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A Personal Safety Weapon To Consider

The Self-Defense Keychain

By Randy LaHaie

I use a generic term, "Self-Defense Keychain," to describe this device but you may have heard of it by more popular, commercial names such as "Kubaton" or "Persuader Keychain." Because, "Kubaton" is the most popular, I'll use that term interchangeably with the one I use.

The Kubaton is a light-weight metal, plastic or wooden dowel. It's about five inches long and one half inch in diameter. The shaft of this weapon is usually knurled or grooved so that it doesn't slip in your hand. On one end of the Kubaton is a ring or two holding a cluster of ten to fifteen keys.

Recently, manufacturers have attempted to enhance the Kubaton with sharpened ends, telescoping tubes, spikes, enclosed canisters of pepper spray and even hidden knife blades. I won't get into these additional "bells and whistles" and will limit my recommendation to the basic model consisting of a shaft, key rings and keys.

The self-defense keychain is discrete, unassuming, and convenient to carry. If used properly, it can dramatically increase the odds of surviving and escaping from a serious, life-threatening assault. I discuss the keychain during my self-defense seminars because it stands up nicely to the seven evaluation questions.

I prefer to discuss and provide information about the keychain but hesitate to make blatant recommendations about it, or any other device or weapon. I believe that the decision about whether to carry a personal safety device, and which one you carry, is YOUR decision. I prefer that you evaluate and analyze the "pros and cons" for yourself. This article is to assist you in that process process.


If you missed the last issue of the Protective Strategies Self-Defense Newsletter (December 2000) I'll review the seven Personal Safety Device Evaluation Questions:

  1. Is it legal?
  2. Will I carry it all the time?
  3. Will it be immediately available when I need it?
  4. Do I have legitimate confidence in my ability to use it?
  5. Is it as effective as it has been held out to be?
  6. Could it be taken away and used on me?
  7. Am I physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to use it?


In most jurisdictions that I am aware of, the Kubaton is legal. It can be purchased over the counter in security, martial arts and sporting goods stores. I found several online merchants selling them for $5 to $25 dollars. Because they have a utility function (to hold your keys) they can be legally carried.
Note: In Canada, the Kubaton is neither a restricted nor a prohibited weapon. It is therefore legal to carry providing it is not used for illegal purposes. They are also available across the U.S. However, if you are considering carrying a Kubaton, you might want to make your own enquiries to confirm if they are legal in your jurisdiction.


This is the beauty of the self-defense keychain. What is the most common thing that you carry in your hand when coming or going from your vehicle, home or workplace? Your keys! Because you carry your day-to-day keys on the self-defense keychain, it is likely that you will have it in your hand more than any other object. This increases the odds that, if you are attacked, it will be in your hand and ready to go. This is a huge benefit when considering a personal safety device or weapon.


Again, the self-defense keychain is likely to be ready to go when you need it most. It's not enough to have a Personal Safety Device in your possession. It won't do you much good in your purse, pocket or vehicle. If you keep your keys on the keychain, it is a simple matter of establishing a habit of carrying it in your hand whenever you leave your home.


There are a number of "SILLY" techniques associated with the Kubaton. They include fancy wristlocks, takedowns, releases from holds and other elaborate techniques that just won't stand up in the stress and chaos of a real-world confrontation. Even if they did work (which they don't) they would require extensive practice and training to become competent.

Secondly, in a stressful encounter, only simple, large-muscle actions can be performed effectively. For that reason, a practical self-defense system must be simple and have as few techniques as possible. The system that I teach, for example, consists of three basic striking methods that are natural and consistent with what one would conceivably do during a combative situation.

Because the Kubaton is a hard object, it concentrates and intensifies the striking energy that is transferred into the assailant. Even with minimal training, a keychain strike is far more likely to incapacitate a violent assailant than an empty-handed response.


When used properly, the self-defense keychain is a devastating weapon with potential to seriously injure and incapacitate a violent attacker. For that reason, it should only be used in situations where you reasonably believe the attack is serious and life threatening. You must also believe that you don't have less forceful alternatives available to protect yourself.
DISCLAIMER - Because of the potential consequences of using a personal safety weapon, I need to be clear that I provide this information for educational purposes only. How you use the information is up to you. Refer to my disclaimer statement at:


The honest answer to this question is, "yes." ANY personal safety weapon: a knife, pepper spray or a shoe for that matter, can potentially be taken away and used on you in the same fashion you intended to use it on your assailant.

However, the general consensus amongst my seminar candidates is that the benefits of having one outweigh the possibility of losing it. A benefit of the self-defense keychain is that the assailant may not recognize it as a weapon and, if he did gain access to it, wouldn't think to use it as one.

It is important to consider the potential of being disarmed when carrying a personal safety weapon. Acknowledge the possibility of dropping or losing it and do everything you can to prevent it from falling into the hands of your attacker.


This is a question only you can answer. Don't just buy a self- defense keychain, attach it to your keys and carry it around expecting that you will magically resort to it if you are ever attacked. A basic, self-defense response system should be learned and practiced when adopting this device.

Developing competence does not require thousands of repetitions and hours of training. However, you should spend some time learning how to prepare and grip the weapon as well as how and where to strike an assailant for maximum effectiveness.

Ideally, you should seek out instruction from a competent self- defense keychain instructor. However, if the system is simple enough (as mine is) I believe you can teach yourself the basic skills you need from a manual.

The keychain basics are simple and not hard to learn. Using the keychain will intensify the destructiveness of your response to a violent attack and increase the potential of escaping death or serious injury. Learn the basic concepts (mental preparation). Practice the basic strikes (physical preparation). The only thing left is to develop the emotional resolve to do whatever it takes to protect yourself and survive!


Whether you decide to explore the issue of the self-defense keychain further; whether you decide to buy and carry one, is entirely up to you. I can provide you only with information to assist you with that decision making process but ultimately you must take full responsibility for your personal safety and draw your own conclusions about what is and isn't right for you. If you've read this far, I'm sure you'll make a wise choice.

Take care, train smart and stay safe,

Randy LaHaie

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Randy LaHaie has been studying and teaching reality-based self-defense methods for over 35 years. As a life-long martial artist, retired police officer and personal safety consultant, Randy has trained thousands of law enforcement officers, high risk professionals and private citizens.For more extensive and current self-defense advice and resources be sure to visit his blog "The Toughen Up Self-Defense Blog." by clicking here:

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Copyright 2011 by Randy LaHiae, Protective Strategies. All rights Reserved.