By Bradley J. Steiner, American Combato
They are the most useful and effective personal weapons. Yet how many who train in martial arts today for self-defense recognize this, and are enthusiastic students of these weapons? Not too many.
“Weapons of the martial arts” are customarily thought to be nunchucks, the nine foot pole, the manriki-gusari, the sai, the tonfa, of course the sword, and, among other implements, the scythe-ball-and-chain.
Those who study Chinese systems of ancient ch’uan fa (“kung fu”) may be exposed to dozens of different weapons… chain weapons, steel, wooden, edged, and throwing.
All to the good for those solely concerned with classical training. But for modern use it is absurd to practice with the antiquated martial arts weapons.
It is absurd because it takes an enormous amount of time to become proficient with these weapons, and none of them are as practically adaptable to the exigencies of modern violent combat as modern weapons are!
And yes, we agree that some of the classical weapons may be employed by experts in modern situations. But, for that matter, a horse and buggy may be employed in modern society, also… but a quality motor vehicle is—hands down—far superior, and a much wiser choice. 
Over the years we have heard vehement criticism of firearms and fighting knives (not so much of stick weapons) by high ranking ju-jutsu and karate teachers. One teacher whom we respect enormously in regard to some matters pertaining to practical individual combat—i.e. the late Bruce Tegnér—we believe should have known better! In so many ways he was ahead of his time, yet in regard to weapons for self-defense he only acknowledged the stick as being, according to himself, “acceptable”. As though there was something wrong with using a fighting knife or combat pistol to stop a would-be murderer! 
Many, many people (i.e. the very young, the very old, the disabled, the injured, the sick, the very small and weak, etc.) need weapons to protect themselves. Even a young, well-trained student of practical combatives who is in hard training and in great shape, physically, would be a fool not to employ a weapon when confronted by multiple attackers, an armed assailant, a sudden home invasion or car-jacking, etc.
And, despite the popular nonsense that would have everyone believing that women in general “can do anything in combat that men can do” (utter BULLSHIT) we would like to see young ladies receive training in modern weapons when they reach adolescence.
Yes, there are some young women who, like some young men, are irresponsible and cannot be trusted because of poor impulse control, possibly also psychopathic tendencies. We wouldn’t teach them. But a young girl (or boy) who is home alone (say fourteen years of age, or around that) could easily defend against a home invasion or physical attack if she possessed proficiency with firearms.
Without a gun what chance would the statistically average teenage girl have against two or three grownup male scumbags who broke into her home when her parents were away? Even if they were unarmed and she was a black belt in some martial art, she would not stand a chance if they decided to attack and rape and possibly kill her. 
Knives—and we are referring to combat knives, here—are legitimate, effective, highly desirable modern weapons. In police state societies such as NYC, where only the well-connected, rich, and politically approved, stand any chance of obtaining a general carry permit for a handgun, keeping a few razor sharp fighting knives around the house or apartment is a damn good idea.
Certainly better than being completely unarmed, grabbing a fighting knife with which he had proficiency would be a lot better for someone confronted by a break-in; at least his chances of successfully saving himself and perhaps his family would be better than they would be if all he had were his unarmed skills.
Knives designed for combat may not be carried on the person in most if not all cities in America, but as far as we know it is legal to keep such knives in your home. 
Sticks are outstanding weapons. Japan’s greatest swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi, was defeated only by one warrior, and that warrior used a stick versus Musashi’s sword! It was more-or-less a “friendly duel”, but Musashi got the point. Thereafter he carried two bokken (i.e. wooden swords) which proved superior to the actual steel sword.
No one in his right mind would walk the streets where he lives carrying two bokken; but carrying a good hardwood walking stick (we like the Irish or English blackthornes) is sensible.
Four or five serious hours of training with a good walking stick will place in your hands the ability to beat someone twice your size and three times your strength to a helpless pudding! It also will give you a far better chance of defending against a knife wielding attacker than you’d have with only your bare hands.
The old yawara hand stick, although not useful for self-defense by employing the classical skills associated with that weapon, is a formidable self defense weapon when utilized with the kinds of techniques we teach in American Combato. 
And, sticks of all lengths and kinds may be found or improvised virtually everywhere. Thus, when you master quality combat stick skills you are prepared to seize any stick or stick-like weapon and go up against a dangerous enemy with a real advantage.
If you are uninterested in the sport of so-called “competitive combat shooting” then waste no time or money on an expensive shooting school. You need learn only point shooting and become familiar with use of sights shooting for rare, rare occasions when it might be effective. 
The chapters in Kill Or Get Killed will teach you how to use a handgun in combat. Shooting To Live, by Fairbairn and Sykes is also a valuable reference, and the excellent classic Quick Or Dead, by William Cassidy is an indispensable reference.
Before self-teaching combat shooting via the study of what these publications offer, you should take a handgun familiarization, handling, and safety course. Do not just go out and buy a gun. Learn thoroughly how to safely and correctly handle and fire a sidearm; then make an informed choice about the weapon you wish to purchase, and train with supreme caution and care.
A good teacher can train you in real world close combat/self-defense shooting with a handgun inside of ten hours. Many will learn within two hours of quality instruction. 
Weapons are integral to American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao), and whether you are a student of our System or not, if you are concerned about real world self-defense, weapons should become integral to your training and preparation. Exclusively training in unarmed skills will at best give you confidence and ability to use your unarmed combat in situations where a weapon is not needed.
However, in close combat and emergency self-defense situations, weapons are needed. Do not deceive yourself in this regard.

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