Dark-alley defense: Tech tools to keep you safe – Engadget

“One of the best gadgets you can have is a doorstop. ”

Douglas White has been in the personal security business for nearly 30 years. He started training in martial arts 24 years ago, and he’s been a bail enforcement agent — a bounty hunter — for 13 years. He’s done international security tours with Linkin Park and the Stone Temple Pilots, but he’s currently prioritizing fatherhood and capturing fugitives from his home base in Connecticut.

White can handily navigate a dark alley filled with foes, even when his only weapons are their hands. However , in an ideal scenario, White will always have a tool at his disposal. Not necessarily the weapon — then again, anything can be weaponized if you try hard enough.

“The self-defense seminars that I teach are all weapons-based, ” White said. “Because I do believe, even after all this time doing martial arts, that the empty-hands stuff, it’s effective but it takes time to distill. And it’s not always going to work out for you on the street. I always promote somebody leveling the playing field by getting something in their hand. inch

White’s doorstop advice isn’t a suggestion to bring down assailants by smacking them with rubber wedges. It’s about prevention, and it’s proof that your self-defense tools don’t need to be high-tech to get the job done (though a little electricity certainly helps).

We asked White to break down the best gadgets to have in your bag, pocket or hand when walking alone down a dark alley, and he had plenty of suggestions. He also had a story for every situation.


One night years ago, White-colored found himself in a teachable moment.

“I broke up a new fight, inches he stated. “It was a melee, really. It was about 30 people. It was bikers and punk rock kids. It was back in the day. ”

Instead of diving within, fists flailing, White wanted to defuse the situation with whatever he had on hand. In this case, it was a bamboo fan.

“One of the weapons we use in Chinese kung fu is a fan, very well he mentioned, “and individuals don’t realize when you really pop it open, it’s loud. It’s really close to the sound of a gunshot. micron

So , Whitened pulled out his / her fan and made his move.

“These guys were pounding the shit out of each other, ” he said. “And when you take the fan and pop it, you go like pop-pop-pop-pop-pop five times quick, what actually occurs there mentally is it’s a state-breaker. And that’s what happened. Every single person just stopped. They were still holding one another mid-punch and just looked, and everyone went through anger in order to what the? ”


State-breakers come in myriad forms, from jarring sounds to be able to bright lights, but they essentially cover anything that shocks an attacker into temporary confusion, pausing the particular assault plus providing a window to escape or fight back. White doesn’t recommend everyday folks carry fans in their back pockets, yet there are plenty of tools on the market designed with state-breaking in mind. For instance, there’s the BASU eAlarm+ ( $25 ), a gadget that emits a loud sound when the top pin is pulled. It looks like an USB device and it’s small enough to fit on a keychain, but when activated it produces an alarm at 130 decibels, some sort of noise level comparable with standing 50 feet away from a military jet, complete with afterburner, as it takes off from an aircraft carrier.

“It’s not so much typically the gadget as what the application is, inch White explained. “Like this flashlight, just blinding someone with a flashlight for a second is a state-breaker. ”

A flashlight is one of White’s go-to personal defense equipment. Not only can one temporarily blind someone, but many are heavy and sturdy enough for you to also be used in a physical altercation.

“A really good flashlight, it’s not obvious, but when you look on the end of the bezel, which is where the light comes out, they have these crenellated striking edges on them, ” Whitened said. “And they’re so underrated as a self-defense tool because you can hit with it, but you don’t even really have to. You can press this into somebody’s clavicle and they’ll just wilt under that. ”

Some flashlights are built specifically for self-defense purposes, with exaggerated bezels and textured grips. The SureFire Defender Ultra ( $179 ) is an LED tactical light designed for fighting, with an aluminum body in addition to Mil-Spec hard-anodized coating. It can small enough to fit in a pocket and even strike along with one hand. It’s also a powerful flashlight, of course.

“Obviously with a torch you can blind them, but in general simply illuminating your path and seeing what you’re coming up against — it’s merely good practice to have a flashlight, inches White claimed.

Stunna tech

The Venn diagram of “tech gadgets” and “self-defense weapons” has one giant, all-caps word at the heart of its intersection: TASER.

“I can only recommend what I know is going to work for people, and when it comes to using self-defense tools, the obvious one when it comes to tech, to me, is the taser, ” White said, “which is a great option. ”

This individual took a few seconds to talk through that last statement before adding, “Where they are allowed, a taser is a good choice. ”


Tasers may be the ultimate self-defense tool, but they come with a handful of limitations. First, here’s how they work: Pulling the trigger expels two tiny electrified probes that stay connected to the weapon via conductive wire measuring up to 15 ft in commercial models. The particular darts inside newer iterations are designed to puncture thick layers of clothing and stay embedded in the skin once they make contact, firing electrical pulses into a person together with resulting in neuromuscular incapacitation — the loss of control of their muscles.

Tasers are high-reward and also high-risk. They’re effective when wielded properly, but they can be extremely dangerous, actually lethal, for anyone who hasn’t studied up and additionally practiced using one. Tasers are more expensive than many other self-defense tools, and they’re not legal for civilian use in every state .

But if you can get a taser and invest time in training, it’s the number one option for individual self-defense. Typically the Pulse+ ( $450 ) is the latest model coming from TASER, the company and proprietary eponym. Is actually equipped to work in the Information Age — the Pulse+ pairs with the Noonlight app, which can alert authorities the second your weapon is fired, using your phone’s GPS to track your location. That service costs $9. 99 a month.

“There’s a lot of training involved, very well White says. “They’re not cheap. But that’s kind of the ultimate, I would say, gadget…. I teach more locally within the northeast, not to mention again, it can just not an option because you can’t carry one. ”

Which brings us to the final scenario: weapons you can bring nearly anywhere.

Writing and wet-weather weaponry

White’s next recommendation sounds like something out of Spy Kids .

“When We travel internationally, ” this individual said, “I usually have what’s called an Unbreakable Umbrella. micron

Unbreakable Umbrellas come from NTOI, and the walking-stick model that will White favors runs $129. 95 . On top of functioning as a perfectly fine umbrella, an Unbreakable is light, weighing just over one pound. It still “whacks just as strong like a steel pipe, ” according to NTOI, and it’s legal to carry everywhere.


“It’s really cool, ” White colored said. “Just a super durable umbrella with a metal rod all the way down the center, and it is got a good crook on it like a cane does. And, because is actually an umbrella, it really comes in under the radar. ”

Another everyday item that works well as a defense tool is the tactical pen. This one is a little trickier, with regards to airplanes — the Transportation Security Administration considers tactical pens to be weapons, and therefore they’re banned from flights. However , many models are sleek sufficient that they simply look like high-quality or extra-rugged writing devices, meaning they can be carried in to most scenarios without raising alarm.

Take the ISBOSI Tactical Pen ( $39. 95 ), for example. It’s a large, stainless-steel device with a knob on the back and an extra-long, extra-pointy tip, but really still immediately recognizable being a pen, not a weapon.

Proper training

An unspoken refrain runs beneath all of White’s advice: Practice. Practice. Exercise. He teaches self-defense classes and highly recommends them to anyone curious about personal-security devices. Even with all of the fighting and also defense styles at a student’s disposal, Light said some of the most powerful moments in his lessons aren’t physical at all. They occur when a student actually gets their hands on a tool, and suddenly recognizes their own personal limits of violence and security.

“These technology items are part of the recommended self-defense spectrum, ” White reported. “I teach all those different things because I understand that choosing to carry your weapon is a very personal thing for somebody. Not everybody is willing to grab some blade as well as cut an individual — nor should they. Plus vice versa together with firearms and any weaponry. So it’s really a bit of discovery you have to go on internally to decide what’s good with you morally. ”

There’s absolutely nothing wrong, morally or otherwise, with buying a new umbrella. And if you’re going to buy a new umbrella, you might as well get the one having a metal pole running over the center for protection from often the rain plus anything else.

Images: Brett Putman with regard to Engadget

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