Self defense tool
April 25, 2014 10:31 AM   Subscribe

What tools/gadgets for self defense would you recommend for a small to medium sized woman?

I am looking for a good, small size self defense tool for a woman. I would like to use this as a carry on gadget and would appreciate any/all advice. Hope is that it doubles up as a multi use tool (thinking Swiss Knife kind of thing but not much experience with such things so would welcome all suggestions). Things that I have heard of is the spray but that is pretty much what I know about whats in the market. Would be good to hear of new "cooltools" kind of suggestions where there have been some interesting inventions in such products.

The goal is use this to gain time to flee and also maim/hold off the assailant for a short time. Also I need to take this overseas (mostly in checked baggage).

Thank you
posted by jbean to Shopping (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What country are you in and which countries are you planning on traveling to?
posted by mr_roboto at 10:38 AM on April 25, 2014

You may find this old AskMe relevant.

Short answer: don't get into knife fights and I'd be leery of taking a weapon to a foreign country. In a pinch, punch someone with your keys, and run. Stay to well-traveled areas.

If you were staying in your own country (wherever that might be) and pepper spray or mace is legal, that seems a reasonable precaution if you get training. I would not take pepper spray or mace abroad, personally.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:38 AM on April 25, 2014

This thingie came up here on Ask some time ago - it looks like a bicycle wrench, but is actually used as a impact weapon. You'd want someone to show you how best to use a Kerambit, as that's what it's called. There are also telescoping batons. You flick them open to use them. Again, some instruction in use would probably be useful.
posted by jquinby at 10:41 AM on April 25, 2014

I have a small weaponized flashlight, my dad got it for me.

But, honestly, the safest thing to have may be a working cell phone.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:48 AM on April 25, 2014

Thanks. (wow, some old thread there, made me drop the idea of a knife pretty quickly)

I am in the UK-going to El Salvador
posted by jbean at 10:49 AM on April 25, 2014

A good pair of sneakers or similar shoes. They let you keep your balance, kick at a foe, and run away - which is exactly what you should be doing. If you don't know how to use a weapon, it'll likely end up being used against you. And your local laws will be complicated enough, let alone what you'll need to figure out if you're travelling domestically or internationally.

Just get a good pair of shoes.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:03 AM on April 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Pepper spray is illegal in the UK. I can't tell whether it is in El Salvador or not.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:03 AM on April 25, 2014

I carry a pouch on the strap of my messenger bag with:

-a nontraditional kubotan

-pepper spray

-I'm always forgetting to take out cash before going to cash only bars and spending it, but I really recommend keeping a twenty dollar bill (or a similar amount in the local currency) on you somewhere that doesn't involve going through your whole bag and is seperate from your wallet. If you're mugged, there's a chance you can just shove the cash at them and they'll run off; much better than losing your cards and ID, and much better than whatever the mugger decides to do when/if you don't have cash on you. For me, not having to stab someone in the eye with my kubotan while I'm having an anxiety attack is worth $20.
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:04 AM on April 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Self-defense is more about attitude (don't act/look like a victim) and situational awareness than actual violence. Very few of us have any experience fighting, while your attacker usually has much more experience. Any "weapon" requires real, full-contact training - not just once, but continually throughout your active life.

When you travel to foreign countries, with much different (and usually much more restrictive) laws about weapons, any fight you get into will quickly become a local jurisdiction nightmare. Countries are used to dealing with tourist victims, but fights are different.

I'd recommend taking personal self-defense classes which focus on situational awareness, evasion, and full-contact practice in escaping (think "Miss Congeniality" type stuff). Any weapon (or "can be used as a weapon" tool) is useless if you haven't trained with it, and it'll still be useless if it's the wrong weapon for the situation.

Also, as others have mentioned, it's best to carry a good chunk of cash in an obvious place (and use it for spending instead of your secret stash in case they've been watching you), so that you can easily give it away when being mugged and they'll hopefully leave you alone. I'd rather lose a couple hundred dollars, my camera, watch, and sunglasses than get into a fight in a foreign country.

Heck, I'll even start crying like an idiot and piss my pants if I think it'll help.
posted by jpeacock at 11:25 AM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Here's the thing. The best self-defense tool is your brain. And a few Krav Maga lessons.

Physical objects- knives, pepper spray, chilli powder- for one thing, getting them out and usable is a hassle, and if your attacker wrests them from you, or the wind is blowing wrong... congratulations, you are now doubly screwed. And that's without getting into whatever legal troubles use of a weapon might get you.

As someone who lives in a country that is horribly unsafe for women. My sincere advice to you is to take a Krav Maga class, because it teaches you to use both your brains and your body- to keep your cool when shit hits the fan, and to get out of said shit in the quickest, least complicated way possible.
posted by Tamanna at 11:48 AM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Personal alarm keychain like this?
posted by novelgazer at 12:02 PM on April 25, 2014

You are a good, small size self defense tool for a woman. "Go for the eyes, Boo."

The thing about a lot of these cute little self-defense tools is that most of them amount to a little hard thing to hit people with. There are a lot of little hard things around to hit people with -- your cell phone, a rock, roll of quarters, the Skymall catalog, your elbow -- and many of them do not make you look like a mall ninja or appear in the airport security screener picture book of stupid human tricks. Not to be a Donald Downer, I mean. But honestly, I'm not really all that confident in hauling around a thing that has no practical purpose beyond whacking people and planning on claiming that it is not a weapon. And cops read those catalogs also. As far as I can tell -- in fact quite a lot.

Were I in your position, I'd go on Amazon and pick out a nice book to read about self-defense, and then go on Google and find someplace nearby that holds short-term self-defense courses, consume both, and call it good.
posted by sparktinker at 3:26 PM on April 25, 2014

I came here to recommend a very simple, plain, steel keychain kubaton (like this) and use it as a keychain. I know people who have gone through a dozen airport security checks with a chrome version of that, because they are a woman and it is a keychain and it isn't adorned with a bunch of extra spikes. A sturdy, plain flashlight would also be a fine idea--one of the spikey ones would not be.

I second the opinion that knives are a super bad idea.

As someone who trains combat sports, I also have to disagree with recommendations to buy self-defense books or to take a few classes in martial arts. Anything less than a serious six months (minimum) of hard competitive training several times a week is more likely to make you overconfident in your abilities than to make you capable of defending yourself.
posted by daveliepmann at 11:40 PM on April 25, 2014

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