How to Use Everyday Items to Save Your Life During an Attack

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A weapon is a force multiplier. If you believe that someone is threatening you with severe bodily harm or life-threatening injury, a weapon in your hand can mean the difference between going home alive or going to the morgue. Sure, guns are great if you have been properly trained. However, what if you don’t own a gun? What if you’re in an area where guns are not allowed? Maybe your gun is out of reach and you have to fight your way to get to it. You will probably need some kind of weapon to keep yourself alive.

Weapons are all around you. You just don’t think of many of them as weapons. Here are some ideas on how to take ordinary items around your home or office and use them to defend yourself.

First, know that there are at least three kinds of makeshift weapons: shielding weapons, confusing weapons, and attacking weapons. Shielding weapons are used to stop a blow to your head or body. A book or even a thick pillow can be used to soften a strike. Use a briefcase, a garbage can lid, or a backpack as a shield if someone is trying to stab you with a knife. But don’t stay on the defense. Attack as soon as possible.

A confusing weapon does not really hurt the attacker, but it startles and throws him off course. Throwing spare change up in his face could give you the split second you need to mount a vicious counterattack. You can spray a can of almost anything (bug spray, lubricating oil, fire extinguisher) and use that to distract while you attack or run to safety. Activating a car alarm or shining a flash light can also temporarily disorient your attacker. Use the second that he is disoriented to attack your enemy.

Then there are attacking weapons. Look around you: a bottle, a cellphone, an ink pen or pencil, hair brush, broom handle, car keys—even a credit card. Anything that you can pick up and thrust into your attacker’s throat or eyes will work. If you have a broom, hold it in your hands like a rifle. Use it like a soldier would use a bayonet. Thrust the blunt end straight into the attacker’s throat (a lethal strike). Use a pen or pencil the same way. Or, you could jam it into the enemy’s eye. Car keys? Please do not try to insert them between your fingers. It takes too long to get it ready and they will collapse in your hand. Hold it firmly in your hand and use it like a knife to stab or slash.

Combatives expert Kelly McCann demonstrates how to use many of these alternative weapons:

Here are some other ideas from another combatives expert, Mike Janich:

Pretty much any advice you get from these men is excellent.

Lastly, don’t go around unarmed. Always have on you something that you can legally carry. (There are other tools we usually think of as weapons: a knife, pepper spray, kubotan/short stick, and Taser. We’ll talk about those in another article.) Make sure you can get to your weapon, and know where to strike. And practice. You will fight like you train.