Weapons: The Great Equalizer
It's no secret that I'm not exactly the most buffed out, physically fit person you know.
Even if I dedicated myself to being that person - if I made that my #1 priority over everything else - I'm still a big disadvantage when it comes defending myself.
Of course, women can and do initiate violence, but generally speaking, most "bad guys" are males.
No matter how hard I work out, it won't improve my height (I'm 5'2" tall now, and as I age, I'll get shorter). I'm already middle-aged, and as I get older, the injuries and chronic diseases of the years will take their toll and limit some of what I can do. And the truth is - whether we like to hear this or not - generally speaking, males are bigger and stronger than I am even when I was at my physical peak.
So if I'm serious about self defense, I have to accept the truth of the situation, and I have to include weapons in my self defense strategy.
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.
Here's how he's set up the game I have to "win":
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.
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!
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-ranking, 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 to their best effect 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 if you are serious about self defense. Especially if you are female, or small, or old, or very young. Because weapons are the great equalizer.
What do you think? Do you think you need a weapon to protect yourself? Or is empty hand training enough for your situation? Let us know in the comments!