By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved
For my first article of 2014 I decided to revisit something I wrote about first in 2009 but have talked about during seminars hundreds of times, it is the subject of using your keys as self-defense weapons.
In my prior article I stated that this is a very common teaching and I am asked about this all the time. Usually it is by a woman who raises her hand during the Q&A portion of training and says she puts her keys in between her fingers before she walks to her car at night, and really I think most of them are looking for me to give them a pat on the back rather than bring this up as an actual discussion.
When this happens I’ll look at her with a little smile and say, “Great! I can tell your thinking about your own protection and you have a plan. Great stuff. You’re keys really are not really the best weapon to use, but it is great that your mind is in the right place.” I learned a long time ago that when someone brings something up about what “they do” you always respond with “hey, that’s great” and then keep moving on. That way they get their approval and you can keep moving on with the class.
During classes I’ll mention that there are better weapons than your keys and I show the ones experience has taught me are better, but I usually don’t go into why keys are not a very good weapon unless we have extra time. However, lately more and more people want me to talk about using keys as a weapon because there are self-defense products on the market now to help you use your keys as weapons more effectively.
In my previous article (“A Common Self-Defense Misconception”) I gave five reasons why it is not a good idea to use your keys as weapons, so now I’ll briefly go over them and then I’ll discuss how I would use keys as a weapon if I were going to.
Reason #1: You can damage or lose your keys and now you may not be able to access your car or home for safety.
Reason #2: If you are close enough to punch them with your keys you are close enough to do something that creates a bigger net effect in the situation. A well placed shin to the groin or forearm to the throat can cause a disabling injury while the keys probably won’t.
Reason #3: You’re still punching him. Most of the people that would do this are untrained and if you are not properly trained to throw a punch and spent a good deal of time driving your fist into something hard (a punching bag is ok but a makiwara or iron palm bag is better) then you will probably hurt yourself more than them.
Reason #4: Anyone who advocates this has never put keys in between their fingers and punched something as hard as they can. I did once; only once. What happens is the keys jam back in your hand and start to twist. The keys jamming back in your hand can cause an unexpected shot of pain that can make your hand start to relax putting your hand and wrist at risk. Plus the twisting keys in your fingers are not only painful but tore my skin enough to make me bleed.
Reason #5: You’ll be without your keys. If everything goes as planned and you survive to call the police they will have to take your keys as evidence and they’ll sit on a shelf until the legal matters are settled. Hope you have copies you can get a hold of right now.
Now there are products available to help you turn your keys into swinging weapons, sort of a modern “morning star,” and there are a few on the market. None of these products are necessary.
If you want to use your keys as a swinging weapon first I would go buy extra keys. That way you could keep your keys in your pocket and have some extra keys that you can use as weapons. You can even buy a heavy clip to add weight and bulk by adding something like a carabiner quick link, or spring snap (various metal key clips you can find at any hardware dept.) and put it on a lanyard. Now just grab a hold of the end of your lanyard and swing your extra set of keys at your target. If you want more reach tack on another lanyard. Not the best weapon but certainly not the worst.
The other option I’d suggest is to take a bigger key, like a modern car key, and grasp it tightly in between your thumb and index finger and use it to stab with. With decent force it will go through both clothing and skin. You really need about 4 inches of penetration into really do immediate damage so this is mostly just distracting and causing pain unless you target the eyes, neck, and groin. I wouldn’t really suggest that unless you had no other options, just because better things are available, but if an armed robber was herding me and a bunch of other shoppers into the back room of a store and I thought he was going to kill us, and then I notice a car key on a desk and his carotid artery just jumped right out at me and looked accessible I just might put two and two together.