You are here:

Karate/Plastic self defense rod


Hello: I studied Shotokan karate many years ago,and during our training,our sensei demonstrated the use of an approximately 6" solid plastic rod that worked by applied pressure to nerve points,and was used for self defense. For the life of me,I can't find it online. Do you know the name of this device? A fellow student carried one on his key chain.Thanks

Hi Michael~

Most likely what you are referring to is the Kubotan.  The Kubotan is a trademarked keychain weapon developed by Takayuki Kubota in the late 1960s. The Kubotan is based on a small bamboo weapon called yawara or koppo that has been used by warriors and civilians in Japan for centuries.  The primary use is to apply painful locks and pressure point strikes. Originally, the Kubotan was developed for use by the LA police department, particularly the female officers.  Its use and popularity quickly spread to the general public in the 1970s and 80s.

It is typically made of a hard high-impact plastic but can also be wood or metal. Generally, the body of the Kubotan is a rod of about 6 inches long and one half inch in diameter.  Normally it is lined with six round grooves with a screw eye and/or swivel and split ring attachment at one end for keys.  The ends can be blunt or pointed.  And some versions can also have two evenly spaced spikes protruding perpendicularly from the body of the rod.

I hope this helps.



All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Michael Cummings


I am available to answer your questions in regard to the history, philosophy, technique and practice of Okinawan and Japanese karate, jujutsu, kenjutsu and iaijutsu. I also have knowledge and experience in Okinawan kobujutsu and traditional Japanese. I also have a good foundation to answer general questions concerning various other Japanese, Okinawan, Korean and Chinese martial arts, including their traditions, history and philosophy.


I have a diverse background with over 30 years of study and practice in Japanese and Okinawan bujutsu (martial arts). I presently hold licenses/rankings in karate, iaijutsu, kenjutsu, jujutsu and Okinawan kobujutsu. I have also studied several Chinese systems, including Hung Gar tiger/crane and wing chun, and hold a black sash (shodan) in Song Shan Kempo. I have been fortunate to have studied and trained with a number of highly qualified and revered practitioners, sensei and sifu from several different martial traditions. I am also an amateur marital arts historian and student of hoplology.

Bachelor of Science in Psychology Black Sash Song Shan Kempo Chuden/Mokuroku (Karatejutsu/Jujutsu/Kobujutsu) Tengu-Sho-Oku (Kenjutsu/iaijutsu)

©2016 All rights reserved.