What Is a Kubotan? How Do You Use One?


Last Updated on March 12, 2024 by Nasir Hanif

We live in unpredictable times. Crime rates are on the rise in many parts of the world, and as the police can only respond after a crime has already taken place, we often have to rely on ourselves for personal protection.

There is a wide variety of self-defense tools to help us stay safe out there. Alongside more common solutions like mace or stun guns, you may have heard of the Kubotan.

But what is a Kubotan? And how can it help you to defend yourself in a violent situation?

Well, today we’ll answer those questions in this Kubotan guide, taking a look at what these tools are, where they come from, and the many ways they can be used in an altercation.

What Is a Kubotan and Where Does It Come From?

A Kubotan is a self-defense weapon, usually held on a keychain. It takes the form of a small rod, usually five to six inches long, and made from a hard material like metal, wood, or strong plastics.

The tool was devised by Takayuki Kubota, a Japanese-American karateka and founder of the Gosoku-ryū style of karate. He holds the trademark for the Kubotan, though the tool itself evolved from older stick weapons used in traditional Japanese martial arts. Kubota’s father before him had already developed a similar weapon called the hashi stick, and both can trace their lineage to the ancient Japanese yawara.

The Kubotan as it now exists was first developed by Kubota for use by the Los Angeles Police Department. It proved so effective and popular that it was soon after adopted by other police and military forces worldwide before finding its way onto the civilian market.

How to Use a Kubotan

So how can a small stick help you in a physical altercation?

The utility of the Kubotan lies in its striking edge. Most Kubotans have a pointed end, with some even ending in knife blades. Check for more types of Kubotans to see the sheer variety these tools come in.

Common Kubotan tips focus on how you use that pointed edge. The standard technique is to hold it with the point facing down in an “icepick” grip. This grip lets you easily strike out at sensitive nerve clusters, bony areas of the body, and vulnerable points like the temple, spine, or knee.

It’s also a useful tool for escaping holds. If you find yourself in a bearhug, headlock, or choke, delivering a sharp strike to the hands, elbows, or groin will force almost any attacker to release their grip.

Carrying a Kubotan for Self-Defense

Now that you know what is a Kubotan, you can see the advantages it has as a self-defense tool. As a simple rod, it’s difficult to classify as a weapon and is therefore legal to carry where pepper spray and tasers may not be. And unlike those, you never have to worry about running out of spray, dead batteries, or accident using it on yourself.

But having a defensive tool is only one aspect of staying safe. For all that you need to know about personal safety, be sure to keep up with our latest travel and lifestyle guides.