Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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One of the most common types of self-defense weapons is the kubotan. Kubotan can vary is size and shape, but they generally run about six inches long, and are around a half of an inch thick. Though there is some debate about the specific order of events that surround the birth of the kubotan, many people agree that it originated as a modified yawara, which itself is a modification of an Okinawan martial arts weapon.

A Japanese American named Frank Matsumaya popularized Yawara during the last century. Matsumaya is widely credited with altering traditional Japanese martial arts techniques and implements in order to make them available to a wider audience. The yawara stick was one such weapon--Matsumaya modified traditional tools and then propagated the resulting tool as a police weapon.

The causal link between the yawara and the kubotan is fuzzy, at best. One version of events says that Shinan Tak Kubota, the inventor of the kubotan further modified the yawara stick to produce the modern kubotan. Other versions profess that Tak Kubota invented kubotan techniques while looking for efficient ways to use the common ballpoint pen. Regardless, Tak Kubota inarguably designed the kubotan (the item) to be functional both in and out of fights, and was wholly conscious of its use as a key chain and the added functionality that keys could bring to the weapon.

Using Kubotan

Kubotan are generally manufactured from heavy-duty plastic or aluminum. Most kubotan are simply straight rods with a tapered end, but some have two thin wooden protrusions that, when held in a fist, fit on either side of the user's middle finger. The versatility of the kubotan allows it to be used in different ways by people with different martial arts backgrounds, as well as by people with no formal training in the martial arts.

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