Improvised Weapons - Grips and Holds

Most Martial Artists and Self Defence type people acknowledge that Improvised Weapons are a great, handy and convenient methodology of Self Protection and Self Defence.

Improvised weapons are everywhere and easily accessible. They are especially relevant in countries with stringent weapons laws. They are also an excellent equaliser.

Many attacks today are from armed assailants and the use of Improvised Weapons can level the playing field. Improvised Weapons may also make the difference between walking away unscathed or getting seriously injured or worse.

Grips and Holds

One area which hasn't been covered all that much on the subject is how to hold or grip various items and use them efficiently as a weapon. The use of an every day item as a Weapon is indeed Improvised.

There are an endless amount of items that can be picked up with the hands and used in what can be a sudden event that requires you to defend yourself, a friend or loved one. The nature of every day items and their various shapes and sizes requires improvisation when it comes to applying them as a weapon of self defence.

Three Primary Movements

One thing I would firstly like to mention is the way a weapon is used. There are three main movements in which to strike with an Improvised Weapon:

  • You can swing a weapon much like a bat or stick,

  • You can thrust a weapon like a knife or

  • You can stab much like a knife wielding maniac but with a blunt instrument.

This movement is using a hammer fist type of strike.

It is really up to the individual and their preferences as to how any Improvised Weapon is used.

Limit Conventional Thrusting

The only method I would advice against is the traditional thrusting movement as the weak point is the wrist and this can easily bend or give way. This may simply end up as a week strike or it may end up causing an injury to the wrist that prevents the continuing function of the joint with the Attack continuing unabated.

Thrusting in the manner as shown below can result in the giving away of the wrist joint.

I personally prefer hammer fist type movements that tend to be quite linear in nature rather than circular type movements as will be seen in the images below.

One or Two Hands?

One other thing to take into consideration is if the item is best used with one hand or two. Some Improvised Weapons can be used with either method. It is really up to the individual. It is hoped that at least the reader will pick up some every day items and handle them with the perspective of how they can be used as an Improvised Weapon and experiment with them.


Here are some examples of items and some grips, holds and applications:

A can of drink can be used in the grip shown below. From here it can be thrusted straight out. The can may be full, empty or even half full. It doesn't matter if fluid flies out the other end. It may help by going into the attackers eyes.

A pair of pliars may also be used in the grip shown below. The same linear thrusting movement as above can be used here. The grip is different though the movement is the same. Straight out and back.

Plastic drinking bottle.

The grip here harnesses the shape of the bottle. Grip the narrower part of the neck so as to prevent the hand sliding down the bottle as it hits the target. Once again, it doesn't really matter how much fluid is in the bottle. It is better with at least a third of the bottle containing fluid as it adds more weight to the strike.

A mobile phone can be used as per the previous items. Point to mention here is that the thumb covers the rear so as to prevent the hand sliding over the phone as it hits the target.

A small torch or flashlight can be used as above. The main point with the torch here is that the hand grips the narrower part of the object so the larger head of the item prevents the hand sliding forward as it hits the target. For suitable torches such as Surefire's, the thumb can still operate the on/off function on the butt of the torch.

Keys and bottle opener.

 The bottle opener can be used in two ways.

One is in a swinging motion where the bottle opener is whipped around in a slashing motion where the keys are held tightly in the hand.

The other is where the keys and bottle opener are held tightly in the hand where the end of the bottle opener can be used in a hammer fist/thrusting movement.

A normal bottle opener can be used much like the small torch or flashlight. Again, note the thumb covering the rear to prevent the hand from sliding up the item as the target is struck.

It can be used opened as shown below. From here it can be used hammer fist style or in a jabbing/punching motion using the corkscrew. It is best not to use the bottle opener end on this model as the hinge it operates on is not very secure so it may close shut as it strikes a target causing injury to the operator.

A DVD case can be used with one hand thrusting straight out. This strike is actually surprising in its impact. This is a rather long range attacking move.

Or with two hands for establishing more control and projecting more power.

An Inbox may also be used to strike with the the more solid edge or as a shield. It is likely to break after one or two blows but is better than nothing. Corners will likely hurt an attacker quite a bit and be a bit stronger than an edge.

A collapsible clothesline can make a great longer range weapon. They are also quite light. This would be great for keeping people away and has some potential for striking using a straight out and back motion using both arms. It is gripped at the crossover point on the first step down from the top. The fingers are below the joint and the thumb is above the joint. If the hinges break, the clothesline will collapse down. Using the grip as described, the fingers and thumb will not be crushed or squeezed.

An office chair can be used as both a shield and to strike with. Blocking followed immediately by a thrusting movement is just one option.

A flexible item such as a bath towel can be used by pulling the hands apart. This item can be used to block and push an attacker. The tort section between the hands is quite rigid. The towel can also be wrapped around limbs immobilising and controlling them which is quite handy if your system or style practises these techniques.

A broom can be used in either an over hand or underhand grip depending on personal preferences. Either between the hands or the end can be used to block. The fluffy end is for long range striking.

Also, between the hands can be used for doing a push/thrust type of strike.

An umbrella is possibly the best Improvised Weapon of all. It is stiff and strong, long range and can be carried pretty much anywhere on the planet. It can be held in either grip much like the broom.

The umbrella shown above is known as the Unbreakable Umbrella that I recently purchased and I absolutely love it. It is light, well made, strong and has a metal tip which would be handy in a real self defence situation. I prefer umbrellas without the hook on the end but it is again, personal preference. You can check more of the umbrella (including video) out here.


For any everyday item it comes down to personal choice and preferences with a sprinkling of imagination and improvisation.

This list is by no means exhaustive and there are far too many possibilities to mention. I hope that this post simply highlights some options available and to think in a little more detail about how to actually hold and wield any Improvised Weapon you may need in the event that an attacker chooses you.

Image by ZenFilms