Carefully consider your options when choosing to carry street survival weapons in an urban environment. Traditional weapons like guns and knives are the gold standard of personal defense, but come with lots of potential legal issues.
Though I am licensed to carry a concealed firearm, I routinely elect to carry a less deadly form of personal protection as well. (Not that the items listed below couldn’t kill.) The firearm is my absolute last resort.
Typically, alternative weapons are easier to conceal than a pistol and, more importantly, there aren’t as many laws governing their carry and use.
However, without the use of a projectile of some kind, you’re limited to close quarter, hand-to-hand combat, which, depending on your opponent and your fighting knowledge, can make an encounter even more dangerous. The following are reviews of the most popular types of alternative means of personal protection as they apply in a street survival situation.
Tasers are decent, non-lethal street survival weapons. Police-style stun guns with spring-loaded barbs are far better than standard, handheld tasers because they allow you to avoid contact with attackers. Effective range is around 10-15 feet. High-end models can run you $1,000 or more. However, because most states (with the exception of the people’s republic of HI, MA, NJ, NY, RI, and District of Columbia - check your local laws too) do not classify tasers as firearms, you may carry them without special licensure.
But even a handheld taser ominously cracking and sparking can be intimidating at a distance, something stun guns cannot do. (If you’ve never seen or heard a handheld taser before, check out the 10 second video below. Don’t get your hopes up - no one actually gets tased.)
Quality models that put out 100,000 volts and up can be found for
under $50. My father purchased handheld tasers for all the women in our
family; the alliteratively-named Zaplight Zapper by Zap looks (at a
distance) more like a flashlight than a stun gun, features a bright LED
beam, a glow in the dark feature and a sheath for belt wear. My wife now
feels much safer on her early morning walks.
Tasers are most effective when applied to bare skin. Better handheld models will deliver a shock through sharp metal points designed to penetrate a thin layer of clothing, like a t-shirt. Fortunately, as we’ve learned from watching “Cops”, most criminals wander around shirtless, making tasers extremely effective street survival weapons.
You have to be creative if you want to stay armed no matter where you go. You’ll get all sorts of attention if you try to take guns, knives, stinger missiles, etc. on airplanes or into government buildings, but security personnel won’t give a writing utensil a second thought (until after they read this, of course).
Traditional fountain pens are robust and feature a spear-like metal tip, perfect for jotting down a quick note or perforating an attacker’s trachea. You can increase the pen’s effectiveness by filing the tip into a razor sharp point, but this may render the pen useless should you need to verify its writing ability to suspicious security.
Tactical pens are specifically designed for combat. They're typically made from high-grade aircraft aluminum for its strength and light weight. These are popular among police and military. Prices vary greatly, but expect to spend around $25 - $40 for a quality tactical pen made by manufacturers such as Smith & Wesson and CRKT.
Not just for the enfeebled anymore! Canes make great, improvised whacking sticks, just ask any octogenarian. They aren’t considered traditional weapons, so can be taken just about anywhere. And unlike concealed weapons, which take time to draw, a robust shillelagh is always ready for action. If you shy at feigning injury in order to carry a cane, opt for a walking stick. These make better war clubs anyway, as the waist-high models usually feature a round, knobby end, perfect for thumping the skulls of misguided street thugs.
The power of a baseball bat, the size of a good cigar. Telescopic batons pack a powerful wallop in a tiny package. Most models extend to nearly 3 feet, but collapse to 10 inches or less, allowing them to fit nicely in a purse or a vehicle’s glove box. (For reference, that's a 12 inch ruler in the photos.)
Constructed of heavy-gauge steel and equipped with a spherical, solid-metal business end, these make excellent modern-day war clubs. Their weakness is that if you don’t connect on the initial swing, the attacker has ample time to make his move before you wind up again.
Knowing how to fight without the use of weapons is an exceptionally good
skill to have, maybe more than any other mentioned here. You don’t need
to be licensed. You can carry this skill anywhere and it can never be
confiscated. Knowledge, it’s not illegal yet.
Becoming proficient in Judo, Kendo, Karate, Jiu-Jitsu, Taekwondo, Krav Maga, Systema, Sambo, or even MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) will ensure you’ve always got a deadly weapon at your disposal. Think of it as insurance. And knowing how to fight without traditional street survival weapons will actually make you a better fighter with them.
That said, outside of the ring, the rules of traditional fighting arts do not apply. In emergencies, adrenalin takes over and, except for highly-trained combat fighters, makes doing complex movements (like throwing a punch) next to impossible.
But there are strategies that anyone, without any prior training, can employ to fend off attackers. These are the gross motor hand-to-hand combat techniques described below.
The main objective in street survival fighting is to disable your opponent as quickly as possible. Forget about fighting clean. You’re not going to square up, touch gloves and box 12 rounds.
Strike first, strike fast, and strike hard, so you can escape and find help. The idea is to minimize the opportunity your attacker has to injure you. The longer the fight lasts, the more dangerous it is.
I learned about gross motor fighting techniques from "Captain Chris" of Close Combat Training. (Unfortunately, he is no longer in business. For a little background, I've included a link to Captain Chris' now defunct Facebook page.)
His DVDs are based on the WWII combative techniques taught to our troops. Essentially, they utilize large movements (swinging of arms, basic kicks, knees and elbows) to stop and disable attackers, allowing you to escape.
To end a fight quickly, go for the weakest areas of the body. These are the throat, the solar plexus (ever get the wind knocked out of you?), the groin, the instep and the head.
The key is to not stop swinging, kicking, etc. until the attacker is down. Or worse.
There's nothing fancy about Captain Chris' system. The idea is to simplify fighting to its barest essentials, though there are some finer points to study.
Though not in production anymore, you can still find second-hand DVDs on ebay or amazon. Search "Captain Chris Close Combat Training DVDs".
The two I have are each 4-DVD sets called "Accelerated Battlefield Combatives" and "Escape Combatives", and are geared toward beginners.
Though the techniques taught are simple, I review the DVDs every few months to stay sharp.