The Kubotan Keychain, was initially created and developed by Grandmaster Takayuki Kubota as a tool for police officers to restrain suspects without permanent injury. It's popularity began in the mid-1970s when Grandmaster Kubota brought the weapon to the attention of the LAPD and began schooling female officers in its application.
Because of its extreme effectiveness in breaking the will of unruly suspects with painful locks and pressure point strikes, the Kubotan is also dubbed the "Instrument of Attitude Adjustment". The Kubotan gradually expanded toward civilian self-defense application and is now one of the most popular and widely carried self-defense tools around.
The official Kubotan is a cylindrical stick, normally 5 1/2" long and constructed of hard Lexan plastic. The body of the Kubotan is marked with six circular grooves and there is usually a split ring and screw eye attached to one end for keys. There are many other forms and variations of this design out there, ranging from aluminum alloy to spiked, pointed or special "ninja" models. However these fall into the realm of "self defense keychain sticks" and are not considered to be authentic Kubotan Keychains. In addition they are often more offensive in appearance, may be considered illegal and can pose more danger for the owner if dropped during a scuffle.
It is often seen as an oversized key ring ornament. Usage is similar to the Yawara, except the keys present a natural sort of handle to hold onto the kubotan.
The end of the Kubotan may be used to punch with, or by grasping it by the key-ring portion it may be swung or flicked with some precision at an opponent. The kubotan is often carried instead of or as a complement to pepper spray, with the advantage that it does not deplete or backfire because it is not subject to wind direction.
As with the Yawara, the principal targets for use for self-defense are boney parts, such as knuckles, forearms, bridge of the nose, or shins.
In addition to this, it is a very effective pressure point weapon that can attack any point a finger can, but with greater effectiveness. its techniques are greatly linked to 'empty handed' martial arts techniques. and almost all its uses derive in some way from the art its included in. its one of the few weapons that adapts to an art, rather than having its own set of movements and uses.
The kubotan is interesting as a weapon because makeshift versions can be readily found, carried and be equally as effective as the weapon itself. This property makes it one of the few weapons that can be replaced by household items, whilst retaining all its combative properties. Typical improvised items include: credit cards, keys, pens, torches (maglites), bits of twig, etc can all be viable replacements, while all still using the kubotans 'techniques'
Though in the United Kingdom it is still being advertised as a legal weapon, the police had this to say: "The Kubotan is classed as an offensive weapon under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) (Amendment) Order 2004 and subsequently posession or use of such would be dealt with accordingly. It is strongly recommended that you do not purchase or contemplate using one of these items under any circumstances."