Via Potentia ~ Modern Self Defense Training

Our next free seminar on self defense and physical conditioning is Friday, November 24 from 6 - 9 PM.

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Self Defense Weapons

For a thorough treatment of this and similar topics, read our student manual or sign up for the full curriculum.

I get many questions from people asking what kind of martial art they should take, or weapon they should buy, for personal defense. The honest answer is that the most effective thing someone can do to protect himself is to:

  1. Live a life of virtue. Be humble, polite, virtuous, hard working and responsible. Don't insult, challenge or provoke others. Apologize if you offend someone.
  2. Educate yourself about human strengths and weaknesses, the reality of evil, and how such people take advantage of others.
  3. Prepare yourself and your home so that you can better avoid, deter and prevail in such encounters. This includes securing your home and getting self defense training, and arming yourself. You alone are responsible for your own protection and the protection of your home and family. Anyone who is serious about living up to this responsibility will carry one or more weapons at all times.
  4. Be aware of dangerous people, places and circumstances and avoid them. If you ever feel like you are in danger, listen to that instinct. It isn't always right, but it is there to protect you. Get to a safe place. If you do need to enter an unknown or less safe situation, take trusted friends with you.
  5. Insofar as you can, make distance between you and threatening people/situations. De-escalate conflicts.

It is much easier to avoid violence than it is to prevail in it. Once it is upon you, it is all a roll of the dice. We can all be defeated, assaulted, etc. We are all vulnerable. That is life.

Knowing physical self defense techniques (or a martial art) won't prevent someone from assaulting you. It might help your chances at defeating the attacker, but even that is questionable. Most attackers have several advantages; size, aggression, accomplices, surprise, a weapon, their choice of location, time and victim. Even a relatively-inexperienced but aggressive person with a knife can easily defeat and kill a skilled martial artist. The reality is that the best way to defeat an attacker is to have an effective weapon of some kind. However, no weapon is perfect. Following is a brief comparison of the uses, strengths and weaknesses of common self defense weapons.

WeaponStrengthWeakness
Empty Hands/Feet Highly versatile. Always with you. Inconspicuous. Instant deployment. Doesn't prevent an assault. Easily damaged. Requires training and practice.
Tactical Flashlight Small, lightweight, easily carried and concealed. Temporarily blinds, especially at night. Effect can last a few seconds, allowing for follow-up strikes. Requires very little training. Can be used as a "kuboton" or loaded fist.

Get the highest lumen output one you can afford, with the edged crowns for striking. A tactical flashlight is a necessary companion if you carry a gun for identifying people before pointing the weapon at them.
Is not intimidating and wouldn't stop a determined attacker in and of itself. The ones that make effective clubs are necessarily-cumbersome.
Sticks, Umbrellas, Canes and Improvised Weapons Can be found almost anywhere and are inconspicuous. Can be highly effective. In truth, almost any hard object, or most items in your kitchen or garage, could be used as a weapon in an emergency. Not intimidating to most attackers.
Pepper (OC) Spray Small, lightweight, easily carried and concealed. Temporarily blinds and causes excruciating pain. Effect lasts about 30 minutes, allowing for an escape. Rarely lethal. Requires very little training. Great against dogs.

We specifically recommend the ASP Key Defender and ASP Street Defender models.
Not always effective. Can spray back. Limited range. Dispenser is not intimidating. Takes several seconds to deploy.

Alternatives include almost any propellant-based spray; insect repellant, some perfumes, hair spray, etc. Some people mix their own ammonia-based sprays and keep them in a squirt bottle.
Stun Gun Some intimidation factor. Small, lightweight, easily carried and concealed. Temporarily causes loss of motor control. Shock recipient often falls. Rarely lethal. Requires very little training. Recovery can be nearly instantaneous, and so must be followed with some other restraint or attack. Must be close to attacker and make contact. Sometimes ineffective, especially against thick clothing. Takes a few seconds to deploy.
Taser Similar to stun gun, but can be deployed at a distance of up to 20 feet, depending on model. Similar in use to a handgun. Some have a back-up stun gun built in. Same weaknesses as stun gun. Lead wires can be broken by someone who knows how to defeat tasers. Most have only a single shot. Expensive cartridges.
Knife Highly intimidating. Potentially lethal. Requires relatively little skill to use effectively. Easily hidden. Slashing limbs can immediately debilitate. Inexpensive and available everywhere. Has other utilitarian uses. Intimidating, useful ones are often illegal to carry. Folding (legal) ones are difficult to deploy quickly, and sometimes require two hands. Effects are not always instantaneous, and cuts are often not immediately painful. Cut person can continue to function until he goes unconscious from loss of blood pressure; this can take many seconds or minutes, even if cut in a vital area. Use requires close contact. Messy and psychologically difficult to use. Some social stigma if you carry a fighting knife openly. Because it is a lethal weapon, use may result in automatic arrest in ambiguous circumstances.
Handgun Highly intimidating (known to prevent a million or more crimes per year just by brandishing). Easily concealed. Takes about 2 seconds to deploy with practice. Expensive. Requires substantial training and practice for proficiency. The most effective calibers are difficult to carry concealed. Not recommended for close encounters (one arm's length). Restricted by some governments. Accidental shootings are a valid concern. A determined shot person can continue to function for many seconds or minutes, even if shot repeatedly. Some social stigma if you are known to carry. Open carry prohibited or problematic in many settings. Because it is a lethal weapon, use may result in automatic arrest in ambiguous circumstances.

We welcome comments, questions and suggestions for improvement.
Via Potentia, 819 N. Hwy 99 W, McMinnville OR 97128 (in the Impact Jiu Jitsu gym between Sandwich Express and Mikey's Pizza)
Open most weekday evenings after 6:00 PM -- visitors are welcome
Telephone: 503-437-3450

Copyright Via Potentia. All Rights Reserved. Consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program; consult a lawyer before making a legal decision. All information provided on this web site or otherwise by Via Potentia is provided for educational/informative purposes only, is subject to correction, and should not be considered legal, medical or other professional advice. Use at your own risk.