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The Forgotten Police Weapon

The Kubotan was once a vital police weapon; it should be again.

April 01, 2008 | by Mike Nitch.
One of the most effective law enforcement tools that !se" "!rin# my law enforcement
career was the $!botan, a %.%&inch ro" !se" for strikin# or press!re point manip!lation.
On "!ty, fo!n" that by hi"in# it in my waistban" with my patrol !nit key attache" to it,
the $!botan was rea"ily accessible, '!ickly "eploye", an" it helpe" me avoi" havin# to
!se even #reater !ses of force.
On one occasion, a s!spect ha" the poor (!"#ment to lay his han"s on me in an attempt
to break free of my #rip on his forearm. str!ck him sharply in the center of the stern!m
with the $!botan) instant behavior mo"ification. t took the fi#ht ri#ht o!t of him an"
neither of !s en"e" !p rollin# on the #ro!n"*maybe he "i", b!t not with me. An" it
"i"n+t look partic!larly offensive to onlookers.
,tories of officers !sin# $!botans in the fiel" are becomin# har"er to fin", as many law
enforcement personnel an" civilians alike have never hear" of this tool, let alone seen or
!se" one. As s!ch, they have no conception of its applications or effectiveness as yet
another force instr!ment in their arsenal. -his is !nfort!nate beca!se the $!botan can
be a very efficient tool when properly applie".
A Brief History
,oke -akay!ki $!bota, the son of a .apanese police officer, a martial arts master, an" a
trainer with the -okyo /olice 0epartment "evelope" the $!botan. 0!rin# the 10 years
he worke" with the police force, he share" his knowle"#e with 1.,. Military personnel
statione" in -okyo, as well as 2A personnel.
n the mi" 1340s, $!bota came to the 1nite" ,tates an" was hire" by the 5os An#eles
/olice 0epartment to train police personnel. ,o a #eneration of American police officers
learne" how to effectively !se this seemin#ly innoc!o!s tool as a weapon.
n recent years, pop!larity of the $!botan has been eclipse" by a variety of impact
weapons s!ch as the Mona"nock /627 an" collapsible batons, an" other weapons s!ch
as the -A,86 an" O2 spray.
9!t #iven to"ay+s political climate an" the "esire for less :offensive: lookin# weapons,
perhaps the time is ri#ht for the inconspic!o!s b!t effective $!botan to en(oy a
ontrol and o!pliance
-ra"itional $!botans are ma"e of woo" an" are %.% inches lon# with shallow #rooves in
the woo". -o"ay, they come in a variety of colors an" materials. ,ome are ma"e of
metal or polymer with raise" material where the #rooves wo!l" be c!t. ,ome may have
a hi""en knife bla"e or pepper spray. -his is #oo" to remember if yo! remove one from
a s!spect.
-hose areas of the h!man bo"y where the bone is closest to the s!rface ;skin< also
contain many nerve en"in#s. -his is where the $!botan is applie" for control an"
compliance techni'!es. 9!t remember, when !sin# the $!botan as a tool to strike or
apply to soft tiss!e press!re points, yo! m!st foc!s on the en" of the tool.
-he applications shown in the pict!res that accompany this article are the most
prominent points of attack, b!t they are not all incl!sive. -he h!man bo"y has many
more press!re points that wo!l" be s!sceptible to the $!botan*well beyon" space
constraints here.
/art of the $!botan+s appeal lies in its "eceptive appearance) -o the layman, it looks like
little more than a non&intimi"atin# key chain. ronically, those keys can be !se" in
concert with the $!botan, as well.
-he len#th of a $!botan allows the !ser to whip keys attache" to it like a flail. -he har",
serrate" e"#es of keys can be !se" to strike an" flay the skin. -his is partic!larly
effective when !se" a#ainst the face an" neck areas. 6akin# the keys across the
forehea" not only inflicts pain an" in(!ry, b!t the atten"ant blee"in# may blin" yo!r
opponent, #ivin# yo! a f!rther a"vanta#e ;a"mitte"ly, while hei#htenin# yo!r nee" for
serolo#ical "econtamination<.
Pressure Points
9!t perhaps the most prominent !se of the $!botan is to apply cr!shin# force a#ainst
bone, (oints, an"=or m!scle. A simple r!le of th!mb) Most press!re point control
trainin# that yo! learne" to perform in the aca"emy with yo!r fin#ers can be performe"
m!ch more effectively with a $!botan.
,trikin# these same press!re points with force brin#s e>ponentially more pain, an" may
prove "isablin# for a s!spect.
f a s!spect lays his or her han"s on yo!, !se the $!botan to strike an" #ain release an"
the s!spect+s imme"iate attention.
-o #ain compliance when "ealin# with s!spects who resist han"c!ffin#, the $!botan
can be bro!#ht into play alon# with verbal comman"s by applyin# force to hea" area
press!re points. Applyin# press!re to the wrist with a $!botan can brin# abo!t
compliance with s!spects who are not necessarily combative, b!t "etermine" to keep
yo! from #ettin# the han"c!ffs on them.
Of co!rse, s!spects have varyin# tolerance levels for pain? some may not be as rea"ily
s!sceptible to press!re points. -his is partic!larly tr!e when "ealin# with s!spects who
are !n"er the infl!ence of chemical s!bstances or are emotionally "ist!rbe".
"on+t recall havin# any iss!e with the a"ministration re#ar"in# the !se of the $!botan.
@owever, proper "oc!mentation of why yo! !se" the weapon an" how it fits within the
force contin!!m matri> sho!l" be note". Ao! are always s!sceptible to :!se of force:
-he 2onfrontational 2ontin!!m Mo"el that is !se" in many police aca"emies ai"s in
!n"erstan"in# an" reportin# police actions. /ain compliance falls between escort an"
co!ntermeas!res on the 2ontin!!m. -he $!botan can an" "oes e>pan" over an" into
both of these areas.
Bith all the tools an" #a"#ets that a law enforcement officer p!ts on his belt, my little
frien", the $!botan, is a welcome a""ition. .!st remember not to take it to the airport
when yo! travel*.!st ask my wife.
Many thanks to my good friend and esteemed colleague Steve Moores for taking all the
photos needed for this article and to my student Tim Kelly for participating as my
Mike Nitch is a retired police officer and former police academy instructor. He owns
and operates a small martial arts studio in lorida in which he teaches !hinese "rts
and self#defense$ as well as the National %ifle "ssociation&s '%efuse To (e " )ictim'