Welcome to this week’s Urban Survival Newsletter, sponsored by Jeff Anderson’s course on surviving home invasions, “Home Defense Tactics.” In it, Jeff talks about how to avoid being targeted, psychological strategies and tactics based on who your attackers are, hiding weapons, and improvised weapons. With that in mind, I wanted to write about improvised weapons in general and one of my favorites in particular.
Improvised weapons have been used since the beginning of time.
Sticks, stones, sand, and dirt have been used to win fights ever since Cain and Able learned how to fight.
And, as any prison guard knows, just about anything can be used as a weapon by a creative person. Combs, tooth brushes, socks, and virtually any piece of metal.
Most make-shift weapons fit one of several categories. They may be impact weapons, such as a stick or bat, that are used for striking.
Or they may be edged weapons, such as a comb, key, credit card, piece of broken glass, and even eyeglass frames, that are used to poke, jab or scrape an attacker in vulnerable areas such as the eyes, nose, ears, face, throat or hands.
Then there are projectile weapons that can be thrown to either hurt or distract an attacker. And just about anything fits this category.
Having an engineering mindset, I also like looking at things from a physics perspective. So another way to categorize weapons is by whether they increase the kinetic energy, increase range, focus your strike, or a combination.
It’s a little more complicated when you add in rotation, but it’s accurate enough for this discussion to say that kinetic energy=force=1/2 x mass x velocity squared.
Simplifying it even more, we can substitute “weight” for mass and “speed” for velocity and say that we’re looking for weapons that will add weight, speed, distance, or focus to our strikes.
I brought in the math and equations because it’s important to understand that if you have the option of doubling the weight of your weapon, or doubling the speed of your strike, you want to double the speed of your strike. If you double the weight of your weapon, you double the force you’re exerting, but if you can double the speed of your attack, you’ll exert four TIMES more force.
Today, I want to introduce one of my favorite improvised weapons—the common chair.
If you are in a restaurant, office, kitchen, living room, or any other place where people sit down, you are going to find chairs.
Now we’re not talking about those overgrown, heavily padded arm chairs. We are talking about straight back wooden or metal chair, or even stools.
Against an attacker armed with a knife or club, as well as one without a weapon, the chair may be an ideal quick, improvised defensive tool.
Held up in a horizontal position, it provides about a 2-3 foot barrier between the person holding the chair and the would-be attacker. The most common chairs and stools have four legs. They can be used as striking points.
Even if the chair doesn’t have traditional legs, it will still add distance and weight to your strike, and will probably help focus your strikes.
The seat of the chair acts as a barrier between the holder and the attacker on the other side. Oftentimes they’re nothing more than heavy duty cardboard, so it’s more accurate to think of them as “concealment” than “cover” but they’re still useful.
The point is an ordinary chair can be used in a variety of defensive situations that you may encounter.
For example: let’s say you are being confronted by a subject who is acting in a violent manner. Once you’ve made a decision to engage this person, the chair can be used in several ways.
First, keeping the chair on the floor in a normal position, it can be used to create a barrier and keep some distance until you decide on the specific action you want to take.
The subject can’t launch a sneak attack because he has to either go around or over the barrier, or he must remove it altogether. We’ve discussed this before in relation to increasing the reactionary gap.
Even though they can reach right over it, most people tend to go around the barrier. Therefore, even something as simple as a chair can provide enough of a mental distraction to give you the extra time needed to respond to the threat with the proper tactics and weapon.
If the threat escalates to violence, you can simply pick the chair up by the backrest and point the four legs at the assailant.
This gives you several options.
You can use the legs of the chair to trap the person or to pin him or her against the wall.
If the subject grabs hold of the chair you simply let go of it and move quickly around it to gain control of the suspect before he realizes what is happening. Remember, he expects that you will continue to hold on to the chair and struggle to retain control.
If the attacker has dumped adrenaline, there’s a good chance that they’ll have tunnel vision and by moving around him, he may completely lose sight of you.
Getting the subject to the ground.
If the subject remains combative, the chair can be used as a take-down device. Personally, I don’t recommend this particular technique because of the fact that it is difficult to pull off with bigger or stronger attackers, but I’m including it as an example of out-of-the-box thinking.
To execute this maneuver, move the chair into a position where the legs are just past the subject and straddling his upper torso.
This must be done quickly to prevent the subject from taking evasive action. So be prepared to thrust the chair forward.
When the chair is in position, twist it in the direction you want to take the subject down.
The chair legs will act as a lever against the subject’s body, and the twisting motion has a good shot of taking him down to the ground. Once on the ground, set the chair on top of the subject, with the legs separating the head from the arms. This will probably only limit your attacker’s range of motion and you’ll still have to strike them to render them a non-threat.
Now we’re getting into the good stuff…
If the threat requires the use of force, you can use the chair legs as weapons. By turning the chair so that one of the legs is directly in front of you in a 12 o’clock position and the bottom leg in a 6 o’clock position, you can thrust the chair into the subject and you will have two contact points instead of just one.
This WILL be more surface area than if you only struck with a single leg, but if we assume that the average fist has a surface area of 5 square inches and the average chair leg has a surface area of 1 square inch, we still gain a considerable amount of focus by using two legs. A strike to the chest area with the top chair leg will also result in a strike to the lower abdominal or groin area. If they dodge to the left or right, they still get a leg.
Regardless of where you hit them or how many legs you make contact with, you want to make sure that you put your weight into the strike and attempt to make contact with an imaginary point behind their body so that you get significant penetration to cause injury and stop the threat. If you’re in a violent force encounter, your goal is not to poke your attacker or simply cause them pain, but to crush one or more parts of their body (inside or out) so that they are no longer able to hurt you. What you don’t want to do is try to use the chair as a club. Lifting the chair up and swinging at the subject is too slow, and much too difficult to do. The chair is especially effective if the attacker has a knife.
The construction of the chair makes it difficult for someone to push a knife through it. The cardboard, wooden or metal seat is a solid obstacle and the legs allow you to keep a reasonable distance between you and the attacker.
One common thought is that you can and should use the chair to subdue and hold down your attacker once they’re on the ground. As I alluded to earlier, this is not a good idea. It commits you to staying with your attacker, which means you can’t get help or deal with other attackers. It also only works if you are dealing with a weak attacker who doesn’t know how to shake you off and who chooses to not buck, bite, grab, or kick you. It’s much more strategically sound to take your attacker to non-functional and restrain them with an improvised restraint like a power cord or a purpose built restraint.
This is a great example of how important it is to not only be able to identify improvised weapons, but also have a plan in mind on how you’ll use them and how they fit into an overall plan that includes multiple attackers, escape, and getting help.
Remember, as you’re identifying improvised weapons, whether they’re chairs, lamps, or anything else in your environment, look for items that will increase the weight, speed, range, or focus of your strike.
To learn more about identifying and using improvised weapons, I want to encourage you to check out Jeff Anderson’s course on surviving home invasions, “Home Defense Tactics.” It’s a solid course that I personally recommend.
Have you trained with a chair as a weapon? What is your favorite improvised weapon? Any feedback on Jeff’s “Home Defense Tactics” course? Share your thoughts by commenting below:
Until next week, God bless & stay safe,