An original kubotan keychain with keys attached
Kubotan (sometimes erroneously spelled as kubaton or kobutan) is a genericized trademark for a self-defense keychain weapon developed by Sōke Takayuki Kubota in the late 1960s. It is typically no more than 5.5 inches (14 centimetres) long and about half an inch (1.25 centimetres) in diameter, slightly thicker or the same size as a marker pen. The material is usually of a hard high-impact plastic (e.g. Lexan). The body of the Kubotan is lined with six round grooves with a screw eye or swivel and split ring attachment at one end for keys. In addition, it is widely used as a self defense weapon.
The Kubotan keychain was originally based on a small bamboo weapon called the “hashi stick”, an invention by Kubota’s father Denjiro. Its popularity grew in 1969 to 1970s when Kubota, at the request of California State Senator Edward M. Davis then former Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, created the weapon and began training 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 this, the Kubotan is also sometimes dubbed the ‘instrument of attitude adjustment’.
Applied as a weapon, some of its usage can be similar to that of the yawara stick or koppo stick. The principal targets in self-defence include bony, fleshy and sensitive parts such as knuckles, forearms, the bridge of the nose, shins, stomach, solar plexus, spine, temple, ribs, groin, neck and eyes. The Kubotan is usually held in either an icepick grip (for hammerfist strikes) or forward grip (for stabbing, pressure point attacks and seizing). 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 function as a flailing weapon. As a pressure point 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 a 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 stabbing the end of the Kubotan into the top of his pectoral muscle. In other locking and compliance applications, the body of the Kubotan can be used to create pain. A typical pain compliance technique involves seizing an attacker’s wrist and sealing both hands around it with the length of the Kubotan laid across the radius bone. Downward squeezing pressure is then applied to the bone to take down the attacker.