Best of the Drop — Self-Defense

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

This week, I decided to revisit reader questions about self-defense. If you don’t have a concealed carry permit — or don’t feel comfortable carrying a firearm — you have to be ready to defend yourself with your bare hands (or whatever you have on you) if attacked.

Read on for a refresher in personal protection protocol. And don’t forget to send any self-defense questions you may have to SPYfeedback@LFB.org.

Let’s dive in.

Hi, Jason —

I love your info on self-defense and being prepared. Thank you!

My question/problem is how to concealed carry in my lifestyle. I always wear my shirts tucked in. In all the slacks, jeans and shorts I have, the pocket openings are too small to get my hand out while drawing my gun. I don’t normally wear a jacket. I currently carry a Glock 42.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

— Bill Z.

Well, Bill, there are really only two options for you. One, you could use an ankle holster. Personally, I don’t recommend using this method. It’s not a very comfortable option.

It’s also not a good choice if you’re only carrying one gun, because you’ve got to reach all the way down to your ankle to get to it. Remember, quick access to your gun could mean the difference between life and death.

The other option is to change your lifestyle. I know this isn’t the ideal solution, but we often have to compromise when carrying a gun.

You may want to try using a belly band with an untucked shirt. A belly band is simply a large elastic band that goes around your waist. It has pockets built into it for your gun and spare magazines. I’m a big fan of the belly band, and I use one myself when I go running.

I’m getting close to 80. I’m in pretty good shape for my age. I exercise regularly, usually near my condo. Our building is more secure than most. My concern is being confronted/attacked by someone much younger/more agile/stronger while outside.

— Burt B.

In this case, you have to remember to go after vital targets. Gouge out the eyes for example, or punch the person in the throat. Nobody can lift enough weights to protect their eyes or their throat.

An easy acronym to remember what to do is ETGS, which stands for “escape to gain safety.” Because the goal is always to create a situation in which you can get away and get help. To do that, you’ll want to focus your strikes on the attacker’s:

  • Eyes (E): You can gouge or poke the attacker’s eyes
  • Throat (T): You can strike the attacker in the throat or larynx (voice box). A well-placed hit here will cause the person to stumble backward
  • Groin (G): If the attacker is in front of you, kick the person in the groin
  • Or Shin (S): You can also kick the attacker repeatedly in the shin.

Again, no amount of strength training will make a person’s eyes or groin less vulnerable. Focus on these areas to stun your attacker and escape to safety.

I was reading about being brutal. The suggestion was made to “kick them in the groin.” This sounds like a bad idea. You are now off balance and the person can grab your foot and you could be on your back immediately. Perhaps the attacker is on top of you. Would the knee be better? Trouble is — you would have to be even closer to them.

— Marilyn F.

P.S. I tried to kick a man in the groin once. He turned a bit to the side and my kick hit his hip.

In a life-or-death situation, you want to do whatever it takes to survive. There are no rules on the street, so anything goes. Aim for vital targets — the throat, eyes and groin are all excellent targets to strike.

If it’s easier to knee someone in the groin, then it’s a good idea. If you have to grab them in the crotch, that works too. And if you’re able to kick them in the groin, then do that.

Basically, the fastest way to strike your attacker in a vital target is the method you want to use to defend yourself.

My No. 1 safety concern is being mugged, especially while walking back to my car after shopping. Here in Murrieta and Temecula, California, robbers have gone on sprees robbing stores and then running away from them to escape.

— Rafaela Y.

Most importantly, keep your head up after exiting shopping areas. I can’t tell you enough how crucial situational awareness is in circumstances like these. If your head is up, you can usually spot danger ahead of time and make it to safety.

I also recommend shopping during the day. Criminals love the dark because they can hide in the shadows.

Lastly, trust your gut. If you see anyone who looks suspicious, just go back into the store and ask a security guard to escort you to your car. And ideally, you should always have a way to defend yourself — a gun, a knife, a tactical pen — although I hope you never have to use it.

I have been reading your articles — especially those focusing on self-defense. Firearms, tactical pens and strikes to the ETGS [eyes, throat, groin and shins] are highlighted. I am surprised and puzzled that you have not made any mention of using a cane. It is a weapon that has a long history of being a part of a “gentleman’s attire” along with his top hat and gloves. In France, cane combat is still taught, and there are competitions held for exponents of this art/sport. Use of the cane is also taught in Korean hapkido as well as Filipino martial arts. Finally, to date, I don’t know of any TSA official that has ever confiscated a cane from a passenger boarding a plane. It is, after all, a “medical device.” So there you have it. I welcome your response…

— Philip J.

You’re 100% correct, Philip. The cane is also an excellent self-defense tool. The reason I mention the tactical pen often and not the cane is because a lot more people are willing to carry a pen in their pocket than to carry a cane with them. But if a cane makes sense with your lifestyle, it’s certainly a viable option with which to protect yourself.

Jason, have you ever seen those flashlights with built-in pepper spray? What are your thoughts?

— Lars T.

I have, Lars, but I don’t like to use pepper spray, because I find it limiting and ineffective. You never want to use pepper spray indoors, and outside it’s hard to control. The wind could easily blow it into your face, making it that much harder to fight off an assailant.

Plus, some people aren’t as affected by pepper spray as others. It wouldn’t do you any good if your attacker had a mild reaction.

I read one of your articles where you mention Krav Maga for self-defense. You are the first person I have heard mention this other than Israeli commandos. I had the privilege of learning this technique from a former Israeli commando when I was a paratrooper. It is a very, very effective self-defense program, with which an assailant can be controlled, incapacitated or terminated.

— James W.

Krav Maga is a great self-defense system to know, James. It’s practical, very effective and doesn’t have any rules or limitations. When evaluating a self-defense training program, I always recommend looking for a system that doesn’t have any rules.

Judo, boxing, karate and similar sports all have rules. If you punch someone below the belt, you can get disqualified. If you punch them in the throat, you can get disqualified. And if you try to gouge their eyes, you can get disqualified.

In a true self-defense scenario, you need to be unapologetically brutal. In other words, if a system has rules, then it probably won’t work on the streets.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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