How to Use a Kubotan Keychain Stick and Self-Defence Spike

by Robert Fox

Today we talk about how to use a kubotan keychain stick for self defence.

Alright, let's dive in, starting with a list of the best kubatons available today!

How to Use a Kubotan Keychain Stick and Self-Defence Spike
How to Use a Kubotan Keychain Stick and Self-Defence Spike

What is a Kubotan Keychain Self-Defence Stick?

Kubotan Stick Survival Tool
Kubotan Stick Survival Tool

If you're new to the world of self-defence, or close range combat, you may have heard of a kubotan in passing, but you may not know exactly what it is.

While it looks to some like a simple key fob, a kubotan is essentially a close range weapon developed by a man named Sōke Takayuki Kubota in the late 1960's measuring about 5.5 inches long and half an inch wide.

Sōke Takayuki Kubota, born in 1934, is the president and founder of the International Karate Association. He also invented the Gosoku-ryu style of karate.

Here is a quick video of Soke Takayuki Kubota practicing.

In addition to his long and storied career in karate in self defence, Sōke Takayuki Kubota invented the kubotan, which is a stick / spike made of hard plastic or metal that fits in your hand and is attached to a keychain.

What is a Kubotan Keychain Self-Defence Stick?
What is a Kubotan Keychain Self-Defence Stick?

Originally nicknamed the "instrument of attitude adjustment", the kubotan was created by request by the former LAPD Chief Edward M. Davis, in order to start training female officers in the 1970's on how to deal with particularly difficult suspects by striking them in strategic pressure points.

At the time, Kubota's father Denjiro had created something called a "hashi stick", upon which the kubotan was partly based.

It also bares some similarities to the Japanese yawara stick, koppo stick, the tactical pen, and a police baton (miniaturized).

What is a Kubotan Keychain Self-Defence Stick?
What is a Kubotan Keychain Self-Defence Stick?

It is worth noting that while we will be talking about the kubotan here in terms of self-defence, the way it was created was not necessarily as a defensive weapon, but as an offensive weapon, meant to render a person non-compliant to become compliant buy applying force to key pressure points.

It is also worth mentioning that other items can be used in a kubotan-like fashion, such as a pen, hairbrush, or anything you can grip in your hand that is hard which can be used to strike or apply strategic pressure.

Who Needs A Kubotan?

Who Needs A Kubotan?
Who Needs A Kubotan?

Kubotans are often used as self-defence weapons these days, and so really anyone who feels like they need something extra to protect themselves can use one.

For instance, if you feel unsafe walking down the street or through the park late at night, a kubotan could definitely help you feel more secure.

Also, if you are someone who doesn't feel comfortable with something like a stun gun, or pepper spray, for whatever reason, a kubotan is a great tool because it doesn't feel like you're carrying around any kind of fancy weapon.

It's basically just a small stick (5.5″ long, 0.5″ wide) attached to your keychain. You don't have to arm it. You just have to grab hold of it and wield it.

And, because it is attached to a keychain, the kubotan is meant to be readily available when you are feeling threatened, so you can simply take hold and prepare yourself and not like like some insane person holding a stun gun when anyone remotely suspicious walks by.

You'll just look like a normal person with their hands in their pockets.

Things to Consider Before You Use A Kubotan for Self-Defence

There are a few things you should consider when getting a kubotan for self-defence.

Things to Consider Before You Use A Kubotan for Self-Defence
Things to Consider Before You Use A Kubotan for Self-Defence

Be Prepared To Actually Use It

First thing is, if you have it, don't be afraid to use it.

How To Use A Kubotan Keychain For Self Defence
How To Use A Kubotan Keychain For Self Defence

There's no point in having a kubotan if you aren't ready to use it when you need it.

So, try to get used to the idea that if you do have a kubotan on you, the point of having it is for that one rare instance where someone might try to cause trouble, and that's when you need to be ready to use it.

Actually Learn How To Use It Effectively

To go along with that point, it's only natural that if you have it in your pocket, and are mentally prepared to use it, you may as well learn how to use it properly, instead of just flailing away.

That's what this article is all about, but you should also perhaps look into where you can get some real world training on how to use a kubotan. In other words, read this article, watch some videos, and maybe even take a course.

Be Prepared To Use It Quickly

Another thing to be aware of is that if and when you are going to have to use a kubotan, you only have a few seconds to use it before you won't have a chance to use it.

Speaking of watching some videos on this subject, here's a great video by Nick Drossos, that talks about exactly this point - which is to be one step ahead of your attacker.

Up next…some important precautionary measures to consider.

Precautionary Measures

One thing you can also draw from the video that we want to mention is this - if you're actually attacking with the kubotan, as in striking hard in a sensitive area, as in literally stabbing someone in the side of the face or throat with it, you may really cause some damage to that person. You might even critically or fatally wound them.

Now, we must mention this here, and it is a rather complicated subject, but, depending on where you live and the laws around such things as assault, you want to be aware that a kubotan can cause such serious damage, and so we cannot simply endorse you jabbing this thing into someone's throat, even if they are in fact trying to attack you.

You've head of those court cases where people get charged for attacking a criminal who breaks into their house? That's what we're talking about here. You don't want to end up in a headline like this, or the kubotan-related equivalent:

Precautionary Measures
Precautionary Measures

The actual article for this is here if you want to read it. People get arrested for defending themselves all the time. It's not that uncommon.

So, what you don't want to read about yourself is something like "lady randomly attacked in park, tries to defend herself, accidentally fatally wounds attacker with pointy keychain thing, goes to jail"

Take a good look at this kubotan below and imagine what would happen if you struck someone in the neck with it with all your force.

Precautionary Measures
Precautionary Measures

Yes, it could be you being dragged off to jail and not your assailant!

A kubotan can be very pointy at the end and this is why sometimes you can't bring them on planes and the like. The laws around them can change depending on the state and / or country.

A kubotan can be seen in some cases as a very serious weapon, like carrying around a knife, but with a slightly less pointed tip.

This is why we want to return to two things we've already mentioned, and that is - why the kubotan was originally invented. That was for LAPD officers to apply pressure to strategic points on a threatening person in order to render them compliant, as in no longer a threat.

On a related note, have you ever heard of NVCI? This is Nonviolent Crisis Intervention and it's meant for dealing with people who exhibit difficult behaviour. People get trained in this all the time and it's something you might want to consider in your own approach to dealing with attackers.

Precautionary Measures
Precautionary Measures

For instance, if you work in a group home with someone who's not exactly stable, and they decide to attack you, NVCI is how you're ideally supposed to deal with that person, even if it's a 300 pound man who goes crazy once in a while decides to take a swing at you.

Alright, now that we've gone over some of these considerations for how to prepare yourself for using a kubotan, let's take a look at some stances you can use for self-defence.

Stances to Use with a Kubotan

The stance that you will be able to use when using the kubotan is going to be dependent on where your attacker is.

Your stance will also help determine how you are going to be able to use the kubotan in terms of what grip will be best.

Here are the main two stances you will be likely to use:

  1. Low Concealment = This is when the kubotan is in your hand and held down at your side. When you are in the low concealment stance you are able to hide the kubotan in your hand. Your other hand is also free to use as you need to in the situation.
  2. High Concealment = When your attacker is close to you, within hitting range, you can use this stance to have your arms up to use either to block or hit with. Keep your free arm in front of the hand that you are holding the kubotan in. This will help you conceal the weapon while putting your hands in a position that allows you to react quickly.

Now, how to hold one…

How to Hold a Kubotan Keychain

The first step of knowing how to use a kubotan keychain is knowing how to hold it. There are several different grips you can use to use this weapon effectively.

  1. Hammer Grip - Just like it sounds you hold the Kubaton like you would a hammer.
  2. Ice Pick Grip - Similar to if you were holding an ice pick.
  3. Center Point Grip - Hold the Kubotan in the middle allowing a little to stick out on either side of your hand.

There are also slight variations of these grips that you can use. For example, the first is the Reinforced Ice Pick. You do the typical ice pick grip and then place your alternate hand flat on top of the hand holding the Kubaton.

Your grip strength matters when you are using a Kubotan. You need to be able to securely keep a firm grip because there is always the risk of losing hold of the Kubotan. If this happens it can be used against you by your attacker.

It is easiest to keep hold of the Kubotan when gripping it in your fist instead of holding it in a position that allows you to jab with it. When you hold it in your fist it also allows you the option to use your fist to punch as well.

Up next, specific areas to target…

Areas to Target

The good news is a Kubotan can hurt anywhere you use it, however, knowing the key areas to target will make a big difference. A Kubotan does not need to be used on a pressure point to be effective. But, if you do use it on a pressure point you can have faster results in stopping your attacker.

Hitting a pressure point can cause a stunning effect, extreme pain, disrupt balance, and cause the attacker motor dysfunction. It can even result in immediate loss of consciousness.

Other than pressure points, you want to look for areas where the bone is closest to the skin. These areas will be more sensitive to the hit from the Kubotan.

Other areas to look for will be areas that will force the attacker to take their mind of attacking you for a moment. Here are the areas you want to target if you can:

  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Throat
  • Base of skull
  • Collar bone
  • Sternum
  • Solar plexus
  • Groin
  • Spine
  • Elbows
  • Hands
Areas to Target
Areas to Target

And here we have some top models…

Best Kubotan Keychains on the Market

Kubotans are one of the most affordable self-defense weapons that are available. There are not a lot of bells and whistles that come with a Kubotan, but you do want to make sure that you are buying one that is good quality. Here are some of the highest reviewed Kubotans on the market:

FURY Tactical Self Defence Keychain with Pressure Tip

This Kubotan is formed with finger grooves that will help you be able to keep a good grip on the weapon if you need to use it. And, it only weighs one ounce which makes it easy to carry on your keychain and have ready when you need it. It also has more of a pointed tip on the end, something that not all Kubotans have.

FURY Tactical SDK (Self Defense Keychain) With Pressure Tip
FURY Tactical SDK (Self Defense Keychain) With Pressure Tip


This Kubotan is slightly thicker and more solid than the previous one. Some prefer the slightly thicker design over the finger grip version.

SPHTOEO Keyring Aluminum Blunt Force
SPHTOEO Keyring Aluminum Blunt Force

Street Smart Self Defense Spike Keychain

This Kubotan adds the option of metal prongs that will stick out between your fingers. This gives you an added benefit when using the weapon with both a jabbing and punching movement.

Street Smart Self Defense Spike Keychain Black
Street Smart Self Defense Spike Keychain Black

Summary of Ways to Use a Kubotan Keychain Stick and Self-Defence Spike

1. What Is a Kubotan Keychain Stick and What Are Its Benefits for Self-Defence Purposes?

When it comes to self-defence against burglars and attackers, people usually rely on pepper sprays, guns or tasers. Such items are effective as long as they are used correctly. But if you want a simpler method of protecting your life and property from potential threats, a kubotan keychain stick is what you need.

A kubotan is a small cylindrical stick that usually measures 5 to 6 inches in length and 1/4 inch in diameter. It has grooves on its body, as well as an end made of rubber or foam so you can hold the item comfortably. The power of this self-defence tool lies on applying pressure to the right spots of an attacker's body.

2. How to Use the Kubotan Keychain Stick for Self-Defence in Different Situations?

The kubotan keychain stick is a type of self-defence gear that was developed by Soke Takayuki Kubota. The said tool is cylindrical in design and very compact, making it easy to carry around. Even though the device is small, it can be easily employed for inflicting damage on an opponent. Due to its small, light and easily concealed nature, the kubotan keychain stick is a very useful defensive tool.

There are many different types of kubotan sticks - some for self-defence and others for attacking dogs and other animals. There are even different types of materials that can be used to make it - such as steel, wood or aluminium.

Other than the kubotan keychain stick, there are also other self-defence tools that can be used to help one defend themselves - such as pepper spray and tasers. These are usually larger in size but are still easily concealed whenever you carry it around.

Using the kubotan keychain stick for self-defence is very simple. You just need to hold it in the middle part, with your finger on its tip and then use it to strike key points of your assailant's body - such as their eyes, throat or face.

3. What to Do if You Are Attacked With a Kubotan Keychain Stick?

If your assailant is holding you close, then you cannot use any weapon that requires you to have room in order to use it. You could jab the Kubotan into his ribs, but he will be able to move away from it. As soon as your assailant is out of range, then apply locks like "Mata Leao" or "Carotid Artery", but only if the assailant is not wearing a thick coat. If it's cold outside, then you may need to wait until he takes off his coat before you attempt to use the Kubotan against him.

If your assailant is behind you, try to whirl around or back away from him; once he is in front of you again, attack with the Kubotan like normal.

If your assailant is behind you and to the side, then whirl toward him if possible; as soon as he is in front of you again, attack with the Kubotan like normal.

Kubotans can be used defensively as well as offensively. If someone tries to grab you from the front or side, use a hammerfist strike to the side or front of his head. If you are able, use a straight arm lock on his arm and yank it up behind his back. This is painful and will most likely disengage him from grappling with you. Once he has let go, whirl around and attack with the Kubotan stick in order to immobilize him, then escape or run for help.

If your assailant is facing you with his body square to yours and he does not have a weapon in his hands, use the "Mata Leao" technique on him. Get as close to him as possible before striking; it requires you be very close but if done correctly this will cause massive pain and will immobilize your assailant.

Key Takeaways

If you are interested in purchasing a Kubotan to use for your personal security and safety here are your key things to remember:

  • You need a good grib to use it effectively and not drop it.
  • You need to know how to hold it.
  • Learn what areas to target.
  • Watch videos and practice what you watch. You need to know how to use the Kubotan
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About Robert Fox

Rob Fox is a former hydro worker who used to teach self defence in Miami for 10 years. He's currently enjoying his retirement, playing cribbage and golf with his buddies, locksmithing and home security in his spare time. Rob is an avid reader, and has even written a few books on the subject of self defence.

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