The Six Categories of Improvised Weapon, or How Categories Can Free You

The Six Categories of Improvised Weapon, or How Categories Can Free You


The adult experience of the world is about comparing what we're currently perceiving to other things we know more about. We rely on the application of frameworks and context to guide us through the world because they give meaning to otherwise neutral things.

Of course, what counts as "meaning" depends on our context. Sandwich baggies mean different things to a parent making lunches versus a DEA agent searching a car.

Here's an even better example. Krav maga teaches that all manipulable objects in the world will fall into at least one of the following categories for use as an improvised weapon:

  • Stone
  • Blade
  • Pebbles
  • Shield
  • Stick
  • Chain

Which category an object falls into (or that you choose for it to fall into) determines how you should wield it in a fight to save your life.

Look around the room where you are right now with these categories in mind. A fascinating process will occur. Objects which used to have one use or meaning (pen, water bottle, chair, loose change) suddenly seem to have another.

Of course, we all know that our mindset can shape our perceptions and the connotations of reality. Any post-pubescent who's ever looked at a banana could tell you that. What I'm remarking on is the curiously creative and "generative" effect that a very limited set of categories can have on perception.

You'd think that the application of a finite and constrictive rubric to the world would end up removing depth, variety, and surprise from one's point-of-view, when in fact the reverse is true. It is precisely because the number of potential classes of object is so small.

The mechanism at work has to do with the fact that you are simply not allowing some objects to be "unclassifiable". Every item must fit into a category one way or another. And so maybe you have twist and turn and re-examine and expand the possibilities in your mind in order to find the angle at which such categories could even be seen to remotely apply certain objects. Because there is no category called "Sorry, not a weapon, can never be one". The question is not if something is a weapon, but how is it a weapon.

This same intellectual process can be harnessed in other more abstract scenarios, in ways that seem to make your environment filled with factors which can help you in your life.

Instead of trying to figure out whether your crush is attracted to you or not, try to classify their feelings towards you by which movie romance it most resembles:

  • Sleepless In Seattle
  • 9 1/2 Weeks
  • The Thin Man
  • Blue Velvet

Or, every time you meet a new person, fit them into one of the standard Dungeons & Dragons character classes:

  • Barbarian
  • Bard
  • Cleric
  • Druid
  • Fighter
  • Monk
  • Paladin (holy knight)
  • Ranger
  • Rogue
  • Wizard/Sorceror

Notice how there is no category "Asshole". Everyone you meet MUST be categorized as one of these rich, exciting, and most importantly, positive labels. What's amazing is how easy this is to do, once it becomes a habit.

What we're doing here is harnessing the cognitive jiu jitsu of Choice Architecture to make it harder for us to immediately latch onto the most negative, harmful, or (worst of all) boringly nihilistic of all possible interpretations of a situation. If we cultivate the right mental reflexes, we can hack our own brains into making us interesting people.

When you wake up in the morning, your question should not be "will I have a good day today"; it's "what kind of a good day will I have today". Will it be chill, beautiful, adrenaline-filled, sexy, or badass?

Pick one.

Productivity is a Moral Issue

Productivity is a Moral Issue

Don't take away my special too

Don't take away my special too