The yawara stick is a weapon used in some Japanese martial arts. Although it's not a common self-defense weapon compared to others, it's still effective. Yawara sticks are sometimes called kubatons or koppo sticks. There is some variation between these, but they are all small sticks easily carried and concealed by the user.
Choosing a yawara stick
Between schools and styles, there is some difference in the length and thickness of the stick, but it is typically only a bit wider than the user's own hand. In most styles, this very small weapon should stick out about an inch on either side of the hand when it's held within a clenched fist.
Introduction of techniques to America
The yawara stick was introduced to America by Professor Frank A. Matsuyama, who passed the teachings and techniques on to law enforcement officers. His book, "How To Use The Yawara Stick," was written as an instructional manual for law enforcement officers. The yawara is an alternate to a night stick for police officers. Today, it's more widely used by martial artists. Though written for police, Matsuyama's book is a good guide for anyone in learning yawara stick self-defense techniques.
Matsuyama's book includes various elements of self-defense techniques with this weapon, including striking, throwing, joint locking and use against multiple opponents.
One weapon, multiple uses
The strikes target the neck, kidneys, solar plexus, wrists and arms. They are easily executed as the weapon sticks out only slightly from each side of the fist. Some of the blows might render the attacker defenseless. Others are used to distract him long enough to execute a lock or throw. Because the weapon is so small, a skilled user can deliver these blows before the attacker realizes there's a weapon involved.
Also included are methods of trapping and pinning the aggressor's arm. The next step is often the application of a shoulder lock from behind to enable the officer to put the bad guy in handcuffs. Many of the techniques in Matsuyama's book end with the person's arms behind his back to simplify handcuffing. For self-defense practitioners not concerned with cuffing, these techniques can end in other methods including joint locking and constant pressure to the arm, wrist or other body part to bring the aggressor to compliance.
Another common use of the yawara stick is to lock the arms and wrists of the attacker. By wrapping the stick across the wrist, very strong pressure is applied to the bone, causing severe pain that makes believers out of those who experience it. From this position, the fingers can be locked and/or broken with the other hand to bring the attacker into compliance. Yawara stick techniques like this one can cause the person to drop to the ground or be used to stand a person up and move him to a location of the officer's choosing.