The Preparedness Papers
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WHY IMPACT WEAPONS?
In some circles, there appears to be a triad of self-defense: firearms, knives, and chemical sprays, in that order of preference. Impact weapons are often the forgotten "cousin" who is not discussed. In addition, there are many magazines and books devoted to firearms and knives, and there is a certain "sex appeal" (no pun intended) to these tools (look at catalogs that advertise guns/holsters/knives and you will understand this point). Chemical sprays are begrudgingly accepted, but are often assigned a lesser role. On the other hand, impact weapons are somehow seen as esoteric tools that require a black belt in martial arts to master; thus, they are not frequently even mention let alone compared to the other three types of weapons.
It is my opinion that impact weapons have been overlooked and underrated. The intent of this paper is to restore impact weapons to their proper status as a primary weapons system that is versatile, low cost and effective.
DESCRIPTIONS OF SELECTED IMPACT WEAPONS
Escrima stick: A rattan* stick of approximately 26" in length and 7/8" to 1" in diameter.
Kubotan/Persuader Baton: A mini-baton of 5" in length and 3/4" in diameter. Kubotans have indentations on the grip; the Persuader Baton has raised ridges. The former is solid plastic; the later is hollow. Each has a solid ring at one end to attach your keys. "Kubotan" is a register trademark of Tayakuki Kubota; the "Persuader Baton" is a registered trademark of the Monadnock Company.
Expandable Baton: The modern metal replacement for the old wooden "billy club". The ASP brand has a shock absorbing foam grip. Although they come in four different sizes, I suggest considering the size that is 6.25" closed and 16" when opened, as the two longer versions get to be very heavy (and thus, slower) when swung.
Mag-Lite Flashlight: A type of flashlight made out of anodized aircraft aluminum by the Mag-Lite Company. (While Mag-Lite's come in many different sizes, in this article the 5-cell "C" size is the size being discussed as a weapon; its "reach" is 15" and can be swung much faster than the heavier "D" cell model).
The four preceding weapons were chosen after consideration of several factors including: availability, low cost, concealability/accessibility under "real life" circumstances, reasonable ease in learning how to properly utilize the weapon, (i.e., one does not need to have a "Black Belt" to utilize any of these weapons properly.); training resources available, legal status, and most importantly, effectiveness as a defensive tool.
While there are many other impact weapons, these will not be discussed in this paper due to: unsuitability due to size (the Bo, for example), legal prohibitions (brass knuckles, for example), they are considerably more difficult in learning how to use compared to the previous 5 choices, or they are duplicative of the five previous weapons; or they are inferior in other respects and therefore make less than ideal weapons.
However, I do not wish to be dogmatic: other than the four impact weapons chosen, you may find another that fills a specialized niche or that you personally like.
Some readers of this paper may be disappointed that I did not choose nunchukas or the tonfa, the latter weapon being the forerunner to the PR-24 Baton used by many police departments. The reason why these two were not included was my perception that the training required was considerably more than my other selections, and that their concealability is also less than ideal; however, you may disagree.
Finally, while there are other common objects that can "make-do" as an impact weapon (baseball bat, tire iron, etc.), I believe that it is not wise to utilize something that is not designed as a weapon and that you probably have not practiced with, unless of course, you are fighting for your life and the object is all that is available; and you may be placing yourself in a precarious legal position, i.e., good people get sued by the "bad guys" all the time.
Some impact weapons may be regulated by state/local laws; for example, according to the Revised Statues of the state in which I reside: "Blackjack" means any instrument that is designed for the purpose of stunning or inflicting physical injury by striking a person, and which is readily capable of lethal use." PLEASE CHECK YOUR STATE/LOCAL STATUES AND CONTACT YOUR OWN ATTORNEY OR STATE'S ATTORNEY IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS/CONCERNS.
Multiple layers of redundancy in weapons is best, i.e., if a handgun is your primary weapon, back it up with another gun, a knife, impact weapon and pepper spray and know how to use all of them well. No one weapon is "perfect"; all have their advantages and disadvantages. To have any weapon and not know how to use it properly is dangerous, both to you and other people.
One does not need to have an advanced degree in history to realize that the club was probably man's first real weapon, and down through the centuries, different type of impact weapons have been utilized dependent upon the culture, traditions, technology and laws of various civilizations.
PERCEIVED ADVANTAGES OF IMPACT WEAPONS
1. Compared to the other major categories of weapons; guns, edged weapons and pepper spray impact weapons are less likely to break or otherwise become disabled.
2. Impact weapons afford a unique advantage: different levels of force can be applied according to the needs of the situation. For example, a pressure applied with Kubotan to selected points of the body can be very painful, but otherwise not harmful. Blows with other impact weapons can disable a joint and stop an attacker, but not be lethal.Finally, blows to the head can be fatal. The point here is that the user has control over the levels of force. Police use of impact weapons to subdue and control suspects is well documented.
3. Impact weapons can be used in multiple ways besides just blunt striking: jabs, grappling, hold and control techniques are also available. These can be advantageous in a fight. No other weapon is as versatile.
4. Some impact weapons are not seen as weapons by law enforcement and some cannot be detected by metal detectors; for example, last year I had to go to the county courthouse to file in the small claims court. Security is very tight at this facility due to a past shooting in a courtroom. My Kubotan with keys attached was sent through the X-ray machine and was readily seen by the attendant and security guard, and returned to me with no comment. Of course, I could have also been carrying a "CIA Letter Opener" (nylon knife) which would not have set off the metal detector that I walked through, but if discovered, I would not have been treated so courteously! Example number two: between the driver's seat and transmission hump in ray car lays ray Mag-Lite flashlight. Not only is it difficult to see by persons outside of the vehicle, but even if it is seen by a law enforcement officer during a traffic stop, it will not be perceived as a weapon.
5. Some impact weapons can be easily concealed; the Persuader/Kubotan and ASP baton fall in this category.
6. Impact weapons greatly increase the speed, power, and reach of the user; and therefore, are difficult for the attacker to defend against.
7. Impact weapons are of low cost; thus, one can afford to implement the philosophy of multiple redundancies. The cost of all four weapons combined as of this date (1996), is less than $100.00; which is certainly affordable by most people concerned about self-defense.
8. Most impact weapons can generally be bought without concern (at least for now!) of registration, regulation or confiscation. But given the current anti-self defense sentiment in the media, and police-state tactics by the government, it's best to "get "them while you can"! (CHECK YOUR LOCAL/STATE LAWS; some martial arts weapons have already been banned).
9. In considering the three primary sites of self-defense needs (person, car, and home), there are impact weapons for each situation, and they can be strategically placed for ready access with no maintenance needed: the Persuader/Kubotan and expandable baton on the person at all times, the Mag-Lite for walking at night and in the car; and the Escima stick and Mag-Lite in the car and at home.
It only takes a little imagination to determine where they should be placed in the car and home so as to be accessible to the defender, but not readily apparent to the attacker. Especially in the home, impact weapons may serve as "back-up" to firearms or they can be used in conjunction with a firearm, e.g., the Mag-Lite serving to illuminate an area while using a handgun (in this regards, because of my large hands, I find the 3-cell "D" size Mag-Lite flashlight to be ideal for the back-to-back of hand stance with a pistol, i.e., the Harries technique).
10. Unlike other weapons, impact weapons are safer if they fall into children's hands. No, I would not want a child striking another child with a Mag-Lite, but bruises or even broken bones are less dangerous than being shot with a gun or stabbed with a knife. However, it is still the responsibility of the owner to prevent impact weapons from being stolen or misused.
11. Like the sound produced by the "racking" of a slide-action shotgun, the seen "blur" and heard "whoosh" of an impact weapon as it is swung by the defender is a psychological deterrent, as is the distinct metallic "clack" produced by the opening of an expandable baton.
12.Impact weapons can be very effective in defending against dog attacks.
13.Impact weapons require physical training to learn properly; they are an extension of one's strength and there is a melding of tool, mind, and body. Such martial arts training, has many benefits, both physical and psychological, even if one never has to defend himself.
14.All impact weapons can be held so as to be nearly "invisible" to a would-be-attacker (experiment and you can verify this for yourself). This gives you an element of surprise.
15.Last, but not least, criminals do not expect civilians to fight back with impact weapons; again, the element of surprise is on your side.
IMPACT WEAPONS AS COMPARED TO
Guns: Nothing matches the "reach" of a gun, the deterrent value, or the lethality. Impact weapons make excellent back-ups to a firearm. However, in some localities it is not legal to carry a gun. When walking to your car at night, you probably won't have your gun in your hand, but you can be holding you Persuader/Kubotan with keys attached. Similarly, there may be other situations in a crowd for example, where use of a gun might endanger bystanders, but where an impact weapon would be ideal.
Edged weapons: It is my contention that impact weapons are clearly superior, for the reasons previously discussed. Edged weapons can certainly be lethal, but as pointed out by many self-defense experts, your attacker may die several hours after a knife-inflicted wound, but not before they have killed you! Also, knife fighting is a nasty business in which the defender has a high risk of suffering substantial injuries and given the additional risk of AIDS from blood contamination, it is something I would rather avoid.
In most states there are legal limits to the length of knife blades one may carry. In the author's state it is 4" for folding knives. [CHECK YOUR STATE/LOCAL LAWS]. Would you rather face an attacker with a 4" blade or a 16" expandable baton? Even if you carry a "combat knife" with a 6 or 8" fixed blade, all impact weapons we are discussing (except for the Persuader/Kubotan), have a much greater reach (as do impact weapons we haven't discussed, such as nunchukas and the tonfa). I believe it is much easier to learn how to properly defend oneself with an impact weapon as compared to a knife.
Pepper sprays: The new generation of pepper sprays (OC), are clearly superior to their older cousins, CS and CN. Now you have a good chance against persons who are psychotic or intoxicated and/or under the influence of drugs/alcohol. However, there are caveats:wind and rain may present problems; using pepper spray in a vehicle appears to be contraindicated; a clogged valve may render the spray useless. What about defense against multiple attackers, which is becoming a more common crime? Thus, it seems wise to have an impact weapon as a companion to your spray.
[NOTE: The next two sections are not meant to be comprehensive, but rather serve as a starting point. I have personally utilized all companies listed and highly recommend each!]
WHERE TO OBTAIN IMPACT WEAPONS
Escrima sticks are available from most local martial arts suppli¬ers as well as through mail order (check out the newsstand for martial arts magazines which list many companies). One excellent source is:
Century Martial Art Supply, 1705 National Blvd., Midwest City, OK 73110-7942 800-626-2787
Mag-Lite flashlights are available at most discount, hardware, and sporting goods stores, as well as through mail order.
The Kubotan is available from: Lethal Force Institute (LFI), P.O Box 122, Concord, NH 03301 603-224-6814.
The Persuader Baton is available from: Pro-Systems, P.O. Box 261, Glenview, IL 708-729-7681
My philosophy on weapons is three-tiered: First, get training from a qualified professional; being "certified" will not only enable you to properly defend yourself and your loved ones, but it may keep you out of jail should a "bad guy" who you have successfully defended yourself against decided to sue you for injuries sustained. Then supplement your training with videos and books; learning more never hurts. Finally, practice what you have learned with a partner, preferably both of you wearing proper protective gear and with "soft" versions of your weapon of choice, e.g., 'Red Guns', rubber knives, foam nunchukus, etc.
Escrima stick: If you live in a major metropolitan area, the best place to look for training is local martial arts studios. For training video tapes, an excellent resource is: Panther Productions, 1010 Calle Negocio, San Clemente, CA 92673 714-498-7765. Finally, you may want to pick up some martial arts magazines, like Martial Arts Training and look for other training sources/aids; there are many.
Mag-Lite flashlight and expandable baton: Training is mainly oriented towards police, not civilians.You may want to contact both Pro-Systems and the Lethal Force Institute for help in locating training.
Kubotan: Training for police and civilians is available through LFI. If this is not convenient for you, write as they may know of other resources.
Persuader Baton: Training for police and civilians is available through Pro-Systems. If this is not convenient for you, write as they may know of other resources.
Concealed Carry Revealed, by A. Puzyr. This has a good chapter on impact weapons and also has a comprehensive "source direc¬tory" in the appendix; available from Paladin Press, 1-800-392-2400.
Defensive Tactics with Flashlights, by John G. Peters, Jr. Available from Lethal Force Institute. The chapter "Fighting Flashlights" in Massad Ayoob's book, The Truth about Self Protection; available through LFI or most bookstores can order it for you. Official Kubotan Techniques is available from LFI.
Unfortunately, I live in one of the few remaining states where concealed carry of handguns is illegal; thus, relying on other weapons is a necessity not an option. While I view pepper spray as being primary because of its "reach", there are situations, as previously discussed, where its use may be contraindicated. My impact weapons are always ready and can be deployed faster than the 00. (For example, imagine being attacked in a restroom). Finally, an Endura Clip-It is available to finish the fight should that be necessary.
Escrima Stick: When you first pick up this lightweight stick, you may not be impressed, but buy the Dog Brother's video tapes (a series of five tapes) from Panther Productions and see strong men (wearing protective gear) being clubbed to the ground by their opponents. This is probably the easiest martial arts weapon to learn and one of the most versatile.
Persuader/Kubotan: Imagine the force from your strongest punch, swing, or jab being concentrated in a circle only 3/4" in diameter and the force not being transmitted by flesh and bones (which can break) but hard plastic. (You math majors can compute the foot-pounds of energy!).I have been on the receiving (and giving) end, behind a foam-padded shield being struck by a Persuader. One blow in the right place can quickly disable an attacker before he even realizes what hit him. Whether your working in the yard, going for a walk, shopping, or hiking in the woods, your Persuader/Kubotan is like an American Express Card - "Don't leave home without it!"
Mag-Lite Flashlight: Every car and home needs a flashlight. This is one "weapon" that will come in handy even if you never have to defend yourself. The quality is so good it should last a lifetime and at night, it could even temporarily disorient an attacker (especially if you use Krypton High-Intensity bulbs) so that you could gain still another advantage.
Expandable baton: Although special holsters are made for this, it will fit neatly into a rear pants pocket or jacket pocket; however, you will definitely notice the weight. Of all the impact weapons discussed, I think this has the most deterrent value due to its threatening, black appearance and the "clack" when it is opened, as previously discussed. My ASP Baton lays in the black felt tray under my car radio; it is almost invisible. When I leave the car, I can slip into my pocket.
From the caveman to the ninja to the modern police officer, the impact weapon has played an important role as both a defensive and offensive tool: simplicity, reliability, versatility, and effectiveness. Once you experience the "ki" of an impact weapon, I'm convinced that you too, will add this tool to your arsenal.
* Here is a description, of rattan: "Despite its resemblance to bamboo, rattan is not hollow. It is composed of thousands of tough, thin fibers that are densely packed together and encased in a smooth hard skin. This construction gives it enormous strength and substantial flexibility. Rattan sticks flex rather than break, so when they strike hard objects they absorb shock rather that transferring it to the user. The bark is left on because it adds tremendous strength to the rattan. In fact, when combined with fiber core, it is tough enough to offer good defense against even edged weapons". Fall 1996, No. 12; Lynn Thompson's Special Projects; a Division of Cold Steel.