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If I honestly expected trouble, this ^.

But there are many places where firearms are not allowed, and risking a felony conviction just isn't worth it. College is the big one for me. I decided years ago to spend some time learning martial arts from my father, a retired Deputy and martial arts enthusiast (in his younger days before he screwed-up his back). It's a lot of work, but you get a weapon that can't be taken away.

Learning how to use swords and other exotic melee weapons is cool, too. Not all that useful in everyday life, but still cool.
I took years of Tae-Kwon-Do back when I was a kid, but about the only thing I remember is how to do knuckle pushups and count to ten in Korean. I've been planning on enrolling in Krav Maga classes, just don't have the time right now. Great point on the fact that it can't be taken away.
If I had to teach someone a non-firearm weapon with a minimum of formal training, it'd be the kubaton. Small enough to pocket, not scary-looking, and easy to improvise. You can use a purpose made one, a small flashlight, a sturdy pen, a stick... anything 4"-8" long and wide enough to grip well. You could learn to use it effectively watching youtube demonstrations and how-to videos and practicing a bit with a friend. I actually just ordered a purpose-made kubaton from County Comm (, a great site with some of the coolest random stuff) a few days ago for $7.50+shipping.

This would only be useful against a single attacker though. Against multiple BGs, I'd want a weapon with reach, like a cane (or better yet a short sword). Unfortunately anything like that requires a bit more training (in the martial art I was taught, about two years minimum if your incredibility dedicated, three or more years for most), and formal instruction.

It's stuff like this that make me thankful that humans invented guns. Without them, a strong and well-trained BG can be nigh invincible when faced with Average Joe. Guns really are the great equalizer.
The Blackthorn is a wacking stick. How proficient does one need to be. I have no training using it ... but its prescence might distract the bad guy from the dogs long enough for them to surround him and take a chunk, or two out of his legs. Then I might not need be proficient at all.
I've never really thought of it a a personal defense weapon, per say, but my dog would certainly do the trick. It's a Dutch Shepard that my father trained for K-9 work back when he was a handler. Now he just sits around and slobbers everywhere but if someone broke into my house they would have a very bad day.

Dogs are awesome.
You know, an interesting thing has happened in many places where you are not allowed to own firearms, people just break the law. Just about every place that has banned guns has either created a huge black market in guns, or has had an endemic home grown firearms manufacturing and ammunition industry start within it's borders. The Tamil tigers would reload 7.62x39 by tearing apart artillery shells, removing primer cups and flattening them with punches and hammers, and putting strike-anywhere matches into the cups and re-inserting them.

In northern ireland, the IRA and other groups created a fairly large underground manufacturing industry for firearms, the same thing happened in israel prior to independence in 1947 which is actually an interesting story:
Since CA outlawed open carry, I have taken to carrying a knife of some sort. I always did before, of course, but now it is a more tactical model. Currently I like to carry the Benchmade 176, and I am seriously considering a 175. It is not as good as a gun, but also less likely to land me in jail for nonsense.
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