You are bound to encounter situations where carrying a concealed firearm or even a pocketknife is not an option. However, this doesn’t mean you have to be completely unarmed. Even aboard an airplane, which is arguably the most secure area you will encounter, you’ll probably have access to several items that could be used to defend yourself. Be it an ink pen, a key, a cellular phone, a water bottle or soda can, a hot cup of coffee or tea, even a briefcase, a laptop computer case, or a carry-on bag—if you have a basic understanding of body mechanics and a combative mindset, these and many other ordinary items can afford you a tremendous advantage against an adversary intent on harming you.

John Steinbeck’s quote, “The brain is the primary weapon. All else is supplemental,” is particularly relevant to the topic of improvised weapons, or “weapons of opportunity,” as they are sometimes called. Weapons are all around us, and unless you’re empty handed in the middle of a field, there’s probably something around that you could employ as a self-defense tool. In order to give yourself every advantage, you need to condition yourself to quickly evaluate an object’s weapon capability. Will the object work well as a striking, stabbing, or slashing implement? If not, maybe the item can be used as a projectile or even as a shield?

When suddenly attacked, the best weapon is the one within reach. Sure, a firearm would come in handy when faced with a deadly threat, but you probably don’t walk around with one in your hand all day. Let’s consider some everyday items that you might have access to if you were attacked.

Mighty Pens

Many people carry one or more ink pens on a daily basis. Since pens are universally accepted writing instruments, there is nothing menacing or suspicious about someone carrying a pen. However, with a little training an ordinary ink pen can be used as a devastatingly effective stabbing device.

While an ink pen in your briefcase or the bottom of your purse may be difficult to get to in a hurry, a pen clipped to your shirt collar or pant pocket can be accessed rather easily with practice. Since pens are so innocuous, chances are you could pre-deploy your pen rather than rely on a “quick draw” in response to an attack.

There are various “tactical pens” on the market that are constructed of quality metal and specifically designed for self-defense. However, don’t underestimate your run of the mill plastic pen. With proper technique, it is a welcome addition to your everyday self-defense arsenal. In order to derive maximum benefit, establish a proper grip and use sound body mechanics when using the pen as a weapon.

Grip the pen as an ice pick, with the tip protruding downward, closest to the little finger side of your fist. Place your thumb over the top portion of the pen. This will enable you to thrust the pen deeper into the attacker and afford you better control of the pen upon impact. Prior to striking with the pen, thrust the palm of your off-hand toward the attacker’s face as a distraction and retract it as you step toward him with your off-leg. Rotate your hips as you plunge the tip of the pen into the attacker.

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