Picture a mugger, emerging from the darkness. What would you do? If you're like most Americans, you've already played out this fantasy hundreds of times with each of your handguns and tactical knives. You'd attack secret weak points of his face, known only to you. Your strength, speed, and stamina would be made limitless by adrenaline. The mugger's ladies would switch sides, flinging their bikini bottoms toward your spinning kicks. In fact, it's almost stupid to still be talking about this mugger since he's dead at your feet. "That's the way of the streets," you might growl at his pieces before bringing your saxophone to your lips. "Fwrrff!!! Hrmmm fmfffhheeeeeeeee!!"
Well, not everyone is going to look as rad as you during his or her first Mortal Kombat appearance. For instance, if you use these self-defense guides designed around everyday objects, the best you can hope for is that your attacker will be laughing too hard to kill you.
Your Weapon: You will be using a hat filled with BBs because self-defense gadgets are what you get when you mix imagination and paranoia with karate. It's an industry that kills one million theoretical crotches a day, and when it comes to personal safety there is no upper limit on ridiculous. You can buy self-defense belts, scarves, shoelaces, rings, keychains, and underwear. But of all the lethal weapons you can wear, this half-club/half-hat seems to provide the most humiliation for the least amount of safety.
Your Guide: SAP CAP with JAMES KEATING
In this guide, James demonstrates how to use a samurai sword motion to fight off humans and a golf swing motion to fight off animals. Strangely, there is no mention of what swing to use if your opponents turn out to be werewolves or a stack of leprechauns, scenarios equally as likely as you winning a fight against wild dogs by way of hat slapping. The Sap Cap features a generous hole for your pony tail, because if you fantasize about defeating foes with a secret hat weapon, you absolutely have a pony tail. Two notably missing features are a pouch for your Pokemon card deck and a face so you can practice kissing between battles.
Aside from it being painfully useless, I was also disappointed with the guide for not including a list of hat-related catch phrases I can scream before a knockout. "Hats off to ya! Shit CAPpens! Hate to HABERdash your hopes! Now HAT's more like it!" I mean, those only took me 90 minutes to come up with and I'm just some guy who's never killed anyone with a hat.
Your Chances: Not great. It's a sack of lead pellets stitched into a cap, so it's probably going to rupture from a vigorous nap long before it bursts harmlessly against your enemy's raised arms. It not only won't help save your life, having this thing on your head will make your life significantly less worth saving.
I guess this would work against someone who didn't know you were there, but when I started this article about self-defense, I was sort of picturing you being the good guy in each scenario. If you're just shopping around for murder weapons, I bet you can top bonking someone with a baseball cap. At best this product is only useful for making your court-appointed attorney laugh.
Your Weapon: Any ordinary cane will work for this style of martial arts. What's great about a cane as a weapon is that it also doubles as a walking stick in case your knee blew out after a battle with ninjas or fell off after one with diabetes.
Your Guide: Cane Kata with Mark Shuey
If you try this at home, you'll quickly find out what australopithecus already knew-- swinging a stick doesn't require a lot of training. In fact, it's so basic one could argue that wooden clubbing has been obselete nearly as long as our vestigial tails. Once you as a one day mugging victim can distinguish between your cane and your hot dog, you're 85% done with all you need to know about stick fighting.
Your Chances: The art of cane-jutsu doesn't focus as much as it should on smashing a stick into your mugger. Instead, Sensei Mark Shuey demonstrates gentle pokes in between shaky kicks and stances. It's more like a fun dance you can perform while holding a baton, which, if I'm not mistaken, is the legal opposite of urban survival. It's a video for people who want to die helplessly, but with the grace of a gorgeous swan.
Like the maker of this video, I have never been in an actual street cane battle. However, this style of martial arts seems way, way less effective than any ordinary temper tantrum. If I trained in front of this video for 10 years then came back in time to today to start a stick battle with myself, I really like today me's chances in that fight. That's obviously impossible, though; since anyone performing these beautiful, breathtaking dances for 10 years would be too busy lactating to do any time traveling.
2. Pocket Flashlight
Your Weapon: An ordinary flashlight, only much smaller. I... okay, wow, we'd hope this self-defense guide is an amazing one.
Your Guide: FLASHLIGHT FIGHTING - How to Make Your Pocket Flashlight a Take-Anywhere Self-Defense Weapon by Phil Elmore
This book is 79 pages covering every aspect of pulling a pocket flashlight from your custom holster and then poking it into your enemies. The amount of detail in the hypothetical karate flashlight battles is staggering. Why, if I didn't know better, and I don't, I'd say the author was deranged. He shows you everything from how to pretend you don't have a flashlight to how to look terrified. Apparently, the most complicated part of defending yourself with a flashlight is creating the illusion of non-dangerous nerd. And this is a martial discipline very much within the author's area of expertise.
Phil Elmore seems to know as much about smacking someone with your flashlight as anyone can know about anything, but from the looks of him, he'd be just at home attacking you with his metal detector or ceramic owl collection. I guess what I'm saying is that pocket light fight training looks like it involves more sheet fort snacking than cardio.
Your Chances: A metal bar stings, and there are up to several self-defense scenarios where your attacker would prefer you not to have a tiny flashlight. That being said, if you're preparing yourself for battle, a book about how to hide, swing, and decorate a little light is probably the worst investment of your time and money. No one will ever say the words, "Run! He has a tiny flashlight!" or "We're saved! That nerdy gentleman has a little metal thing!" I honestly think you'd be better off getting a book on how to shout for help in squid* and staying near the beach.
* It's "Splrple fooob" and two squirts of ink.
Your Weapon: Yes, you're about to learn how to fight someone with your bike.
Your Guide: BICYCLE COMBAT TACTICS WITH INSTRUCTION DAVID R. MOBLEY
There are no words in this instructional video, most likely because it was filmed from 30 yards away in a backyard with no sound equipment of any kind. It's two men delicately nudging each other with a bike while various royalty free music plays. If the DVD box didn't say this was a martial arts video, I would have guessed this was their way of using bicycles and modern dance to come out to their fathers.
With the lack of narration and general harmlessness of poking someone with a bike tire, it's hard to tell if the demonstrations are examples of what to do, what not to do, or simply common mistakes boys make when trying to kiss on a bike. Each bike combat master falls over at the slightest hint of a shove, and most of their moves are obviously being made up as they go along. There was less money and thought put into this video than a Mad Dog 20/20 hangover.
Your Chances: This video sucks in every way it can suck. I wouldn't be surprised if it was made by a disgruntled San Francisco driver trying to trick bicyclists into fighting like holes in lubricated teddy bears. And speaking of, it would have been a more accurate title if they called this HUMILIATING WAYS TO PLAY MAKE-BELIEVE WITH PROPS. If you buy BICYCLE COMBAT TACTICS, you'll not only be unable to defend an attack, you'll know in your heart you deserve it.