Using Common Objects

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Turn Your Pen, Keys or Bag into a Weapon — A Tool for Survival


In the last couple years Krav Maga has become popular in the world. This Israeli style has a deserved reputation of one of the most effective systems of close-quarter combat, defensive tactics, fighting skills and unarmed self-defence in the word. Information about this martial art is slowly becoming available for wide public – opened schools of Krav Maga in USA, UK Europe, Australia, and Even India. Krav Maga is seen in Hollywood on films such as the Bourne Ultimatum and in Video games such as GTA, and Splinter Cell. However even today rarely do people outside of Israel know, that Krav Maga also has a weapons division.

Initially Krav Maga was developed as military close-quarter combat system and it included bayonet fighting, knife fighting, usage of firearms of any kind as an impact weapon, weapon retention etc. When Imi Lichtenfeld finished his service in the Israel Defence Force after about 20 years, he adopted his system for the needs of civilians – and among other self-defence methods he developed techniques of usage of different found objects – such as keys, pens, umbrellas, bags, chairs etc. Later on the basis of these techniques developed a universal methodology of common objects usage, as a self-defence weapons.

This concept is very simple and intuitive and may be effectively used by everyone who practices any martial art. The key idea is that there are just a few standard ways to use common objects as weapons – and if somebody learns these ways, he may use virtually any found object in any self-defence situation. In Krav Maga the student learns to use the object/”weapon” as part of the body and as an extension of the hand, i.e. – as needed, the trainee will use his/her legs, other hand, back side of the object, etc. for defenses and attacks as the situation requires. In Krav Maga classification all objects divided into several categories:

1. Objects, Similar to Stick. These are broken boughs and branches, mops, brooms, bottles, canes, baseball bats, billiard cues, golf and hockey sticks, umbrellas, crowbars, hammers, “Mag-Lite” flashlights and any other objects, which allows to strike or thrust opponent from some distance. Such a “weapon” is used mainly to attack the opponent from the safe distance before he comes close to you or to block assailant’s attacks. Main techniques with a stick – swinging strikes at different directions and angels (and with a similar move also may be used as a basic block/defence) and one- or two-handed thrust. Primary targets for the strikes are head and neck, collar bones, solar-plexus, elbows, knees, kidneys and groin. In the situation where the assailant tries to grab, punch or kick you, you may also defend yourself by “attacking” his hands, wrists and the thumb side of forearms. Thrusts are usually directed into face, solar plexus, throat or ribs.

2. Objects, Similar to Shield. This category covers all big, but not too massive objects, which may be placed on the way of striking limb or weapon, absorbing the impact and stopping the strike – bags, suitcases, chairs, pads, big books, boards, boxes, trash can covers etc. Cloth, wrapped around the forearm also may play a role of a shield. When blocking limb or weapon, it’s very important to hold your improvised shield in such a way that hands will places behind it and will not be exposed to the strike. It’s also recommended to send your “shield” against the attack to meet it with momentum at a reasonable distance away from your body so it will not strike you when receiving impact. Unlike other categories, “shield like objects” works only as a passive protection and doesn’t affect your opponent (unless you hit him/her with a rigid part of it), so its use should be accomplished by active work of the free hand, or more often, legs, with which you counterattack. The most typical combination with a “shield” – blocking of your opponent’s strike and simultaneous (or in the next fraction of second) kick to opponent’s groin or knee.


3. Objects, Similar to Knife. This category covers all these objects which may be used to stab or to cut/slash – knives, scissors, screwdrivers, broken bottles and glass splinters, chisels, pens and pencils, razors, forks, etc’. These objects, like the knife, used in what we define in Krav Maga as medium distance (distance of about the length of an extended arm) to attack your opponents vulnerable areas – first of all, his hands, wrists, face and neck, which aren’t protected by clothes. Three of the most typical techniques with “object, similar to knife” are straight stab, ice-pick/downwards stab, upward/underhand and slash. However, if you learned any other knife fighting system, you may use also your favourite techniques. As these may be lethal techniques the Krav Maga student is taught also in which events/scenarios/needs to use them

4. Objects, Similar to Rock/Stone. These small but massive objects like stones and small rocks, full bottles, billiard balls, phones, ash-trays, small statues, big books, beer glasses etc. This category can be used in two ways. First is to injure an opponent being thrown to hit the assailant from a distance – all Such objects usually should be thrown to opponent’s face or chest from distance of few steps, to avoid missing him/her or for him/her to close the gap. However, another option is for the same object to be used at closer distance as a kind of brass-knuckle to strike opponent’s head or other vulnerable areas including the attacking limb if he/she tries to grab, punch or kick you. The way of attacking is rather similar to the way of punching with the palm/fist, and it is important that your own fingers will not be caught between the object and the target.

5. Small Objects. This category is for all these objects which may be used to distract the opponent’s attention as: keys, coins, wristwatch, cigarette-lighter or food, which may be thrown to opponent’s face, flashlight which allows to blind assailant for a few seconds, sand or dirt, which may be thrown to attacker’s face by hand or by foot etc. – in all cases, opponent’s eyes are the target. A similar category is liquids “Nozlim”. Different liquids as alcoholic drinks or hot beverages as tea or coffee, and even r

egular water, which may be splashed to opponent’s face, hair varnish, repellents, perfumes or deodorant which may be sprayed to assailant eyes etc. When opponent distracted, this moment should be used to run away or to counter.

6. Objects, Similar to a Rope. To this category belongs all these objects, which allows one to whip, to tie or to choke opponent: chains and bicycle chains, belts, rubber hoses, dog’s leashes, metal ropes, electric wires and cables, whips, ropes, straps etc. Main techniques (which may be applied with such a weapon even by a beginner) are the whipping strike and swings. Chain or thick rubbers hose, like a stick, may be applied to strike an assailant and strikes may be directed to head and neck, knees, ribs, collarbones etc. Wires or leather belts used mainly against face and hands, which aren’t protected by clothes and also to the groin – and primary purpose isn’t to knock opponent out but to distract him and to take a moment to attack a more distructive attack or run away. Soft and light objects (such as a T-shirt or towel) typically used only against opponent eyes – to distract and opponent may be “blinded” for a few seconds. There also exist more complicated techniques when an opponent is trapped and then tied or choked by soft “weapon”, but these techniques require prolonged training and can’t be recommended to beginners.

7. There are also other categories/objects as: Vehicles (cars), Electricity and Fire. Students are taught the basic use of such objects. Also people can assist you, we do not see them as objects, but their contribution to your survival may be enormous. Some objects may be attributed to a few categories at the same time. For example, hammer is a combination of a baton and a stone to strike an opponent. An axe is a combination of a stick, stone and knife. What makes the Krav Maga system unique with its approach to the use of common objects for self-defence is our training methods and its universality – Krav Maga concepts allow us to use virtually any object, which we may access, without thinking a lot about which specific techniques may be used with each specific “weapon”. To be able to use environmental objects in a real self-defence situation, you need to train. You should train on a daily basis, when sitting in your home, walking along the street, eating in the restaurant or working at your job place – look around and try to think how and what you may use, for self-defense, which these objects may you access at that moment? Which weapons category does each of them belong to? Which of them would you would prefer to use first? Why? Little by little you will learn to pay attention to your environment permanently, at each and every moment, so if there will such a need, you will be able to arm yourself within a fraction of second.

When you practice at your self-defence school or at your backyard with friends, try to use different objects (first of all, these which you always have with you – keys, bag, jacket etc.) as a weapon in a fight against unarmed attacker, against an assailant who is armed with a knife or a stick, multiple attackers etc. Choose these techniques that are most effective especially for you and learn these techniques with different objects until you apply them instinctively. Do this with care and attention so no harm or damage will come to you, your friends or the property around you. And, last but not least, a few common principles, which may be applied for any weapon.

•Use strong against weak. When using improvised weapons, you should carefully choose targets – you weapon should be “stronger” than opponent’s body in this area. For example, if you hold crowbar or metal pipe, you don’t need to pay too much attention to choosing a target, any of your strike will be devastating – however if you armed yourself with a pen or a key, the list of possible targets automatically narrows to body parts, which aren’t covered by clothes – face, neck and hands.

• Strike in 5 main directions. Almost every strike or block with weapon may be applied in 5 main directions – upward, downward, to the left, to the right straight strike and naturally all variations and angles/diagonals.

• It’s possible to leave or change a weapon. When you armed yourself with some object, you don’t have to keep it for the duration of the fight – may be, at some moment it’ll better to drop it (or to throw it), especially if it hinders or limits your actions, and as needed and possible, grab something else.

• Use not only weapons, but also arms and legs. Don’t tie your mind to your weapon – remember that you have also two legs and, may be a free hand and a head. As a simple fighting tactic – you may demonstrate that you attack with the weapon and really attack with an arm or leg, or the opposite, fake that you plan to throw punch or kick but really strike with the weapon, you may block with the weapon and counter with the limb etc.

• Use short moves. Strike should be short and without any preparation that may telegraph you intentions to opponent. Finally, we wish that you will never need the skills described in this article. However, if one day you find yourself in a situation where you need to protect yourself or loved ones with a weapon in your hands, it’ll better for you to be prepared.

As the Romans saied: “If you wish to live in peace – be prepared to war.”