Vegas Blue: Self-defense — Tools of the trade

The taser is my personal favorite for self-defense <br><em>iStock photo by S.K. Howard</em>
The taser is my personal favorite for self-defense
iStock photo by S.K. Howard

Imagine getting involved in a confrontation and wanting to create even more distance than that achievable with empty hand defenses.

You can accomplish such distance with the use of a self-defense weapon, but you must choose carefully. Also, an understanding of the weapon’s capabilities helps substantially. A good self-defense weapon should:

a. Give you an advantage from a distance
A good self-defense tool should allow you to “reach out and touch” an attacker before they get too close.

b. Leave evidence on the attacker
The cool thing about self-defense tools is that the good ones can leave lasting effects. An hour after someone has been sprayed with a skin irritant, the effects can still be seen even though the pain has dissipated.

c. Distract, injure, or subdue the attacker
Some tools distract a subject and others will injure or completely subdue them. Either way the likelihood of your escape increases.

d. Validate posturing
Posturing is taking a defensive position with the intention of convincing your adversary to submit. Think of a snake that coils before striking or the mother lioness that lets loose a bone-chilling roar when a hyena gets near her young. Usually species in the wild take a posture hoping it will frighten their enemies. Most times, they are only violent when they need food or feel cornered. Humans are similar. When posturing barehanded, your are less of a threat than if you point a self-defense weapon at someone that poses a threat to you. They may think that they can outfight you, but a taser may bring back bad memories from an incident with law enforcement, security, or maybe they’ve heard a few stories about the pain.

Below is a count-down of five self-defense tools that I feel have proven themselves in street attacks. All of these items are available via the internet or at select weapons and safety stores throughout the Valley.

5. Kubaton
In educated hands, a kubaton can be deadly. In the hands of someone hoping to protect themselves, it can be effective. Most kubatons come with instructions and an anatomy chart of pressure points where strikes are more effective.

– You can apply a lot of force to a tiny point, which causes significant damage.

– If you are using it, you’re too close to your adversary and you run the risk of being disarmed.
– May require training to increase efficient use.

4. Sap
A sap is either a leather handle or leather gloves, filled with eight ounces of tiny metal balls. This item was once used as an impact tool by law enforcement but most departments discontinued its use decades ago due to its tendency to cause injury. It is however ideal for civilians under attack. If a strike with a sap doesn’t completely subdue an attacker, it will definitely weaken the strength of their assault.

– Heavy, powerful, and can save injury to your hands.
– Easily concealable. Your attacker may not see the strike coming, which is always a good thing.

– The same as the kubaton. You are far too close to your attacker when using it.

3. Stun gun
What I really like about stun guns is that they are ideal for creating enough space to flee. In addition, they can be used for posturing. Showing a potential attacker that electronic charge may make them think twice.

– Very painful and thus can create distance quickly.
– Perfect for posturing.

– You are not likely to subdue the attacker with it.

Easy to carry and efficient at a few feet <br><em>iStock photo by Sean F. Boggs</em>
Pepper Spray: Easy to carry
and efficient at a few feet
iStock photo by Sean F. Boggs

2. Pepper spray
Pepper spray comes in a variety of forms but my personal favorite is Oleoresin Capsicum. Oleoresin Capsicum or OC is the spray used by law enforcement and it is definitely more efficient than pepper spray or mace. It’s very effective from a distance of three to five feet. Everyone reacts differently, some people will fall to the ground when sprayed and others will sneeze and continue their assault. The ground peppers used in this produce are extremely hot! There are also water based OC Sprays and oil based ones. The oil based sprays sticks to the skin for a longer period so it is preferable. Attackers from a culture that has extremely spicy foods and spices will naturally be less affected. I have noticed this through its use in law enforcement.

– Can be used from 3 – 5 feet effectively
– Burns and can cause panic
– A very efficient distraction tool
– Leaves evidence on the suspect. The skin irritation can be present for 90 minutes to two hours even on someone with dark skin.
– Another good posturing tool.

– Affects some more than others.
– Does not subdue an attacker

1. Taser
This is my favorite for self-defense. The civilian model of the Taser is powerful and will momentarily incapacitate an attacker. In addition, it can be used to hold them at bay. After a cycle of the Taser is complete, you can order them to remain on the ground until the cavalry arrives or detach the cartridge and flee.

– Completely incapacitates the body
– Can be used with one hand. A potential victim can hold an attacker captive while dialing 911.
– Very intimidating

– Large and bulky compared to other self-defense items.
– Less effective against puffy or bulky clothing.
– Will not work if the prongs do not pierce the skin properly.
– Less effective if the prongs haven’t separated properly to large muscle groups.
– pricey

The proper tools make any job easier. Consider these items when you decide to build your self-defense arsenal.

Other self-defense resource topics:
Prevention versus Self-Defense: Prevention is nearly always going to be the best option, here are some tips about methods and strategies to avoid situations where self-defense weapons would be necessary.

7 Methods for Surviving an Attack Some expert suggestions for fending off would-be attackers.

— John Robert Taylor


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