Thursday, October 22, 2015

Weapon Taxonomy

There are a lot of different weapons out there. If you include all of the "traditional" martial arts weapons then the variety seems to grow tremendously.  If you want to be as effective as possible in a self-defense situation, then you'd better have some weapons skills, but does that mean that you have to practice with as many different weapons as possible in the event that something strange or exotic is available in a fight?  Thankfully, the answer is a definite "no".

What you should practice with are some weapons that are representative of their entire category.  If you don't know what the categories of weapons are, then read on.

Like the classification of living things in biology, weapons can be grouped (and subgrouped) based on their characteristics.  A good taxonomy will have non-overlapping categories.  So, I'll do my best to meet that standard here.  Keep in mind that while the categories don't overlap, there are weapons that fit into multiple categories.  Not to worry though.  If you understand how to fight with each of the categories, then that multi-category weapon will work just fine for you.

1. Projectile
2. Impact
3. Edged
4. Pointed
5. Flexible

Let's look at some examples.

I love my XDM
Guns are the typical example of projectile weapons, but they aren't by any means the only projectile weapons.  Assuming that stinger missiles and ICBMs aren't in your arsenal, any of the following would also constitute projectile weapons.
Throwing knives...of movie fame

The ever popular "ninja" star
Yes...this is a rock

Anything that you send through the air counts as a projectile.  Let's look at some impact weapons, which are basically anything that you use to hurt someone by running into their body really fast while it's still in your hands.

Here's the typical rattan stick ala Filipino martial arts a stick with an extra handle

Nunchucks are good for bashing people...
that definitely counts as an impact weapon
I witnessed the two year old version of my little brother
smash the skull of my older brother with one of these.
It looked like it hurt.  So, this goes here.
The ubiquitous folding chair of pro wrestling fame

And just to make this explicit, you could use a gun as an impact weapon by simply bashing someone with it.  Try not to knock it out of battery or jack up your optics, know...don't die either.  Keep your priorities straight.

On to edged weapons...which are anything with a sharp enough edge to slice flesh open.

CRKT M16 Z ... never leaves my side
"Butcher" knife

Straight razor
A shard of broken glass will cut you as easily as
any knife will

I used a typical knife as the first example because that's what people tend to think of when the term "edged" weapon is used.  However, technically it is both an edged AND a pointed weapon (but nobody really bothers to say that...because it's inconvenient).  Edged weapons need not be pointed and pointed weapons need not be edged.  As we will see below.  Oh yeah, and all these examples except for the glass have impact potential...and they all have projectile potential.  Anyway!  Pointed weapons...

Prison shiv #1

Prison shiv #2
The school yard favorite...

Ergonomic handle for really driving that sucker deep

So yeah, anything that you can stab somebody with counts as a pointed weapon.  If you're really talented, then maybe you could turn these into projectile weapons.

Of all weapon categories, flexible weapons is probably the most neglected.  Or at least, only a very small subset of these weapons have any sort of popularity.  We've already seen the nunchucks, which are a sort of flexible/impact weapon crossover.  But that's just scratching the surface.

Three piece staff ala China

Kusari fundo ala Japan
Flail ala...miscellaneous European countries...I don't know

I actually wear this kind of belt virtually every day.  The
metal doesn't look like much, but I could break someone's
bone with it I'm sure.

Here's the famous Dan Inosanto using a sarong (ala Indonesia)
to make some poor guy's day a little less pleasant
Flexible weapons have a "bendy" part.  They can be used to grab, immobilize, and strangle.  When weighted, they can be used as effective impact weapons as well.

That is about it for categories of weapons.  If you can understand how to use each of the categories, then you should be able to use just about anything that you pick up to defend yourself adequately.  You should be able to improvise just about any object into a weapon of some kind.  Adaptability is key.

I've been thinking a lot about various weapons and their applications in self-defense scenarios.  So, expect to see more along this vein in upcoming posts.


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