keeping my face neutral, shifted my shoulders and adjusted my grip on my bag.  He stopped, turned and walked away.
In the UK we are constrained about what we can carry or use in self-defence – basically, if you carry anything as a weapon, you’ll be arrested.  You can hit somebody with something you have about you, but you can’t carry anything whose primary function is a weapon.  So a long-haired woman could use a hairbrush as a kubotan/yawara stick in fighting off an assailant, but a bald guy using a hairbrush would be arrested.  Crazy, but true.
The above means that situational awareness is all the more important in keeping yourself safe on the streets.  A bit of attitude helps too, as well as a certain amount of self-defence training.
It’s getting bad here Fernando, in a very low-key way.  Two of our neighbours have been burgled by locals, our pal has had her scooter stolen in broad daylight, and the kid who works down the garage and babysits my boy sometimes was nearly car-jacked two weeks ago.  None of this is reported or discussed and everyone wants to maintain the fiction that things are alright and there’s no crisis, but for those of us with our ears to the ground, the signs are all there.
Keep up the good work and many thanks
Oscar in UK
Hi Oscar, thanks for your email. Unfortunately that’s the situation in many countries. USA is pretty unique regard truly having citizens that enjoy the right to defend their lives, the most precious right any living creature has. It’s shameful that no other country has a Second Amendment, or down right prohibits the right to self-defense.
It’s not all hopeless though and there’s several strategies you can approach to improve your chances of survival during a life threatening attack. The first is asking your attacker to wait until you call the police so he can be arrested. Now this may or may not work since scientist from Cambridge University have found out that 99.999% of criminals will not wait calmly for an officer to show up and arrest them. In that case you may have to fend for yourself, and since in many parts of the world its illegal to carry any sort of weapon, you’ll have to improvise.

The Pen

An element many of us carry daily for writing and signing documents is the humble pen. The classic Cross that I use most often could be easily carried clipped to the pocket on your vest or pants. A relatively pointy metal object, if I had to improvise I could use it. Remember that a weapon is anything that increases your potentiality for defense or attack. A weapon can be a handgun, but also a knife, a fork, a pen or even a key jammed into an attacker’s eye.  While there are specific tactical pens out there, a solid pen, preferably made of metal, can do as well.

Smith & Wesson SWPENBK Tactical Pen, Black

The Flashlight

A local police officer told me once of how he used a flashlight once to control suspect, hitting him over the head with the crown bezel, it ripped off a strip of scalp. The head tends to bleed a lot, and blood pouring into your attacker’s eye can be very dissuasive. A perfectly legal and practical tool to have with you at all times, the right flashlight can be used both to startle with the strobe or as an improvised impact weapon.

SureFire E2D LED Defender Dual-Output LED (200 Lumens)

Pocket knife

Each country has its own restrictions but there’s still something you can legally carry if you look into it. Any knife is better than no knife. I simply couldn’t go through life without a cutting tool and anyone that carries a knife knows what I mean. One of the first mankind’s tools, a blade is a tool used for life in general, and on occasions yes, it can be used for defense as well if you don’t have something better at your disposal. Make sure that what you practice and train applies to the tools you carry as well.

Spyderco UK Penknife Gray FRN Leaf Blade PlainEdge Knife

OC Spray

It’s a very good option where firearms are illegal, but in some of the most draconian countries even these are illegal. If you happen to have with you a small can of deodorant spray, or some other spray, especially if oily or irritates in some way, you could use it as an improvised defensive spray. Do not expect much from it, bt it just may surprise and temporarily startle your attacker buying you a few seconds.

Sabre Pepper Spray Home & Away Protection Kit

WD-40 11010 Multi-Purpose Spray, 3 Oz.

Box Cutter/Snap blade

Lots of us use these for a number of tasks. It could be carried for repairs, opening packages, making models, a variety of office work, if you happen to have a box cutter or carpet cutter with you the razor sharp blade can be used for cutting. Given the fragile nature of the snap blades, I’d avoid thrusting with them and go more for slashing.

Tajima LC-301 Stainless Steel Auto Lock with 3/8 in. 13-pt. Endura snap-blade

Sheffield Tools 12256 Self Locking Snap Off Knife

Umbrellas, canes and walking sticks

Any of these can be used as an improvised impact weapon. Remember that we’re talking of not carrying any of this with intent, but it may just be what you have at hand when the attack takes place. A solid cane or walking stick would do very well. There’s an umbrella called, unbreakable umbrella with is extremely resistant. Work looking into it.

GustBuster Classic 48-Inch Automatic Golf Umbrella (Black)

Cold Steel City Stick with Aluminum Head

The Most Important part

During my most recent trip to US I had the mentioned metal Cross pen and a MTE flashlight. I didn’t feel well armed by any means but I knew I wasn’t completely defenseless either and my chances in a fight were much better thanks to those items I had with me. Never forget that the first and most important tool for defense and survival is our brain, the weapon we may carry or improvise but how smart we are, how well we react and the tactic we apply will always be more important. Laws may restrict this or that, but knowledge can never be restricted. If you train with stick fighting you might one day use a broom or umbrella for defense, if you know how to use a kubotan you may one day improvise with a short stick of marker.
Be smart, train and learn as much as you can,
Take care,
Join the forum discussion on this post!



Anonymous said...

Wine bottles, cans of food, even an unopened soda can bashed over someone's head is better than nothing and may give you a few seconds to run.

It's not suspicious to walk home with a few groceries.

Doug From Oz said...

One of the first purchases I made after finding your site was the Unbreakable Umbrella. It's very well constructed. I've actually picked up a friend from the Gold Coast airport on a rainy day and security had no problem with it. (Just remember to get the one with the rounded end. A lot of umbrellas are lost by being hooked on a rail and forgotten about.) I also have the Gerber Artifact as part of my keychain EDC. The little hobby blade is nearly invisible, and will give a nasty and painful surprise to any goblin. Also, multitools are a good choice, because as long as you need to use it in your job it's ok to carry (at least in Queensland). I need to open packages and envelopes in my job.

Anonymous said...

Judging from these two umbrella's strength, I'd say they could stand up being used as weapons. Both are widely available.
The senz umbrella (also on ebay)
And the Blunt umbrella

Anonymous said...

A stainless steel water bottle with a leash can make a formidable mace-like weapon that is legal everywhere.

russell1200 said...

LOL - You missed the most obvious. So long as you have other "tools" on you, a screwdriver makes a very deadly weapon. A screwdriver and a heavy set of side cutting pliers make for a nasty combination.

Anonymous said...

I like the stainless steel water bottle. Although it sounds more useful as a club than a mace but no doubt it would make for an intimidating mace like weapon if you starting waving it about like a Hun. The lanyard is great for retention purposes too, just make sure it's strong enough. Grip is a concern with the slickness of stainless and accidentally killing someone. (smacking hands, knees and feet would be very disabling and not lethal)

The screwdriver although intimidating and lethal in the right hands, I think is a less effective improvised weapon than the above water bottle club. Small stab wounds would have little stopping power unlike getting hit in the head with a rock. And it being only able to stab and nothing more increases both criminal and police hostility against you if you have to use it. Might be better for people who don't think they can make themselves very intimidating and scary, like women, children and the elderly or don't have the strength to wield a small club.

The cane and umbrella are nice but 'canefu' is untested in real world use and looks very weak in practice. They also require the coordinated movement of two hands, are easily grabbed, ineffective at grappling distances and have little weight, relying almost entirely on complex coordinated hand and body movements to get a strike with any power. Useful for intimidation purposes but not defense against a serious attack.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to lament poor England's downfall, and remind Oscar that true "situational awareness" among the people would have prevented the disastrous laws which mandate helplessness.

Iggypop said...

So sorry to hear about your sore knees. Ferfal is right, you will need a good walking stick. The Cold Steel will probably last your natural lifespan. The screwdriver comment is a great one!

You might consider a small can of aresol spray paint. Anyone coming for you would quickly be a marked man. It would become very hard to meld into a group with color all over one's self. I'd choose red.

Blog Author said...

Hair ornaments can be sharp.

Razor blades in the outside of your shoe soles, if you side kick someone you would cut them.

You gave me an idea to put spiked leather collars on my water bottle :-) It would be an easy matter to make such a thing bumpy or sharp. Also to attach a chain or a length of paracord to it.

Anonymous said...

Don't underestimate the cane. Google "la canne" and you will see effective use.


Anonymous said...

I used a golf umbrella to ward off a mugger in England way back when. Wasn't unbreakable though. Regular umbrellas are not that sturdy, s an unbreakable one would be a good idea.

gaga said...

The Police Maglight is obviously a weapon, its built ofr it.

Anonymous said...

There are a couple of drawbacks to using and carrying a flashlight with a jagged "strike bezel."

First, the flashlight will rip holes in whatever pocket you're carrying it in, hence the need for a pocket clip.

Second, there have been several of instances of police and private citizens accidentally killing their assailant with such flashlights. At least one involved a police officer who inflicted a fatal head injury on an assailant with a hammerfist strike; he literally punched a hole in the guy's head. I could see how one might open up someone's carotid artery with the same technique and a bit of bad luck.

For both of these reasons, but particularly the latter, I only carry a flashlight with a smooth bezel, which is still a hell of a lot better than using one's empty hands. Having personally tested a couple of my flashlights on plywood, I concluded that I would NOT want to get hit with one, especially in bony areas. You can put a lot of hurt on somebody with this simple tool.

**Note to Ferfal: your appearance on "The Survival Podcast" was most entertaining and informative. Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

A short lightweight stick without a sharp point is not a decent weapon. Stick fighting was developed as a safe practice method for clubs and blades, keyword being safe. Use of a lightweight stick with both hands as a blunt force weapon is better than hand to hand but not by much. Saying that, an umbrella or cane with a small point can be driven into a persons head if used like a spear. (through the many orifices in the skull) And that might also be the most intimidating stance, pretending your cane/umbrella has a sharp point and is a lethal weapon. Just the impression that your armed with a weapon and ready to use it would dissaude most people.

Anonymous said...

Screwdrivers are also effective blunt impact weapons assuming the shaft is longer than 6 inches (if the shaft is long and thick, even better).

Craftsman slotted screwdrivers have a square shaft, so these are particularly well suited to having the "edges" of the shaft used against hard targets.

As to short blunt sticks being ineffective, it depends on how short. Anything 12-14" or more is VERY effective if you have trained in Kali, Arnis, or Escrima fighting.

Shorter sticks make good control and point striking devices.

Anonymous said...

The evidence that the cane/umbrella is a poor weapon is the baton. Used by police forces all over the world for over a hundred years, it is considered a non lethal weapon, meant to subdue an individual not seriously hurt him. Due to a baton being heavier than most canes/umbrellas, handier at grappling distances and able to be used with one hand in easy, fast and accurate hitting motions, most would consider it a superior weapon to a cane/umbrella.

Anonymous said...

How about sewer cleaner alkaline/base/acid used to dissolve blockages from stuck sewers? Might be of some help if you heard some rumblings from your door in the middle of night and didn't have anything else at hand. You definitely don't want it squirted on your face. They are usually strong stuff and burn almost immediately. I confess I know it burns badly from my own experience... :P It can be held anywhere in the house without raising too much suspicion. You can grab a bottle of it in hand, or when out of the house make traps with it such as having a bowl of it over the door. However, traps are dangerous for yourself, too, and must not be made in a house where landlord could possibly come in. I don't know though if anyone has ever used it really. Anyway I think it has a big surprise and confusion value.

Anonymous said...

Re: November 27, 2011 3:29 PM

Somebody else has thought it obviously, too.