2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Alternate means of defense

A conversation I had on the elevator with a woman I know from work, I was standing there in the elevator switching from my sunglasses to my normal glasses. I had my car keys attached to my kubotan hanging in the same hand as my glasses case.

Woman: What's that? (pointing to the kubotan)
Me: Its a kubotan stick for self defense.
Woman: Why do you need that here?
Me: Frankly ********, its because I can't carry my pistol with me into work.
Woman: Why would you need that?!?
Me: Well, do you ever notice in the office shootings you see on CNN that there is never anyone ever shooting back at the gunman..well, see ya'..

The doors to the elevator opened and I got off leaving the woman (with her Obama '08 button still attached to her shoulder bag) standing there slightly confused. She probably reported me to HR, I don't care. I openly discuss my hobby with other workers in the open and am not afraid of the labels that she, or anyone else, may decide to saddle me with.

While this is an anecdotal comment on how gun owners are seen in the public's eye, its also a bridge into a brief overview of ways to defend ourselves when we can't carry or use a firearm. James over at Hellinahandbasket.net did a pretty good write up of this a few months ago. He has since changed hosting services and I cannot find the post. To my credit, this post was started back in May of this year and I have been adding a bit here and there to it as time has allowed.

Lets face it, we can't always carry our sidearm, even if we are licensed. Here in Ohio we have list of "off limits" area that we are not allowed to venture into armed and the vast majority do not have a gun check station to allow us to come and go from there without having to take measures in advance to secure our firearms. As I have stated before I normally carry to work in my vehicle, but leave the firearm locked in a lock box in my vehicle separate from the ammo (which is itself locked up). I then have to walk the remaining 3/4 mile or so from my car to my office building. Columbus is not necessarily known for violent street crime, but that does not mean that it doesn't (or can't) happen. I like to think that it always better to have and not need in these cases, then to need and not have. So here, in no particular order, are some alternate means of defense that you may stick into your pockets or purse someday when a firearm is not prudent.

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A LAWYER. In addition, I am not a law enforcement or security officer, I am not a self defense instructor or anything like that. These are my own ideas that I have formulated for myself that I am sharing with you, my reader. They are in no way to be construed as legal advise or counsel. Please consult with a legal counsel in your own area to determine what is legal in your area before you consider arming yourself with any of the following items.

Removing yourself from the danger

This is your primary defensive strategy! As such it is a weapon in and of itself. This should be the corner piece from what the employment of the other methods seek to obtain. The end result of defending yourself should be to remove yourself from the danger. If this means "loosing all your man points" by screaming like a little girl and running away - well done if it removes you from the threat. You should only consider actual confrontation as an option when all other avenues of escape have been removed. Chances are you are going to get bumped up a bit if you need to resort to violence, even if you end up on the winning side of the fight. Better to avoid that altogether than risk injury. Also, if need be, in a court of law you will have used prudent measures to assure the use of force as a last resort if need be.
RIP David Carradine. Everyone remembers the last 10 minutes of this show where Kwai Chang would whip up on a bunch of baddies that deserved it, most people forget the first 50 minutes of the show when he tries to avoid the fight. Be like the first 50 minutes.

Your Mind as a Weapon

No, I'm not talking about the movie Scanners.

This is what happens if you try and imagine Hillary Clinton nude.

Oh crap then, this is where he goes into that metaphysical bushido crap about......no. Read my earlier post about Colonel Grossman's Sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. Be a sheepdog. Don't allow yourself to be a victim. Be alert, do constant 360 degree threat sweeps as to make them a casual part of your daily routine. Carry yourself with confidence, even when you find yourself scared. A study of violent criminals in jail found that most of them admitted to choosing their victims based upon their perceive inability to defend themselves and be intimidated. Most muggers and thieves are lazy, that's why they don't have jobs that require them to have some type of self discipline to obey rules and adhere to schedules. They want to choose easy targets, don't be that target. If you find yourself face to face with a possible assailant look them in the eyes and establish "alpha male/female" dominance in the confrontation. Let them know by your body language that you are not afraid, even if they get the drop on you with a weapon and you have no recourse but to go along with their demands, do not cower and cry (unless it allows you to run away safely - see the last section). Follow their commands in such a way that you let them know that you are doing this of your own choosing to avoid a confrontation. You may get lucky and the SOB will go away to seek a softer target.

The advent of carjacking has caused a new shift in the defensive mindset of individuals. Never assume that just because you are in your vehicle you are safe. Delivering pizzas a long time ago taught me to be vigilant. I found out (the hard way) that if I was to be mugged while delivering it would be most likely when I pulled up to some bogus address and was in the process of getting into or out of the car, when my attention was not on what was going on around me. Most of us feel safe in our cars. This is far from the truth. Most auto glass will shatter if hit with a pointed object and car doors are not bulletproof. While your in your car you biggest asset is mobility, the ability to keep moving. If you find yourself in a bad neighborhood and feel threatened bump and run the stoplights, come to a stop or slow down as conditions allow, assess the cross traffic and then proceed at your earliest opportunity. If you get pulled over by a cop, tell them that you felt threatened and explain your actions. You might get off with a warning.

Your body as a weapon

I have only spent about a year total studying martial arts in my life, so I am far from the person that you want to take advice on for this. That being said, learning some form of martial art is definitely a good idea at some level when it comes to self defense. I have often thought that a firearm is a "super gene" or "vitamin G" that can level the playing field between individuals with differing physical capabilities. When a firearm is not available learning some basic self defense techniques at a minimum and using them correctly may be enough to discourage an attacker and make him flee.

Again, I am not the person to get advice about what style is best for you or where to go for lessons. You will have to do some research on your own to answer these questions.

Here is a video of Aidido street fighting, or so it is labeled. Again, I am not endorsing this style or the school that put out this video, I just thought is showed some nice action and had a lot of different moves packed into one video to give you a hint of what martial arts MAY be able to provide for you.


One of mankind's oldest weapons, the knife as a sidearm or secondary weapon has had a long standing tradition going back thousands of years. A knife can be a useful tool for everyday use in addition to being a weapon. I may occasionally have a folder on me as a "tool". I say tool for a very important reason, in the state in which I reside, Ohio, a knife is considered a weapon if it is carried for the purpose of being a weapon. Huh? no, don't re-read it, you got it right the first time. Our CCW law is actually a CHL (Concealed Handgun License). While I am fully in my rights to carry a cocked and locked 1911 pistol if properly licensed, a knife (if carried as a weapon) is against the law. So now I am in the predictament that if I have to use it to defend myself in the streets I may also have to defend myself in court for using it. You mileage may vary on this as your local laws and regulations may not be as stringent.

As a weapon the knife offers 2 main attacking options: stabbing and slashing. While stabbing may seem the most intuitive use for it, slashing attacks will most often be the quickest, leave you the least open for counter attacks and will do more damage over all. While a thrust to a vital region of the body may immediately incapacitate your opponent, you may miss hit a less than vital area and leave yourself in close proximity to your attacker and open to attack yourself (remember in self defense when firearms are not used, space and distance are generally our friends).

When choosing a knife it is important to consider the form of it and how easily can it deploy. While fixed blade knives are quite intimidating, they do draw attention to the wearer and can "tip your hat" to a possible attacker that you are armed. This may be a deterrent to some, to others it could just clue them in to come up behind you and shoot you in the back instead of simply mugging you. OK, so you just watched Tommy Lee Jones and Benecio Del Toro duke it our with fixed blades in The Hunted and think that a fixed blade is for you. If you are intent on a fixed blade make sure that it has a full tang and is made of quality steel. At all costs avoid "Rambo" or other survival type knives with hollow handles. They will fail you when you need them most. I personally prefer a folding lock back knife myself. Most "tactical folders" sold on the market today by companies such as CRTK, Spyderco, Gerber, Smith & Wesson and others are designed to be carried clipped to a pocket and have some type of opening assist, whether a notch in the blade or protruding assist, that allow quick one handed opening. Most quality folders have a solid locking mechanism to keep the blade from folding back onto your hand while in use. This is important for obvious reasons. I would avoid such items as the infamous "CIA letter opener" or other plastic wonders as they really only can be used for stabbing and will not normally hold an edge for any type of cutting. "But wait, they can pass through metal detectors!" Yeah, so what? None of my intended audience should have any need to carry a weapon into any area that they are prohibited. We are law abiding citizens that protect ourselves to the utmost extend allowed by law and respect those laws in doing so. Right?
CRKT makes a solid knife, I have carried one since buying a M16-13Z at the PX in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. I have a review posted from last year that covers it.

Back to the knife. A blade, if used correctly, is a very deadly weapon for up close and personal combat. In there lies its weakness, there really isn't any way to employ it that doesn't result in injury or death to the target. Much like a handgun, you should only draw it if you have a damn good reason and are ready to actually use it. I am not going to go into specific knife training and the like, too much material and I am not properly trained enough to give anybody outside of myself any guidance on it. All I can say is that you should have some form of training in its proper use, otherwise don't be surprised if your attacker takes it away from you and you find it sticking out of your gut as he looms over you smiling. Remember that scene in Die Hard 3 where Samuel Liberal Jackson is holding Jeremy Iron's character at gunpoint (MP5) and goes to shoot him and nothing happen. Irons then takes the weapon away from him, shows him he had the safety on and then casually shoots him in the leg. Why he didn't double tap him I'll never know, but then again I don't write screenplays. Anyway, the analogy is don't pull a knife (or any weapon for that matter) unless you are at least familiar with its use and are willing to use it.

Pepper and Chemical Sprays

Long the occupant of a keyring buried at the bottom of a purse, the use of irritant sprays has been popular since their introduction into the civilian marketplace. You should check your local laws concerning the legality of possessing this type of protection. Here in Ohio it is fully legal to purchase and carry Pepper spray and CS agents for personal defense. The sprays generally work by either using Oleoresin capsicum, the same chemical found in peppers that makes them burn your mouth, in an aerosol form to spray onto an attacker and irritate primarily their eyes and mucous membranes in their mouth and nose. Other chemicals can be used or mixed in the spray and include the CN or CS family of chemical irritants. The brand name "Mace" which is sometimes synonymous with self defense sprays, was originally a primary mixture of CN chemical, which has been generally replaced with CS due to its lesser potential to harm a victim permanently.

Sprays are seemingly easy to use, point and spray. In reality there is a learning curve to using them effectively to include where and how to spray. When choosing a spray I suggest finding one that sprays in a stream pattern rather than one that shoots a cone shaped spray for a couple of reasons. First it is easier to get more agent on target quicker with a stream. Second it is easier to aim in my opinion, you can always hold down on the button and move the point of impact of the stream. And lastly, and possibly most importantly, you will be less at risk of being contaminated with your own chemical if the stream is heavy enough to go through light winds. When employed you will eventually contaminate yourself to some degree. With a cone shaped spray in a good wind not only will you probably come into contact with it yourself but the effective range and concentration on your attacker will also be minimized. If possible try to get upwind of your attacker if at all possible before deploying the chemicals.

My current spray is Fox Labs spray, which I discovered after asking a Columbus police officer what they carried and found out it was available to the public. It is rated at 5,300,000 scoville heat units (shu) which is compared to other sprays usually around 2 million units. As a comparison, habenero and scotch bonnet peppers - which are usually the hottest peppers that American will find in the supermarket for cooking - are rated at just over 200,000. In addition, the Fox spray has other chemicals which severely limit the ability of the spray to burn the skin permanently.

Stun Guns/Tazers

Anytime I talk to someone at work or in a social setting about self defense eventually the talk will turn to stun guns and a comment will be made about their use as an alternative to a handgun. The first thing I usually point out is that in order for a stun gun to work you attacker has to be standing right next to you in order for you to use it. The second thing I point out is that after the affect wears off, which may be in a matter of a few seconds, your attacker is fully functional again. This is great for police where the attacker would be handcuffed while he was recovering, but for a citizen trying to get away, this may not be enough time to get to a safety zone. Lets take a look at this video - yeah the guys in it are immature jackasses but there is a lesson here. They take a hit on bare skin and are almost immediately back to normal as soon as the current it turned off.

Clubs and batons

Even older than the knife, humans (and some other primates) have been hitting themselves over the heads with sticks and other objects since the dawn of time. Blunt force trauma, when properly applied can be a disabling and lethal force in the hands of the wielder. Clubs and batons come in varying shapes and sizes, full full length sticks down to pocket sticks such as the koppo, yawara and kubotan. Everyday objects you might have on you at the moment, like a umbrella or rolled up magazine, may be used for defense even if not specifically designed for this purpose. Chris from work recently picked up a collapsable batton from the gun show we attended. This rod is about 8 inches long when closed, but extends to around 2 feet of steel when snapped open. Fairly intimidating to someone who viewed you a few seconds before as an unarmed target.

What I carry is the fairly innocuous looking Kubotan. It was designed by Martial Arts master Takayuki Kubota for the LAPD in the 1970's as a non-lethal control device for its officers to use on suspects. It proved highly successful and the little "pocket stick" soon found its way into the pockets of a large number of police departments and subsequently into civilian purses and pockets as well. Normally sold as a stick between 5" to 6" in length made of hard plastic with groves, most sold today include a keyring on one end to use as a key fob to have with you at all times. You can pick them up in many gun shops that cater to law enforcement (such as Vance's in Columbus) for under $5. I strongly discourage the use of your keys on the end as a makeshift flail as is commonly prescribed by some. Unless you add a length of chain or cord to add some centrifugal force to your swings, the Kubotan is more effectively used as a close range striking and pressure weapon.
The Kubotan, harmless looking but oh-so-painful when used correctly.

I have not been formerly trained in all of its uses but have been taught a few simple, yet effective, strikes by some friends and acquaintances that have used it as law enforcement officers. As soon as I can find a class here locally on its use I will take one. Until that time I will rely on what I know of its use as a striking weapon for my defense. Just in case you think you might want to explore its use a bit further, I am embedding the actual manual developed by Kubota back in the 70's for the LAPD. Again, use anything you learn from it at your own risk. I take responsibility for myself using mine but will not take responsibility for your use of such a device.

Official Kubotan Techniques-1981 5-6 inches


So there you are. Just because we must be legally disarmed in some situations doesn't mean that we need to walk around totally disarmed and unable to protect ourselves. While I have not gone over every means of self defense, I hope that the subjects covered are enough to get you thinking in the right mindset. Once again I encourage you to seek proper, qualified instruction before using any option I have covered. As always please feel free to leave a comment on anything I may have missed or you think I am way off base on. I often learn as much by writing this blog as I hope you do reading it.


Another Gun Guy Brian said...

Excellent post.

What do you think about using a sturdy pocket flashlight as a Pseudo-Kubo(tan)?

And I didn't ask just to be able to write "pseudo-kubo".

I just got a Surefire E2D LED Defender (shameless plug - review to follow soon over at my blog - ahem) it is equipped with a crenelated bezel and cap for striking and it is now a dual-purpose item in my daily carry gear.

Huey148 said...


That is actually a brilliant observation and something that I should have mentioned in the post. Spot on with that, yes most "tacticool" flashlights can be used as improvised Kubotans. I personally think that the traditional Maglites with their narrow aluminum bodies would be more effective than the wider and rubber armored varieties for applying pressure holds and joint locks.

I am not in any way qualified to tell you how well or practical those "combat" bezels are, but they obviously can't hurt. I would only question their use quasi-legally (again I am not a lawyer) in a state such as Ohio where we can only be licensed to carry and conceal a pistol with our CCW cards. Any other object is a weapon if that is its intended purpose. So you might be able to get away with carrying a knife in your pocket as a "tool" but there may be other repercussions of carrying a light with an attachment that is clearly a weapon. I don't know, I guess it would be the decesion of your local magistrate, which if you happen to be in the Socialist Republic of Cuyahoga (Cleveland) could take a dim view on those devices as they currently see fit to site LICENSEC CCW holders with carrying a concealed weapon if stopped by the police.

Another Gun Guy Brian said...

I am not a lawyer either Huey. I am hoping that once I use the "striking cap" as a "tactical bottle opener and prying device" it will look more like just a flashlight.