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Author Topic: Review on Canes for Self Defense  (Read 10596 times)

Harm

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Review on Canes for Self Defense
« on: December 03, 2009, 07:00:42 PM »
Hell In A Hand Basket had an interesting review of the concept of canes for Self Defense. 
http://hellinahandbasket.net/?p=1499
Quote
Three Legs Are Better Than Two
It was almost two months ago that gunblogger Hsoi discussed purchasing a walking cane with an eye towards self defense. His concern was to acquire a sturdy cane that would be useful in combat, but which wouldn't break the bank. I thought this was a noble goal, and decided to conduct some tests to help those similarly inclined.

Although a significant number of my students were elderly, and would use canes to get around during their day-to-day routine, I really can't endorse a cane as a self defense tool for those suffering from reduced physical capabilities. Hand-to-hand combat is always physically intense, requiring an enormous expenditure of energy for both attack and defense. Although it is possible to take your attacker unawares, and incapacitate someone who is physically larger, stronger and more fit with a single well-timed blow, I would never bet my life on it.

Although, as the picture illustrates, I would certainly trust my students to prevail against smaller vermin if they are accosted by them in the street.

So using a walking stick for self defense requires some muscle, and that would require the stick to be sturdy enough to stand up to some punishment. An entire cottage industry has sprung up where companies offering martial arts supplies and training weapons also sell canes and walking sticks specifically designed to weather the stresses of combat. The problem is that most of these canes carry a very hefty price tag. Considering that the vast majority of my students were dirt poor no matter what their age or physical condition, this would just not do.

And so the criteria of this fact-finding mission was to test a variety of canes or walking sticks that could be had for little more than $30 USD. They would have to be tough enough to be used for self defense without breaking, as well as being easy to find and acquire. Off the shelf as opposed to hand made specialty items.

Cheap, effective, and common. Is this even possible? It certainly is! Read on to find out more than you would ever want to about walking canes.

The first thing I considered was one of retention. Criminals are just like anyone else in that they don't want to be on the receiving end of an ass-whuppin'. That means they will usually bide their time and only target people they are convinced can be easily overcome. It is extremely likely that someone will be forced to face a criminal who is larger and stronger than they are. And, if they do, what is to prevent the criminal from trying to snatch the walking stick from their hands?

With this in mind, I rejected straight sticks out of hand as being too easy to be pulled from someone's grip.

Although the cane pictured is stylish, sturdy, and even features a knob at one end to increase the force of a strike, I still cannot recommend it for the casual user. There just isn't enough to hold on to if there is a tug-of-war.

Instead I suggest something with a bit more for the hand. There are two popular styles to choose from. The most common is known as the "tourist style", and it features a crook that will be familiar to just about everyone.

The second is a cane that has a handle set at right angles to the shaft. These are named according to the shape of the handle itself, with the most common being the derby, fritz, or cosmopolitan styles. The picture below is of a cosmopolitan style cane, which is the simplest of all the right-angle grips.


Okay, so I know what style of canes I wanted to try out. But where to find the canes? My first stop was the nearest Wal-Mart.

I found a fairly large number of inexpensive canes, all ready for immediate sale. The majority were aluminum, adjustable with the push of a button, and equipped with extremely puffy grips to provide comfort while gripping. They came in a variety of styles and utility, with a smattering of wooden canes for those who preferred a traditional walking aid.

The problem was that all of these canes did not suit our purposes. Oh, don't get me wrong! They were technological marvels for helping people with limited mobility and iffy balance get around. But they were all too light, too well padded, or too flimsy to be seriously considered as a self defense tool. It would appear that I had to look elsewhere.

Where do you look if Wal-Mart lets you down? The Internet, of course! I decided to order a few canes from two websites, and see how they stacked up. The first place I turned was The Promed Warehouse, an online store where the inventory keeps changing. Near as I can figure, they are a clearing house for inventory overruns from other places, which means you have to strike fast if they have what you want because after what they have on hand is sold out, it is gone.

And this is where I came across another problem. How did I know what I was buying? Just about all of the reasonably priced wooden canes were advertised as being made from "hardwood", but it was clear from the pictures that they were constructed from rattan. Although the wood from those particular palm trees can certainly be used for self defense, I was unsure that the cheapest canes would stand up to any significant force.

Still, I would never know unless I tried one out. So I purchased a "Standard Hospital Cane" made from wood, and another cane made from clear lucite, both of which were in the tourist style. They arrived in less than a week. and the first I tested was the artificial cane, which I purchased on sale for $32 USD.

The only real problem I had with the clear lucite cane was in my attempts to photograph the thing. It is amazingly invisible, and tends to fade into the background.

I eventually hit on the idea to set the cane against a far background, and let refraction bring out the edges.

It worked well enough, but I would caution anyone who chooses a clear cane to keep careful track of it. Lean it against a wall while shopping, for example, and you probably wouldn't be able to see it very well if you step even a few feet away.

Canes of this sort are also offered in a variety of colors, from disco pink to jet black. It could be that something a bit more colorful would better serve.

The lucite cane was heavier than the wooden version, weighing in at 1.78 pounds (0.8 kilograms). It had a very nice heft, and felt solid and substantial in my hands. While banging it against a tree in my back yard to test for durability, I could tell that it was flexing slightly to the blows. This had the effect of damping down vibration, making it a not uncomfortable self defense tool. Even though I increased the force of my blows against the tree until I was employing a two hand grip to swing with all my might, I never managed to even mark the cane. It seemed to be impervious to anything I could do to it.

The balance was off a bit, which is understandable considering that the cane was designed to help people with mobility problems instead of those with mugger problems. The crook also takes some getting used to, running against the wrist during a strike until you either get the hang of holding the cane so the crook doesn't get in the way, or where you just get used to it and start to ignore the distraction.

The smooth lucite also had an almost greasy feel to it, a sensation that increased the more I whacked the tree and the sweatier my palms became. This slippery surface means that the crook is vital in order to keep control of the cane, but it also means that the criminal will have an almost impossible time of pulling it out of your grasp. Just make sure that the rubber tip on the end of the cane is secured with brittle glue, so it will pop off if the bad guy tries anything.

Chris, a good friend of mine, suggested using sandpaper to roughen the surface of the cane in order to provide a better grip. This would work, but it would also scratch up the lucite so it would appear milky and cloudy. Although I have never cared how pretty my self defense tools looked, I know that aesthetics are more important to other people.

The second cane I tested was marketed as a common hospital cane, purchased for $11 USD, and it was supposedly made from hardwood. It was obvious that rattan was the sole wood to be found in its construction.

This cane weighed in at 1.5 pounds (0.68 kilograms), which seems to be the industry standard. It felt slightly better balanced in my preliminary warm up kata, and it gripped better in the hand than the lucite cane. I was expecting good things as I wound up and gave a medium-hard blow to the vine-covered tree I had chosen to represent a violent criminal.

One blow and apart it came, as Yoda would put it. Obviously, the cheapest canes you can buy are totally unsuitable for self defense.

The second place I turned to for my cane needs was WalkingCanes.com. There was an unfortunate glitch in my purchase, where one of the products I ordered was out of stock and the shipment from the factory was not of the same type. But, even so, the good people at Walking Canes did not rest until I was fully satisfied. Great customer service, and I strongly urge you to buy from them because they are very responsive to any questions or concerns you might have.

Another plus is that they will cut your cane to the required length, something which the medical supply website wouldn't do. I do have to give a caution, though. The glue WalkingCanes use to affix the rubber tips on their products is extremely durable, and it is almost impossible to pry the tip off. This is great if you are suffering from reduced mobility and don't want to chase down bouncing cane tips as they come loose from the end of your walking stick, but it could prove to be bad if a criminal tried to snatch your cane away from you during a violent attack. You want the tip to just pop off in his hand, so he is off balance and wondering what happened as you dance the funky chicken on his head.

My suggestion is to simply request that the cane be sent to you with the rubber tip unattached, and then you can use common household glue to affix it in place. I'm sure they will comply.

One of the two canes I purchased was an extra heavy scorched Chestnut cane.

It weighs almost exactly the same as the lucite cane mentioned above, although this is variable since the cane will be cut to your specifications. I did find that the balance is better, and it is a very broad cane. If you have rather large hands, then this might just be what you need to get a decent grip.

The Chestnut cane not only weighs about as much as the lucite cane, but it also performed in a very similar manner. I could feel it flexing as I slammed it again and again into the tree, sparing my hand from excessive vibration. But, although it held together without complaint even as I swung with all my might into the unyielding bark, the walking cane did not shrug the pounding off without any visible damage.

See it? It is right there!

Start at the bottom. Rubber tip. Then a knot. Then a few inches of smooth wood before you get to a second knot. A few inches above that second knot is a smudge, a light impact mark!

So slamming the cane into the tree as hard as I could produced a smudge. Not bad, not bad at all. Just not as good as lucite.

The other cane I purchased from WalkingCanes was a Cosmopolitan style nylon cane. They called it an Opera style, but it is the same thing.

The word "nylon" just refers to the handle, as the shaft is constructed of some kind of wood. Don't ask me what type, as I don't know, but it weighs in at the industry standard of 1.5 pounds (0.68 kilograms). It performed as well as the Chestnut cane during the torture tests. The smudges don't show up against the black finish, but I can feel little divots in the wood where I slammed it into the tree.

The nylon handle weighs almost nothing, so this cane has the best balance of them all as it feels almost exactly like a straight haft of wood. The Opera style handle doesn't get in the way as much as the Tourist style crook, but is also provides less to hold on to if the bad guy grabs the cane and tries to pull it out of your grasp. If you favor a martial art that focuses on speed instead of power, then I would suggest you try this sort of cane. It would be easy to whip it around, while the heavier canes with a crook would be best for very forceful blows.

CONCLUSION

Just about any cane will do for self defense, except for the extremely light aluminum canes and the extremely cheap wooden versions. The most impressive to me was the lucite cane, but your mileage may vary. I would strongly suggest you choose an online seller of walking sticks who offers free sizing, and only use common household glue to attach the rubber tip. A Tourist style cane featuring a crook, or an Opera style cane with a handle set 90 degrees from the shaft, are best when the violent criminal tries to wrestle the cane from your grasp.


I don't agree with all of his ideas, but it's a thought provoking read, especially if your thinking about a cane or walking stick. 

First by limiting his price range.  While I'm aware that cost may be an issue, a cane is a NOVELTY SD tool at worst and at best it's very much an incognito one.  Other choices such as a firearm, taser or even pepper foam (I dislike the control of pepper spray) are better choices for primary SD.  Additionally with most individuals who would NEED a cane, this is nowhere near a good choice for SD - and to give credit he addresses that. 

Now I bought a cane, I spent $55 and I bought a Blackthorn Walking Stick from Cold Steel.  It's an immitation shillelagh and its extremely sturdy.  As I carry it for an incognito SD tool I'm not worried about having someone snatch it, as I'm not putting weight on it and I carry it just under the cap.  If one is really concerned about having a knotted end cane forcibly removed from you, a lanyard works wonders. 

I did like his idea of the glue on tip.   IMHO this is a WONDERFUL plan as it offers quite a bit of SUPRISE to any attackers.  Additionally I'm not super thrilled with WHACKING my cane against a tree as hard as I can.  Especially if I was buying a wooden one.  Hard wood impact on hard wood, you may start to brittle your cane without realizing it.  If you must test out the idea I think hitting something with some give to it, like a punching bag or something of the like. 

All in all though I think it's a quality read, and while I don't agree with everything he did here, I think he's put more thought into it than most people do, and for that, "BRAVO SIR!" 
ArizonaIn Deo Confido

Once more into the fray
Into the last good fight I'll ever know
Live and die on this day
Live and die on this day


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G1user

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Re: Review on Canes for Self Defense
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2009, 08:38:34 PM »
...while I don't agree with everything he did here, I think he's put more thought into it than most people do, and for that, "BRAVO SIR!" 
Just get a 3-4 foot length of old hickory pick handle, or a length of ash spoke stock, or if you can find it an ash windmill pump push rod, and then shave it down to fit an old used-up ball peen hammer head on it.
Its a walking stick with a handle that is also a useful hammer with a REALLY long handle...an VERY effective SD tool.

As an added bonus, it is probly a "criminal act" to keep and bear in the eyes of any PLEO agent too.....so ymmv

Beamish

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Re: Review on Canes for Self Defense
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2009, 09:31:35 PM »
HWhile I'm aware that cost may be an issue, a cane is a NOVELTY SD tool at worst and at best it's very much an incognito one.  Other choices such as a firearm, taser or even pepper foam (I dislike the control of pepper spray) are better choices for primary SD.

While a firearm is obviously a superior choice a cane is far from a novelty choice.  No more so than a knife or a contact taser.  The usefulness of the weapon is entirely a function of the person wielding it - that is why people choose to study martial arts.

Speaking of...there is a Martial Art of the Cane/Walking Stick:  Bart___u which includes elements of jiujitsu, savate and boxing.  It is also the "Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes".   O0

For anyone who cannot carry a gun (whatever their reason) or a wire taser, a cane is probably the best option after running away.  I place very little faith in pepper sprays either; but everyone has some inherent idea about how to use a stick to beat things.

Harm

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Re: Review on Canes for Self Defense
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2009, 10:44:18 PM »
Beamish you'll note I said it was a novelty SD item "AT WORST" and then went on to address other aspects of it.  I acknowledge it's use as a SD weapon, however as you mention, it's the training moreso than the tool. 
ArizonaIn Deo Confido

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Into the last good fight I'll ever know
Live and die on this day
Live and die on this day

James R. Rummel

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A Few Words From the Author
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2009, 03:41:33 AM »
Let me start by thanking Harm for all of his kind words, as well as seeing fit to include my humble scribblings here.  It is certainly appreciated.

For 18 years, my private charity was a self defense course and home security upgrade for violent crime survivors.  Eventually I came to specialize in the elderly and disabled, the most vulnerable people in our society.  <a href="http://hellinahandbasket.net" target="_blank">My blog[/url] originally was started to provide a way for my students to ask questions, but it has since turned into a place where anyone interested in self defense can reach me.  And, of course, where anyone with an interest in sharing their own expertise can find a voice.

So far as limiting the purchase price of a cane, which was an issue Harm discussed, I'd like to point out that the vast majority of violent crime victims are dirt poor.  Many people like to take me to task for focusing on less expensive options, insisting that I am doing my students no favors by urging them to use what barely works for the least amount of scratch when more capable options are available, but they simply don't have any money!  I do the best I can for them by avoiding any insistence on what is perfect.

Beamish very kindly pointed out that Bart___u is a Victorian Era martial art that includes walking sticks for self defense.  That is certainly true, and I have <a href="http://hellinahandbasket.net/?p=441" target="_blank">mentioned Bart___u in previous essays[/url].  It is also not surprising that Bart___u is but one of many disciplines developed in Western martial arts to use a cane or walking stick to send an attacker packing, including an incredibly nasty school of Irish stick fighting where poking the eyes out of a violent criminal is considered to be a good start.  Click on that last link to find out more.

So far as my own preferences are concerned, I have found that the Japanese fencing art of Kendo <a href="http://hellinahandbasket.net/?p=1486" target="_blank">seems to work rather well[/url].  But that is probably because I already knew the basic moves, and didn't have to start at the end of the learning curve.

at any rate, thank you once again for finding some value in my blatherings!

Harm

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Re: Review on Canes for Self Defense
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2009, 05:19:24 AM »
James - thanks for coming over.  and please understand, I know where your coming from in dealing with economically depressed circumstances.  I grew up in a rather economically challenged area.  Mining town after the mine was closed and most the miners were blacklisted.  Anyways I get what your saying.  Work with what you've got.  And for the money, in canes specifically, I don't think there is a specific advantage to going with a higher price.  beyond additional options, perhaps strength depending on materials etc. 

I haven't had the chance to delve into the rest of your writings but look forward to doing so as soon as I find a moment. 
ArizonaIn Deo Confido

Once more into the fray
Into the last good fight I'll ever know
Live and die on this day
Live and die on this day

seanp

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Re: Review on Canes for Self Defense
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2009, 06:23:12 PM »
Hi James.  Glad to have you here.

As far as the discussion is concerned:  If you need a weapon for defense, you need one that can produce a grievous injury that will deter an attacker immediately.  Furthermore, that weapon should not require great strength or ability to use, because in spite of your normal skill level, strength, etc... when attacked you may be in diminished capacity.

A can just doesn't meet any of those requirements.
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Harm

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Re: Review on Canes for Self Defense
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2009, 06:25:52 PM »
Sean I agree with you.  however it does make a great weapon when other, more effective means are not viable, such as a firearm due to legality, or even speed, or environment.  While not a primary option, there are circumstances that it may be the better choice.
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Live and die on this day
Live and die on this day

James R. Rummel

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The Origin of an Idea
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2009, 04:00:54 AM »
"however it does make a great weapon when other, more effective means are not viable, such as a firearm due to legality, or even speed, or environment."

The idea to review inexpensive, over-the-counter canes to see if they were tough enough to be used for self defense came about because two of my readers needed something other than a firearm or defensive spray, but didn't know where to turn.

A blogger going by the name <a href="http://ridenshoot.blogspot.com/2009/09/you-dont-have-to-reload-baton.html" target="_blank">Ride Fast[/url] was looking to carry something to defend against vicious dogs, but he lives in California so his options are limited.  A cane would certainly allow himself to fend off overly aggressive canines, while keeping the neighbors from dropping a dime to the police.

Yet another blogger named <a href="http://hsoiblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/looking-for-canes/" target="_blank">Hsoi[/url], a young man heavily involved in hand-to-hand disciplines, specifically mentioned needed something to take with him through airports and other security checkpoints. 

This is actually a concern voiced to me by more than a few of my readers, particularly those who have to go out of the country on business.  Considering the rate of assaults in Great Britain, for example, would you want to be helpless in London?

So far as firearms are concerned, I'm a fully qualified and accredited instructor.  In fact, that is where my forte lies, helping people with disabilities and degenerative diseases like arthritis <a href="http://hellinahandbasket.net/?p=150" target="_blank">find solutions to their reduced physical capabilities[/url].

Most people who are concerned about defending themselves from violent criminal attack want to prepare with the most effective means of response.  And no wonder!  You never want to allow anyone to have the power to inflict injury while you lie supine and helpless.  This means that there is a rather dismaying focus on firearms to the exclusion of much else.  But there are times when shooting someone <a href="http://hellinahandbasket.net/?p=95" target="_blank">is really a bad idea[/url], as well as there are places where a defensive baton or spray is illegal.  Might as well explore all the options.

seanp

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Re: Review on Canes for Self Defense
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2009, 03:44:05 PM »
Some of the things you just wrote make it all more sensible to me.
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Re: Review on Canes for Self Defense
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2009, 11:52:41 PM »
As I understand it, some Shillelaghs (am I the only one that tries to spell it the way it is pronounced?) had lead poured into their heads, does anyone know if that actually works? It seems like a knob of lead in the head of the stick ought to add a bit of punch to it, if you don't mind the extra weight.

I have thought about getting a cane, as I am too young to get a CHP in this state, but I think it is pretty obvious that I don't need it, and I already find that my hands get full too often when I have both of them free.
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Harm

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Re: Review on Canes for Self Defense
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2009, 10:33:59 AM »
fluffy see my original post for spelling.   :scrutiny

Shellelagh were made from Blackthorn, a rather stout wood, very dense.  I haven't heard of lead handles, but it wouldn't suprise me.  Man has found ways to make or enhance weapons including their fists since the beginning of time itself. 

I've found if you carry something for a purpose, rather than just carrying "cuz" that I find I make it convenient.  But thats just me.
ArizonaIn Deo Confido

Once more into the fray
Into the last good fight I'll ever know
Live and die on this day
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Matthew Mayner

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Re: Review on Canes for Self Defense
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2009, 11:23:17 AM »
A thread on self defense with a blunt object and nobody has used this emoticon yet??   :bash

Take this  :bash and that  :bash and one of these!  :bash  Ya hooligans!   ;D
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Re: Review on Canes for Self Defense
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2010, 06:52:44 PM »
"Just get a 3-4 foot length of old hickory pick handle, or a length of ash spoke stock, or if you can find it an ash windmill pump push rod, and then shave it down to fit an old used-up ball peen hammer head on it.
Its a walking stick with a handle that is also a useful hammer with a REALLY long handle...an VERY effective SD tool."
Depending on where you live, this will get you arrested. A lot of hard core bikers have taken to using hammers and the police are clamping down. A recent group fight in Santa Cruz was with "crowbars" and "hammers". One participant was arrested, for a hammer, and charged with possession of a deadly weapon. I suggest you keep your cane "stock". I had one made out of Hawaiian Koa, 2 pieces laminated aroung a 1/16 steel rod. Good weight, moves fairly fast, and delivers a hell of a blow. And I carry it through airports with very little problem as I have a handycap card for a bad back.
HawaiiA cup of campfire coffee, in a hot tin cup, with a splash of Irish whiskey is why the Gods get up in the morning.


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