• Beverly Baker

Affordances: Street Smart Self-Defense Is All About Perspective

Updated: Oct 8


Sunset Blvd | Photo by Brian Donnelly

The concept of "affordances" comes from the design world but has been usefully borrowed for self-defense. It's a connection that helps expand one's thinking that allows you to be more at home in the world.

The basic idea is that a physical object or space can have many uses outside of what it was initially designed for. And how you use it depends on your needs at the moment. For example, ⁠I have often used barriers like pillars on the Metro platform to evade someone having a bad mental health day.


In self-defense we often think of weapons as designated objects like "pepper spray", "gun" or "knife". But with a little imagination your environment can be rich with objects to be used to level the playing field with a threat. Even if you carry a designated weapon - what is your Plan B if for some reason it is not available to you?⁠

Here is an assignment I give my private clients: for every room in your home, identify 5 items that could be used as a weapon.


For example, within reach of me right now are:⁠

  • my laptop⁠

  • a heavy glass candle⁠

  • a pen⁠

  • a decorative rock⁠

  • a floor lamp⁠

In the video below:

  • We see an example of creativity with a "weapon". Here we have a giant sausage delivering the beatdown. ⁠

  • The environment can be to your advantage or disadvantage. Here it is used to the sausage wielders advantage as the other guy throws himself off the wall for an ill-timed kick. ⁠


But the mind-opening concept of affordances is not about living in fear. It is about expanding your thinking so that your life has more fun than fear.


So I'll leave you with these creative images of how street artists have used this concept in their art. Isn't the creativity here amazing?


Let me know which one is your favorite and I'll tell you mine!




Can you spot the use of the existing environment in this photo?, Schrader Blvd, Hollywood | Photo by Brian Donnelly

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