Alternative Weapons – Instinctive Self Defense

What form of self-defense could be more instinctive than using whatever ordinary objects around you to defend yourself against an attacker? Objects that were neither designed with self-defense in mind, nor specially carried for such a purpose by you. Objects that will neither raise the suspicion of Law Enforcement, nor take up any extra room since you would have had them either on your person or in your surroundings and environment anyway.

A person who has the right motivation, talent and will to survive can employ almost any object as a weapon.

Anything can become a weapon when your mind is the real weapon. Governments can’t ban it, customs can’t confiscate it and the only time you don’t have it is when you are asleep. This is the KEY lesson you should take away from this article.

In today’s anti-weapons climate many times and in many locations it’s impossible to carry a gun or knife (Courts, airports, etc). Even in your home at the time of a violent invasion you might not be close to your gun, or even knife.

Sometimes all you have left is your tactical creativity and your motivation and ability for thinking outside the box.

Your mind will always be your greatest weapon, not least of all because with your intelligence and ingenuity you can locate the most effective duel use objects to use as weapons during an assault. Your mind is a weapon, and with it you are never unarmed. Wherever you are I guarantee you you are surrounded by a multitude of potential weapons. Learn to spot them effectively.

While the will to use improvised weapons is often instinctive for the experienced fighter, the effectiveness of such improvised weapons can depend on how good an eye you have in not only quickly locating and choosing your improvised “weapon” but also on your ability to use that object in a way that will disable your attacker effectively (or allow you to escape the threat). And it is this ability that will increase only with proper training.

First a few thoughts on Natural Reactions:

Think of fights you might have seen yourself. What are the first natural reactions a person has when being attacked? First the person will put up his arms to block any attack, then they will instinctively grab for any object that can multiply the expediency of their own “god” given weapons (their body and limbs). Often one of the first such objects grabbed is a chair and it is used as a shield. If not a chair it will be another object that can be used as either a weapon or shield. It’s an instinctive and natural reaction displayed by seasoned fighters and people with no experience in self defense alike.

Often the manner in which the attacked will use the object depends on their mindset and/or level of aggression and the situation itself. For example some people when attacked will grab a chair and only use it as a shield. Other more aggressive fighters will instinctively begin hitting their attacker with the same chair and thus using it more as a striking weapon than merely a shield. Using the chair or other object as a striking weapon will disrupt your attacker’s ability from gaining direction, lead and control of the attack. While using the chair or other object as a shield can often be useful initially (especially in a surprise attack) you need to gain dominance and control rapidly through overwhelming force and aggression.

Often not much thought goes into such a split second decision in terms of exactly which object to grab for. There simply isn’t enough time for someone who is being attacked to weigh up the potential effectiveness of one object over another. This will come with experience.

At the end of the day though, almost any object can be used as either a weapon or atleast a shield, some objects that I’m sure you would never have thought of as weapons or even shields. Obviously though, some objects are more effective than others.

The following is a list of a few possible objects you very well might have in your environment that could be employed as improvised weapons or shields:

The flashlight:

A favourite among many a self defense practitioner for years now. Wrap some 550 paracord around it and make a Koppo type weapon or use by itself. Either way it’s a popular alternative weapon (and flashlight!). Can be used to momentarily blind an attacker or as an impact weapon. See specialist knowledge on how to use it most effectively.

Car antenna:

Listen up, in particular women who walk alone in car parks! You can quite quickly break off a metal car antenna and use it to fend off one or more attackers in a whipping action. The strikes can be very painful and effective and will likely at the very least stun and discourage an attacker from continuing. Remember, often these predators are looking for an easy victim. If you prove to the attacker that you’ll be more trouble than your worth, he’s quite likely to discontinue the attack and seek out someone who will give him less trouble.


Not the easiest or most effective option in reality despite often being recommended by defensive instructors. Shouldn’t be your first choice, however if you have nothing else at hand it’s better than nothing. Hold key between middle fingers and use to punch with greater effect. Or can be used to scrape across attacker’s face.

Steel cap boots:

Often overlooked but very legal everywhere and a very painful alternative weapon. Kick attacker in the shins or groin. A real fight stopper with proper aim.


As the saying goes, “The pen is mightier than the sword”. Well, surely that was meant figuratively. In any case, when carrying a sword during your daily business is not a reasonable option (and I can’t imagine it is for most people) a pen makes quite a mighty alternative weapon. Another favorite among seasoned Martialists. Can be used as a stabbing implement or as a makeshift Kubaton. Hold in a pikal grip with your thumb on the clicker or blunt end and stab down or sideways repeatedly with the pointy end outwards. Hit to the liver, other soft appendages and neck for greatest effect. If you know how to use a Kubaton you know how to use a pen as a weapon. Choose a hefty strong metal pen like the now discontinued Rotring 600, a beefy hexagonal pen made of chrome-plated brass. Always legal, always useful for the intelligent and literate person for more than just self-defense, and a good alternative weapon for the concerned self defense practitioner.

The beer bottle, or other glass bottle:

Be careful with this one. Unlike in the movies DO NOT ever first break the bottle on the table thinking you’ll be left with a sharp knife like weapon. You won’t. In reality what you will be left with is a small piece of the bottle’s neck.

That’s it. Nothing sharp protruding at any length and nothing you can use effectively as a weapon.

In fact, for that matter, most of what you see on TV does not work, was never meant to work, and if you try it you’ll probably be in big trouble.

You can still use a glass bottle as a weapon though, just don’t break it on the table first, smash it directly in your attacker’s face! Preferably use a glass bottle full of liquids, as an empty one will be far less effective.

Coffee mug or glass or ceramic cup:

Smash it across your attacker’s face much like the glass bottle.

If you have hot coffee inside at the time, obviously splash it on his face. All the sudden you won’t complain that McDonalds makes their coffee too hot. The hotter the better as an alternative weapon.

If there is alcohol inside your glass, throw it in your attacker’s face. Aim for the eyes for stinging effect.


An old army trick. Use a large one as a makeshift “knuckleduster”. Works well. Punch and hammer fist your attacker’s head and face. Preferably you would have a steel one, but an aluminum type will work well enough if need be.

A chair:

A chair, not only to keep lions at bay they can also keep your attacker at bay or shield you from a knife attack. They also make good larger improvised impact devices, although they are mainly best used as a shield.

Trash can lid:

Another great improvised shield. The trash can itself can be thrown at the BG and might at least give you time to escape or to employ a better weapon.

Dresser drawer:

That’s right, if you’re attacked in your bedroom immediately grab and pull out a drawer from the dresser. Can be used as a shield or even as an impact weapon, much like the laptop or book. Check out your drawers right now and see if they come out completely and easily. If they don’t, try modifying them.

Walking cane/stick:

One of the best alternative weapons. Huge striking power. Easy to use and especially effective with modern Arnis Filipino stick fighting techniques. Always legal, always with you, always right in your hand ready to be used to strike, to disarm or to block an attack. It can however make you seem weaker or partially disabled, and thus can make you a more desirable victim or target to an attacker. Remember, predators target the weakest people, or in other words the people who they think will put up the least amount of fight. Keep this in mind and decide for yourself whether a walking stick is a good option. Certainly, in any case, if you carry a walking stick then do seek out combat stick training.

A padlock:

Devastating weapon, you can only hope to be lucky enough to have one handy. Slip your middle finger inside the steel loop with the rest of the padlock in your fist. Use as makeshift knuckleduster or fist-load. Or swing padlock at your attacker while holding it with one finger and the rest of padlock outwards. Aim for head, as the padlock would be too small to do damage to body.


Usually a hefty solid weapon. Grab it like a frisbee and slam it into your assailant’s head, face, or jam it in his neck or throat. Throw the cigarette butts and ashes in his face as a distraction.


Rolled up it can make an excellent impact weapon. Most effective using quick, strong, short strikes repeatedly to attacker’s face and to other more sensitive areas due to the inherent lack of mass of the magazine.


If you’re a business man in a suit you’ve got an excellent flexible weapon or a possible garrot as part of you wardrobe. If your attacker is in fact the one wearing a tie you can use it to control or disorient him. Grab his tie and pull downwards hard.

Please note: This is one reason I generally advise people not to wear anything that doesn’t break easily around the neck. It is too easy for someone to use it to control you during an attack, just as you can use the same tactic on someone else.


As was recently reported a celebrity used one as a weapon against a pushy paparazzi with great effect. Hold with both hands and slam into your attacker’s face full force or push out and jab it into his face, neck or midsection with the sides/edges of the closed laptop. Can also be used to shield against an attacker’s weapon or strike.


Used much the same way as the laptop. Has thinner and so sharper edges, however on the other hand it also has less mass and might be less painful because of that.

A book:

Not only good for reading and learning. Used much the same way as the laptop and clipboard, although the book would have more heft than a clipboard.


You’re already holding it, and it has a secure handle. Swing it into your attacker’s face/head or use as a shield. Push him away with the briefcase and escape. Open briefcase and take out other alternative weapons that have been mentioned here such as magazine, pen, etc.


You’ll usually have a lamp nearby in your home. Grab it, and smash it across your attacker’s face. Use the cord as a flexible weapon.

Fire extinguisher:

Has been used before with great effect. Devastating power. Aim for head/face. Makes an excellent shield too. Also spray contents directly onto attacker. It will at the least disorient him, it will often even hide your exit due to the cloud of white dust.

Put one in you car. You should have one in your car anyway for fire safety, but it might even save your life if you need to use it as a weapon.

Duct tape:

Not a weapon as such but makes good handcuffs to hold your attacker until the police arrive. Large zip ties are a good alternative to duct tape.

Light switch:

Darkness is a brilliant weapon under the right circumstances. If you are attacked by night, the light switch can be the best “weapon” for defense, without really being a weapon as such. Simply turn the lights off. Darkness is a tactical advantage for you, after all you know the layout of your own house while your attacker does not. You also know where you have other weapons and escape routes. Darkness could also simply give you the time needed to escape. Also, darkness will increase the blinding effectiveness of your flashlight if you are carrying one.


Are you wearing a coat or scarf? A coat or jacket can be used to shield yourself against an attacker’s knife or other weapon. Wrap it around your weak arm, and hit and defend yourself with your strong arm and legs.

The long sleeves can also be used as a flexible weapon for choking or entangling limbs.

If on your bicycle:

Your helmet, tire pump, and flexible bike locks are potential impact devices.

Even the bike itself can act as an effective shield against an attacker. It will act as a good obstruction between you and him giving you time to escape. If need be it can even be thrown at the attacker.

Belt buckle:

A heavy brass or steel one. Can make a great impact weapon. Can even be swung at the attacker since it’s attached to your belt.


Even without a heavy buckle your belt can be one of the best flexible weapons available.


Any spray will do brilliantly. Think about it, what spray do you have around? Hair spray? Deodorant? Air freshener? Silicone spray? I personally have all and more of these sprays right here as I type this, aside from the hair spray. All these sprays will blind your attacker almost as well as pepper spray. If you’re a smoker you probably have a lighter handy. Add a lighter in front of the spray and you’ve got an excellent flame thrower. I’m sure we all tried this when we were kids.

At the very least the spray can be used as an impact weapon if nothing else.


Especially a metal comb.

Can be raked across an attacker’s face repeatedly with good success.


Always another favorite. The larger ones make a good impact weapon and improvised stick fighting weapon. Also a great shield a la Roman style when opened. Some of the full sized ones have a pointy bit protruding, perhaps 2 to 3 inches long, so while you shield yourself you can also push the opened umbrella forward into the attacker’s face and body.

The smaller umbrellas are good too, however of course they are less durable and have less power due to lack of size.


A great common household device. Can cause a lot of damage from use as a striking weapon, and again most irons have an electrical cord that makes a good flexible weapon as well.

A broom or mop:

Another long impact device. Can be used as a long staff for stick fighting techniques. Can also be used to hold the attacker at a distance.

Your car:

While it’s not always justified to use deadly force in this way since it can be argued that if you’re inside your car you are safe, if a gang of hoodlums or an angry middle eastern mob is surrounding your car, you’ve got 3000 pounds worth of effective weaponry on hand. At times deadly force can be justified depending on the situation including any disparity of force between you and the attacker(s) and the resulting danger you face at the time. Your main goal should be to escape in this case, but if necessary run a hoodlum over to affect your escape.

A phone:

Excellent impact device, very handy. A cord phone also makes a good flexible weapon if you’re skilled in using one effectively.

Phones have been used many times as impact devices.


Throw coins from your pocket into the face of your attacker. Another good diversionary tactic.

A packed roll of coins can also make a good fist-load and has been used many times as such.

Sports equipment:

Tennis racket, golf club, pool stick, the obvious and often used baseball bat, dumbbells, etc. All are excellent impact devices. Keep a few golf clubs and balls in your car even if you don’t play. Or a baseball bat and glove and maybe some balls too in order to not raise the suspicion of LEO.


Preferably a heavy steel dive watch. Take the watch off your wrist and wrap it around the fist you punch with (strong arm). The first punch should break the glass and subsequent punches could cut your attacker up. Even if the glass doesn’t break and cut him it’s still a good improvised impact device if need be.


A la Fred Perrin style. Only works with a solid one piece bracelet, not the flexible link type. Take your metal bracelet off and hold in your fist. Use as an impact device to punch with.

Your voice:

Your voice can be a great improvised weapon wherever you are.

Verbally you can often stop, control or at very least influence the direction of an attack. Far too an extensive a subject to get into here. Learn about verbal commands and communication skills for defensive purposes/redirection of attacker’s violent behavior toward you. Sometimes known as verbal judo. Any good martial art or self defense system needs to address this subject.

—- One note on employing flexible weapons:

As you can see a number of the potential weapons I mentioned in this small list are flexible, for example the electrical cord and clothing. Please keep in mind that as with most flexible weapons, specialist knowledge in hand to hand combat is needed for most effective use. Flexible weapons simply aren’t as straight forward as let’s say a chair or even a book which will instinctively be used as a shield often even by people with little or no experience in self defense.

This is merely a small sampling of possibilities. It would be impossible to list for you all the possible alternative use “weapons”/objects you might come across that might be of great defensive use during an attack. The list would be too large, and no one can know what will be available to you in your specific environment at that time. Obviously some environments are richer in potential alternative weaponry than others. It’s you’re job to train yourself to identify these potential weapons out of any objects around you.

From now on look at the objects around you with a different eye. Look at objects in your surroundings through sort of a “weapons” filter. Specifically ask yourself, which ones can make an effective weapon? How would you use it? Will that object really cause hurt to your attacker and disable him, or is it really just a waste of time? Sometimes an object would make such a poor weapon that it’s better to fight unarmed. Learn to accurately evaluate potential weapons in your environment.

No one can really instruct you or show you every object that has the potential to be used as a weapon. Above all it is a mindset that you will have to develop. Preparation and training is the best way to help guarantee a better chance for success in a self defense incident. But once you develop this situational awareness and survival mentality you’ll be much better prepared to defend yourself in any situation than ever before, for you will have an instinctive understanding and application of self defense as a way of life.

Think outside the box, think like a fighter, like someone committed to self preservation and the defense of loved ones from societal predators.

Potential weapons are all around you.

It is now simply a matter of identifying them.