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When attacked, having a weapon can greatly even the odds between you and an assailant. It greatly reduces the difference between physical qualities and abilities by letting you to extend your reach and inflict damage with less effort. With a weapon, everything boils down to whoever is able to stop or neutralize the other party first.

But there are a lot of instances when you can’t carry a weapon. It could be because of your local laws, you didn’t think it was necessary for that particular time and left it at home, or you simply don’t have one. Apart from the legalities behind carrying a weapon, there are also instances when they’re out of reach or they malfunction. But even if you don’t have a specialized weapon with you, there’s almost no limit to the items that you can use as an improvised tool to defend yourself and keep you safe.

You don’t have much choice if your attacker is armed with a gun. But if your attacker is wielding a knife, improvising a defense can even the odds

An improvised weapon may not be as effective as an item that is specifically designed to disable someone, whether temporarily or permanently, but they can provide you with the needed time to escape and call for help when used properly. What’s better, these objects are often things you carry with you daily or readily have at home, making them very accessible. Another advantage to using these improvised weapons is you’re not perceived as a great threat and thus provides you some edge against your aggressor by making them underestimate you and your ability to fight back.

Here are five everyday items you can use as improvised weapons in a pinch.

1. Pen

Whether holding it in an ice pick or hammer grip (an ice pick or reverse grip would be preferable since you have your thumb to support the base of the pen to keep it from slipping from your hand), a pen or a pencil’s point can easily puncture skin and do serious damage.

If you’re grabbed by an attacker, you can repeatedly stab their arm or another part of their body that’s accessible repeatedly until they let go and you can make your escape. Even with the cap on, repeatedly striking and raking vital points of the body with a pen, such as the face, the neck or the ribs will deliver enough pain to your attacker and make them think twice about continuing with their assault.

Because of its easily concealable and unassuming nature, “tactical” pens have become popular tools for many people. These pens are more robust and act as multi-tools, with some models constructed from aluminum and even titanium, and can include a flashlight or a glass breaker. They can be expensive, and there’s a possibility that you can get into trouble in some places if you’re seen with one (like airports, especially if the screener happens to see them as a kubaton). But either it’s a $100 tactical pen or a $.35 Bic, with the right amount of force, the pointed tip can pierce skin.

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A reverse or “icepick” grip will let you hold a pen more securely, with your thumb on the base to keep it from slipping on impact

2. Belt

If you’re wearing a leather belt, you already have one of the most versatile tools available with you. The best thing about it is it can also be used as a weapon and a restraint.

A belt with a big and heavy buckle (like rodeo buckles) can cause wounds, but any heavy-duty belt will do and leave at least stinging bruises. Wrap your belt around your hand and leave 6 – 12 inches of the buckled end and use it like a flail. Don’t leave out too much and be mindful of your swing—it’s just as easy to hit yourself if you’re not careful.

You can also use your belt to choke your attacker if the opportunity presents itself. Utilize your belt on your enemy after neutralizing them as an immobilizing or restraining device until help arrives.

Wrap your belt around your hand and arm to keep it from slipping off or getting pulled from you

3. Chair

If you’re sitting on a chair, you can quickly use it to protect yourself. Lift the chair, its seat against your body and the legs pointed towards your attacker. This provides some distance between you and your attacker and at the same time you’re protecting most of your upper body.

The key to using this method is a stable stance so you won’t trip and get pinned by your own weapon. Spread your legs farther apart, with one slightly to the rear, and move your body weight slightly forward. You can push the chair against the enemy and pin them down with the legs, deflect their weapon, or throw it at them. One of the biggest disadvantages to using this item as a weapon, depending on the kind of chair that you’re using, is the weight. It will tire you down quickly, so disable your attacker as soon as you can or keep them from hitting you until you can make your escape.

A chair can keep your attacker at bay, creating a safe distance between you and them, and at the same time act as a shield for most of your upper body

4. Glass Bottles

A glass bottle to the head or other vital body part can cause a concussion, cuts or fractured bones. Glass bottles are one of the most common improvised weapons used, resulting in numerous injuries yearly.

If you have a tall and heavy bottle nearby, you can use it as a melee club with its liquid content adding to its mass. If there are enough bottles around, you can throw them at your attacker to deter them from closing the gap between you. Just remember to not throw everything away and save one as your melee weapon in case the aggressor keeps up with their attack.

While it’s a common Hollywood trope, breaking the bottle right away to make a shank isn’t recommended because glass bottles break in unpredictable ways— while it can look intimidating, it’s easy for you to cut yourself, or the resulting piece is too small as to be useless.

if it’s available, a bottle can be transformed into a weapon in seconds

5. Rolled-Up Newspaper

You can get them almost anywhere, take them anywhere, and transform them into a weapon in less than a minute.

Take a newspaper, open it and roll it top-to-bottom as tight as you can. After that’s done, fold it in half. You now have a “Millwall Brick”. Used in a stabbing motion against the tender parts of the body, this improvised cudgel can deliver serious pain on your attacker and provide you a window for escape.

There are many variations to the Millwall brick. It will take a bit more time, but you can put coins inside before you roll it to make it heavier and use it like a billy club. You can also add water to it after folding to make it heavier and denser, or combine the two methods (the coins and water) for a paper brick that really packs a punch. With sufficient time and resources, like some packaging tape and a rock, you can even make a tomahawk.

Final Notes

If you find yourself attacked, you need to come up with a defense quickly. Unless you have overwhelming odds on your side, escape should be your priority. There’s really no way to accurately predict how a fight will turn out, and there are many things that could go wrong against you. But if running is not an option and you’re forced to square off against your attacker barehanded, it’s reassuring to have a defensive tool to back you up.

These are just some of the most common items that you can use to defend yourself in the event of an attack, but with enough creativity, there are a lot more that you can use if an assault against you does happen and you’re caught unprepared.

So if you happen to be sitting down doing a crossword puzzle with a bottle of wine, know that you have items within reach that you can easily use for self-defense.

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