On today’s episode, we talk about self-defense tools, including the traditional and unconventional.
Self-Defense Tools- Episode 140
On today’s show, we make mention of our 2016 Martial Arts Gift Guide.
Following is a full transcript of the episode.
It’s time for episode 140 of whistlekick Martial Arts radio, and our subject for today is the wide world of self-defense tools, including the traditional… and the not so traditional.
Let me introduce myself. I’m whistlekick’s founder but I’m better known as your host on this show. My name is Jeremy Lesniak. whistlekick makes the best sparring gear you can buy as well as some great apparel and accessories for practitioners and fans of traditional martial arts. I’d like to welcome all of you new listeners and thank everyone that’s come back.
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Weaponry is a part of the martial arts ethos. Whether you’ve trained in weapons or not, somewhere in your lineage your martial arts ancestors did. Today, we’re most familiar with the traditional weapons of China, Okinawa, and Medieval Europe, but most martial arts had some form of weaponry that they’d train with.
Part of the appeal of these weapons is in how different they are from anything we use today. Which is exactly why they’re not practical tools for most self-defense situations. I don’t know too many people that carry a sword, kama or tonfa.
One of my original instructors did carry nunchaku at one point in his life, but he’s certainly the exception.
Before anyone goes off the deep end, though, and accuses me of being a non-traditionalist with respect to martial arts weapons, let me give my credentials – I spent years competing with weapons, first bo, then sai, then sword, and then back to sai. I love weapons. I also know that I’ll never have a pair of sai on me when I need them.
That doesn’t mean the training of weapons is only for practical purposes, but for this episode, we are going to limit the conversation to that. We’re actually going to restrict our conversation to non-obvious self-defense tools, which excludes firearms, stun guns and pepper sprays. While these are great tools, and I carry two of the three often, they’re definitely weapons. It’s hard to claim otherwise, which makes them a bit less appropriate for a martial arts conversation.
Let’s start by talking about the biggest counter-example to the idea that traditional weapons aren’t practical – the bo.
Bo & Staffs
For those that don’t recognize the term, a bo is a staff. Nearly every martial art that has weaponry has some form of staff, whether it’s the rattan sticks of the Filipino martial arts or the Okinawan bo or jo. These staffs show up in a number of styles of Japanese and Okinawan arts, from Kobudo to Aikido and Ninjitsu.
While the origin of using a staff as a weapon has a number of stories, the most likely one, is that people figured out how to use long tree branches as weapons. Right after throwing rocks and swinging clubs, a staff seems to make sense.
While the usage is rooted in tradition, there are a ton of practical applications, even today. You may not be walking around with a six-foot pole, but you’re likely within close reach of a broom, pool cue, rake or other, similar object at most times. That makes it an awesome self-defense tool to train with.
This is why I’ve always been in favor of learning the staff as the first weapon – it’s practical and unlike many other weapons, it’s difficult to do serious harm to yourself.
More than any other weapon we’ll talk about, people carry a knife. They’re as multi-purpose as you get, but few people spend time training the use of a knife as a self-defense weapon. While you can’t carry one on a plane or through many areas with metal detectors, 99% of the world still allows you to carry a small knife.
Knife usage is gaining popularity as people look to the Southeast Asian arts of Kali, Escrima, Arnis, Silat and others. I’d encourage anyone to spend some time training with a knife, especially if you choose to carry one day to day. The versatility and lethality of a knife is hard to match.
Kubotans / Palm Sticks
While it has many names, the short stick, kubotan, palm stick, or whatever you choose to call it is a wonderful self-defense tool. In fact, learning how to use an implement like this has some advantages over a knife, as a simple wooden dowel won’t show up on a metal detector and is unlikely to attract any attention. You can even purchase a heavy, metal pen to use in the same way.
If you’ve never seen an expert wield one of these tools you might question the effectiveness. I’ve been on the receiving end of some practice shots with a simple a stick that left me reeling. You might think you’re just as well off using your empty hands should you not have a knife or something more substantial – but that’s not true. These little buggers can do a ton of damage, quickly and without a ton of training.
As an added bonus, you can do impact damage, versus a knife, which means less risk of legal issues. Plus, it’s a better tool when you’re simply trying to get away as opposed to causing permanent damage. Another great tool that serves the same purpose would be a rugged flashlight. Talk about multi-purpose.
I think the cane doesn’t get enough attention, and it’s likely because of the way people think of a cane – a cheap, aluminum length with a hook at the top. Sure, that’s a cane. But so, also, are certain umbrellas. Or a walking stick.
While some cane systems make heavy use of the hook on the end, the overall impact of a cane can be similar to a staff. True, you may make yourself seem like a target by carrying a cane, but there’s an amazing advantage all canes have over most other weapons – people don’t suspect them.
For that reason, canes can be carried in a lot of places that the other items on this list can’t be, including airplanes. In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act spells it out pretty simply – if the public is allowed to go there, then people are allowed to go there with a cane.
Further, the law states that while someone has the right to ask you if your cane is used because of a disability, your verbal agreement is adequate. Now, I’m not telling you to lie in order to get somewhere with a cane, but many of us have had knee problems from martial arts injuries…
Length of Chain or Rope
The idea of using a chain or rope as a weapon isn’t new. From whips to manriki gusari and many things in between, having a flexible weapon has some appeal. How can we take that concept into today, though?
A heavy bicycle lock or a chain with a padlock offers real-world function, which is the first step in carrying a weapon that you may not want to seem like a weapon. You could wear something around your neck or wrist. Your belt can serve as a weapon, and there are even belts designed for this purpose.
Shoes & Modifications
The majority of the time, if we’re somewhere that we’ll need to defend ourselves, we’ll have shoes. I’ve talked on the show about the importance of good footwear before, but have you considered how your shoes could be a bit more…defensive?
Whether it’s steel toe boots or threading something through the laces, there are lots of options. I’m a fan of the Kuba Kickz devices, which I’ve worn for years with not a single person commenting on them… because they can’t even tell I’m wearing them. But if I had to kick someone with my instep… they would.
If you want to see pictures or links to the Kuba Kickz, or anything else we’re talking about today for that matter, head on over to whistlekickMartialArtsRadio.com
Brass Knuckles, Rings & Hand Modifications
We all know what brass knuckles look like. They’re illegal in some states, though, and others classify them as concealed weapons which require permits.
The idea of brass knuckles is a good one – something that enhances the effectiveness of hand techniques. That should resonate for most martial artists. If you’re happy to carry brass knuckles, do so. For the rest of you, though, there are some alternatives.
A heavy ring can do similar damage, and you can even purchase some with points that seem more decorative than dangerous. Many keychains will serve the same purpose as something you can thread fingers through to strike or slice at your attacker. Just don’t swap out your wedding ring for something new and blame it on me, okay?
How about you? Do you carry anything defensive on you? Are there any unconventional items you’ve trained with or decided you’d use if you needed to? I want to know what you think, and if you have some great self-defense tools we haven’t covered, let’s get them in the comments – You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram – just search whistlekick. Or, just leave us a comment on the show notes page at whistlekickMartialArtsRadio.com
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That’s all for today. Until next time, Train hard, smile, and have a great day.