Street Weapons from Romania


By Christian "MadWolf"


I 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 there are many different people, different interests can lead to violence.  And violence has its own language and tools. In this article I will mention only the tools of violence.


Yes, I believe its a true fact that adversity makes a man (street)wise, but anger cannot stand without a strong hand. And how strong can a hand be to take you out of an area in one piece when a gang has made a circle around you? Maybe an armed hand would be stronger? Yes. Absolutely!


Like 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...


Even 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 see in a glance what could save me and what could hurt me. And in both cases I found a single term: weapons.


So I started to look and ask for information 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 certain "ages.”


Like 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 cold season...


Some weapons arrived on streets only after 1989 when communism has fallen and Romania opened to the world entirely...for weapons too.


Anyway, 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.


Now back to the weapons. Briefly I will try to describe what I used/found/saw with little descriptions:


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.



Chains 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).


An 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.


I 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.


Not 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.


A 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 ...


Steel 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.


Knives 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


Being 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...


Of 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 cheeks.


Swords, 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 body...


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.


Fist 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.


A 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.


Lately 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!?


Concussion- 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 individuals.


My 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).


After 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.         


The "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)


Other 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.


Slungshots 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.


This 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...


A 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...


Please 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 exceptions...


Many 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 :)


I wanna dedicate this article to all those who made me what I am...


To 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.


Christian "MadWolf"

June 2002


(And 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.


Former 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.


It’s 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.


Christian contacted me quite some time ago, I believe over one year ago about possibly writing an article about Streetfighting in his part of Europe.


Thanks for taking the time to do this Friend.)


- Don Rearic


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