Where are the OTHER self defense items?
May 19, 2015 3:11 AM   Subscribe

Whether or not you agree, guns and knives, and even pepper spray, are a hot button issue in the realm of self defense. Some states don't permit them, some areas are incredibly restrictive regarding type, and certain businesses or buildings won't allow them on the premises. Not to mention the social stigmas of everyone and their mother who will take issue with whatever you use. I am not asking about guns, knives, and pepper spray, all three of which I've already researched laws and possibilities of, and _may_ decide to obtain at some point. I'm asking, where are the websites and reviews for OTHER self defense items?

Like Kuba Kickz...
or the seemingly obvious application of steel toed sneakers (can you get used to running in those even?)...
or spiky metal hair accessories (seriously, I'm surprised I can't find a site that sells fashionable and sharp hair clips, claws, etc)...
or comfortable non-leather SAP fingerless/gloves?

Surely there's a market out there for these kinds of things, right? Like neck pendants or other jewelry that turn into knives but, you know, something you'd actually want to wear. I think there's a definite need for obvious self defense items, and then there's stuff that falls into the "not a bad idea to have it on you" realm of self defense.

I think my attempt to find such things falls under the age old "where the hell are my pockets" argument. Great, keep pepper spray on me? In my purse. A knife? ...in my purse. A paracord keychain thwacker? Would go in my purse. Frankly just about anything defensive that would go on my keychain would go in my purse. Guns are too big a topic to discuss and I'm not interested. If any of the above went in any pockets I'm given by some kind corner of the fashion industry, the pockets would probably be too small to fit it well or comfortably. I've read "realistically, you should wear bigger clothes, pick out clothes with self defense in mind" but that's the opposite of realistic.

Where's the, ah, wearable and semi-convenient "probably will never have to use it but -you never know-" self defense (while at work, while working out/running, at the beach, whatever you can think of)?

(Please no arguments about "well, I carry/run with my knife/spray/gun and it wasn't inconvenient" or "how paranoid are you??" or "fashionable self defense is silly/too over the top." Respectfully, please move along. These are decently interesting questions regarding women's self defense I've been thinking about logistically for a long time and I've probably already read your opinion somewhere else.)
posted by DisreputableDog to Grab Bag (30 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Like Kuba Kickz...
or the seemingly obvious application of steel toed sneakers (can you get used to running in those even?)...
or spiky metal hair accessories (seriously, I'm surprised I can't find a site that sells fashionable and sharp hair clips, claws, etc)...
or comfortable non-leather SAP fingerless/gloves?

So if I'm reading this correctly, you are asking for WHERE you can purchase self-defense items that are neither knives, firearms, or pepper spray.

Instead of googling 'self defense weapons', check that out on eBay. You will see lots of interesting things. And when you find out the names, you can then google it.

Note: these items aren't really hot sellers. Sure they *may* work, but for the most part, they don't work because if it's a weapon you can use, it's also a weapon your attacker can take from you and use against you. So if you do get nunchucks or something, just make sure you are more skilled at using it than your attacker.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:27 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Newspapers and magazines have been used, rolled up, by many people not permitted or expected to be armed. There's various info on that and other improvised weapons if you google but I couldn't point at anything in particular. Other things to search for would be street fighting (like the millwall brick) and resources like the old Anarchists Cookbook or Steal This Book (oldschool hippy fighting).
posted by Iteki at 3:31 AM on May 19, 2015

The trend for pointy studded gear has been likened with donning a protective carapace by at least one tumblr comic artist. I've worn studded ballet flats (from Target maybe?) that hurt just clipping my own self, and some goth/punk gear might go well. Etsy is probably good for the jewellery but it isn't gonna be tagged self defence, just cute or twee or badass or hard femme.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:58 AM on May 19, 2015

Major W. E. Fairbairn, in his 1942 treatise HANDS OFF: Self-Defense for Women (which I learned about via this MeFi post) wrote ‘the present-day umbrella, which is around 18 to 20 inches in length, is an ideal weapon for the purpose of defense against the more serious methods of attack.’ In that spirit, the ‘Unbreakable Umbrella’ is marketed as follows: ‘Legal to carry everywhere; Never raises suspicions [unless, one supposes, you live in a very dry climate]; Does not make you look silly.’ Less practicable nowadays, but apparently once valued as a potential means of self-defence: the hatpin.
posted by misteraitch at 4:12 AM on May 19, 2015 [8 favorites]

A pen is much better than your keys because it won't matter if it's lost.
posted by brujita at 4:25 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

This may appeal to you. Or maybe a cute-looking personal alarm?
But yes, these too are items that you might put in your purse if that's what you tend to do.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:02 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Adding "tactical" to various words will get you stealth weapons too. Tactical pens and tactical flashlights (not to mention tactical umberellas!) are made to injure if needed.
posted by Iteki at 5:20 AM on May 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

A selection of tactical pens, which can be used like a kubotan but are a bit subtler.

Pointy knuckle duster keyring that looks like a cat. Plenty of others on Amazon.

Monkey fist keychains are basically blackjacks.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:22 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you already know how to punch properly, a roll of quarters will let you punch harder, at absolutely zero net investment. (Or a roll of nickels, depending on how large your hands are.) Fenix flashlights are a good pick in the same genre of improvised sap, if you want a more permanent tool.

I'd stay away from keys, in general; they're a great way to tear up your fingers if you actually try to hit something with them.

Most important weapon, really, is training. Trouble is, there are a lot of charlatans out there, and they make the legit outfits hard to find. (Doubly difficult if you're abroad and there's a language barrier.) My own personal bias would be to recommend Chikubu-kai, Seishin-kai, or Motobu-ha Shito-ryu karate. YMMV.
posted by fifthrider at 5:22 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

In RAD (self-defense for women) class we were given kubatons, but were also taught methods of disengaging ourselves from attackers--breaking holds, going for sensitive areas, and basically surprising them enough that they would let go and we could get away. Something like this doesn't require carrying any equipment and it has made me more confident and therefore less likely to be attacked.

When I'm walking alone in a less-than-safe area I carry my kubaton in my hand, and it's not a hassle, but I can't imagine going running or something with it.
posted by chaiminda at 5:30 AM on May 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Most important weapon, really, is training.

Nthing this. A weapon that you don't know how to use will not be much good to you.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:36 AM on May 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

Frankly just about anything defensive that would go on my keychain would go in my purse.

If the issue is having to fumble around inside the purse for your protection of choice then you should look into concealed carry purses. (This example chosen to show its functionality. YFashionSenseMV.)
posted by Room 641-A at 5:37 AM on May 19, 2015

I'll second the unbreakable umbrella.
posted by mearls at 6:07 AM on May 19, 2015

I took RAD for free at my local police department and it was fantastic! The first portion was lots of safety tips in many situations - how to navigate a parking lot at night, secure your home, be alert at bars and parties, etc. The second portion was physical defense training to block hits, escape holds, and hit back if necessary. We were then placed in scenarios with an "attacker" (a police officer in head to foot padding) and had to engage and escape to safety.
They offer advanced classes for carrying mace, batons (essentially a handle to use your keys as the weapon) and how to disarm attackers with weapons. I cannot speak to the effectiveness of other courses offered elsewhere, but if you are looking for defense that you don't have to carry in your purse, these skills are very valuable and I got mine for free.
Good luck! You have inspired me to seek out another course. I have purchased lots of mace over the years and typically the keychain breaks before I ever have to use it. FWIW Mace.com has always been fantastic with replacing broken ones (typically the key ring gives out) at no cost with no questions asked, if you are interested in browsing or for future readers.
posted by rubster at 7:29 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Concealable yet useful self defense - antique lady's hatpin.
posted by corb at 7:30 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ongoing self-defense training is what I would choose if I were asking these questions.
posted by aniola at 7:49 AM on May 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

I carry a steel walking stick when I walk my dogs, it's super to have in icy weather and can be used in defense too. I feel I could defend myself with it to at least buy escape time. Wouldn't be very handy running though imo. I've considered getting a gun but like OP, where & how to easily carry it are big issues for me, as well as my reluctance to get one.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 8:16 AM on May 19, 2015

Google tactical defence pens.
posted by wwax at 8:18 AM on May 19, 2015

Maybe spend some time on Everyday Carry. Much of it is really just what people carry every day - pens, notebook, sunglasses, etc., but there are some bits and pieces on there like kubatons, tactical flashlights, etc. that might give you some ideas.
posted by Beti at 8:53 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am highly skeptical that most of this stuff would be useful, but here is a forum about it.
posted by callmejay at 10:09 AM on May 19, 2015

I think the most wearable won't have to fiddle to use it thing would be fingerless gloves with some knuckle padding because then you can react quickly and punch an attacker, but that raises the question of whether you are effective at punching, large enough compared to the average person to inflict deterrance, and not afraid of punching a stranger that may have a gun. Atlantic Tactical carries gloves like this.

You may have better luck wearing good running shoes in a loud color with some refective material and a personal alarm necklace or just screaming your lungs out as you run away from a dangerous situation. Actually wearing lights might make you less of a target since it draws attention to you. I've seen light up shoes for adults at stores that cater to festival goer club kid types. I'm sure you could find some light up jewellry with a google search.

"steel toed" sneakers are often actually a light fiberglass-like now-a-days. You could run in them.

Brass knuckles are a classic.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:41 AM on May 19, 2015

Just so that you know, a lot of jurisdictions that make carrying knives or pepper spray illegal also basically outlaw all other effective weapons. In DC, which is one of the more restrictive jurisdictions, it's illegal to carry any item capable of causing serious bodily injury if you're carrying it with the intent to use it as a weapon. And yes, that includes defensive use. So if you wear steel toed boots with the idea that you would kick someone if you needed to defend yourself, that could be a crime. Look into the laws of whatever jurisdiction(s) you plan on carrying these items in. IAAL, IANYL, TINLA.
posted by decathecting at 11:28 AM on May 19, 2015

posted by Splunge at 1:49 PM on May 19, 2015

Other people (not me, of course) in the sketchy neighborhood I grew up in would carry punch can openers.
posted by qldaddy at 2:17 PM on May 19, 2015

but if you are looking for defense that you don't have to carry in your purse, these skills are very valuable and I got mine for free.

This is EXCELLENT advice. All metropolitan/college areas I have lived in have offered this free through some law enforcement program or at a community center/ymca for like $25.

Some of the suggestions here seem like they are to maim other people in very close combat. The purpose of all that training is based on tons of research and evidence:

Your best bet is to GET AWAY and not stay and fight.

Sure if someone is attacking you on the ground, use the punch can opener, but if I had just $30 to invest in something to get me to safety, I would definitely take the training.

I say carry something discreetly if it makes you feel better and doesn't feel like a burden, but definitely take advantage of any self-defense classes (for women) in your area.

Good luck to everyone.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:42 PM on May 19, 2015

The loudest whistle. I have one but I'm afraid to use it unless I absolutely need to.
posted by SillyShepherd at 2:46 AM on May 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

There's also the expandable baton, which can be quite effective. These are considered law enforcement tools, though, and the legality of private citizens owning them varies.
posted by Gilead at 2:38 PM on May 20, 2015

Stun guns are legal in many places. The last time I checked, amazon.com had a number of versions that were built into flashlights, and even walking canes.

One thing I've noticed, as I own a few of these things, is that simply flipping the switch and making the sparks pop and crackle would seem to have some deterrent effect. Which is nice because ideally you don't really want to engage the bad guy - you want them to move away from you.
posted by doctor tough love at 7:16 PM on May 20, 2015

If you do end up buying something to carry I urge you to get some kind of training, either in using the weapon itself or general self-defense training. I have a little experience in this area and I can't emphasize enough how easy it could be for someone to disarm you.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:05 AM on May 21, 2015

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