Whenever I teach self-defense, I’m often asked about self-defense tools. Pepper spray, Tazer, batons/sticks, knives, guns and more. And although all of those afore-mentioned tools can have their place, there is one excellent tool that many people overlook: The Flashlight.
About now you’re probably having the same reaction as many others when I mention this item. With so many tools of destruction, it seems rather anti-climactic, but let me explain!
Illumination: Obviously, a flashlight can be used for lighting up your environment. In fact, you won’t believe how handy it is to have a flashlight readily available, and it will surprise you how often you will use it once you start carrying one. But another advantage of this illumination is removing the element of surprise. Many attackers like to make their approach in cover of darkness or low light. When you’re carrying a flashlight, it becomes easy to light up dark spaces and identify possible threats long before they can close the distance with you. In fact, this simple act of identifying threats long before they get within striking distance is enough for many would be attackers to break off their plans and go looking for someone easier.
Disorientation: Although “disorientation” is perhaps a strong word, there is no doubt that your flashlight can mess up a potential attacker’s night vision. If someone is making an unwelcome approach, a strong blast of light directly into their eyes temporarily burns out their night vision and will make it difficult to track you in that immediate moment.* If you are to use this strategy, think of it like pepper spray; a 1-2 second blast directly into their eyes, then run! After the light blast, focus on getting away. I had a very good friend use this strategy to avoid a knife attack in Central America.
*Note: A light blast directly into someone’s eyes is also a good way to make them mad. So don’t do it unless you’re sure it’s necessary. Good cops are careful not to do it to someone they’re trying to keep calm. While walking Sam down Elm street years ago, I had someone do it to me from across the street. It was unnecessary and frustrating. (I may have done it back, showing them that my flashlight had twice as many lumens.)
Striking Tool: Today, many flashlights are built to be small, many are built to be tough, still others are built to be used as a striking tool. Anyone with some basic striking skills can easily use a “tactical flashlight” as a striking tool. Specifically, it is a great way to enhance your hammer-fist strikes. Strong, aggressive, hammer-fist strikes about the head and face while using a tactical flashlight as an impact weapon can be an incredibly effective strategy.
Permissive in all environments: One of the greatest benefits to the flashlight is it is allowed in virtually ALL environments! I say “virtually” to leave some room to be wrong, but truth be told I’ve yet to find a place where I can’t carry a tactical flashlight. In fact I regularly carry them on airplanes! (I keep waiting for a TSA agent to recognize its destructive capabilities and tell me “no,” but that has yet to happen after scores of flights over many years.)
Where to Begin: There are two ways to venture into using and carrying a flashlight regularly. Firstly, if you have yet to be convinced about the utility of carrying a flashlight, carry a small one! I recommend the Streamlight KeyMate flashlight. It is small, inexpensive, and conveniently clicks onto your keychain. (Streamlight also has a KeyMate USB which is shaped like a key, I have no personal experience with that light.) However, the KeyMate is probably too small to fight with. If you want a light that can be used as an improvised striking tool, I recommend the Streamlight Pro-Tac 2 flashlights. You will pay a little more for these lights as they are made of aircraft grade aluminum, but they are light, strong, and can be used to strike hard and do damage! (So skip the energizer $12 plastic flashlights.)
In our upcoming self-defense seminar in January we will cover how to use this type of flashlight for self-defense and striking, but if you have questions on this topic, just ask!
If you want more information on training or our upcoming self-defense seminars, reach out to us at (419) 872-7599 or at www.jpblackbelt.com