The best way to not be attacked is to be defensively aware of your surroundings. This is more than just looking around, it’s knowing how to spot a potential threat (typically hidden or completely non-obvious) before it can become an attack and avoid it altogether. I spend three hours teaching this in the Defensive Awareness class so it’s too much information to briefly explain and therefore, I highly recommend you attend that class.
There are many every day common items that can be used as weapons. Again, I have a class for this, Everything Else – it’s a five hour class in which I teach you various common items that can be used as weapons and how to use them. Students spend time in the class working with kubotans and canes, learning how to stop a potential attacker by using these items on a 6’3” tall lifelike mannequin (SD). Even though this is obviously not a real person, students always have a difficult time getting close enough to have much effect. This is one of the things I work to overcome through the drills. Women are extremely uncomfortable in close quarter hand to hand combat so this does not come naturally. This is why, again, I highly recommend you attend the class.
I have done a lot of research and even training with various self-defense tools, including all of the below. A good self-defense tool is functional for its purpose without bells & whistles that may be showy but will only get in the way. Therefore, I recommend the specific brands and models that I do for this single reason – they work.
Smith & Wesson tactical pen
Surefire tactical flashlight
Fox Pepper spray
CIA letter opener (non metallic knife)
Smith & Wesson Tactical Pen
This is a must have defense tool that you can carry with you almost everywhere because it is actually a pen. I carry and recommend the S&W pen because it is very reasonably priced at $25, and it doesn’t have the extra bells & whistles which are both useless and dangerous for the one using them. For example, there are tactical pens which have “DNA collectors" on the cap end – supposedly you use that to injure someone to collect their DNA for evidence. 1. you don’t need to be collecting evidence, you need to be defending yourself by stabbing them with the OTHER end of the pen! and 2. if you don’t keep the plastic cover over it, you will cut yourself on it.
The benefit of a tactical pen versus a regular pen is that it is indestructible – in other words, it will not break if you have to use it on someone (making it much more effective). This also enables multiple jabs, which you may need to get someone off of you.
The function of the tactical pen is a jabbing weapon. If someone grabs you, you jab the pen in any sensitive area (groin, face, eye, ear, throat, armpit) – this will make them let go, and you can potentially kill someone if you jab it in their eye, ear, or windpipe hard enough. The point is, they will not continue attacking you if you’ve injured them however severely with this tool.
This is an excellent tool for when you can’t carry a firearm. Carry it in your dominant hand with your thumb over the cap end of the pen. This is important because if your thumb is not over the end, when you jab it the pen will move in your hand and the jab will be less effective. I, and nearly all of my helpers, carry one of these pens most of the time as it can easily be clipped to your shirt or purse. I often carry it clipped to my briefcase. However you carry it, be sure to practice drawing it so that you can quickly get it out should you need it.
I order my S&W Tactical Pens from Sakura Martial Arts (direct link). They currently have three different color choices which are two different styles. The blue and black ones have a screw off lid, the green one has a pull off lid. Either style is equally effective. I carry the green one.
Surefire Tactical Flashlight
These are tactical flashlights so they are expensive as compared with a regular flashlight, but they have a specific self-defense use and they are well worth the money. No other flashlight, including other brands of tactical flashlights, are as good as or function as well for self-defense as Surefire. That’s why this is the only brand of tactical flashlight I use and recommend for self-defense.
The function of this flashlight is two-fold. 1. the high lumens, exceptionally well focused, can actually temporarily blind an attacker (giving you precious moments to escape). 2. the bezeled end is a jabbing weapon with which you can do significant damage to someone attacking you should they get too close.
On tactical flashlights the on/off switch is in the end opposite the bulb – this is specifically for use with a firearm. Surefire has two different kinds of on/off tail switches, on one you click the tail switch and the light stays on, the other you press and hold to keep the light on. On the latter, you have to twist the bulb end to keep it on steady. You may want to keep it on steady for a non tactical situation, but always in a tactical situation you need to turn the light instantly on, identify your target, shoot, instantly turn the light off and MOVE! The reason for not leaving the light on is because if you don’t completely disable the bad guy – or if there are more – they will know where you are (also the reason you move). This one reason I do not like lights on my guns, I want to light up the target, shoot, light off, move. The other reason not to have a light on a gun is because there are many times when a noise in the house may be a kid or a dog who lives there and I do not want the light I’m shining at them attached to the barrel of a gun.
In addition, many self-defense tactical flashlights have a bezeled edge which can be used as a jabbing tool, i.e. you jab it into someone’s face who may be attacking you.
The ability to deploy a tactical flashlight with a firearm requires training and going through the drills to fully understand and become proficient.
But, you can use this tool immediately as a non-firearms weapon. Carry it in the fist of your non-dominant hand with the tail switch closest to your thumb, if needed simply bring the flashlight up in your fist and hit the tail switch with your thumb to light up your surroundings or shine directly in the face of an attacker (it will temporarily blind them). If you need to jab it in someone’s face, you’re already in the position to do so.
This is also a defensive tool because you can shine it around blind corners and into darkened areas (such as a parking garage) so that you illuminate an area rather than walk past an area when someone could be hiding.
I carry the L1 Lumamax daily along with my gun.
It has been replaced by the newer L2 Lumamax. The L2 Lumamax is an excellent choice for a tactical flashlight to be used with a firearm as it has the instant on/off tail switch. It has dual output (a dim/bright option). This is particularly helpful for non tactical use as the higher lumens is extremely bright – you can actually burn a hole in something with it, I know as I burned a hole in my back pocket with mine. The high output is 200 lumens, enough to temporarily blind someone if you shine it directly in their eyes. Even the low output, 15 lumens, will be significantly brighter than any typical flashlight. The MSRP on the Surefire website is $210. I know this may seem shocking if you’re thinking of it like a normal flashlight – it is not a normal flashlight, it is a highly refined self-defense tool.
Another excellent defense flashlight is the 6PX Defender. It has a very pronounced bezel, and like the L2 Lumamax is 200 lumens. The differences are it has a click on tail switch, and it is single output (no dim, just bright). Be sure to watch the video on the 6PX page as it shows you how these different switches work. The MSRP on the Surefire website for this flashlight is $125.
I carry my L1 Lumamax in my back pocket at all times, the L2 Lumamax and 6PX Defender are both 5.4 inches long, which is slightly longer than my L1 at 4.6 inches, so these would also fit easily into a pocket or purse.
If you do the training with a flashlight and a firearm, you will most likely find the click on tail switch to be very difficult to operate.
But for a self-defense situation without a firearm it won’t matter. The L2 Lumamax has a clip with which you can attach it to a ballcap bill (for hands free illumination) and it also has a plastic ring and comes with a lanyard that attaches to the ring so you can carry it around your neck. The 6PX doesn't have either of these options. It does, however, have finger grooves on the body which will make it very easy to hold on to should you need to jab it in someone's face.
I specifically recommend either the L2 Lumamax or the 6PX Defender because of their high lumens and pronounced bezeled edge.
You can and should carry a tactical flashlight with you everywhere – it’s a flashlight so you should be able to bring it into any location including those that do not allow firearms.
Where to buy: Cheaper Than Dirt has the 6PX Defender for $87 (direct link). They are based out of Texas and I have ordered from them many times with very positive results. Sakura Martial Arts has Surefire flashlights but they're not posted on the website, so call (888-725-8720) or Email to find out which ones they have and at what price. And if you like to buy things on eBay, you can find all three of the above flashlights at discounted prices (both new and used).
Note: These flashlights use 123A lithium batteries. I have tried top name brands like Duracell and they don't last anywhere near as long as the Surefire brand batteries. I buy them online by the 12 count box so that I always have them on hand – both Sakura Martial Arts and Cheaper Than Dirt carry the 12 count box for around $22 (direct link).
A kubotan is another must have which you can carry with you at all times because it’s not typically known as a weapon. This is a breakaway tool meant to get someone off of you or keep them from getting too close.
Even if you have a key fob made of plastic, or one that you carry in your purse, put old keys on a kubotan and add various “stuff” to make it heavier.
Carry this in your hand while walking to the car, if needed you can do any number of things: swipe eyes with keys, broad strike under nose with the baton, jab in back of hand, push down with both hands; jab inside of elbow, push down with both hands; over/under twist on wrist radial bone (either side); all of these jabs: jabs to temple, inside ear, eye, below the jaw, throat (Adam’s apple), under the chin, top of traps, top of the chest, ribs, inner/outer knee/hips, groin, spine, back of arm near armpit.
I carry the Monadnock kubotan ($11.95 from Defense Devices), but these colored kubotans are under $4.00 and work just as well (the pink and blue are the prettiest in person). The differences in the two are the Monadnock is a little longer and smaller in diameter, and it has a swivel top (the keys will swing around). The colored kubotans do not have a swivel top and are slightly shorter and a little bigger around.
Fox Pepper Spray
I do not recommend nor carry any other brand but Fox because all other brands are a mixture of chemicals and/or inadequate in quantity. This, again, is the result of a great deal of research on the topic, which I cover in a four hour class on Pepper Spray.
The amount of chemical mixture in the keychain units that many women carry is equivalent to a teaspoon of liquid. This is grossly inadequate against one attacker let alone two (or more). Furthermore, when chemicals are combined it diminishes the effectiveness. Finally, the highest Scoville Heat Unit (the unit which measures the heat of hot peppers) available commercially is in the two million range whereas Fox brand is 5.3 million SHUs – this is available to all, both civilian and law enforcement. Fox is pure oleoresin capsicum (OC) – the heat of hot peppers – so it is pure food grade heat. Fox is the hottest, most effective pepper spray in existence and it is the only pepper spray I carry and recommend to my students.
More details on the differences in pepper spray and why Fox is the only one I carry are in my article, The Myth of Wasp Spray.
The Fox 2 ounce flip top cone fog is the one I recommend women carry in their hand. The flip top makes it impossible to accidentally spray yourself, yet you can keep your finger right there ready to use it should you need it. I practice this, and teach it, carry it in your hand in plain view while walking. Two ounces is more than a shot glass of 5.3 million SHUs of pure OC – this is enough to spray down several attackers. The cone fog dispersement causes the OC to hang in the air, which means if you are facing more than one attacker spray it in an arc above your head in front of you – if anyone walks through that arc they will breathe it in. OC causes an involuntary reaction in which the eyes slam shut, breathing becomes extremely difficult (most people think they’re dying), and everything that can water does (eyes, nose, mouth). The 2 ounce flip top is small enough to carry in a pocket or a purse, yet big enough to provide tremendous effectiveness.
For home use and high risk situations – or when your hands are full of shopping bags or kids – I recommend the 3 ounce Firemaster. This has a loop around the top so you can hang in on a finger while you have other things in your hand. Because it’s 3 ounces you have enough to spray several people several times. It’s not as easy to carry in a purse, but I have students who do.
You cannot buy Fox pepper spray locally, but I have ordered it online from Defense Devices for the past several years. The 2 ounce flip top costs $14.50 and the 3 ounce Firemaster costs $20.00. When I'm not carrying a gun, I'm carrying a can of Fox.
I get these at Atwoods in the equine section. These are hardwood canes that you can use in many different ways to defend yourself. Beware simply picking up a wooden cane anywhere, such as Tractor Supply – these are made of bamboo and will break if you hit anything with them, and therefore they will have very little effect. The hardwood canes are not very heavy but they will not break. They cost about $12 at Atwoods.
Unlike the tactical pen, kubotan and pepper spray, you can walk right on a plane with one of these because it’s simply a wooden cane. You’ll also get VIP treatment since you have a cane.
Think of the cane as an extension of your arm…one that can block punches or kicks; knock weapons out of hands; hold a would be attacker more than arms length away from you; and deal a stopping blow to a would be attacker. Moves must be swift and with as much force as you can muster. Here are some of the ways you can use a cane to defend yourself: poke to top of foot; poke to stomach (pool cue underhanded); poke to chest, throat, face (pool cue overhanded); whack to groin (pull back); straight two-handed static hold on chest to keep attacker away; straight twp-handed shove on chest to knock attacker over; broad two-handed grasp, flat throat or face blow; two-handed grip on bottom of cane, hook top of cane on ankle/leg, pull foot out from under attacker; two-handed grip on bottom of cane, hook cane on back of neck, twist forward and shove forward to knock attacker down.
It is important to hold the can normally and not backwards as you cannot get the cane into the above positions quickly if it's facing backwards.
The "pool cue" grip is holding the lower end of the cane in your non-dominant hand as you would a pool cue – in this way the non-dominant hand guides the cane as the dominant hand moves it to accomplish the moves.
To achieve "pool cue" underhanded (above) simply rock the cane upward with your dominant hand and drop the lower end into your non-dominant hand.
To achieve "pool cue" overhanded (above) simply rock the cane upward with your dominant hand and catch the lower end with your non-dominant hand.
To achieve bashing type moves rock the cane upward and catch the lower end in your non-dominant hand (as in "pool cue" overhanded), then rotate your dominant hand around the cane and slide that hand down to meet the non-dominant hand – in this way you're grasping the cane by the lower end like a baseball bat.
Again, these moves are part of what I take five hours to teach in the Everything Else class, including spending time doing drills with the above moves. Therefore I highly recommend this class to learn how to do the drills quickly and proficiently.
CIA Letter Opener (non metallic knife)
This is actually called a letter opener but don’t let that fool you, it can cause series damage to a would be attacker. The edge is not sharp like a knife, but I have cut myself on it reaching into my briefcase where I usually keep mine. It is said to be unbreakable – I have not tried to break mine, but I have been told by a colleague that he beat his with a hammer and could not break it. It is completely non-metallic and clipped inside a pocket it is unrecognizable as a weapon. Even though it is not sharp like a knife, jabbed into an attacker it would cause serious injury and therefore it is a viable tool. I get them from Defense Devices for $8.95 (direct link).
You can carry it in your hand with the blade up against the inside of your write and by a simple rotation of the wrist bring it into action. I always put my thumb over the end of such a tool to keep it from slipping in my hand.
In the winter I often carry one in my coat pocket. As you can see, it looks like a hair pick (for a real hair pick effect carry it in your back pocket). I also often clip it to the side of my purse or briefcase. When you carry it with the blade inside like this, no one would suspect you're carrying a knife.