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I don't need to take classes, I'll just buy pepper spray

I don't need to take classes I'll just buy pepper spray

There is evil in this world, and there are those who want to serve that evil to the good people in this world.  Martial Artist are not afraid, for we prepare, we train and we anticipate.  So we walk tall and confident.  We walk into a room knowing that if trouble comes, we can handle ourselves.  We are not bullies, nor paranoid.  We live our lives unafraid, and no one's victim.  
Martial Artist train hard, spend hundreds if not thousands of hours training over and over.  We get bruised and sometimes break our bones, yet we keep coming back.  No matter how hard it is, it does not compare to the difficulties of explaining to someone else how important it is to learn how to protect themselves.  
Unfortunately people do not take their personal safety seriously.  Many people live their lives in this buble of ignorance safe from the evil of this world.  Just like all bubles it does not take much to burst it.  When told that they should at least learn something to protect themselves they just don't have the time.  Or its just not a priority.  Many times I get the question what type of pepper spray should I purchase, what type of knife is legal or what type of weapon I can carry that is legal.  
Education is key.  The problem with just purchasing a pepper spray or walking around with a knife is that it creates a false sense of security.  Many people think that once I walk around with a pepper spray I'll be safer.  Pepper spray is intended for good people to use it against bad ones.  Unfortunately bad people can use it too.  In reality any weapon can be used against you.  So training is still neccessary to use them.  How fast can you pull and deploy that weapon.  Do you practice how to pull it out?  Have you tried deploying it in different scenarios? So buying pepper spray is not enough.  To think that your safe because your walking around pepper spray or any other type of weapon is just plain ignorant.  I wish I could say that its better than nothing, but that is not the case.  Weapons in the uneducated person can be more of a danger to you than your assailant.  Have you ever been pepper sprayed?  As someone who has, getting pepper sprayed hurts to the point where it is debilitating paralyzing effect.  Are you ready to keep fighting while under influenced of pepper spray?  
Your personal safety is your responsibility.  Are you ready to trust a piece of device to protect you?  Or your kids?  I know I am just a crazy martial artist, but when it comes to my family I'm a freekin lunatic.  

Views: 200

Comment by Jeff "Stickman" Finder on October 19, 2015 at 12:21pm

Pepper spray (or CS) is not very useful on a windy day, and if you need to use it in a confined space (car, bus, kitchen) then you too get to experience the effects. Most folks who have never done any self-defense training have not thought through those possibilities.  Knives of course raise lots of issues of legal liability.  Even if you're cornered and outnumbered, you can go to prison, as one young man in Berkeley experienced not long ago.

Comment by Badger Johnson on October 20, 2015 at 7:37am

There one thing that would make everyone safer if they didn't carry, and that's carrying your emotions on your sleeve. :)

As to sprays, sticks, tools, how do you become adept? How do you maintain your alert status without going into attention fatigue? How do you see things as an opportunity to learn and not one to get angry? How do you combat 'ring rust' (drop in skill that's not noticeable).

It would be great if there was some kind of everyday activity or process you could go through. A 'self-sharpening, self-un-deluding' regime. Yet we need to be 'on automatic' else it would be very hard to do things like drive a car.

/random thoughts.

Comment by Tom Sasso on October 20, 2015 at 12:31pm


Only to play Devil’s Advocate I will add my perspective.

Disclaimer: I don’t believe in absolutes, I believe “Nothing works for everyone, and everything works for someone”. There are just too many variables (size, skill, situation etc…) to be absolute, most of what we talk about are more like “best practices” and “general good guidelines”.

As for Pepper Spray: yes, I also tell people that Pepper Spray is Not an Immediate Action (Emergency) weapon. Besides access issues and training (consideration in any skill), there are effect issues. Your statement that Pepper Spray: “hurts to the point where it is debilitating paralyzing effect” I think actually leads more to the side of why it would be a good thing for an untrained person to carry (for effective on the “Bad Guy”), unfortunately, that effect has definitely not been my experience.

While often in a training environment, where we allow for a full exposure and there is nothing else but for us to focus on the effects, yes, I have seen some mentally shut down. But more often, the exposure is not full and the effects are disregarded. I have sprayed many a Police Recruit and watch them fight right through it no issue, and that is with a forced full exposure. More often in the street environment, wind, aim, cartridge issues aside, almost everyone immediately turns their head and closes their eyes (instinctively) well before the exposure and get minimal effects (just go spray a friend with a water bottle and watch their reaction). Effects are usually ignored until well after we have them in handcuffs and in the back of the car (then it is torture, and unfortunately nothing but time helps). Not to mention that the effects, even in best case scenario, take time to take effect. In Law Enforcement, the recommendation is to spray a potential violent person, then wait for effects (usually taking multiple sprays to actually hit them in the face, eyes…) and then go in, realizing that other than decreased site, they can still fight. BTW, the TASER isn’t much better than Pepper Spray as an Immediate Action Weapon, simply, it is not. Too many factors to detail, but it is a Resistance Weapon, not an Emergency Weapon. I do agree, if you carry OC/Pepper Spray, you need not just train access & engagement, but getting exposed yourself and fighting through it (sucks, but necessary drill, more often than not, cross contamination happens).

All that being said, and this is where I am going to get a lot of Furious Backlash responses: even training (FMA, MMA, BJJ, whatever…) doesn’t help everyone. I will of course, agree that training itself isn’t a bad thing and everyone can benefit from it, but what I’m talking about is that simply training is not guarantee that you personally will be able to defend yourself. Individually plays a major factor. Think of it like this, what I’m am saying is the basic JKD philosophy in reverse.  Just like the idea that each student find what works for them (and that it is different for everyone), that also implies that what works for one, doesn’t for another. In easy terms, think of something that works but relies on strength, well, if In easy terms, think of something that works but relies on strength, well, if you are strong fine (and it will work for you), but if you aren’t, then it won’t. Size and Strength do matter (a lot!, I mean much more than most will ever admit). Statistics simply bear this out on many levels. Particularly in striking. Now I now this is where everyone will counter with why their art, style is the exception, but if that where true, then you could train a small child to defeat a large adult, and despite there being a lot of super talented youngsters with more skill than most adults with years of training, a large adult with no training and lots of aggression still stands to win the majority of the time. I’m not saying teaching and training don’t better your chances, I’m just saying they aren’t magic anymore them Pepper Spray is. There are more factors than simply who trains more, longer or harder. Morally we want to believe the person who trains more deserves to win, but reality is that reality has a tendency to not meet our moral expectations.

Train, YES! Just recognize than just because it is the answer for you, doesn’t mean it is enough for someone else. My point, maybe Pepper Spray is the absolute solution, but for some people, it just may be a best worst option.

BTW, when my nieces where going off to college and asked my to teach them something to defend themselves in a short time before they left, I took a long serious look for what I could do for them. They are smaller in stature (Pilipino young ladies who grew up in nice healthy areas), so what did I do? I gave them Karambit (wave feature quick access/folders only because of legal issues) and only 2 rapid (intensive & protective with damage) techniques. No guarantee, but I am also relying on their look (Asian’s with Fighting Looking Knife) to discourage attackers.

It is all fine and well to teach kids to fight back with bullies, but some bullies can fight and some kids aren’t able to realistically defend themselves. The reason some people resist the idea of fighting back or carry guns, is often because they realize they can’t (physically or emotionally). It just isn’t for EVERYONE. I promote self-protection wherever I can and encourage you too as well, I just also encourage a realistic view of things. I have train a very long time, I am decent size and strength, but I still carry because I know there are too many factors to be that confident that my training will defeat any and all attackers. Train empty hands, weapons, knives, guns, and even Pepper Spray. Then do your best to avoid conflict. Oh, and make lots of friends with like mindsets and family who see the value in being prepared.

Final thought, those who walk around blind to the evils around them and rely on luck and the statistically factor that they will not need to defend themselves… well, as it turns out, they are usually right. The majority will be fine. It is just a matter if they are willing to take the change. (Do you travel on airplanes? Do you train as a pilot just in case the pilot goes down? – it could happen, but do you train for it? Why/why not).

Nothing is absolute, if someone wants to carry Pepper Spray, do your best to get them to train, but don’t discount options.


Comment by Guro Lawrence Motta on October 20, 2015 at 12:55pm


Great points and spot on.  Looks like you have the experience and insight to back up what you are saying.  Thanks for the insightful contribution.

I agree, try to train in everything you can and know that there is no magic bullet.


Good stuff.



Comment by Francis Serrano on October 20, 2015 at 1:34pm

Thank you for all comments.  I truly respect all of you and your point of views.  It is my hopes that my blog entries will inspire this type of discussions so that the community of FMA(ers) and other Martial  Arts can benefit from all of our insights.  

Francis Serrano
Owner of 


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