was born in Bucharest- Romania, and I think like many others that my birthplace
is the most beautiful place on Earth. Of course, its an arguable subject and no
matter how nice a town is, it has his own dark sides like every town of the
world. And yes, there are black sheep in every flock and where
I believe its a true fact that adversity makes a man (street)wise,
in most cities of the world, my town was divided into many zones and
"controlled" by gangs. Some things never change...
"Casualties" in most cases are people who have nothing to do with
these gangs because when a gang goes to "war" and the other party is
not "home" they end up generally beating people from the zone which is
"controlled" by the other gang...
from my early days I earned a "reputation,” having a native attraction to
fights. Growing up in such place, where fights were not so uncommon, I had to
develop some kind of awareness...to see in a glance what could save me and what
could hurt me. And in both cases I found a single term: weapons.
I started to look and ask for information everywhere...my martial arts
Sensei/teachers, police officers, friends, and of course ex-cons.
Along the time I found that there were weapons for certain times and
the waves of fashion, some weapons were more "cool" and more used than
others. I found that some weapons were used only in summer time, others only for
weapons arrived on streets only after 1989 when communism has fallen and Romania
opened to the world entirely...for weapons too.
streetfights can be (VERY RARE) one on one or can look like a medieval battle
with organized groups with various tactics but for sure, streetfights as I know
and saw them have nothing to do with chivalry, "au contrairre,” its a
real bloody matter where those involved can take serious (or permanent) damage,
where crippling your opponents can be your usual "modus operandi" or a
way to save your own life. Receiving some baseball bats on the back of your head
and having it transformed into a soccer ball is an experience that sometimes you
cannot have again because you are already a vegetable on a wheel chair or worst-
in a coffin.
back to the weapons. Briefly I will try to describe what I used/found/saw with
Bats and Pipes- are very common. These are the main street weapons. All shapes, lengths and materials are allowed. Drivers that travel a lot have a wooden bat or a length of pipe under their seat for sure. As well as taxi drivers which are attacked sometimes. Bats are widely used because are effective, inexpensive and with a good reach. I saw bats between 30 and 100 cm long. Among martial arts practitioners police batons, tonfa, and lately ASP batons and spring telescopic batons are very popular. Various lengths of hockey sticks are used because they are light and tough. I saw also, for "life and death" situations, bats wrapped with barbed wire or with bolts in them. Thick rebar on various lengths are present. Pipes can be iron, zinc or lead.
and Flexibles - Another easy-to-find item on street "arsenal,” the chain
can be seen in all his forms, long or short, thick or thin. Very popular in
rock/hardcore/punk gangs is sometimes used weighted at end with a lock. It is
mainly used against knives and short weapons. From my own experience, a thick
piece of chain can crush the flesh with those sinister terminal links since a
thin chain can, literally, cut you. I saw on the streets both regular chains and
distribution and bike chains. Bike chains are not so flexibles in all planes
like an usual chain but can be wrapped over fist in a more suitable manner ( and
its not so painful when you strike).
improvement was when on the streets appeared the chainsaw saws. They have dents
and they are used for strikes. The chain is held by an improvised rubber hose
put over chain and the dents must face the hand to grab better.
saw years ago in winter time a guy with an feather insulated coat stroked with
such chain, his coat was ripped and the image was similar with an exploding
pillow. Another form of chains is called here "japca" and consist in a
very thin chain with fishing hooks tied with strong fishing line one inch apart
from one another. Just imagine... A very rare form it is a slightly big fishing
3-hook anchor (around 8-12 cm. long) used to hook limbs, shoulders, or the back
of the neck.
very popular but still there are chain flails or chain whips. These improvised
"morning stars” have a lock or bike motric pinions for weight. Most used
handles are from broom sticks which are used also for homemade nunchaku (which
had his own golden decade on streets between 1980-1990). I believe these weapons
never grow in popularity because their big mass and dimensions.
personal idea, yet still in a project stage, was to link between them 3 - 25 cm.
long steel pieces. Folded, could be used like a palm stick and released, the
three pieces will be just longer than 75 cm. A striking device with a good
reach, not too stiff, not too flexible...I wonder if someone had this idea
before?!...not Chinese 9 or 7 section whips...just this hybrid ...
and electrical cables, rubber hoses with or without steel insertions, military
belts with heavy buckles, fiberglass rods, steel metal saw blades are flexible
and I have seen them in the alleys. Whips with steel wire shafts are common in
rural areas...sometimes with wire fall or with a bolt nut.
and Swords- So many that I cannot describe them in this article.
Anyway, a great galley themselves. I believe that here knives were used in
fights many centuries ago before towns and streets were made. I'm a "blade
lover" and according to rumors "cutzitar"- how here people name a
person who carry a blade and will rely on it in case of an armed fight/ knife
fighter. (this Romanian term also describes a handy person who makes (nasty)
tricks with knives or even a circus knife juggler but most times can be
translated by "handy with knife") .Yeah, maybe that’s why I cant
feel one finger on my left handJ.
Don’t make boots with skin of my hands! You’ll get wetJ
related with these weapons I can say that I saw hundreds of models, both
commercially, manufactured and homemade blades. As a rule, homemade blades are
fixed but I saw some very nice custom spring knives. Spring knives and folders
are very used as well as Balisongs. Fixed blade knives are used less because of
laws and police officers can look at you pretty weird in a street search. Big
knives and swords are used more on serious organized "wars" where
possibility of an injury is higher. Many wiseguys carry knives as back-up
weapons and many of them are brave enough to show you his blade from very
near...of course, there are also many asses in lion skins...
course, here can be mentioned all-time favored neck bottles among short cutting
devices and broken, big, lightbulbs which, as I saw, leaves ugly round scars on
most of them are "ninja" models because of short length and bigger
handle that can allow a strong two-handed grip. The swordsmanship is not at all
Oriental but purely European, blocks being made with the sharp edge and not by
deflection...a style developed by trial and fatal error. I saw many swords that
appeared to be saw blades because of nicks in the blade and I also saw homemade
swords constructed from big metal saws sharpened on a side. The bad thing about
these destructed edges is that the flesh usually is tear not cut and if somebody
survive such experience will have a hell of a "memories" on his
Swords are more a psychological weapon and many people use the unsharpened edge to strike but when it comes...can be very bad...
In prisons edged weapons are improvised from many materials like tin, glass, Plexiglas, and PVC. I heard also from various sources that cons improvise swords from bed metal sheets... The self-explanatory "Button hole makers" or "tire killers" exists also in form of short "Phillips" screwdrivers and awls made from bed steel coil springs with wooden handles.
Enhancers- A very vast topic because those items were and still are very used
and most of guys who hang out on streets know how to use them.
Door keys, butterfly keys, thick nails wrapped with thread, aluminum and
brass valve cocks (You know, the thing that you turn to turn on/off water in a
pipe) used like a knuckle-duster along with "classic" aluminum and
brass knuckles. Metal or wooden "Ts” (just like a push knife),
"T" shaped double window knobs, usual door knobs, coins, plastic
disposable lighters held between fingers, 1.5 volt batteries (walkman type),
brass hardware pieces and round hose clamps worn on finger like a ring, small
chain circles worn over fist. Half of small scissors with the ring on finger and
the bar held in palm or the ring held in palm and the bar sticking between
fingers (a versatile item!), small wrench keys, small pliers, elastic band wrist
watches (put inside palm with the glass screen inside and used like a "slapper")
and even sun glasses saw action in brawls and street fights.
well respected item is the dented motric wheel from bikes. Known like a
"knife deterrent" is used as a defensive weapon by knife fighters. The
handle is just a portion of wheel which was wrapped with a rag and taped over.
That gives a reasonable grip for hitting with it. Another variant of wheel is a
steel or brass disk between 10 and 15 centimeters diameter which is bend 1/3
around a broom stick. The bend part is held against palm heel.
I heard and I saw in hands thick markers, pens, CLOSED carpet cutters, and even
small/thin aluminum deodorant spray units as well as commercially or wooden
homemade kubotans. If an object can hurt, just take a strong grip and make it
part of your opponent...simple huh!?
here the background of small/hand hitting weapons consists mainly in use of
blackjacks, named after his French term "CASSE-TETE" which can be
translated as skull crusher. The are made from a coiled spring with a steel or
lead ball. Sometimes they are just that and I found that in use, the spring can
pinch your skin. There are no commercially made blackjacks here (they are
especially mentioned in laws) and all pieces I saw were manufactured by
way of making a blackjack is to make a mold from plaster of Paris and inserting
in it, still wet, a 35mm film canister, a medicine bottle or a yellow
"Kinder" chocolate egg canister (to eliminate further file work to get
a rounded head shape).
plaster is set/dry, take out the canister. Put in the remaining hole a suitable
coiled spring and fill it with melted lead. After lead cools down, insert a
rubber hose over spring. Tape all. If you want a lanyard, just force and glue
into the spring a short wooden dowel, pierce it and attach a string.
"old timers" used a big lead ball and as I learned from an old ex-con,
God rest his soul; the ball was made in a round mold. To make a ball mold, you
must put in plaster a wax ball ( or a small balloon or condom which is punctured
with a pin and pulled out after plaster is set). I didn’t saw too much "slappers"
but I think with 2 lead pieces melted in a soup spoon held in place with 2
screws on a steel sheet someone could make an usable slapper. (Flat Sap)
concussion items used are pressure hoses with wire outer-layer and metal
fittings on ends, small chains with locks, metal whistles with lanyards, door
keys with a longer lanyard, bike rubber inner tubes tied on ends and filled with
sand , short heavy chains or weighted steel cables and inserted in rubber hose.
A hard hitting item is a small Coca-Cola plastic bottle shrinked (so made
smaller and thinner) with boiling water and filled with sand.
are very rare used and usually are just short pipe fist enhancers with a nylon
cord. An Ukrainian friend of mine, Alexei (Nazdrovyie) served in Navy and told
me about a slungshot he used made from a lead ball encased in a monkeyfist knot
made from nylon cord. I understood that variations were made with big nut bolts
and machine gun bullets or brass casings filled with lead. The lengths of string
was measured from elbow to the finger tips of user because it was swung safer,
used a little space and was controlled better.
monkeyfist slungshot in Romania, could be found more frequently in harbor towns
as keychains. Even its not an "Mariners only" weapon seems that seamen
have a pronounced tendency to use it. Kind of legacy I presume...
weird (and also very rare) mix between a slungshot and a slingshot its a
slungshot made with a strong elastic band. It can be used like a slungshot or
can be upgraded to a devastating level aiming the opponent and shooting the lead
ball like a slingshot...
note that all information about above mentioned weapons were collected in more
than 15 years. Of course, I will not stop here because I will never be too old
to learn something new...Anyway the people who use these weapons are
thanks Don for your web page, so unique and so interesting. Thanks
for searching this field. A nice lot of work but remember -you are not alone.
Here comes the well known wolf/pack strength quote :)
wanna dedicate this article to all those who made me what I am...
Sid, Manole, Vasile, Maitre Renard (Merci Beucoup mon Proffeseur! Tu es avec moi
dans chaque jour de ma existence.), Alexei, Misha, Sasha, Vlady, and many others
from my neighborhood or not...anyway too many to be mentioned here.
thank you, Christian. I think it is important for everyone to realize that no
matter what “ban, law or regulation” comes down the road, in whatever
country you live in, the criminals will always have weapons. Always, and because
that is a reality, you must always be aware of what they are using.
communist countries always amaze me, the people in these countries were tough
under communist rule and they are tough now. They survived in a very harsh and
oppressive environment. Real world survivors and we can learn from them.
pretty funny actually because I have been making a few Sailor’s Slungshots
which you folks will be seeing soon enough on here. Neat to see that so many
ideas are being kept alive by people all over the world.
contacted me quite some time ago, I believe over one year ago about possibly
writing an article about Streetfighting in his part of Europe.
for taking the time to do this Friend.)
- Don Rearic