Get Strong, Hit Hard & Toughen Up!

The Self-Defense Keychain – Applying Weapon Selection Criteria?

In my last post, I wrote about eight things to consider when deciding whether or not to carry a self-defense weapon for your protection.

I’d like to follow up that post, by applying those criteria to a common device called the self-defense keychain.

It’s also called the “Kubaton,” “Yawara,” “Persuader,” “Ninja Stick” and a host of other intentionally-exotic-and-mystical-sounding names… but to keep things simple, I’ll refer to it generically as the “self-defense keychain.”

For the record:  I don’t sell keychains and don’t carry one myself.  I am writing this post because I receive a lot of specific questions about the device and it’s a good example to use when applying the “eight weapon evaluation criteria” I wrote about earlier.  The same process can be applied to ANY weapon under consideration.

The self-defense keychain is a pretty basic concept.  It’s a short stick with keys attached to it.  If attacked, you can strike your attacker with either end of the stick or whip the cluster of keys into vulnerable targets increasing the probability of stunning an aggressor and escaping a violent situation.

There have been many attempts to enhance the keychain with pointed ends, spikes, telescoping tubes, brass knuckles, cords, enclosed canisters of pepper spray and even hidden knife blades.

I won’t get into these additional “bells and whistles” but will instead limit our discussion to the basic model consisting of a shaft, key ring and keys.

The self-defense keychain is a metal, plastic or wooden dowel. It’s about five inches long and half an inch in diameter. The shaft of this weapon is usually knurled or grooved so that it won’t slip in your hand. On one end of the shaft is a key ring holding a cluster of keys.

If used properly, the self-defense keychain can increase the odds of surviving and escaping from a serious, life-threatening assault.

In it’s simplest form, the self-defense keychain is an “extension” of an empty handed strike that amplifies and intensifies the amount of energy that can be delivered into a target.

By gripping the shaft tightly in your fist, the top end of the device can be thrust into vulnerable targets in an action similar to a straight punch or hook.

The bottom end of the shaft becomes the striking surface in horizontal and vertical bottom fist actions.  If you know how to strike properly, you’ll know how to use the self-defense keychain.

The cluster of keys provides an added benefit in that it can be whipped forcefully into an attacker’s face and head.  The weight of the keys (about 10 of them would be a good number) combined with their jagged edges can incapacitate your assailant long enough to break free and escape.

Eight Weapon Evaluation Criteria:

1. Is It Legal?

To my knowledge, the self-defense keychain is legal in most countries.  It can be purchased at many security, martial arts and sporting goods stores. I found hundreds of online merchants selling them. Because they have a utility function (to hold your keys) they can be legally carried.

In Canada, the self-defense keychain is neither a restricted nor a prohibited weapon. It is therefore legal to carry providing it’s not used for illegal purposes.

That being said, “brass knuckles” are prohibited in Canada (you can be arrested just for having them).  A keychain design that encircles your fingers would probably fall under that category.

If you are considering carrying a self-defense keychain, you might want to make your own inquiries to confirm if they are legal in your jurisdiction.

2. Will I Carry It All The Time?

What is the most common thing that you carry in your hand when coming or going from your vehicle, home or workplace?  Your keys!

If you carry your day-to-day keys on the self-defense keychain, you are likely to have it in your hand when out of your home. This increases the odds that it will be available if you are attacked.

The self-defense keychain is discrete, unassuming, and convenient to carry.

3. Will It Be Immediately Available When I Need It?

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.”  If you keep your keys on the keychain, it is a simple matter of establishing the habit of carrying it in your hand whenever you leave your home.

4.  Do I Have Confidence In My Ability To Use It?

There are a number of “SILLY” techniques associated with the self-defense keychain. They include fancy wristlocks, takedowns, submission holds and other elaborate techniques that simply don’t work in the real world. Even if they did work (which they don’t) they would require extensive practice to become competent.

A self-defense keychain can be highly effective in a stressful encounter, but only if your techniques are kept as simple as possible.  A handful of basic striking techniques is all that you need.  (I explain the reasons why in this article)

Let’s face it… you still need to know how to hit.  If you can’t punch your way out of a paper bag, putting a keychain in your hand will not turn you into a highly efficient killing machine.  There is nothing magical about this little stick.  If you are a confident “striker” there is no reason why you shouldn’t be confident about the self-defense keychain.

5.  Is It As Effective As It Has Been Held Out To Be?

When used properly, the self-defense keychain can be a devastating weapon with the 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.

Even if you do everything right, there’s no guarantee that you won’t find yourself on the receiving end of a police investigation or a civil suit.  Sorry, that’s just the way things work on this planet.  It’s also why its so important to employ strategies and behaviors that will reduce the potential of finding yourself in  a bad situation in the first place.

6.  Could It Be Taken Away And Used On Me?

The honest answer to this question is, “yes.”

ANY personal safety weapon: a knife, pepper spray, a gun 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.

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, hopefully he wouldn’t think to use it as one.

It is important to consider the potential of being disarmed when carrying any self-defense 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.  (I would also suggest having a back up house and vehicle key hidden somewhere other than on your keychain)

7.   Am I Physically, Mentally And Emotionally Prepared To Use It?

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.

8.  Are You Prepared For Potential Criminal And Civil Consequences Of Your Actions?

I’m not going to lie to you, if you ever were forced to resort to the use of the self-defense keychain or any other weapon to defend yourself there is always the risk of criminal and civil consequences.

People have the right to resort to deadly force only when it is reasonably necessary to preserve themselves or someone else from death or a serious, life-threatening injury.  They must believe that their actions are reasonable and that less forceful means are not available to them.

It is important know your legal rights and think in advance about the types of situations that would merit such a response.

WAIVER- 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 this link:  Disclaimer .



What are the con’s of the self-defense keychain or any other weapon or device?  The reality is that carrying a weapon is only a tiny sliver of the totality of staying safe and protecting yourself.  The majority of threats to your personal safety will be determined on a comprehensive approach to strategies, habits and behaviors that will reduce the probability of violent and predatory situations in the first place.  In the absence of that mindset.  A keychain, a gun or a bazooka will be of little consequence.

What the keychain may do is slant the odds in your favor when all else fails and you find yourself in a bad situation that requires a physical response.  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.

Take care, train smart and stay safe,

Randy LaHaie

About Randy LaHaie

I’m the founder of “Protective Strategies,” a training and consulting company providing self-defense and combative fitness solutions to law enforcement, high-risk professionals and private citizens since 1994. I am a retired police officer, court-declared expert in use-of-force and critical incident performance, and a life-long student of self-defense and combative fitness. “My Thing” is to help people incorporate functional and minimalist workout strategies to improve their health, fitness and personal safety.

Join The Toughen Up Tribe! It’s fast, easy and free.

Sign up for the newsletter, and get a free copy of The Toughen Up Guide To Heavy Bag Training. Join fellow readers with an interest in self-defense and combative training methods today. Enter your email below:

Bad Behavior has blocked 385 access attempts in the last 7 days.