So the Ferguson situation has made me think a bit about how I might defend my home in the case of a home invasion. My wife isn't crazy about guns, and I don't have much experience with them, so I'm considering investing in a more traditional weapon for my home. In my Kung Fu school we train with:

  • Spear
  • Staff
  • Kali Sticks
  • Kamas
  • Swords (Straight, Broad, Butterfly)
  • Kwandao/Pudao
  • Machete/Hatchet

I'm sort of leaning toward spear since it seems to provide the distance advantages of a staff with the damage advantages of a sword and without the weight disadvantages of a Kwandao. Plus I have much more practical experience with staff techniques.

Am I delusional for considering this? Should I just suck it up and invest the time in firearms instead? And (if appropriate for this site) any suggestions on where I might find combat-ready weapons (as opposed to practice weapons)?


  • 3
    Spear is absolutely the wrong way to go. Too long for use in tight spaces of a home, unless you live in a mansion or a castle. Why not try maneuvering your spear where you think you might need to defend your home? You'll see what I mean. Others here are suggesting Kali sticks. I second that. They're more maneuverable than a baseball bat, and have more utility, but do not strike as hard. I will say, though, if I hear a noise in the night, I reach for my .45 Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 12:28
  • As a point of interest see kxan.com/2014/09/21/… In case of linkrot google "Jimmy Morgan Jr spear"
    – Wudang
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 15:29

7 Answers 7


Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV. So, whatever I say has no legal value whatsoever. That said...

The law is a complex beast and unless you are a good criminal defence lawyer whatever you think you know about self defence is probably wrong, or at best incomplete. Laws change country to country, state to state, and even county to county. Something that is acceptable here might be utterly illegal there. So, before you go and buy $weapon, check with your local criminal defence lawyer(s).. They will be able to advise (maybe even for free) on what is reasonable to have and what is not.

Note that in a most of Europe, having anything that you intend to use as a weapon makes it more difficult for you to claim reasonable force. Even a can of hair spray can be considered a weapon if you keep it by your front door to use for self defence.

Even in a self defence (they attack you first), it is easy to become the attacker. You can (read: will) be arrested and will have to defend yourself in a court of law. Some deluded idiots might tell you that "being judged by twelve is better than being carried by six". They have no idea how the law works. A vast majority attacks do not end up with murder but if you either kill or injure someone, even in self defence, you will get into a world of trouble with the law.

Do not be daft, talk to a lawyer before you set yourself on a path that will lead LEO to arrest you. And don't talk to the Police.

Now, to address your question: There are tips for home security that you can use to make your home less attractive to criminals. Mostly, it makes it harder to get into your house. Clearly, an alarm system (maybe even one that summons either the police or a mercenary crew aka PMC or rent-a-cop) is worth investing in. Most of those come with panic buttons.

As for the rest, your kung-fu training should be enough. Weapons are hard to keep, hard to use, and no school (some will most of the time they are military based and utterly unsuitable for civilian use) now a days will teach you how to use them in combat. Besides, in all cases your body should be with you so you are already "armed". Ditto for your family, get them to do a martial art (maybe something different from what you do): not only will it increase their self confidence but it will keep them fit.

As for specific weapons, I would strongly recommend against having weapons in your house. After all, guns kept in homes are more likely to be involved in a fatal or nonfatal accidental shooting, criminal assault, or suicide attempt than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense. I fail to see how any other form of weapons would fare better.

  • Getting educated is good advice. That said, your argument kind of circled back around to imply (rightly I think) that any time you attack another person, there could be serious legal consequences and there's no much to do about that, weapons or not. If you're protecting yourself or your family, you just have to do your best and hope for the best. Also, our school does teach practical combat weapon techniques meant for real-world usage. I'd also say that equating the danger of having a gun in the house with that of having a sword, spear, or staff is a bit absurd.
    – grovberg
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 20:35
  • @grovberg: Sure, a sword is safer than a gun but it is still not a safe thing to have. I made a note of guns since the OP mention them in his question and guns can be considered martial art weapons. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 8:44
  • What lots of people forget: You already have "kind-of-" swords at your home. The big Chef Kitchen Knife makes a great "Sax". The only problem is to reach it before the intruder reaches you. Therefore I second the aspect of weaponless defense (and always keep legal issues in mind, I'd give +2 for that if I could).
    – Fildor
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 8:07
  • @grovberg I think his point is that using martial arts weapons makes it a bit harder to prove self-defense, and this might be an issue. I call that the Cameron Poe Effect. For instance, I have a combat knife, but if someone breaks in I'm getting a kitchen knife. The last thing I need is a lawyer arguing that I'm a freak who keeps military gear in his office and used disproportionate force against the poor burglar who was just after his next fix.
    – user1972
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 23:09
  • @user1972 Also worth noting that at least in the US, knives are considered deadly force, and thus can only be used to respond to deadly force against you. IANAL. Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 12:10

As a martial artist I have a bunch of weapons, but the two I use to protect my home are:

  • myself
  • kali stick(s)

The first speaks for itself - you should be able to defend yourself and your property even without a weapon. In other words, you might not have a weapon available or you may have been disarmed - you should still be capable of defending yourself.

The kali sticks are what I take with me if I have to go outside to investigate something. They are great for this because:

  • they are easily concealed behind one's back or held alongside your forearm
  • they can be easily used for taking force (i.e. blocking)
  • they are excellent for grappling
  • they don't need a lot of space for swinging, and can inflict a lot of damage
  • you can hit with them in several ways
  • they are easy to store in convenient easy-to-reach places, like behind doors
  • they are not a blade so you don't have issues with blood (i.e. you won't accidentally slice someone's artery, or potentially have infected blood on you)

Many of the other weapons are only suitable for very limited situations, like a bo (staff) is not much good in a small space, swords are both risky and need a large swing area, knives and machetes are just risky, guns/pistols are more of a distance weapon and the potential for them to be lethal is very high.

  • +1 Kali sticks make sense to me (though personally I'm an unarmed kind of guy)... someone trained can use them quite effectively, can even things up against a lot of weapons someone might bring/find, but I think most people who saw them lying around wouldn't even consider using them as a weapon and if they tried wouldn't know how to use them very well - all ideal.
    – Tony D
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 12:16
  • I really appreciate this thoughtful answer and agree entirely that a weapon is no substitute for unarmed training. That said, both of you expressed the benefit of kali sticks being unassuming, but I'm wondering if anyone has considered the value of determent. Pictures of folks protecting their homes and stores with guns is part of what has me thinking about this in the first place. Isn't there value in having something that you can point at someone and say "Don't try it!" and avoiding the fight in the first place?
    – grovberg
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 20:12
  • Just gotta say there exists a strong potential for blood if you hit with force. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 12:15
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    @grovberg: it's definitely played out that way sometimes, in the end it's all elusive statistics with many factors. Two of those: even untrained people may intuitively perceive deterrent value in a trained stance/guard, especially with sticks, and as long as they're far enough away that they think they have the option to leave they're less likely to panic and shoot you if they have a gun.
    – Tony D
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 16:56

For home defense, you are contemplating weapon use within a constrained space. Long weapons do not make a lot of sense; you will not be able to use them well.

I would also advise against bladed or piercing weapons of any kind. They are by definition lethal weapons, with a clear intent to maim or kill. While the Castle Doctrine and, in some places, stand your ground laws may protect you legally if you are required to use those, you will still have to defend yourself to legal officials. The samurai of feudal Japan may have thought their wakizashi appropriate "indoor weapons," but these days "He attacked me, so I sliced off his arm, and unfortunately he died of blood loss" may not put you in the best light to the police officers and district attorney who will be deciding whether to charge you with a crime, or write off the incident as legitimate self defense. Starting with a Medieval maiming weapon is probably not your best option. And if a cop responds to the scene and finds you holding a bloody kama, well... Things could end badly for you, even if you were truly the defending / not-at-fault party.

Better options include:

  • short sticks (aka Eskrima / Kali sticks)
  • a collapsible baton (essential that you get a top-notch brand, like ASP; the cheap ones will break in action)
  • baton with handle (aka tonfa)
  • sturdy flashlight (like the Mag-lites all cops used to carry, or a small but hard tactical flashlight)

These keep you on the "intermediate weapon" portion of the "use of force continuum". They are all useful in dissuading, delaying, and/or disabling your opponents, and they won't overtly suggest that you are the one from whom people might need defense.

  • Emphasis on the may in "may protect". If your legal defense has the slightest hole, you'll have pleaded guilty to homicide. The flashlight has the additional benefit of having a legitimate use outside hurting people, and thus appearing more as an improvised weapon. Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 12:13
  • Self-defense indeed an affirmative defense, akin to "guilty but permitted because necessary." OTOH, castle doctrine makes home defense a special case with greater leeway and likelihood of success. Not sure an improvised weapon (flashlight, baseball bat, heavy pipe) incrementally beneficial before the law. But...maybe. Practically speaking, appearance does count. Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 0:37

Home Invasion vs. Burglary

So first off, most of the people afraid of home invasion are rarely the ones targeted by it.

Are you involved in criminal activity where you'd have large amounts of cash lying around? Are you from an immigrant culture that would normally hide money stashes in the house? If you answered no to both of those, you are extremely unlikely to be the target of home invasion.

Home invasions are when folks are specifically looking to target you, and they're coming ready with weapons and usually several people. This is very different than house burglary - one or two people break in, preferably when no one is home, and try to get valuables and leave without a confrontation.

You can look up the stats for your neighborhood and see what the crime looks like. Also be mindful of who gets targeted - for instance, if there's a drug house on one block, that one block is going to look terrible as far as crime rates, but 4 blocks away nothing happens. You might even live in a terrible place and never be targeted for more than car break ins.

General Home Defense

Well, generally if you're not expecting to be targeted with an organized violent raid, martial art weapons become a lot more viable - it's less likely for a burglar to bring a gun, and it's also likely you're only dealing with 1 or 2 people.

At that point, the questions become - how easy is it to use the weapon given your space? Would you be able to get to it easily? Would you be able to carry it from room to room running?

A spear sounds... unlikely to be that handy. Knives, sticks, machetes, all of that seems pretty do-able. The other issue is how far away are your tools of self defense in any given space? If you have to run to one room to get the weapon, then run back to the other to deal with the threat, it's not as useful as having a few different things around the area that you can go for quickly.

That all said, if you think someone has broken into your house, yelling, "Ok honey! Stay on the phone with 911! I've got the gun!" really loudly even as a bluff will send most burglars away quickly if they've got any judgment working.

The other consideration is whether your weapons are going to be safe depending on who you live with - children, impulsive teens, folks suffering depression, friends or family who like to drink a lot or get high, people who have impaired cognitive functions... Given the rates of injuries or death from weapons in NON-combative situations, you don't want to make your home less safe in your attempt to protect it.

Vs. Actual Home Invasion

Move. Leave town. If you are living a lifestyle where you are afraid people are likely to target your home with a group of folks, looking to harm you and your family, you should move.

Most of my friends growing up were ex-Crips and folks from communities that did stash money and frankly, there's no safe, sane way to really prepare for home invasion.

Most of the people who worry about home invasion are not in danger of it, but rather hyped up on self defense machoism and privileged paranoia. Folks who are at risk either don't realize it or are living very un-civilian lifestyles that are not reasonable.


When deciding on a self-defense weapon, the following checklist is useful:

  1. Easy to use
  2. Easy to swing around
  3. Easy to use in close-quarters, e.g. on the ground or with your back against a wall
  4. Able to neutralise an opponent with one or at most two hits
  5. Won't inflict deep wounds. Because you will get arrested if you stab someone.

With this in mind, the best weapon, in my vastly experienced though humble opinion, is a police Sap. It's fairly easy to make your own using lead fishing sinkers and scrap leather or some other sturdy material like the stuff military belts are made from. For extra points, melt down the sinkers into your preferred shape and sew them shut.

This weapon will knock out an assailant, is easy to wield and won't draw potentially lethal amounts of blood.

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  • 1
    Interesting choice. But it is worth noting that a weapon like this is potentially lethal and outside the movies getting a high probability of knockout without a high probability of killing/long-term-injury is very hard. And what you will get arrested for is a bit more nuanced than that. I am not an expert and join @sardathrion in recommending consulting an experienced attorney, but it is possible to be justified in stabbing someone and possible to get arrested for hitting someone with a Sap. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 15:44
  • If you're very worried about serious injury, I recommend lead shavings instead of solid pieces. It gives a concussion without the threat of visible injury. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 15:56
  • 1
    I like saps as weapons. They're small, easily carried, easily concealed, effective, and generally non-lethal. But they're not generally recognized as "traditional martial arts weapons," which is what this question is mainly about. They're also very close-quarters weapons, lacking the stand-off benefits of a stick-like weapon. But my biggest concern is legality. They seem to be covered by a mishmash of irregular local laws that often single out weapons like saps, brass knuckles, and nunchaku for special opprobrium or prohibition. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 23:15
  • 2
    Hide your small change in a sock ;) Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 11:21

My martial arts weapon of choice for home defense are my Sai, which are carried in pairs. At 21.5 inches of iron or chrome covered steel they are a formidable weapon in my hands. They are able to block incoming blows an have the added bonus of having the ability to trap an counter weapon as well as hand attacks. You do not have to worry about someone by passing your spear head or katana tip an moving in close, the point on Sai do real damage to any part of the body they are thrust into while the other sai is on its path to strike the side of the neck,colar bone,wrist whatever you feel will serve best breaking any bone in its path. Just like a collapsible baton they are very useful in locking techniques an unlike a baton they do not have the risk of collapsing in on themselves during use. If said fight does happen the sai can also be used the same way a punch can with all the pressure contacting on one small space easily breaking bones such as ribs, nose, cheek bone. Ment to be used as non-lethal self defense weapons they can be use to take life if absolutely necessary. Sai are defense weapons you can easily have two to five pair around the house placed behind doors,hung up on wall displays,kept in the garage, placed under cabnets, anywhere you see fit. With all this being said I feel in my personal opinion the use of Sai for home protection would be easily justifiable for defending ones life, an the life of loved ones in any court proceedings which are bound to occur.


I would like to add that an everyday household item called the plunger makes a great weapon, once you unscrew the rubber part off.

  • 1
    I feel like this largely replicates the answers above recommending stickwork since there are so many potential improvised weapons around the house that use that technique. Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 12:46

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