There needs to be a basic understanding–self-protection and self-defense are not about fighting. Further, fairness (as in the mythical fair fight) is a myth. Self-protection is about avoidance whenever possible. Avoid dangerous areas, establishments or places where it’s known where people are victimized. Scan your environment, what comes into it, and the threat it presents to you. If you can, walk, run or drive away to avoid physical confrontation; because standing toe-to-toe with an attacker trading blows is not what you want.

That said there is a vast gray area in the chasm in personal protection between empty hands and deadly force. Somewhere between punching someone and shooting them is a pressing need in your self-defense strategy. It is this area that far too few people equip, plan and prepare to defend themselves. Threats from empty-handed suspects, which comprise the vast majority of assaults against citizens, cannot be answered with deadly force. For instance, the irate driver who walks toward your car pointing his finger and spewing obscenities, the drunk in the restaurant parking lot making offhand comments, the aggressive panhandler or the obnoxious youth with the potty mouth at the mall–these threats obviously cannot be answered by your concealed pistol and deadly force.

Deadly force is reserved for situations where a reasonable person would believe that his life or the life of another is at risk of death or serious bodily harm. This doesn’t mean that any of these aforementioned situations couldn’t have the bottom fall out and you find yourself fighting for your life or that of your loved one, just that most street altercations are not deadly.

Despite the positive aspects of what martial arts can do for you, there is no need to see if that strip mall dojo self-defense works in real life. Force tools exist that allow you to control a threat through the application of less-than-lethal-force. Most of these tools are in use by law enforcement today. Think about it, if a strapping young police officer with the ability to call more strapping young police officers for help is equipped with most of these tools – wouldn’t it be wise if you had at least one less-lethal option?

Chemical Agents

Probably the most prevalent of all the categories, chemical agents are readily available and can be very effective in a self-defense setting. There are two chemical formulas widely used in self-defense sprays today: CS – Chlorobenzylidene Malononitrile (commonly known as tear gas) and OC – Oleoresin Capsicum (pepper spray). CS is widely used by American police in riot control and SWAT team call-outs (such as barricaded subjects). CS can be spray, deployed via burning grenades or delivered in powdered or liquid form via projectiles fired from launchers. Because pepper spray burns it is usually disseminated via aerosol sprays or fired in projectiles. It has more instantaneous effects and OC is more widely carried and used by uniformed police. Pepper spray is classified as an irritant and is very effective when sprayed into the eyes of an assailant. A severe burning sensation occurs when the chemical hits the face and eyes. When successfully deployed, most suspects will clutch their eyes and bend over giving you the opportunity to make a hasty departure or strike them if you can’t get away. OC sprays come in different types of dispensers and formulas. There are some excellent new products in this category.

Kimber has developed the Guardian Angel Pepper Blaster, a two shot device that “fires” (with compressed air) a pattern of high-quality 10% OC product. The Guardian Angel is about four inches long and 2.5 inches wide, with an integral clip. Small enough to be carried in a pocket or purse, the Guardian Angel is an excellent design.

Spitfire pepper spray is a small OC dispenser that can be carried unobtrusively on your keychain and yet ready for instant deployment. The Spitfire unit fires from the top, which makes it a little more ergonomic for deployment in my opinion. The Spitfire projector fires a blast of 10% OC product rated at two million SHU (Scoville Heat Units). It fires out to eight feet and contains enough OC for eight .5-second deployments. New from Spitfire for 2010 is the Hex, a 5.5-inch OC spray device that doubles as an impact weapon (known as a palm stick or yawara). The Hex can be used to deliver hammer strikes or jabs as well as impacting pressure points or pain compliance holds. Sabre Red is an OC product that has been manufactured by Security Equipment Corporation for a number of years. With very high-quality pepper spray products (5 to 10 percent OC ingredients, 2,000,000 SHU’s and up to 1.33 percent Capsaicinoid content), Sabre Red has developed a line of pepper products for both police and civilians. New from Sabre Red is Blue Face. Not only does Blue Face hit your assailant with some serious chemical agent, it also leaves a blue dye on them that is good for 24 hours, making subsequent identification by police much easier.

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