This may sound a tad crazed, but in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I live, it's pretty important to know how to defend yourself. Joburg is the home of the car hijacking. The discipline was invented here.
Whenever chat turns to self-defence (and, uh, it does that quite often here), I ask people if they know how to use a key to hurt someone.
They invariably show me the key-in-the-fist position illustrated in step four of my picture. And this is just plain awful. It's the worst thing to do with a key. If you want a dozen stitches and a hand that won't ever function again, feel free to use the wrong way.
If you'd like to walk away and still be able to type on a computer keyboard, try the way I've illustrated. I don't THINK I invented this method. I seem to remember someone telling me the principle. But I'm damned if I can recall who or when.
The text reads:
PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA
Be alert. Be prepared. Defend yourself....
Step 1: Seat the Key in Your Dominant Hand.
1. In your dominant hand, seat your key against the fleshy bulge at the base of your index and zap sign fingers. Curl your index finger under the key.
Step 2: The Key Points in the Same Line As Your Thumb.
2. Close your thumb over the shaft of the key. Hold it tightly. The key should be pointing in exactly the same line as your thumb.
Step 3: If Needed, Strike Upwards With a Sucker Punch to the Side of the Jaw.
3. Walk with your hand at your waist. If an assailant approaches, sucker punch him or her in the neck, just below the ear, where the jaw hinges. Then run like hell, screaming, 'I need a doctor!' People respond to medical crises more easily than criminal crises.
Step 4: The 'usual' Way People Advise One to Hold a Key Will Result in Terrible Injury -- to Yourself!
4. Do not under any circumstances have your key sticking out of your fist. You will rip your hand open from the knuckles down to your wrist.
A public service announcement from Roy Blumenthal
CC Creative Commons -- Non-Commercial -- Attribution -- Share-Alike 2006
Step 5: Peace and Safety Reign Supreme.
The real key to this technique isn't that you're going to wreak havoc on some poor mugger's face. Rather, it's the awareness you bring to a situation.
You exude readiness.
Criminals don't WANT to waste time with the alert-looking person. They know that alert people are observant people.
So when you're walking around scoping out the joint for potential thugs to skewer, they're noticing your behaviour. So this technique IS about peace after all.