Wednesday, 7 April 2010

How a key ring can be an offensive weapon

A British 'entertainer' is currently in court for possessing an offensive weapon. The weapon in question is what he uses as a key ring and is a kubotan: a five inch metal rod developed as a self defence system in your pocket.

The 'entertainer' in question maintains that he wasn't aware of this aspect to what he maintains is simply his way of not losing his keys. I am somewhat intrigued to see how this develops and to see if this is seen as a weapon. Is carrying some offcuts of dowel home from the DIY shop an illegal act? Or indeed a six foot curtain rail in the same form and weight as a bo staff going to cause legal problems?

Admittedly the kubotan is directly advertised as a self defence weapon and as well as being able to be used to strike, and to gain leverage in locks and pins, when keys are attached can be used as a flail. But the kubotan is a development of the traditional 'yawara' weapon used in many martial arts which is simply a short stick. Just as the kubotan was used by police forces in the US in the mid 1970s it seems that the yawara was introduced some 40 years previously to the Californian police force by Professor Frank Matsuyama. Matsuyama's yawara use was seen as 'humane' as it "enables a man to overcome his opponent before trouble can really begin" (ref).

This following video shows a modern take on defence with the kubotan by some krav mga practitioners:

And another showing how effective and somewhat viscous this little stick could be in a self defence situation:

So I can see how these small sticks can be brutally effective but surely the intent has to be to use it as a weapon. Or is this a cop out? After all, if it's classified as a weapon, then there's not much to say in its defence. It'll be interesting to see how this current kubotan court case pans out here.

Can anything be used as a weapon? What about a magazine? Surely not...

Go to 1 minute 30...


Jonathan said...

Hey Chris,(or should I say Sensei?)cheeky 2nd dan Jonathan Payne here :D Another interesting issue you've written about here, and I'm glad I can my foot in the proverbial martial arts door by keeping an eye on your blogg here.
If you're interested in a bit of creative writing check out mine :)

KataCatMcCracken said...

Thank you for another interesting post - I'd also be interested to hear how this ends. Was this 'entertainer' also a martial artist, I wonder? My understanding from a goshin jutsu seminar is that even a female 2nd kyu would need a stronger than normal defence ... against self-defence measures, if you see what I mean.

The instructional vid pretty much confirms how I thought a kobutan could be used against an attack. Surely most of the techniques used would be 'reasonable force', if used by someone against an attacker to allow them to get away or to control the attacker ... reasonable force being described thus in a website

'broadly, for force to be reasonable it must be ‘necessary’ and ‘in proportion’. However, cases have established that:

* claim of self-defence is allowed if you have done no more than you instinctively believe is necessary to protect yourself from attack (or to protect others or property); and
* in that situation you are not expected to judge precisely the measure of defensive force used

I'm not sure where that would leave a martial artist with a small stick on a keyring, or magazine... but am looking forward to getting a clearer picture.

Littlefair said...

Hi Jon, nice to see you...have checked out and am looking forward to the zombie poems...:)

Hey Cat,
Despite training for a long time in martial arts I really don't know much about the legal aspect of self defence so thanks for the detail...!

To me those videos look fairly viscous though! Somebody else made a comment wondering what the difference between a kubotan and a sturdy pen would be? I guess the answer is not much and depends greatly on intent and potentially training in the use of small weapons...

Anyway-I'll try to keep an eye out on the case and blog on it soon...