The Safe Way to Use a Car Key As a Defense/attack Peacekeeping Utensil

About: I'm a writer, director, artist, filmmaker, voice-artist, standup-poet, rabble-rouser, left-libertarian, and maverick. I make my primary income from industrial and corporate theatre and video.

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.

Blue skies

The text reads:

Be alert. Be prepared. Defend yourself....

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

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.

Be the First to Share


    • Made with Math Contest

      Made with Math Contest
    • Cardboard Speed Challenge

      Cardboard Speed Challenge
    • Multi-Discipline Contest

      Multi-Discipline Contest

    23 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Great tip Ray. I use a key fob made from a 1/2 inch metal punch 6 inches long. Drill a hole across the strike surface of the punch about 3/8 inch down from the top. Clasped in the fist the business end of the punch stick out the bottom of the fist 1 to 1 1/2 inches. The keys can be used as a spiky flail. In addition to this I drill 11/32 holes in one facet of the punch shank on either side of where my second finger will be. In these holes I sweat hardened semi sharpened pieces of 1/4 inch rod. These pieces will have to be tailored to the individual fist and should stick out between the fingers about 3/8 inch.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    go to walmart and get a patch/plug kit for fixing a car tire. keep the kit in your car. glove box ? but keep the tool out. the tool fits perfectly in your hand. its a great punching weapon. 

    the tool is made for inserting the "plug" into the suspected tire's hole.
    fits in the back pocket and is barely noticeable in a fight until its too late.

    the above should only be used as a means of self defense.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    have you ever actually struck someone with this? I wonder how well it works...


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Took a look at it. Can't see from the photo how it fits in the palm of the hand. To my way of thinking, you need to show how securely it would be seated in the hand. If the bit inside the fist is just a cylinder, then it can rotate, and slice your hand. If it's a moulded thing that can't move when you grip it, then you've got a winner. Thanks for commenting! Blue skies love Roy


    12 years ago on Introduction

    good one.

    i used to use this idea but with 3 smaller keys that i had, but the way i held them was perfectly fitted into my palm so that the keys poked through my fingers similar to how your diagram says not to, but my way was somehow totally secured from ripping back into my hand -i tested it-. i think it was the way the keys were arranged on different rings that spaced them perfectly between my fingers and fitted tightly against my palm.

    i live in england and have been mugged myself and now i know to be prepared when i'm out and i agree that if a mugger or whoever is confronted by you with this makeshift defense weapon, he's gonna think twice about coming near you which probably cuts the odds sufficiently enough.

    i and some of my family and friends now carry a legal spray can called 'farb gel spray' which is very mild compared to 'mace' or 'pepper spray' or any other illegal self defensive thing over here, but, it gives you a feeling of being prepared and having a bit of security if confronted. it is a powerful burst of a weird textured gel dye which if sprayed at an attacker would get in they're eyes and give you a chance to get away, but also dyes them a distinct colour, for a few days so that they would easily be identified by police.

    being prepared in itself is a deterrant to criminals like you have said below. i have avoided several confrontations and mugging just by having my wits about me even when i was really drunk, because i live in a rough area so its happened a fair few times. if they see that you're wise to what they're upto and/or are prepared to defend yourself, they usaully don't attempt anything probably because most are cowards in the first place.

    wow sorry for writing a whole book nearly, but i hope the advice helps people be prepared. my next legal self defense is an instructible
    simply using party poppers and pepper and flour.
    enjoy, peace out

    1 reply

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    sorry i didn't mean -my next legal self defense is an instructible-, i meant the next one i'm gonna try and use. i dont wanna steal someone elses glory lol


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, Monk! Don't go getting into too many tight spots by over-using the 'zap sign' now! Blue skies love Roy

    Although its a good illustration, It would be better for you to also split up the pictures and type the text (easier to read) in individual steps. That way it would be a real instructable.

    1 reply

    12 years ago on Introduction

    Violent criminals are regularly armed with AKM rifles in SA... Gun Control - how's that working for ya... Funny thing about using a key for defense... Just read a headline where a person was recently killed with a house key, stabbed in the neck. So assuming you're not shot, you may have a chance at this, but considering that quite a few people in South Africa have HIV/AIDS, do you really want to go and cut someone in close proximity?

    2 replies

    Hiya MD_Willington... Your points are valid. The thing about gun violence in South Africa is that it's reaching pretty irrational levels... it appears as though people are being killed when a little less force would have done the trick. My 'key defence' strategy works along the lines of the old martial arts awareness routine... Look out for potential bad situations, and avoid them. When you're walking around with a key poking out of hand in a way that WILL debilitate on first blow, there's a very good chance that you're walking around in a code red or code orange state of awareness. Which means that if something looks suspicious, or even feels suspicious, or even feels a little 'off', you're going to be in code red in an instant. Which means you have options. If you're walking around like the average Joe Schmo, your eyes are on the ground, and you have no idea who or what's in your immediate vicinity. If someone pulls a gun on you, you're going to be surprised. If you're in code red, most likely, THEY'RE going to notice that you're not an easy target, and you're out of danger just BECAUSE of your defensive demeanour. You're NOT walking around with a key as a lethal weapon cos you wanna jump some old lady and slice her jugular. You're doing it so that you're not the sucker who gets killed. Re the HIV/AIDS question... I'd rather have infected blood pumped all over me than die at the hands of some cracked out hijacker. Defence now. Anti-retrovirals later. Blue skies love Roy

    No problem there, I fully understand. I work with several South Africans, and our Dr's back in Canada are from South Africa... So I know how things are going in your region of the world. Stay safe mate!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Don't e.g. car-jackers have guns, or big knives at the least? You could quite easily end up dead just by trying to use this. (And running away isn't much of an option if you're being car-jacked) L

    1 reply

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Hiya Lemonie... It's not really a way to get out of ANY situation. It's more to do with controlling a particular aspect of your environment. This tool is useful in parking lots and on the street. Nothing's going to save you from the bullet with your name on it. But this is a tool that at least means you're taking SOME responsibility for your own wellbeing. And yeah... It would be pretty difficult to sucker punch a car-jacker. 'Sorry, hold on dude... I'm just getting my keys out of the dashboard... hang on... okay... got it lined up... lean in the window a bit.... a bit more.... THWACK!!!' All in a moving car!!! Blue skies love Roy


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Hiya NE-Phil... Hmmmm.... does that mean you can't read my handwritten text? Darn. Okay. I'll rectify it right now. Thanks for the heads up. Blue skies love Roy


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Yo Las Vegas... Thanks for the comment. I'm guessing from the earnestness of your response that you may have missed a bit of the irony. But then again... I could simply be missing your irony. Yo Wyrm... Rock and roll response. Thanks for cracking some of the thinking. Re the format... yeah... I realised it as I pressed 'publish'. But I also thought, 'Well... I did the illustration some time ago, and it's just been drifting around Flickr. So I might as well give it some kind of a home. There's a very good chance I'll carve it into separate frames, illustrations only, and type the text. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Yo Mikesty... Heheheehehe! Thanks dude. Much appreciated. It's not Chuck, unfortunately. It's me. Hehehehe. Chuck Norris must just TRY! My car keys are bigger than his! Blue skies love Roy


    12 years ago on Introduction

    That is funny as hell and brutally awesome. Is that Chuck Norris?