Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Self Defense: Weapons are the Great Equalizer

If you didn't already know, I'm a middle-aged woman.  A short, somewhat dumpy middle aged woman.
Me. 165 pounds of badass.
For my age, I'm in okay shape - and I'm working on being better - but still, in a self defense situation versus a male, I am at a distinct disadvantage.  In matters of strength and reach, it's highly likely I will be outmatched, and the odds suggest that someone offering me harm may be younger than I am.  This is not sexism or ageism - it's just a fact.

This disadvantage is somewhat negated if I have trained in a useful martial art for self-defense.  It's even more negated if I have a weapon available.  I do have a weapon available, generally - as I stated in a prior post, my training includes thinking about and using environmental weapons.  I also usually have my car keys on me.

My car keys
They used to say, "God created men, but Sam Colt made them equal", referring to firearms giving those of us who are less physically strong a chance in self-defense against bigger, stronger people who would hurt or kill us.  You may live in a place where you can't carry a firearm, or you may have decided that a firearm is not something you care to carry or use - for whatever reason, let's assume that guns are out of the picture for the moment.

For the purposes of this post, I'm also going to assume the classic "women's self defense" scenario where an attacker unknown to me is approaching me to do me harm intentionally (versus, some drunk guy in a bar out of control or other scenarios where it's not the intent to do me harm).

Why only train to defend yourself unarmed?

Training unarmed - and only unarmed - seems to me to be training to play on the attacker's turf.  In sports terms, to try to play and win at his game.

He's set up the game against me thusly:
  • He intends to inflict harm upon me, so he has a mental advantage
  • He knows what is going to happen because he initiates the confrontation, and thus he has the first mover advantage
  • He is bigger and stronger than I am, so he has physical advantage
I can't do much about the first and second points (other than situational awareness and avoiding spots that make me an easy target), but I can do something about the third, and that's to use a weapon to negate the physical advantage.  Another point in my favor is that I'm training in self-defense, so I'm not the easy target he assumes I am.

There's another saying, "You fight the way you train".  I have a teacher I respect highly who used to joke that because he'd trained unarmed for so long, in a violent confrontation where he actually has a weapon in-hand, his instinct was to drop the weapon!  He has since trained Arnis (he's the one who introduced me to it, actually) and has a different perspective now, but the point holds true.

And there is one more saying, "the weapon is the extension of the hand".  If you don't train with a weapon, you don't really know how that works.  I have personally witnessed high-dan, very skilled martial artists flail about with the simplest of techniques with a weapon.  You have to practice these things in order to use them when there is no time for any thought.

I support training unarmed (and with firearms, if you want to). But you must, you simply must, train with weapons.  Especially if you are female, or small, or old, or very young. Because weapons are the great equalizer.