Weapons, Tools Of Self Defense.

By John Davis
Published on Aug 13th, 2013

Human beings have reputedly used tools since the age of Oldowon, some 2.6 million years ago. During that time our ancestor, Homo Habilis, derived chopping or digging tools from small stones. It was an era that lasted approximately one million years. That period was followed by advancements in tool making, as the next generation, Homo Erectus, made use of the stone axe, approximately 1.3 million years ago. The use of more specialized stone tools as weapons for hunting, butchering meat, etc. developed during this evolutionary process. Some stone tools we used to shape other stones. The hand ax was shaped by a process of striking a promising stone with flint forming an excellent “working” edge. Weapons and tools began to take on more specialized functions. As the human race continued to evolve, the discovery of forging techniques that shaped hard metals, such as copper and iron. led to greater advancements in “tooling”. Along those lines, knives and metal axes increased human’s abilities to more efficiently hunt for food or build shelter; eventually, these edged metal tools were also used as weapons … the result, as history exhibits, is that much blood has been shed since those simpler Stone Age times.

We are all tool users in some manner; eating with a fork, writing with a pen, digging in our garden with a shovel and many other daily actions have much in common with our ancestor’s use of a stone chipping tool. Our hands, though incredibly useful, have limits. Often, our hands alone are simply not strong enough or dexterous enough to apply the forces necessary to shape the materials needed in the course of our everyday life. We often combine speech and gesturing with our hands to communicate an idea; as if our words or hands alone can’t offer the communicative essence of our thought processes. Sign language had its limits for our prehistoric ancestors, thus language, an adaptive tool, developed. Language’s effectiveness is limited to those who can hear us. We developed writing; a tool that allowed us to communicate more effectively and retain specialized knowledge from generation to generation.
The human necessity for survival, especially when confronting other hostile humans, led to more organized martial practices. This need to defend ourselves has driven the development of weaponry over time. As the pragmatic desires of warring cultures led to the use of improved materials of weapon making and the technology to develop them, the control of food sources, land, and human populations became easier for those with the “right tools”. The class structure and distribution of wealth of a culture unquestionably added to the development of the various weapon forms. An example took place in the Eastern hemisphere, where the Okinawan peasant’s use of farm implements and empty hands for self-defense paled in comparison to the Japanese development of superbly crafted swords.
The weaponry that evolved from martial tradition had its roots in the technology and materials available at the time. Additionally, one might deduce that the weapon forms which came from those traditions were answers to combative elements presented by the “enemy”. Body armor and shields were created to protect; a long distance weapon (i.e. the halberd or lance) might have been a counter to rushing attacks. Equally important were the offensive elements that certain weapons offered.
While these observations may appear to be anecdotal, one may look at the history of any culture to find examples of this phenomenon. It is not the purpose of this simple article to delve into the historical documentation of such a broad based subject. Whether it is a pitchfork or a samurai’s sword the use of a “tool” for self-defense or aggressive offense has, over time, become commonplace in all human cultures.
In many respects, we still have much in common with the Homo Habilis being who picked up the large rock and hurled it against another creature, starting the evolutionary process that created many more tools for our everyday use. Most likely, tool use developed from a desire to advance and improve the pre-human’s lifestyle; their desire to find comfort from the elements and to curb starvation probably led to that fateful discovery. Had our ancestor’s known about the often horrific outcome of our historic development of “tool use” in war and personal violence, I wonder if they may have had a second thought; followed by a decision to stick with the hands alone as a means of manipulating life’s needs.
Of course, that is not what occurred. Today we can choose from an arsenal of destructive tools; depending on where one lives, the choices range from simple everyday objects (i.e. kitchen knives) to more sophisticated weapons such as the modern, automatic assault rifle. I’ll next evaluate the process of tool/weapon development from the perspective of “form to function”.

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: John Davis

John Davis is an Associate Instructor of Ed Parker's Kenpo, currently studying with coach, Dennis Lawson. Being a life long lover of sport and adventure, John began practicing the martial arts eleven years ago out of curiosity. Throughout that time, he has attended seminars and camps with several of Kenpo's regarded masters. A career highlight came in 2006 when he was part of a group that attended the Kenpo World Championships in Utrecht, Netherlands. While training in a large commercial setting, John taught daily classes for two years. Currently, Mr. Davis supplements his martial arts training with distance cycling, coming from a background of amateur racing in that sport. When not training regularly, John enjoys cooking for friends, travelling, fine art and a good comedy.

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