TUTORIAL: How To Use Your Tactical Flashlight As a Self-Defense Tool



How To Use Your Tactical Flashlight As a Self Defense Tool Featured image

After years of traveling stateside and abroad, the one tool that’s moved to the top of my list while in weapon-free zones, is my tactical flashlight.

Here are 11 reasons why (and one critical caveat):

Reasons To Carry A Tactical Flashlight As Your Main Self-Defense Tool

1. Can use it for less than lethal deadly force (this will go far when appearing in front of a judge while in a foreign land).

2. It is built of sturdy, lasting material (usually aircraft grade aluminum, textured gripping area).

3. It gives me a better grip than my tactical pen (a flashlight is more robust than a pen, easier to grab & hold onto).

4. It is affordable, even on a tight budget (many options on the market especially if you are less worried about the illumination capability).

5. It has more substance to grasp when drawing it (it has a much wider form factor).

6. It is less scrutinized anywhere, won't bring attention -even in Disneyland 😉 (a flashlight does not generally set off an alarm in people's mind).

7. If you practice with a blade or pen, the movements are the same with the flashlight (a flashlight is primarily used with a reverse grip but can also work in a forward grip).

8. It is conveniently carried in your pocket just like a folder (no need to worry about security questioning or frisking -“it's just a flashlight, officer”).

9. It has a practical use as an illumination device (extremely convenient to have an illumination device on you for countless reasons).

10. It has more surface area for self-defense striking (a pen has a very narrow point, and the flashlight has a wider area that allows you to fair better against your target).

11. Do not need to be a self-defense expert to use it (using natural movements while practicing will make you proficient faster than you think).

There is –however– one way to render this tool completely USELESS…

Having all the high-speed gear and self defense tools in the world is useless unless you train regularly with it.

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Walking around with a false sense of security is something that we want to leave to those that are clueless on current world events. You have stepped-up by choosing to prepare. Education and training are 2 of the most overlooked aspects of preparedness by those that I call “gear collectors.” They own one of everything but if it starts raining, they can't figure out how to put on a damn poncho! 😉

We all know these people and some of them are family & close friends of ours. However… It doesn't change the fact that if they are part of your SHTF team, they are basically a liability to you.

That means, you need to train for yourself as well as for them!

Common Tactical Flashlight Self-Defense Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake #1: Drawing the tactical flashlight

Where you choose to carry your flashlight has everything to do with it being in a viable option during a self defense situation.

I see people carrying their flashlights in super tight pockets, under heavy jackets, tucked away in purses & in many other inadequate ways. I challenge you to try and draw your flashlight while carrying it in any of the ways that I just mentioned.

You will most likely see all the “little things” that are prohibiting you from getting to your flashlight in a timely manner. Can you imagine how much more difficult that it will be to draw when someone is trying to attack you and your heart is beating through your chest?

Drawing your flashlight

There is no, one way, to carry your flashlight in order to gain access to it rapidly.

Flashlights have similar structures but there are other features that make them unique. Something as simple as a removable clip can give you options to carry your light tip up or tip down (a blade analogy, in this case, referencing the front position of the light as the tip).

What you are wearing is also a factor. Pockets, belts, heavy jackets all come into play when selecting where to carry your flashlight.

Tip up:

Tip up TUTORIAL: How To Use Your Tactical Flashlight As a Self-Defense Tool

As with most personal items, there is no one-size fits all as a solution.

Tip down:

Tip down TUTORIAL: How To Use Your Tactical Flashlight As a Self-Defense Tool

The most proficient way to address your drawing is through constant practice. Train in ways that would mimic your everyday routine. Wear what you would in your natural operating environment.

If you wear gloves most of the time, practice with gloves on. Alternate between drawing with your left and right hand; You never know when your dominant hand may be occupied or out of commission.

Practical Flashlight Drawing Exercise

When you are at home, keep your EDC tactical flashlight in an area that you walk by often. Each time that you walk by your flashlight, affix the flashlight to the location that you carry most often; Let's just say your pants pocket for now.

Practice drawing the flashlight with your right hand, 10x, then switch to the left hand & draw 10 more times. Do this each time that you walk by your flashlight. It will take less than one minute to complete this exercise each time but you will not believe how proficient that you will become with you tactical flashlight in no time at all. Continual practice will keep it that way…

Mistake #2: Striking With The Tactical Flashlight

There are countless ways to strike with the tactical flashlight. If you were to ask 10 different experts which way is best, you would probably get 10 diverse answers. For the purpose of this article, I want to keep it as easy & natural as possible.

I will limit it to two distinct ways to strike. To be honest, these are 2 positions of holding the flashlight but you need to realize those 2 positions in order to understand your striking options.

Position #1: Reverse Grip

Reverse-grip is my preferred position for holding the tactical flashlight. I feel that I have more control, power and options when striking. In the reverse-grip position, the front part of the light is aiming down.

There are a few ways to strike in the reverse-grip. Mainly, you are deploying strikes coming from a hammer-fist and backhand type movements. Even if you are small in stature you can put a lot of force into your strikes with a reverse-grip.

position one reverse grip TUTORIAL: How To Use Your Tactical Flashlight As a Self-Defense Tool

When you are using a flashlight in a self-defense application, you will be in very close range to your opponent. Eyes, throat, nose, ears, teeth, groin, knees & ankles will all be viable targets from this range.

Keep in mind that this is NOT a Hollywood Martial Art movie… Mainly, we just want to get in one vital strike so that we can get the hell away from the situation and survive.

Position #2: Forward-Grip

Forward grip is my go-to choice for my blade but when it comes to my tactical flashlight, the forward-grip takes a backseat. The flashlight is ideal at causing blunt force damage when used correctly. It is not designed to stab, which would be the ideal movement when using the forward-grip.

position 2 forward grip TUTORIAL: How To Use Your Tactical Flashlight As a Self-Defense Tool

That being said, I still train just as much with my forward-grip position as I do with my reverse-grip.

In a combative situation, ANYTHING can happen. Our nervous system goes out of whack, our breathing becomes inefficient and the environment can add all sorts of obstacles. I want to be assured that when I draw my flashlight and it ends up in a forward-grip, I can still have a fighting chance.

While training students you wouldn't believe how many times the flashlights ends up on the mats. When the student goes to pick up the flashlight to continue his bout, 9 times out of 10, the light ends up in a forward-grip position. Trust me… There Is No Time to get it back into the reverse-grip position!

Practical Flashlight Striking Exercise

Find something that you can strike with your tactical flashlight.

If you have a heavy bag, great! If not, try to find something with similar attributes: A mattress, hang a foam pillow, stuff an old gym bag and hang it, etc. Use something that will not damage your flashlight. I would even put some electrical tape around the edges of the flashlight, as an added measure, to help protect it.

When you deploy these strikes, think about going at 70% of your maximum effort.

This will help the nervous system learn the information that you are feeding it and also keep you from damaging yourself and your gear. It is a good idea to get yourself checked out by your doctor and make sure that you are good to go for this type of physical activity.

Get in front of your striking target and draw your flashlight from your pocket or your other carrying position. Starting with a reverse-grip from the draw, naturally throw 10 backhand strikes at your target. Repeat 10 more times using your other hand.

Place your flashlight back into your preferred carrying position and draw into the forward-grip. Practice 10 strikes/stabs with your right hand. Place the flashlight back in your pocket and repeat the exercises using your other hand.

If you wear gloves, repeat the full exercise using gloves.

Mistake #3: Gripping The Tactical Flashlight

The cool thing about tactical flashlights is that most of them feature a textured grip.

Now, I'm one of those guys that sweats while standing still in a snow storm… 🙁  Being a sweaty mess at times is not a characteristic that I am proud of, but certainly something that I address when choosing gear.

Having the textured grip is a must for me because of the sweaty hands, but you can also equate that benefit to operating in the rain, spilled drinks, blood and other liquids where textured grips become a must.

Well, the flashlight may have a great grip but do you have a great grip on your flashlight?

The issue that arises is not only your grip strength but also the placement of your hand on the light. I have seen many students ace the drawing and deploying part. They even look good when they are “attacking the air” with their tactical flashlight.

However, once they begin hitting a physical object with their light, the flashlight either falls out of their hand or the hand moves all the way forward or the grip. Obviously, this renders the flashlight useless.

Forward Grip:

forward grip TUTORIAL: How To Use Your Tactical Flashlight As a Self-Defense Tool

Reverse Grip:

reverse grip TUTORIAL: How To Use Your Tactical Flashlight As a Self-Defense Tool

Practical Flashlight Gripping Exercise

Once you feel comfortable with your drawing and striking, I want you to focus on your grip. Do you feel that it is too tight, restricting your movement? — Or is it too loose and the flashlight travels around or even falls out of your hand?

Get in front of the target that you practice your striking on. Deploy 10 strikes in reverse-grip and 10 in forward-grip. Switch hands, and repeat the sequence. If you wear gloves or plan to, repeat the exercises with gloves on.

These practical exercises only take a few minutes so there is no excuse, only priorities when it comes to your training!

In closing, my intention with this article was not to try and make you a martial artist. What I want to accomplish is to emphasize the importance of training. If you strive to be, Always Prepared, nothing beats knowledge & skills. When the tool pertains to your self-defense, my words should BARK at you like a drill instructor!

Now Go Train With Your Tactical Flashlight, Maggot!  😉

Separate yourself from the masses and train often with your tactical flashlight. Let the “others” talk about their gear while you spend your time training with it. In the end, we all know who will be the one to survive…

Thanks for viewing, I hope that you found this information helpful.

TUTORIAL: How To Use Your Tactical Flashlight As a Self-Defense Tool

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  1. Frank Zhong

    January 21, 2017 at 12:29 PM

    Thank you for these exercises coach! it’s important to know the difference between martial arts and self defense in real life situations. This really will help prepare people efficiently.

    • Coach Helder

      January 21, 2017 at 1:03 PM

      Glad that you found it helpful Frank & thank you for the support!

      • Frank Zhong

        January 21, 2017 at 1:32 PM

        How long do you think it would take someone to get good enough to use it in a real life situation?

        • Coach Helder

          January 21, 2017 at 1:46 PM

          That answer would vary, Frank. I would need to know the exact training protocol as well as the individual involved in order to properly answer the question.
          I have had students in my course that get proficient in a few months, others take a bit longer.
          It is all about the frequency & the intensity of the individual’s training.

          I hope that helps you a bit, Frank.

          Thanks again,

  2. InklingBooks

    January 21, 2017 at 3:54 PM

    In unpleasant neighborhoods, a flashlight turned on and played about can serve another useful purpose. It can deter a would-be attacker. It communicates that you’re prepared and can perhaps blind him with the light if he approaches.

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  12. Frdnz

    May 5, 2018 at 12:14 AM

    Good guide Coach Helder. Like it. I personally like Fenix pd35 tac flashlight for self-defense.

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