Do you think a pepper sprayer is a self-defense tool that everyone should carry?
I get this question almost every time I teach a self-defense seminar for women and their daughters. Women tell me they carry a sprayer in their purse and feel completely safe.
I have friends who have told me they insisted their daughters carry a can of pepper spray with them when off attending college, believing their daughters are perfectly protected.
The question is…….
Is pepper spray an effective tool for protecting yourself?
Is it effective enough to immediately stop the attacker?
I have been training in the martial arts a very long time and I admit up front, that I am biased when it comes to most self-defense gadgets. Simply because I believe there is no substitute for knowing how to protect yourself with your bare hands.
But, here is my short answer when it comes to pepper sprays:
I am not a big fan of pepper spray!
Okay. Now that you know here are my reasons why:
- Pepper spray is practically useless unless you are carrying it your hand and ready to use it! Most females toss it in their purse or place it in one of their jean pockets. The time it takes to retrieve the pepper spray from wherever you keep it is usually too long and the attacker is on you before you are able to use it.
- There are many different grades of pepper spray out there – much of what is sold at the retail level is not that strong and is not adequate enough to blind the attacker and stop them in their tracks.
- And, related to point #2, approximately 15% of the population is not affected by pepper spray at all, regardless of the strength.
- Lastly, when you use pepper spray, you run the risk of getting the spray into your own eyes which can limit your vision and cause pain. A former student of mine was a member of the Columbia, SC SWAT team and he said the team avoided using pepper spray whenever possible. And when used, the person using it had to yell to warn fellow officers to beware of getting exposed.
Still not convinced?
Consider the following video, a classic example of why I am not a huge proponent of pepper spray:
(Warning: this video may be difficult for some to watch)
Police Officer Bruce McKay was gunned down after chasing a suspect in his car and spraying him with a significant amount of police pepper spray. Remember, the pepper spray law enforcement uses tends to be much hotter than the commercial store bought pepper sprays the average person can purchase on Amazon.
Tragically, despite a huge shot of pepper spray into the assailant’s eyes, the officer turned his back thinking the driver was subdued, only to be shot several times.
The officer paid the ultimate sacrifice with his life.
I share this difficult video because people try to convince me all the time, how safe they are because they carry pepper spray or how they feel comfortable knowing their daughter is safe because she carries pepper spray.
In my opinion, it’s a false sense of security.
Even in this instance, where the police officer had direct access to the pepper spray and shot a large quantity of very hot spray into the assailant’s eyes, it wasn’t enough of a deterrent to keep the officer safe.
Can pepper spray be effective some of the time?
But I would not want to take the chance it doesn’t work the one time I need it.
The beauty of karate is you don’t need to have a store bought weapon to protect yourself. Literally, all you need is your hands.
You decide for yourself if pepper spray is the weapon of choice in defending yourself?
If you still think pepper spray is the best option for you, make sure you purchase a “police” grade quality.
Also, make sure that pepper spray is legal in your state for civilians to carry.
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Sensei Chris Feldt is the owner and chief instructor of Samurai Karate Studio, a leadership academy located in Northeast Columbia, South Carolina. His school teaches karate to children and adults ages 4 and up. SKS specializes in self-defense, anti-bullying, stranger danger and character and leadership development.
Mr. Feldt was an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina for college credit in karate and self-defense. Samurai Karate Studio has been recognized as a leader in martial arts instruction by being honored with the Best of Columbia Award for 5 consecutive years in a row.
Sensei Feldt is a certified instructor for C.O.B.R.A., a worldwide self-defense, and personal protection program. SKS offers Active Shooter Training, Real Estate Safety, 10 Week Self Defense Academies, Bully Workshops, and Child Safety Camps.
Sensei Feldt has been a guest speaker in the Richland 2 School District covering school talks on stranger danger, anti-bullying strategies, kindness, and making good choices. He is available for both private and corporate self-defense seminars
Samurai Karate Studio is also a proud member of MAAB, Martial Artists Against Bullying, a nationwide program made up of martial arts schools throughout the country that are committed to helping children who are victims of bullying. If you or someone you know is being bullied, we are here to help. But, you have to take the first step and either call us at 803-462-9425 or email us at: [email protected]
Bullying is one of the most serious issues we face today and with the right coaching, students can learn how to defeat the bully using non-violent strategies.