Martial Arts & Self-Defense Weapons - What IS a "Kubotan"?

by Jeffrey Miller - Date: 2007-04-07 - Word Count: 940 Share This!

If you do a search on the internet, there seems to be no end to what has been written about this simple, yet powerful weapon. There seems to be no small supply of writers who have used dramatic titles to add to the impact of an otherwise so-so article on the subject.

"Fistful of Dynamite," "Rod of Pain," and many others lead the way as writers share their own knowledge and insight into this inconspicuous, and yet surprisingly powerful little weapon. Unfortunately, far too many of these articles serve little to no real purpose in helping you to actually create results. And, these articles range in scope from the generalized "what it is" variety, to the overly bloated tome that includes what seems to be every single detail and supposition that the author wishes to impress you with.

Believe me, I have read a lot of what's available, and while there are certainly a number of valuable resources from real experts, they are buried in a cyber-world of practically worthless "chatter." While you can feel free to recreate my extensive research on the subject, I've brought it all together so you don't have to.

So, what, exactly, is a Kubotan (pronounced "koo-bow-tahn") anyway?

Good question. And to answer that, you can read the book titled, KUBOTAN: Self-Defense Keychain to get a much better idea. But, for now, I'll give you the short, "what's it look like and what else might it be called," version. For those interested, the above book covers the viewpoints of "where did it come from and how long has it been around," as-well-as others in its other chapters.

In my other articles, you can take a quick overview of the strengths and weakness of this popular self-defense weapon. But, for now...

The Kubotan, also known as a...

1. Pocket-stick...

2. Self-Defense Keychain...

3. Mini-Stick, and...

4. many others... arguably, the most common self-defense weapon, next to the handgun, in the United States.

While many new tactical weapons continue to find growing acceptance within the law enforcement and security communities, there seems to be little change within the realm of private citizens. It appears that, once people find a good thing, they tend to "stick" with it. (Yes, pun intended!) According to many experts in the field of defense and personal protection...

"...the most popular, and quite possibly the most versatile, personal defense weapon is the Kubotan."

For simplicity's sake, I'll refer to the weapon throughout this article as the Kubotan or, more simply, the self-defense keychain. However, regardless of the name given to it, this powerful little compliance tool, carried by thousands of men and women - martial artists and non-practitioners alike - is an awesome means of deterring and controlling an attack situation.

Besides being, quite probably the cheapest weapon you can buy, in the hands of even a person skilled in only a few basic moves, the Kubotan is a formidable weapon for stopping an assailant in his tracks. And, for those with more training and developed skills, the self-defense keychain is one of the most effective self-defense tools that you can use today.

The weapon is simple in appearance, inexpensive to acquire or make, and fairly easy to conceal. While not as versatile and convenient as a clipknife like the Delica from Spyderco - my preferred weapon/tool of choice, by the way - it is definately easy-to-learn and even easier-to-use.

Depending on the manufacturer, the Kubotan is just a basic rod made of metal, plastic, or wood. It's about 6 inches long and, as the name suggests, usually has a key ring attached at one end. The "official," patented, Kubotan weapon "invented" by a man named Tak Kubota, has grooves machined into the weapon to identify it as a unique creation. But, just like "Band-aid" has come to be the generic name for adhesive bandages and "Q-Tips" the same for cotton swabs, the bar-shaped, self-defense keychain is almost universally called a "Kubotan."

There are other variants of the basic model, including what is billed as the "Ninja" version of the weapon. This little piece of imaginative effort, created during the '80's when every weapon had it's own "Ninja" version, has two thinner spikes protruding out from the side of the weapon that fit between your fingers when you grasped the main bar of the tool.

Let me assure you that, regardless of what you ever read or hear, the Kubotan or self-defense keychain is NOT a Ninja weapon - officially or unofficially. It's ancestors that gave rise to the modern version, at least in Japan, were used by almost all trained warriors - not just the Ninja.

The more commonly recognized variants of the weapon are generally manufactured from heavy-duty plastic or aluminum. The official Kubotan, and third-party copies, are simply straight rods with blunt ends. However, many self-defense key chains have at least one tapered end with the key ring attached to the squared, blunt end. Needless to say, some of these "centerpunch-like versions, are extremely dangerous - as they have the capability of actually penetrating the target and doing more severe damage.

And, for those of you who are fashion-conscious and need to make sure that your self-defense weapon doesn't clash with your Armani, these little gems even come in a variety of colors and high-tech shapes to match just about any ensemble.

So, to anwer the question, "what IS a Kubotan?"

It is a simple, easy to learn and use, self-defense weapon that can be effectively used by the smallest defender, to bring the largest assailant to his knees in seconds. Quite simply, it is the best weapon for the person with little to no formal training and who wants to be able to learn to defend him or herself with the least amount of time, effort, and money.

Related Tags: self-defense, ninja, protect, karate, jujitsu, judo, weapon, martial art, aikido, ninjutsu, bujinkan, kubotan

Jeffrey M. Miller is the founder and master instructor of Warrior Concepts International. A senior teacher in the Japanese warrior art of Ninjutsu, he specializes in teaching the ancient ways of self-protection and personal development lessons in a way that is easily understood and put to use by modern Western students and corporate clients. He is the author of the book, KUBOTAN: Self-Defense Keychain and the best selling Safety DVD, Danger Prevention Tactics: Protecting Yourself Like a Pro To learn more about self-defense and other subjects related to the martial arts, self-protection, personal development & self-improvement, you can subscribe to his online newsletter, at

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