Two weeks ago I participated in a seminar at my dojo where a so-called Kubotan or self-defense stick was introduced. I had never heard of that thing before. In two sessions, we got some background info and theory, then quickly went on to the practical part, practising punching and grappling techniques with this tool.

My personal impression is that this tool (I won't call it a weapon because even here in Germany it is not considered a weapon by the law) can be very useful in a self-defense situation. But I see it more or less as an amplifier: if you can punch, then it will add power to your punches. If you can grapple, you can use it to amplify your leverage on your opponents joints. If you know how to attack pressure points, you can apply a lot more pressure to them with a Kubotan than with your bare hand.

Are there other ways a kubotan can be used in self-defense?

  • @RobertPetermeier I did my best to edit the question to eliminate the polling while still retaining your details and relative reasoning for asking. The parenthetical only served to reiterate the basic answering guidelines of the site, so it was deleted.
    – stslavik
    Commented Apr 13, 2012 at 18:52
  • I've reopened it given the modifications. Commented Apr 13, 2012 at 20:01
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    Side note on legal aspects... The kubotan is considered an offensive weapon in the UK (ref. BBC article and UK government web site) and as such is not a tool to be used for self defence, at least in the UK. I am unaware of any law in other countries but I would check with your local friendly law enforcement agencies before considering either owning a kubotan or learning how to use one. On the other hand, if you are willing to disregard the la Commented Apr 16, 2012 at 7:49
  • you can always carry a whiteboard marker instead :) I'm sure they are legal in the UK Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 4:03
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    @KeithNicholas: You say that... Anything you carry in the UK with the specific aim to inflict harm on another is classed as an offensive weapon. So, a whiteboard marker, hair spray, a screw driver, etc, can all be considered offensive weapons under the right circumstances. You are justified in using "reasonable force" but that is not a precisely defined term. It can and does vary from individual to individual. This means that the judge at your trial will decide if you used reasonable force or not. Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 6:30

4 Answers 4


The Kubotan (a trademarked name for what's otherwise called eda koppo or the similar yawara) is effectively a force amplifier, as you said. It's limited only truly by an individual's understanding of the weapon.



  • By holding the kubotan in the middle of the fist, it acts as a fist-load.
  • By laying the stick along the thumb, and using the thumb to strike, it lends rigidity to the thumb (useful for pressure point striking).
  • By allowing an end to protrude from the bottom of the fist and bracing the kubotan with the thumb, you lend lethality to hammer-fist strikes.

Wrist Locks

  • The kubotan can be spanned between the smallest finger and the thumb and used to apply pressure to the radius at the styloid process to amplify pain.
  • Held similarly, it can amplify pressure along the dorsal side of the hand at the carpal bones to aid "breaking" the structure of the wrist.


  • The protrusion of a kubotan can act as a hook for snaring clothing in a grab.
  • Held similarly to the techniques described in the wrist locks, grabs to protruding bones (floating ribs, collar bones, etc.) are amplified.


  • Any of the above can be used to break the balance of the opponent and aid in throwing.

Really, the uses are limited only by 1.) accessibility and 2.) your imagination. Repeated practice and exploration is key, as with anything in the martial arts. This is by no means an exhaustive list.


Perhaps the most important aspect of such a weapon is that training with it can lead to effective substitution. While the kubotan is generally produced from a hardened thermoplastic polymer like lexan or from (usually anodized) aluminum, it can be substituted with a small wooden dowel or stick, a pen or pencil, a small flashlight (like the maglite), or (if you get a bit more creative) the handle of another weapon.

If you train to understand the principles underlying what you're taught, you open up a world of possibility.


The kubotan has a few uses other than as a fist load or as a joint-lock/pressure-point force multiplier.


I've seen kubotan techniques which allow it to be used as a leverage point from which to hold with both hands in order to execute a scissoring choke with the forearms (similar to how a gi collar is used in jujitsu-derived arts).


I've also seen a kubotan attached to a keychain or other implement and swung, such that it becomes a mini-flail. This is another method of force multiplication.


The kubotan is also valued for its innocuousness. Many normal objects--pens, markers, spoons--can be used as makeshift kubotans, and even a key-ring kubotan is often considered unobjectionable. It is also easily hidden, quickly retrieved, and unlike a knife, capable of both lethal and non-lethal use. This makes it ideal in many legal jurisdictions as a weapon of self-defense and everyday carrying.

Further study

The kubotan is also known as the yawara (or yawara stick). I like this DVD of techniques for it, which includes the stuff mentioned above. (Full disclosure: I was involved in the DVD's production but am no longer affiliated with the group and receive no compensation from promoting the DVD or them.)

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    Ouch! That is an expensive DVD! :(
    – eidylon
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 19:23

I was using the kubotan in one of my previous jobs, not in UK. The stuff is blessing i was using it at work to have a bargain preasure to get compliance, but for self defence is even better. You do not have much training on it. You can use most of office and DIW stuff as a kubotan (pencils, pens, stiks, key) Anything that is more or less that shape, I was using the thin end of a snooker stick. If you hit bonny point hurts. If the asaliant is under adrenaline and can not feel much you can easily disable his computer. The problem is it might be permanently. It is powerful weapon and must be used carefully.

The question is how to use it? I prefer not to give you sets of techniques as that would be sort of restricting. It is rather what you can do with it. At work I was using it as a pressure point and you do not really need to press any special point to get the result - Force given to any Bone point and transferred via top of the kubotan will make an effect. Pressure was better as I did no wanted to do damage, hitting the hard parts of the body could cause fractures and as such not good as a result of being "at work". Saying that hitting muscles was not very harmless but effective. In self defense I would consider to swap priorities . So as you can see it is not about the techniques but when and why. And at the end vein very simple, whatever you do the kubotan will make it stronger. Simple effective tool.


I like the answers from all of the posters here. As a side note, I find it pretty interesting that the kubotan is not considered to be a weapon in Germany because I live in Canada and when I was visiting an amusement park, I had to remove my keys because the kubotan was not allowed in.

The kubotan is certainly a weapon; however, anything can be used as a weapon. The kubotan was invented by Takayuki Kubota who saw that many attacks tend to occur when a victim is fumbling for his/her keys. As it was mentioned by other posters, strikes, chokes, and joint locks are all excellent uses of the kubotan. Many see it as an amplifier, which is true; however, I would say that it can be far more than that. One poster mentioned that it can be used as a mini-flail, which is also true. Nunchaku techniques can easily be applied (figure eights are great, especially if you combine them with other techniques). Keys can be quite sharp, so you can easily slash the hands or eyes (remember, most opponents will have difficulty if they cannot see).

Depending on your location (mine is rather strict about it), a kobutan can be used to conceal knives and/or other devices. It's small and compact, which makes it very useful for traveling. There are also certain designs that can sharpen and/or blunt the kubotan. I would also imagine that the materials also do make a difference. Either way, like most other weapons, a kubotan is simply an extension of your hand, so if you know some basic (but good) self-defense techniques, you can certainly deal some decent damage.

  • It's not inaccurate to say that Kubota invented the kubotan, but it is related to Matsuyama's yawara, and these types of small sticks have been around for centuries. There are some folks who think there are large differences between the weapons, but I would argue that it is how they are used that makes the most difference. A couple of resources are: donrearic.com/yawara.html and yawarastick.com/history-of-the-kubotan
    – decuser
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 23:44

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