> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Reader question: Survival strategies without firearms



Reader question: Survival strategies without firearms

A question came in from a British ex-pat living in Taiwan:

Everyone, every blog and every site I read (especially in English) always talks about self defense and using arms but what if you had none?

Everyone talks about bug out locations and protection through the use of arms but what if on route they were confiscated by the authorities and you found yourself unprepared with none?

I myself have a little place away from populated areas here in Taiwan and am fully conscious of the fact that if the laws break down and you are on your own, it’s gonna be hard.

Now I am about as removed as I can be BUT on an island like Taiwan which is heavily populated it’s impossible to be that far away from anyone looking for food or a place to hide.

So with that in mind and NOT having the availability of any arms, maybe as a question to your clearly wise audience “How would you defend yourself? Hide? Stand? Fight?”

This is also tough as there would be some weapons but not for all the masses and as a British Guy living in an Asian country blending in is not an option.

When faced with a violent aggressor or pissed off mob, there are two time-tested strategies - fight or avoid the trouble altogether.

On fighting:
In terms of fighting, there's an old saying - "God made men, but Sam Colt made men equal." Firearms are the great equalizer - a dude can outweigh you by a hundred pounds of muscle...doesn't much matter when put a couple rounds into his chest.

If guns are removed from the equation, you've got to do everything you can to stack the deck in your favor. Physical training, combatives and martial arts - that sort of thing.

Even still - when faced with multiple aggressors, even a skilled, fit combatant is at a disadvantage...especially if those multiple aggressors are armed and you're not.

And attackers almost always come armed, and they almost always travel in packs.

Never fight fair. Minimize any advantage an attacker might have. You'll want to be armed, and you'll want to have friends who are armed. The more the merrier.

If you don't have allies at your back, all the more reason to have something more than your fists and feet, even just to hit and run from trouble.

Even in a state that fears private ownership of modern firearms, there are usually still lots of options for weapons.

Black powder or air powered firearms are sometimes option.

Bows, crossbows and sling shots are all rarely banned and simple to make with basic tools or a trip to the hardware shop. They give you some range and can be deadly as hell.

The spear has been man's go-to melee weapon for a long time, and if you can't buy one, they are simple enough to make from natural or man made materials.

Machetes, bolos, parangs and similar blades are ubiquitous outdoor tools and can make nasty weapons, especially with some training added to the mix.

Blunt instruments - hammers, sticks, bats and so on are also an option. Outlawed exactly nowhere.

Knives of all shapes and sizes are everywhere and conceal easily.

And so on...lots of options out there. Training is key to effectively using them.

On Avoidance:
The survival blog-sphere honestly doesn't hit on avoidance enough. It's the true bread-n-butter of surviving in hostile territory.
If you can bug out before trouble comes to your door, do it. You've got to be ready to move and move quickly. Especially for an expat living abroad, evac'ing from trouble is usually the best bet.

Get out of the country and on a plane/boat to Europe, Singapore, Australia, etc. Yep, it might suck to leave property and possessions behind...but, it's just stuff.

If you can't but out of the trouble zone and you feel you're in danger of attack, then hide. 
If you remain in your home, make it look abandoned, already ransacked and not worth anyone's time. Build a hidden room, dig a spider hole, develop a concealed exit. If trouble comes knocking, you hide or bug out.
Outside of your home, take a page from the book of military snipers. Camouflage, ghillie suits and constructing hide sites. With some basic materials and a lot of skill, one can virtually disappear.

Build early warning systems - alarms and traps - and keep a watchful eye for trouble.

If the bad guys can't find you, they can't hurt you. If they do find you, you attack, break contact and run/hide again.

As an alternative, if you can't hide, then make yourself look like you're not worth the trouble involved. That could be looking like you have absolutely nothing of value - just another impoverished survivor (or worse - a sick/dying survivor). Or, you could grab the baddest looking airsoft machine gun and tactical gear available and hope the bad guys figure you're Rambo and would kill them all if they looked at you sideways.

Anyways, those are some of the basics - hope it helps. 

Tribe - feel free to jump in with your thoughts and suggestions as well.


  1. Excellent post.
    Number 1 weapon you have is avoidance. You can do this by learning about violence dynamics and the nature of how conflict usually happens. If you haven’t read the book Facing Violence by Rory Miller I highly recommend you do. Going “Gray” and staying away from where people would predictively travel or congregate is something you have to keep in mind in a bad place …..
    Being someone that makes a living on training combative elements to people that live in a country were guns are not an option for most I have studied this particular problem deeply. Guns and rifles have an advantage at a certain range and in certain situation as do knives. Knowing about distancing and conceal knife tactics and targeting is an invaluable element to add to your training. Improvising weapons and learning criminal methodology’s of ambush and murder is a taboo subject for most, but when it comes to facing a multiple armed opponents … I always teach my students to cheat …in a very criminal way.
    Again excellent post….


    1. Thanks, Ed!

      If bad people are trying to do you and yours harm, the rules go out the window. No holds barred...

  2. AnonymousJuly 23, 2014

    Bows are deadly and silent. Fire from cover makes it harder for the enemy to pinpoint your location. Gives you good range plus can be helpful in acquiring food.....pigeon pie is very good.

    1. AnonymousJuly 24, 2014

      Agree Bows are great but I recently started to learn and I think most people are there are blissfully unaware just how difficult and technical it actually is.
      I've been learning the correct way to draw and I can tell you that if you don't do it right you are shaking like crazy on a 50lb draw so people better learn ahead of the SHTF.

    2. Are you using a compound or a recurve bow? I tried shooting for the first time last summer and a compound bow is surprisingly easy. Having never held one in my life, putting three shots dead centre @ 30 yards was a shock. I tried the recurve after that ... far less impressive shots were made, haha.

      I'm sure 50-150 yards would be a different story but both were a lot of fun and I'd like to learn recurve shooting someday.

  3. AnonymousJuly 23, 2014

    Consider the information in this series of posts: http://straightforwardinacrookedworld.blogspot.com/p/dark-arts-for-good-guys.html

  4. In a country like Taiwan, there will not be anywhere safe from the golden hoard. Your bail out location needs to have a keel and sails.

    1. Getting out of dodge would be the first and best choice.

      If that failed and you were stuck on the island...then that's where things like hides and concealment come into play.

  5. AnonymousJuly 24, 2014

    An Assengai or Spetnatz shovel makes a pretty good 'Get Offa Me Now!' weapon and the shovel is multi-pupose and easily explained to authorities if you get caught with it.

  6. AnonymousJuly 24, 2014

    Tomahawks were the sidearm of the past. Can be thrown if needed. Makes a good back-up to a bow.

  7. Reminds me of the circumstances that western friendly Vietnamese had after the communists took over Saigon. Some people hid, other people tried their best to blend in, and others tried to bug out by ship. None of those options offered a 100% success rate. Plenty of "fishing boats" full of women and children were blown out of the water by commie patrol boats. Blending in was difficult too--those who had close ties to the west or high ranking positions in the South Viet government were pretty easy to identify. A lot of them were rounded up and thrown into reeducation camps--the terrible conditions proved deadly to many. Those that survived were often imprisoned for decades before released. I heard of one woman who belonged to the ancient Vietnamese royal family--essentially she was a princess of Vietnam--who left everything she had and lived alone in a cave for 10 years. Every now and then she would dress up like a Buddhist monk in order to go into town and procure some basic essentials of survival. Those who fared the best were those who bugged out BEFORE their world came to an end. The people who escaped before the commies took control usually had to spend a couple weeks in a refugee camp (certainly no picnic) but then received asylum in a western country and soon were living comfortable and peaceful lives. If you can smell the smoke before the fire reaches your doorstep then you'll be much better off than anyone else.

    1. I think many Americans have a hard time thinking about bailing on your region/country to move to safety, since we haven't had war on our soil since the Civil War, and really...where else are you going to go at that point? 'Merica is the bastion of freedom in the world. If you've got a tyrannical government out to get you, that's one thing...but if the country is on the brink and you can help do something about it.

  8. AnonymousJuly 26, 2014

    2 thoughts from another, mostly gun free environment:
    1. Crossbows are great, with a lower skill level than longbows. If you are in a group then consider having loaders and shooters to maintain a rate of fire (works with db shotguns as well)
    2. If using melee weapons think strategy; use furniture etc to create choke points where a single person with, say, a machete very hard to get past