The Kubotan (sometimes erroneously spelled as Kubaton or Kobutan) self-defense keychain is a close-quarter self-defense weapon developed by Takayuki Kubota. It is essentially the same size as a marker pen or just a little thicker. Attached with a key ring for convenience and concealment, the Kubotan appears as an innocuous key fob to the untrained eye, although it may be considered an offensive weapon in some jurisdictions.
Apart from its size and shape, much of its usage is quite similar to the yawara stick. As with the yawara stick, the principal areas for attacks in self-defense include bony, fleshy and nerve targets such as knuckles, forearms, bridge of the nose, shins, stomach, solar plexus, spine, temple, ribs, groin, neck, eyes etc. The Kubotan is usually held in either an icepick grip (for hammerfist strikes) or forward grip (for stabbing and pressure point attacks).
Common uses include hardening the fist (fistload) for punching, attacking vulnerable parts of an assailant’s body, and gaining leverage on an assailant’s wrist, fingers and joints. With keys attached, it can also function as a flailing weapon. As a pressure point and pain compliance weapon it can attack any point a finger can, but with greater penetration because of the smaller surface area at the ends. For example, a law enforcement officer may wrap his arm around the suspect’s neck while simultaneously digging the end of the Kubotan into the small of his back. The officer may also reach around the suspect’s neck and underarm from behind and cause pain by digging the end of the Kubotan into the top of his pectoral muscle. One typical pain compliance technique is a wrist “gasket” lock in which the attacker’s wrist is captured and sealed around with both hands and the body of the Kubotan laid across the radial bone. Downward squeezing pressure is then applied to the bone to take down the opponent. Its techniques are greatly linked to ‘empty handed’ martial arts techniques.
Its popularity began in the mid-1970s when Kubotan first brought the weapon to the attention of the LAPD and began schooling female officers in its application. It is often touted as extremely effective in breaking the will of unruly suspects with painful locks and pressure point strikes. Because of that the Kubotan is also sometimes dubbed the ‘instrument of attitude adjustment’. In some law enforcement and security circles it is known as “The Persuader. “