101 ways to defend yourself without a gun: A Rebuttal

101 ways to defend yourself without a gun; by Johnny A. Jenkins. The full essay can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/2ucdc8.

Now right from the git-go I want to say that I don’t know if he wrote the essay or if his friend Sarah wrote it, so I’m not being personal here but just taking a look at the tips presented.  Neither do I think this rebuttal should reflect badly on his defensive products, some of which look very useful. Just remember to check the laws of your jurisdiction to ensure legality, if you want to buy some.

Here goes:
For the last month or so, there has been an article about self defence available on the net. Its url is sufficiently like my own to show up in searches for me, so I read it when I heard about it.

My first impression was that it was a rush job, disjointed and confusing. Much editing is necessary to get all the points in each topic together in one place, for instance. This would make it easier to read and make the points easier to remember.

But impetuous writing style aside, I still must pan this article for the advice it gives. Some is confusing and some is just plain useless or dangerous.


Here is the first paragraph:

Above all you must always be aware of your surroundings. Stay in the best physical condition possible. Carry your car keys in your hand and use them as a stabbing weapon if necessary. Keep your house key and car keys separate. A swift kick to the groin is a sure way to stop a male attacker. When shopping wear good running shoes for quick escape. If attacked, fight to keep from leaving the scene with the attacker.   You stand a better chance of escaping while you are at the scene.

           ready for self defence
This short paragraph contains six different ideas: stay aware, be in good condition (presumably for fighting or running), advice about keys, kicking the groin, what shoes to wear and never leave the scene of the attack with the attacker.

Let’s look at these one by one:

1. Stay aware:
What are we to be aware of? Bad guys straight from central casting? Men from a different culture or race? Long haired men? Men with tattoos? Homeless men? So we are aware of them, now what? Will our awareness save us if we don’t do anything about it? What should be done if we don’t like the look of someone? He doesn’t tell us, does he.

Presumably he means that we should avoid that person but he doesn’t say that at all. If you don’t have a plan as to how to get past the unavoidable and rough looking guy, what good is your awareness to you?

Many folks get themselves into trouble when they actually perceive danger but deny to themselves there is a problem because they don’t know what to do about it. Then, after the incident is over, they say, “I knew I should not go there, but I did anyway - why didn’t I just listen to myself?” Their awareness didn’t fail them, their lack of having a plan failed them.

The easiest thing to do is to go into the nearest business establishment and ask for someone to walk with you to your car to help ensure your safety. Or go somewhere else if you can. Your plan doesn’t have to be complicated but it must be a rehearsed plan.

2. Stay in the best condition possible:
and have your blood pressure checked twice a year and a mammogram every 12 months.

This hint suggests that you must become someone else to survive in this world; that you, as you are now, are insufficient. Therefore, you need help, lady! And now that you are aware of the dangers all around you, and how out of shape you are to deal with them, I bet you are ready to buy that help from someone just like him, aren’t you?

So you lose thirty pounds and get all toned up, real buff. Do you think you are ready to fight off a mugger now? Even if he hits you from behind as openers? Or has three friends with him?

cover of The Fighter's Body:The Fighter’s Body: An Owner’s Manual: Your Guide to Diet, Nutrition, Exercise and Excellence in the Martial Arts

Being in shape is good but your self defence plan should be based on your reality as you are living it now, not on someone else’s fantasy.

3. Have keys ready to stab:
    Okaaaay, how do you hold them? Used to be that women were told to hold them in the fist with two or three sticking out between the fingers so they could be punched into the bad guy’s eyes.

Let’s try an experiment and hold some keys like this and then punch something forgiving such as into the back of a couch. I hope you didn’t punch hard enough to break a finger… Now imagine hitting something very hard (like a skull) with a lot of force (like when you are angry and scared). Now consider the pain that a hard punch with the keys held like this would cause you if the little punch you just did hurt as much as it did. Yikes.

Having any sort of surprise advantage if things get physical is a good thing, if it doesn’t backfire on you. If you hold one key in your fingers like you would when presenting the tip of the key into the lock, then even a hard stab into something solid will not damage your fingers like the first method does.

So you have your key held properly but, hey - where do you stab this bad guy. In the stomach? In his arm? In his throat or eye? What if it just makes him mad? What are you trying to achieve?

Let me ask again: “What are you trying to achieve?” If your goal is to destroy the mugger for having the gall to attack you, then forget about it. It won’t happen. Eyes are hard to hit and the throat is not so vulnerable so as to be a guaranteed stop. If your goal is to temporarily interrupt the mugger’s thought processes enough so you can escape in your brand new running shoes, then hit any place on the face, in the ear, on the neck or back of the hand or the inside of the arm or thigh and it might work. Might not, either. There are no guarantees in a fight.

4. Kick him in the groin:
    [You will have noticed that I skipped the bit about separate key chains for house keys and car keys so if he gets your car keys, he can’t find and burglar your house. A good off-topic idea stuck between two thoughts about fighting.]

A swift kick to the groin is a sure way to stop a male attacker.

I reply: There are no guarantees in a fight. There is no sure thing. Johnny is just plain dangerously wrong with this one. I’ve been nudged in the testicles while fooling around and it hurt like hell but didn’t incapacitate me and I’ve been kicked hard in the groin by a well practiced bully and didn’t feel a thing.

Do I teach folks how to kick to the groin? You bet I do; it is a good move. But I never ever hint that it is a “sure thing.”

The technical term for such thing thinking is talisman thinking, a term I heard used first by a friend, LDF. A talisman is a charm you wear around your neck to keep you safe from all harm, remember? Sometimes we engage in thoughts about certain things that have the aroma of a talisman in our minds, giving us peace of mind. This is also called a false sense of security.

In the field of self defence, pronouncements usually contain talisman thinking. Do this! Don’t do that! and you will be safe.

Let’s count the talismans in this first paragraph only:
- if you are aware,  you will always be safe
- safety is keys in the hand
- a groin kick is a sure stopper
- if you wear running shoes, you will always escape.

See how the aroma of certainty can creep into your thoughts even if they are not written down? Look around a lot and carry your keys in your hand and you can go anywhere, right? If these things fail, you got the sure thing of the ol’ standby, the groin kick.

Hoo-eee, yes ma’am. This kind of thinking is why someone might punch her key into the bad guy’s face and then just stand there wondering why he doesn’t pass out from the intensity of the pain rather than taking the opportunity to run.

One of the big problems with advice like this and talisman thinking in general is - no one really believes it. You know deep down it is crap, don’t you?  So why trust anything else he has to say, right?

Except the very next thing he has to say is worth the price of his whole article and more: If attacked, fight to keep from leaving the scene with the attacker. You stand a better chance of escaping while you are at the scene.

What does the bad guy want with you somewhere else that he can’t get right here and now? I bet it isn’t nice. And it is true that the scene of the original confrontation is only partly under his control but the secondary scene will be completely his all the way. There is a technical phrase describing secondary scenes. It is: the place where they find the corpse. Fighting like a crazed weasel is better, with all the snarling and screeching and fang and claw you can muster.

So how is true defensive thinking different from talisman thinking?

Not just be aware but keep aware and have a plan of action. If you see something you haven’t planned for, leave and get help.

Not just carry your keys but train how to hit, train how to use anything as a weapon , train to be mentally ready  to hurt someone though it is the last thing you want to do.

Not just kick him in the groin but train all the various techniques that older, weaker and non-athletic folks can use to even the playing field. Learn how to cheat.

Not just run away but run to safety (to the crowds or the lights) not away from the bad guy, (thanks to Mama Duck for this insight). And don’t forget the Tueller drill that teaches us that some safe looking distances just are not safe at all.

But escaping is good, right? So, everywhere you go, know where the exits are. If shooting is heard down the mall, be prepared to throw a chair through a window to create an escape route. Ooops, chairs bolted down?  Wrong place to eat.

This is planning, not trusting in magical words. This is where true self defence lies, in your mind.

Thus far, my analysis of this first paragraph is three times as long as Mr. Jenkin’s whole essay. I could go on like this but I think I will stop until I get a little feedback. Besides, after this, I need a beer.

If you would like me to continue, sign up for the forum and post me a note in Comments on Reviews. I’d be glad to explore the next paragraph….


Further Resources:

The Gift of Fear

cover of The Gift of Fear


Freedom from Fear: Taking Back Control of Your Life and Dissolving Depression

cover of Freedom From Fear: by Peyton Quinn


Get Tough

cover of Get Tough