I’m not expert, and don’t profess to be, but I am a martial arts practitioner and a weapons enthusiast, and I have opinions that I don’t mind sharing. Thus, many people have been asking me what the best option is for defending oneself against the serial rapist currently terrorizing Tulsa. I’m writing this post as a way to avoid reiterating this information in countless personal messages. Also, I’m preempting the person who responds with “How about you recommend that men don’t rape.” Yes. That’s obviously the best idea, but it doesn’t stop the crazy guy that’s already out there doing it. So, let’s agree that we need a serious change in our culture, but let’s also agree that we need to deal with THIS guy, and any others that are already out there hurting people.
First, things that I DON’T recommend in this instance:
1. Self-Defense classes – Martial arts is a way of life. One self defense class won’t give you anything but false confidence, which I would argue is more dangerous than nothing at all. I’ve practiced martial arts since I was 13, and unless you practice and drill something frequently, you won’t commit it to muscle memory, meaning that when you panic, you won’t remember it. I promise. Not only that, but size and strength are VERY real factors – FAR more real than Hollywood would like you to believe. This is why they have weight classes in professional combat sports. Even just 20 pounds makes a big difference, let alone 50 to 100. If you want to start taking self defense, do it (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu), but stick with it and make it a hobby if you want any hope of ever using it effectively in a self-defense situation. Before you argue that your Krav Maga summer class turned you into a lethal killing machine, let me say that I recommend jiu-jitsu becuase it was designed for smaller, weaker people to beat larger, stronger people with patience and skill. It has been consistently proven at the highest levels of combat sports as the absolute best option for one-on-one combat. Yes, there have been exceptions – Karate practitioners that have risen to success, but we shouldn’t base our decisions on the exception – we should base them on statistically sound evidence. Granted, the moment you’re facing two people, or a knife, Jiu-Jitsu goes right out the window. Also, before you tell me that there’s a difference between “sport” martial arts and “street” martial arts, let me say that it doesn’t take lessons to know how to bite, eye gouge, and kick someone in the balls. You don’t have to teach someone to do those things, you only need to tell them to. However, this article isn’t about martial arts… it’s about the practical alternative.
2. If you’re small and not physically strong, I don’t recommend using a blunt object for self defense. Sure, it works in movies, but in real life, baseball bats are heavy, and you’re going to swing it slow. People move fast, and they instinctively hold their arms and hands up to block. Go outside and swing that baseball bat at a tree and see how fast and hard you can really wield it. Now, try five times in a row. Now, imagine that tree is moving at you very fast and blocking with its arms. Yeah, scary. Chances are, you’ll either drop the bat or piss him off. With a smaller blunt object, just as a claw hammer, you have a better chance of scoring a hit, but in mid-panic, you may not be able to generate enough force to be effective. If a hammer is all you have, however, then it’s not a terrible choice.
3. Knives – I LOVE knives, don’t get me wrong. I think they’re one of the best everyday self-defense options out there… IF you’ve trained with them. Again, I would ask you to take a knife out and start stabbing a large piece of wood. People generally don’t know how to properly hold their wrists, which is why most people roll or sprain their wrists (or break their hands) when attempting to punch someone. Knives are damn effective at cutting meat (and people are made of meat) but they’re also awkward and slippery if you’re not familiar with them. Anyway, they say the rapist uses a knife to threaten his victims. Do you really want to get into a knife fight? I wouldn’t.
So, what DO I recommend? (aside from, obviously, locking the door and having an alarm system)
1. A gun – the great equalizer. That said, many people can’t afford a gun, and many people aren’t politically or morally comfortable with guns, so they aren’t an option for everyone. Like anything, you should know how to use it. Practice. Go to a shooting range and make sure you know how to load it, unload it, clear a jam, and hit what you’re aiming at. Don’t think that small, cute guns are for small, weaker people. Small guns kick harder. The best beginner home defense gun is a pump-action 12 guage. If you’re afraid of a 12, get a 20. Long barrels are for hunting ducks, so get an 18 to 20 inch barrel or you won’t be able to turn around in the hallway. I recommend you put a sandbag in as your first round – this gives you one non-lethal option, or one “oops“, before giving you the option for finality.
2. Pepper spray – Buy the most expensive can of pepper spray you can find from a REPUTABLE source. I’ve always recommended Fox Labs. If this is for home defense, get a can that fills your hand, and has an obvious “business end”. You don’t want to be scrambling through the nightstand looking for your lipstick sized can of pepper spray, and then end up spraying it back in your own face. Get familiar with it. If you’ve had a can for a couple years, get a new one. Pressure doesn’t last forever. Also, pepper spray is only half of the equation – the other half is RUNNING. I’ve sprayed pepper spray indoors, and let me tell you, the air becomes unbreathable in a few seconds. Spray and run. Don’t run THROUGH the cloud you just sprayed, either. Spray, run, spray, run, rinse and repeat. Pepper spray isn’t going to knock him out, but it will most likely incapacitate him long enough for you to get away and call or scream for help. Tazers are also effective, but I, personally, wouldn’t want to bet my life on an electronic device that relies on batteries. No thanks.
3. So, you still want a real weapon? Okay. Then, and I mean this with 100% sincerity, get a long-handled BBQ grill knife. Yep. One of those. (If you’ve got $65, get a Cold Steel Short Spear). Wrap some grippy tape around the handle, and make sure it’s sharp. Why? Because you can grip it with both hands, which means you’re less likely to drop it, and you can hold it in your center-line (the middle of your body) which means greater power and balance. You can hold it between you and him and generate a lot of force even by just putting your body weight behind it. Don’t swing it, either, you’re not a samurai… use it like a short, thrusting spear. Spears are essentially written into our DNA. It’s long enough to reach out and poke holes in him, but short enough to be used in a confined space like a bedroom, bathroom, or hallway. Best bet? Spray him in the face with pepper spray, and then use your short spear to move him out of the way (poke, poke, stab, stab) until you get a clear path to run for the exit.
If you’re still not comfortable using ANY weapon to harm another person, even in self-defense, then there is still one last option I can recommend: