Apart from teaching traditional martial arts at the Japanese Martial Arts Center in Ann Arbor, and a Mixed Martial Arts class at Dan Vigil's Academy of Tae Kwon Do in Northville, I periodically travel around the state of Michigan to offer private seminars in self defense. At all of these, the first thing I do is recommend Pepper Spray.
The stuff is good. It is very easy to use, inexpensive, and especially effective. This I can vouch from personal experience.
See, back in the day, I trained at a dojo in East Lansing, Michigan. My sensei at the time sold martial arts equipment out of the school: dogi, katana, various Okinawan Kobudo weapons (like tonfa, nunchacku, bo, that sort of thing), along with other such neat martial arts gear. Among the paraphernalia was pepper spray.
So there was this guy, who we'll call, I dunno, let's say "Dave." One day, Dave said something along the lines of, "Hey Sensei, I'd like to be pepper sprayed." And he said this right next me, right in front of Sensei. In retrospect, I am certain this masochistic interest spawned from genuine youthful stupidity, but at the time it seemed a blatant declaration of manliness, and there was no way in hell I was going to let him revel in all the glory. So I put him in his place by saying something like, "Oh yeah? Well, I want to be pepper sprayed, too."
Sensei had no problem with this. In fact, I got the feeling he thought it was a good idea. We met some time later at his house in the country, and bunch of fellow judo and aiki jujutsu students tagged along to enjoy the show.
It goes down like this:
I try to insist that I'm going first, but Dave is like, no way man, this was my idea, back off. All right, fine.
So Sensei gives him a long, satisfying blast. Dave goes down clawing his eyes in a flurry of waffling howls, and is none too happy, let me tell you. Meanwhile, the sounds emanating from the spectating ring of martial artists and dojo people are not those of concern, but hilarity. This is the point where my manliness retrogrades to preadolescence, and I start scoping the landscape for imminent camouflage. Unfortunately, we're in an open field, and Dave is calling attention to my person by paradoxically yelling, "Don't do it! Don't do it!" and "Now it's your turn!"
Indeed it was.
I must report: Pepper Spray ƒµ©%|π§ hurts. A lot. Your eyes feel like they've been fraternized with a handful of rusty caltrops, and for the first few minutes, you can't even open them. You can pry back your eyelids with your fingers if you want, but all you're going to see is pain, and pain is remarkably blurry. To make matters worse, this ridiculous ordeal transpired during the relentless heat of summer, and us clever young boys, in an effort to forestall an extra load of laundry, abandoned our shirts to receive the spray. Thus the tenacious liquid voyaged from our faces, down our necks, and on to our chests and bellies, leaving mean red splotches of irritated skin that burned like beestings in the sunlight. And it took a long time to stop hurting.
In conclusion: If you want a safe, legal, effective, inexpensive, and easy means to defend yourself, go buy some pepper spray. It will be worth it.
And if you happen to see Dave strolling along the sidewalk, spike him squarely in the eyes with a thick stream of spray as punishment for making me challenge his call.