A couple of months ago, as I was proceeding through airport security, I was asked, “is this your bag?” It was, I confirmed, mine. The TSA screener asked me to step aside and called over a supervisor, speaking in hushed tones while glancing over at me. After that brief conversation, the female supervisor approached me and said, “Do you know what this is?” while holding up my keys with a black Kubotan attached.
Immediately, embarrassment and a sense of dread flooded through me as I realized I had made a colossal error in leaving my keys in my bag, and my Kubotan attached to my keys.
“Yes, it’s a Kubotan.” I knew what it was, of course, having taught dozens of self-defense classes to women over the years, and having carried one for decades.
Luckily for me, the supervisor was sympathetic to my plight, and I was not added to the “no-fly” list for my mistake. Seeing the law enforcement logo on the bag in which the “weapon” was carried and her learning of my background probably helped, but it was a close one.
This leads me to the question of whether a small length of wood or plastic is an effective weapon in the first place.
You may recall hearing the news accounts of suspected terror trial runs where the suspects boarded planes and asked for seat belt extensions when they weren’t needed (these guys weren’t overweight). Other rules that allow things like canes and small tools on board exist. And we’ve posted here before about how a small flashlight, pen, or pencil can serve as a dangerous weapon, too.
Mokuren Dojo’s post, Kubotan anecdote, covers part of the answer on flailing with keys attached.
My understanding is that there are several ways to use the Kubotan:
- General Striking: a hammerfist or ridgehand-type motion with either end of a Kubotan firmly gripped will lead to a very effective striking, with all of the force you can generate compressed into the small surface area of the tip or top of the implement. Effective? Yes. Practical? Very, if you have it in your hand and are already skilled at striking.
- Targeted striking: If you do have the skill and training to know where to strike, the Kubotan could be a deadly weapon. I can generate enough force to decimate slabs, boards, and have done so to innumerable live opponents, and I know that by compressing that force into specific targets will cause more damage than with my empty hands. I will not mention the points here, but those of you who have a lot of traditional training already know. Consider the Kubotan in those experienced and skilled hands a deadly weapon and use discretion and caution in accordance with that knowledge.
- Flail: Gripping the Kubotan in your fist with keys on the top (as long as you have a substantial number of keys) can be very effective, in my opinion. To illustrate it, in women’s self-defense seminars and courses I would have someone hold up paper at or above head level, and I would hit it with the Kubotan, easily tearing it at the point of contact. A similar strike with much less power to someone’s face would be very effective to cause an assailant to release his grip, and give you a chance to fight back. Is it a knockout blow? No, unless you have an impractical mass of weight on the end and are a very good striker. Will it distract and create an opening? Yes, and easily.
- Pressure point manipulation: Application of the unyielding pressure of the hard surface against bone and nerves nerves to gain compliance or submission by an opponent. This is where the Kubotan can shine in demonstration, as you can easily apply much more pressure and gain that compliance with relative ease. It take only a little training to adapt your Aikido, Jiu-Jitsu, Hapkido, and other training to this weapon. This is only for the adept, and not the novice, though.
To sum up, is the Kubotan an effective weapon? Yes, if you have the skill, training, availability of the weapon, and the will to use it. No, if you have minimal training and aren’t aware enough to prepare it in advance.
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