How to Choose Self-Defense “Weapons”

Keychain Weapons 

Many self-defense weapons are available for purchase, ranging from the innocuous to the dangerous. Keychain devices are becoming increasingly popular as a subtle form of carried weapon. Some self-defense key chains are inconspicuously made to look like animals or lengths of wood or plastic. 


The Kubotan is essentially just a lump of wood and herein lies its strength. As a hard length of little more size than a marker pen, the Kubotan is subtle, unlikely (not impossible) to cause legal ramifications through carrying, and effective if used correctly.

Originally conceived in the late Seventies by a famed Karate master working with Police departments at the time, it is considered one of the most understated close-quarter defense weapons. 

Usually about 15 centimeters, or six inches, long and 1.25 centimeters, or ½ inch thick. This solid baton can also be used as a keychain so that it is always with you. 

How are they used?

There are entire books on the potential applications of the Kubotan, but the simplest and most effective methods are one of three techniques: 

  1. Used as part of a keychain. Grasp the Kubotan as a handle, and turn your keys into a flail of sorts. Swing for an attacker’s face and eyes.
  2. Hold the Kubotan like a baton with the end sticking out of the base of your fist. Using hammer fist motions (see later), jab for the eyes or, most effectively, the throat. 
  3. Again hold the Kubotan like a baton, but this time utilize the upper part above your fist, stabilized by a thumb. (Think how wizards would use a wand). Again, jab for soft tissue. 

For the greatest impact, focus your Kubotan towards the more sensitive parts of your assailant such as their forearm, knuckles, shin, nose, spine, temple, ribs, solar plexus, groin, eyes, or neck. It can be used with a forceful, stabbing motion, or pushed firmly against pressure points. 

If you do not have a Kubotan handy, you can improvise with nearby objects presenting similar characteristics. A pen, flashlight, dowel, electronic cigarette, or hairbrush may well do the trick. Special metal pens are sometimes also sold as defense weapons and can be used in the same manner as a Kubotan. 

An often neglected aspect of self-defense is knowing your rights.

Kubotans generally exist in either the legal or gray areas of the law. As a round lump of wood or keyring, they are fairly inoffensive, but once you start opting for the sharpened or metal versions, there can be some risk.

At the time of writing this, there are little to no restrictions on carrying a Kubotan in the United States. The spiked version, however, is considered an offensive-weapon according to the British crime-prevention website. The legality of carrying a non-spiked version in the UK is open to interpretation in the eyes of a court. 

Mace or Pepper Spray 

While used in a similar manner and often confused within the media, pepper spray and mace are not actually the same thing. Like keychain weapons, they are often carried for self-defense.

True mace is actually a neurotoxin. It can make your opponent feel as though their skin and eyes are burning intensely. This is due to membrane irritation. The effects should take place within five to thirty seconds after application. However, some people seem to be immune to the effects, particularly those who are intoxicated or under the influence of narcotics. 

It is important not to confuse true mace with the popular Mace brand. Today the manufacturer Mace produces a variety of self-defense sprays including both true mace and pepper spray blends. You should read all the packaging and product descriptions carefully to know what you are purchasing.

Pepper spray, on the other hand, uses concentrated compounds from hot peppers – hence the name. It is not an irritant like mace per se. It is an inflammatory agent and considered superior in some cases since it will cause discomfort and pain to anyone it contacts.

The effects should happen almost instantly and it can be temporarily blinding if sprayed in your attacker’s eyes. If possible you might want to opt for one that is labeled “police grade”. Some manufacturers dilute the chemicals to make a greater profit. The police grade formulas generally prove to be both potent and effective. 

You can purchase both mace and pepper spray in small canisters which can be attached to your key-ring, or kept in discreet locations.  

–       It may sound obvious, but never use Mace or Pepper Spray while running or in strong winds. The last thing you want is to be hit by your own spray! Again, the legality of carrying these items varies around the world. In the USA, they are generally accepted as a self-defense item, whereas in the UK, they are illegal and classified as “offensive weapons”. Always check your local laws.


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