The selfie stick: a taker of profile pictures or weapon of self defense—or both? (Photo: pixolga/pixabay)

Sometime in the last year or so, selfie sticks were transformed from a social embarrassment into an acceptable option for amateur photographers and travelers. 

Now, they have a new and perhaps more defendable use: self defense. 

Selfie sticks, which generally cost between $20 and $30 and gained initial popularity in Asia, are extendable poles that allow self portraits to be taken beyond the normal range of one’s arm. Because selfie stick users can sometimes fail to pay attention to their surroundings, they are prime targets for robbery. Seeing a way of turning a weakness into a strength, a martial arts center in Moscow has designed a five-part course to teach tourist targets how to protect themselves with their handy plastic gadgets.

Selfie stick users have become prime targets of robbery. (Photo: Marco Verch/WikiCommons CC BY 2.0)

The M-Profi Combat Sports Center in Moscow is calling this new form of defense “mpd fight,” which stands for “monopod fight.” It incorporates martial arts elements and is aimed at average citizens.

The classes are apparently supported by a group called the Association of Safe Selfies, and come after the recent release of a “Safe Selfie” campaign by Russia’s Interior Ministry in response to deaths and injuries caused by the self-photographing trend. The campaign’s motto is “Even a million ‘likes’ on social media are not worth your life and well-being.”

Mpd fight raises a few questions. A victim’s shield can easily turn into an assailant’s weapon, and odds are an attacker might be more tactical with a plastic rod than a tourist. With selfie sticks seen as a self defense contraption in addition to a profile photo appliance, will their owners be less tempting targets or more appealing ones?

That remains to be seen, but in the mean time, taking a selfie of yourself taking a selfie stick defense class could not be easier.

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