One of the most popular self-defense weapons in use today by the average citizen and police officers alike is the “Kubotan” (pronounced: ‘koo-bow-than’), or simply the self-defense keychain. The versatility of the this effective little item is that it lends itself well to being used in different ways by people with different martial arts backgrounds, as well as by people with no formal training in the martial arts whatsoever. In fact, this is perhaps one of the Kubotan’s greatest advantages and therefore strengths, in that it can be picked up and easily used by any martial artist, regardless of style or principle fighting method. Regardless of whether a practitioner has studied the techniques of Aikido, Jujitsu, Karate, Kung Fu, and, yes, Ninjutsu – the art of the Ninja – the self-defense keychain fits easily into, and increases the power of just about any technique.
As an example, a Karate-oriented practitioner who is trained in, and has a preference for striking techniques, can utilize the ends of the weapon for painful blows to soft tissue areas or disabling strikes to an opponent’s vital points. Conversely, a practitioner schooled in a grappling-based system like Jujitsu or Aikido, may feel more comfortable using the Kubotan for hooking, trapping, and pain compliance techniques, using the leverage and intense pain generated by the weapon to immobilize and neutralize an opponent’s ability to get at him.
Certainly, any school or practitioner that takes the view of having no preferential fighting method – that means that he or she is comfortable with both striking and grappling – will have even more options with this weapon. Composite styles, like ninjutsu and many other authentic warrior arts, find that the Kubotan, to them actually a simplified or modified version of what they call an eda-koppo stick, allows them the flexibility to go from striking-to-grappling and back again with no trouble whatsoever.
Even for those without experience in a formal martial art, the Kubotan provides an economical and easily-learned method of self-protection. This powerful weapon can, and should, also be a part of any good self-defense program. Its ease-of-use and relatively short learning-curve make it the ideal “first-weapon” for beginning students. It can be used to provide a level of comfort, security, and preparedness while the student is learning more scientific unarmed techniques, tactics, and strategies that naturally take more time to internalize.
For many, the self-defense keychain weapon is a tool of pain, pure-and-simple. Regardless of whether you’re using it to strike, dig into sensitive areas, or apply crushing pressure to small bones and joints, the fact is that you don’t need years of training to be good with it. You can practically, with little-or-no extensive training, pick one up and be ready to at-least hold-your-own against most common attackers.
Please note that I’m not saying that a certain level of training wouldn’t significantly increase your ability and chances of success, especially in a more aggressive situation, but for most of the assaults and types of attackers you’ll most likely encounter in Today’s world, it’s the perfect starting point for most new students.
As always, my advice is to find a qualified instructor, or a professionally delivered course, where you can be introduced to the weapon properly. Then, when you have the basic ideas and principles, combined with the fundamentals of unarmed self-protection tactics, you can go on to explore the full potential of both the weapon and it’s uses against a real-world assailant who might want to do more than slap you around.