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An Unpleasant, but Necessary Subject

It’s not pleasant to think about, but the day may come, and possibly sooner than we might imagine, when you may be forced to defend yourself. A firearm might be out of reach, unavailable or impractical. Here’s an alternative.

A “palm stick” is the generic name for a device often called a yawara or kubotan. It is basically a short stick, approximately 6″ long and .5″ to .75″ in diameter. Though the palm stick won’t do much for you on the battlefield in Afghanistan, it can be quite a useful addition to your urban self- defense toolkit.


The majority of palm sticks are made from some type of hardwood. Modern versions of the classic self-defense tool are being made from metals, especially lightweight aluminum. When deciding which version to carry, you should keep in mind that aluminum cannot pass quietly through metal detectors. Though many people will have no idea what the palm stick is, there’s no reason to take the chance when you can simply carry a wooden model.


The palm stick makes a great concealed self-defense tool, even when in plain sight. Though we would prefer to always have a handgun, or at least a folding blade available, those weapons are not always practical. The palm stick can be taken almost anywhere, even onto an airplane if you use a little common sense. You probably wouldn’t want to pass through an x-ray machine with the kubotan in your pocket or on your keychain, but it’s unlikely that a screener will give it a second thought if casually placed in the pocket of a carryon bag.

A few of America’s more socialist jurisdictions have made it illegal for law-abiding citizens to carry palm sticks (the idea being that palm sticks are dangerous, rather than seeing the criminal as the problem). Fortunately not even New York City has outlawed the Mini MagLite® yet. One of the great things about the yawara, or any stick weapon for that matter, is that any number of things can be used as a palm stick in an emergency.


Palm stick techniques fall into three categories. The first group utilizes pressure point and nerve center attacks to cause severe pain and incapacitation. Some palm sticks are designed with a slightly rounded tip to facilitate such techniques. The second group of techniques consists of joint locks. Even with its small size, the palm stick can help you achieve greater torque and leverage when applying joint manipulation techniques. The last group is comprised of simple striking techniques. The palm stick can add power to your basic fist strikes, and hammer fist strikes using a kubotan are extremely effective.


Palm stick nerve attacks and joint techniques will not be very effective if you’re not familiar with these principals. Think of it as an extension of your own hands. Once you are familiar with the basics of strikes, pressure points and joint manipulation, the palm stick will add to their effectiveness. Like any self defense tool or technique, practice is required to become proficient and comfortable using the weapon in a real world situation. Fortunately, the palm stick is a simple enough weapon that even a minimum amount of training can lead to its effective use.

Modern society’s fear of weapons and general suspicion of self defense is making it more necessary for us to look for alternative forms of self-defense tools. The palm stick is a simple, everyday solution that will never go away. Once you are comfortable using a few palm stick techniques, you will have at your disposal a serious self-defense weapon regardless of where or in what situation you find yourself.

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