Kubotan for Self-Defense

A Kubotan is, in essence, a mini stick used for self-defense purposes. The kubotan (often misspelled as Kubaton or Kobutan) is a unique self-defense weapon that is approximately the size of a thick pen or magic marker and it often has a key ring attached to its end.

The Kubotan can be made out of a variety of different materials including steel, aluminum, wood and plastic so its actual weight will vary. Unlike other street weapons, the kubotan appears like an nondescript key ring and therefore can be transported and concealed very easily. Best of all, it’s very inexpensive and can be purchased easily.

As simple and effective as the kubotan can be, it does require considerable training to use it effectively in a self- defense situation. Using one is not just a matter of holding it in your hand and striking your adversary. There is much more to this versatile self-defense instrument. As a matter of fact, there are other applications as well, such as hand grip techniques, stances and striking target factors that need to be taken into consideration. If you would like to learn more, see my Kubotan Self-Defense DVD. Let’s begin by discussing the different types of kubotan techniques.

The Kubotan Techniques

Most untrained people assume the kubotan is simply used to strike an attacker in a vital target area, but in reality it performs many other functions and applications in self-defense. As a matter of fact, there are a broad range of effecive techniques that can be used with just a minimal amount of training.

For example, in my reality based self-defense system called Contemporary Fighting Arts (CFA), I have classified the kubotan into five unique categories of application. They include:

  • Control techniques – using it to control or restrain your adversary.
  • Striking techniques – using it as a striking tool.
  • Anchoring techniques – using it to anchor onto your opponent.
  • Razing techniques – using it in the razing methodology
  • Fist loading – using it to enhance your punching power.
Pictured here, a Pain Compliance Pressure Point.

How to Use a Kubotan

The mini stick is also the perfect self defense weapon for pressure point fighting because it permits a smaller person to generate a tremendous amount of striking power. As a matter of fact, when a knockout pressure point is struck with a kubotan, immediate loss of consciousness can occur. Keep in mind, the mini stick can only be used for pain compliance and impact pressure point fighting. To learn more about knockout pressure points, see my article pressure point fighting.

No Flailing!

Since kubotans are used as everyday key chains, the key portion can be used a flailing weapon to swipe across an attacker’s face. While this may sound like a solid self defense technique to some people, avoid doing it! Failing it is one of the worst things you can do in a self defense situation. Actually, it’s a worthless move that will simply enrage your attacker and most likely provoke greater violence.

Remember, this mini stick is a target specific self-defense weapon that must be deliberately applied to a specific anatomical target. For example, if your objective is to attack the assailant’s eyes, you will yield much better results if you strike him directly in the eye with the point of the weapon.

Hand Grips

In order to use a kubotan effectively in a self-defense situation, you need a fundamental understanding of hand grips. There are a variety of hand grips that you should be familiar with and they include:

  • Hammer grip – you hold it as if it was a hammer. Generally, the exposed area of the weapon will be seen above your thumb line.
  • Ice pick grip – you hold it as if it was an ice pick. Generally, the exposed area of the weapon will be seen below your pinky area.
  • Modified ice pick grip – you hold it as if it was an ice pick but your place your thumb on top to reinforce the grip. Once again, the exposed area of the weapon will be seen below your pinky area.
  • Reinforced ice pick grip– you hold it as if it was an ice pick but your place your free hand on top of the kubotan. Again, the exposed area of the weapon will be seen below your pinky region.
  • Center point grip – you hold it so the exposed area of the weapon will be seen above the thumb and below your pinky areas.
  • Saber grip – you hold it as if it was a saber sword with the thumb extended forward. The exposed area of the weapon is above your thumb.

Two Kubotan Stances = One Purpose

While it’s true that you can deliver a strike from just about any posture of position, there are some stances or postures that are better suited for kubotan techniques. Here are just two strategic stances that I teach in my CFA self-defense system:

Kubotan low concealment – this concealment position is used when both you and your adversary are in the neutral zone from one another. Your free hand is up while your hand holding the kubotan is down by your hips, concealed behind your forearm. This kubotan stance is often used when you are caught off guard and don’t want your adversary to know you have a kubotan in your hand.

Kubotan high concealment – this concealment is used when your opponent is close to you (either the punching or grappling ranges of unarmed self defense). To assume this kubotan stance, keep both of your hands up while concealing the kubotan behind your dominant forearm. This stance is best used with some type of natural gesticulation.

The Best Kubotan Targets

There are a collection of kubotan targets that you can either strike or apply pressure (as a pressure point). Ideally, the best human targets for striking with a kubotan are those highly sensitive “bony targets” that are closest to the surface of the skin. What follows is a brief list of viable targets that you can use in a self defense situation.

  • Eyes
  • Temple
  • Throat
  • Base of skull
  • Collar bone
  • Sternum
  • Solar plexus
  • Groin
  • Spinal line
  • Elbows
  • Hands

Get Proper Training

Kubotan Power Book

Because if its anatomical realism, the body opponent bag or BOB is a great piece of equipment for kubotan training. Bear in mind, when striking the body opponent bag, be certain your kubotan does not have any sharp edges or points as it will puncture and damage the bag. Not only will the body opponent bag develop the accuracy of your strikes, it will also strengthen your hand grip and improve the overall structural integrity of your blows. For more information on using the body opponent bag for kubotan training, see our Kubotan Book.

Make it Realistic!

Being prepared for the real thing will require you to practice using the kubotan under real world self defense conditions. One of the best forms of training is to practice on a live training partner provided he is sufficiently equipped with protective gear. However, such reality based kubotan training must be supervised by a qualified RBSD instructor.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, these are but a few important kubotan concepts and principles that must be incorporated into your self defense training. You can find all of these concepts in my Kubotans and Yawaras: A Quick and Dirty Guide.

Weapon Retention

As a reality based self defense instructor, I’ve noticed that martial arts and self defense instructors place too much emphasis on striking with the kubotan and not enough on retention skills. When I say retention, I am simply referring to “holding on to the kubotan” when delivering a powerful strike or applying it to a pressure point.

Remember, I stated earlier the best targets for striking are sensitive “bony targets” that are closest to the surface of the skin”. Well, this means that each and every time you strike a viable target with a kubotan, you run the risk of dislodging the weapon from your hand. It’s just a fact that you have to accept. The price of doing business in the streets.

Grip Strength Counts

However, there are specific measures you can take to minimize the chances of losing your weapon in a self-defense situation. Essentially, this means you will need to work on strengthening your hand grip. There are several ways you can do this and here are a few that I teach my students.

  • Regularly perform forearm and wrist strengthening exercises with free weights.
  • Invest in a good hand gripper.
  • Regularly practice striking hard surfaces with your kubotan and pay close attention to the structural integrity of your grip after delivering the strike (see the “bullick drill” performed in my Kubotan Self-Dense DVD).

Know The Laws

As innocuous and unassuming as the kubotan may be, remember it’s a weapon of self-defense. Always check with your local law enforcement agency to see if there are any laws that would prohibit you from owning, carrying or concealing a kubotan. Remember, if you live in the United States laws will vary from state to state.

Best of luck in your training!

Sammy Franco
Founder & President
Contemporary Fighting Arts

Kubotan for Self-Defense. All rights reserved. Copyright 1998-2019, Contemporary Fighting Arts, LLC.