What follows is a rambling modern history of the good, old-fashioned Fistload…

Once Upon a Time…

I saw a Dude get his lights turned off by a rather quick Gent with a Snap-On Spark Plug Socket in his hand. You won’t see that in Snap-On’s advertising…but it happened.

This fast exchange was a nice left jab and then a right cross with the Socket in the right hand. Poof…down he went…

I have seen quite a few things, growing up in a white trash neighborhood full of assorted riff-raff. Human flotsam… More than I care to remember sometimes. Sometimes it is hard to look back and remember. The incident above, that was just a really quick fight. Not a real bad memory…it was a beautiful moment in time if you want to examine a really fast streetfight. But not everything is so crisp on the street. Some people just don’t want a winning edge on the street that a simple Spark Plug Socket or a pair of Metal Knuckles can provide. Other people want to literally change the way you look, "rearrange the face" as we used to say…

Common Fistloads

Along with large sockets, like for spark plugs, coin rolls seemed to be everywhere on the street where I spent my formative years. As I wrote in the Brass Knuckle Article, Knucks were common, right along with the various improvised hand weapons. There were cylindrical pieces of steel, lead and brass, some wrapped with black electrical tape…a lot of different fistloads carried by good and bad guy alike.

Some guys carried them constantly, others only when they expected trouble. Some preferred the common socket that could be explained away if they were caught. Especially if they were really Mechanics, they would have grease under their fingernails and other telltale signs that the socket was really not out of place at all.

Others preferred to make purpose-driven fist loads out of various materials.

The Rationale

There are three basic attributes most fistloads have.

A spark plug socket does not have a lot of weight to it, it was basically a reinforcer of the clenched fist. A cylindrical piece of solid steel, brass, tungsten carbide, or lead, would have the same effect with the added benefit of weighting the fist, i.e.; a harder hit on target.

The third is taking the fistload out of the arena of mere reinforcement and weighting and into the Yawara Stick realm. Some of the fistloads were larger…and that opened up more possibilities as the ends projected beyond the clenched fist and allowed for powerful hammerfist and reverse hammerfist strikes, just like a Yawara, Kubotan or Koppo Stick are well known for.

Personally, I have never been very fond of the cylindrical fistloads that so many people carried when I was growing up. It’s not that I don’t understand or agree with the attributes, I just did not think something like that was worth the trouble if it did not project from the fist like a Yawara Stick, which I am rather fond of.

To me, it was never very comfortable to merely punch with a fistload in my hand that could only be a fistload and nothing else. Massad Ayoob in his excellent book (which should be on everyone’s bookshelf), "The Truth about Self Protection," speaks highly of the coinroller. Rolls of coins, he’s right, I just never warmed to the basic fistload myself.

An interesting Martial Arts Fistload

This one apparently never caught on. I should have bought one, way back when and used it in Jujutsu Class. Ha!

This is from an advertisement and an article in the February 1984 Issue of Inside Kung Fu Magazine. "Korea’s Kung Fu: They call it Sib Pal Gee." By Randy Bennett

(If there were a problem with me placing this on my website, I would take it down, no problem. I would hope that interest in Martial Arts History would override the desire to want to see it removed.)

This is called The Ka-Wee.

Interesting, huh?

From the article:

"Among Sib Pal Gee’s many weapons, one stands out as being unique to this system: the Ka Wee. The Ka Wee, a Pa Kua weapon…means literally, ‘movement like scissors…’

It consists of three metal rods, one short and straight, and two longer (about six inches) pieces which are curved to fit the palm of the hand. The pieces are joined by a central pin which allows independent free movement of each piece. Thus, the weapon collapses to be easily carried or concealed.

At the end of each metal rod is a metal ball which is used for striking and pinching…"

I missed out on something else cool to play with! The Ka Wee looks like it would really be effective…

(If any picture does not load, just refresh your browser or right click on the picture and select, "Show Picture.")

The next device is what reminded me to go back and look through a stack of old magazines to find the Ka Wee that I remembered…

James Keating’s Stinger

I wrote about this nasty little bugger in my article for Cheapskates. The Comtech Stinger is simply so inexpensive that you should have one even if you are not a "puncher." The reason is, they cost next to nothing, they are incredibly strong and you should familiarize yourself with everything that comes down the pike in my opinion anyway…

For those of you that punch well, hard, fast and furious…this is the fistload for you. The older I get, the more I prefer to keep my hands open, using edge of hand blows and the heel of hand – closing it only around a weapon or perhaps for a hammerfist…

But the Comtech Stinger is simply awesome; it has a lot of power and will make the person who focuses on punching with the clenched fist in Self-defense very happy indeed.

In the Comtech Specificity Series, there was one volume about Push Daggers. In that tape, years ago now…the Stinger was shown.

There is your link. To the Push Knife of Old…another effective weapon in its own right but often maligned and illegal…

Well, the Stinger is not illegal yet…not yet. And it has the same excellent attributes as a Koppo Stick and a Push Dagger…

The pocket stick is the double-ended knife that can only thrust – it cannot cut. The Comtech Stinger is the Push Dagger that cannot cut, it can only thrust. With no entry into the body…

You can still grab with the Stinger in your hand, just like a Push Knife or Koppo Stick…a bag of groceries, an attacker’s clothing or hair, etc.

You can still strike with the palm, the heel of the hand, as you can with a Koppo Stick or Push Knife without fear of losing it. You merely clamp your fingers together…

You can still hammerfist with it in your hand, like the Push Knife and Koppo Stick…

The Stinger can do more than "sting," so be careful with it. If you can punch moderately hard, the Stinger will break a rib as easily as a Number Two Pencil. It's not a toy.

I know it looks sorta funny…but listen…the Stinger is a very powerful device. As powerful as it is simple and brilliant. Nothing to break or wear out, it’s just a chunk of well thought out plastic.

You can hang your keys on the Stinger as well as a good LED Flashlight like the Photon II and you are good to go! I love the thing and I don’t even like punching anymore, why? The Stinger can take a moderately powered punch and turn it into a miserable-feeling-deeply-penetrating strike. That’s why. You hang a Turquoise-colored [the brightest] Photon II LED Flashlight off of it, learn to keep your cool and you learn how to "Flash & Punch" [Metsubushi] with this combination and you will absolutely turn the tables on someone in a heartbeat.

Again, a direct, straight punch or a "rolling" vertical punch, right to the face after flashing with the light…awesome results, low line kicks should follow.

The Impact Kerambit/DTL

The brainchild of Datu Kelly Worden, this is also a favorite of mine and very viable for street Self-defense. I remember Datu Kelly sending me one almost six years ago now…you see one of the first in the picture below along with a current production one. This is a really effective device as well.

"DTL," as this Impact Kerambit is sometimes referred to, simply stands for, "Destroy, Trap and Lock." Datu lovingly refers to it on some of his seminar tapes as, "The Puncher…"

It’s more than a puncher. It’s more than a reinforcer of the hammerfist, although it is clear when you hold it in your hand that it is going to excel at hammerfist strikes.

The bottom portion that forms the "L" makes for a vicious reinforced hammerfist, as stated above. As that portion projects past the clenched fist, that has a Comtech Stinger effect for straight on, direct punching and uppercuts, etc.

The ring is not merely for retaining the DTL. Everything stated about holding groceries or grabbing attackers by the hair or clothing as well as Kubotan pinches with your attacker’s flesh (ear, nose, etc.) stated about the Stinger, Push Dagger and Koppo apply here as well.

The ring also becomes the reinforcer for the reverse hammerfist or…a straight on punch as well…very versatile.

Yubi Tori, fingerlocks – especially the particular agony of Professor Wally Jay’s fingerlocks, all become a brutal reality with the DTL.

The fingers that are captured are grounded into plastic that will not yield, they are clamped in and everything works effectively.

The Wild Kat

This is a plastic rendition of an old "Half Knuckle" Brass Knuckle pattern. It has been around for years. Now people are making them in an indestructible plastic format. You might not believe it, but these were made years ago out of brass and they were Half Knucks with extreme points. I tried one scan out of an old martial arts magazine, but it came out really bad. But that was in the 80s and these were made out of metal then. The plastic seems more than suitable and will hopefully be more friendly when it comes to the law.

Feedback from the field indicates that you can tag brick walls with them at moderate force and not break them. That’s a definite plus. [Thanks Tom M.]

I don’t have experience with them or I would probably write more about them. They are interesting to me in a way and I’m not saying they are not going to be effective…they would be in determined hands for sure. Just not my cup of tea. I think you can do a whole lot worse when it comes to Self-defense "keychain" weapons, however…

I would add one more thing…this particular weapon along with the "Ninja" keychain carry with them the possibility of actually penetrating the eyes or trachea. I don’t know that for sure, as I have not tested them but my best guess is, if they will survive medium-power strikes to a wall…they’re probably going to go into these structures.

My personal belief is…if a stranger, a male, grabs a woman in a parking lot…not at a party or any other "social" gathering…but in a setting where the woman should be in fear for her very life…

If he got his eyes put out or his trachea, jugular or carotid pierced…I could not care less.

Unfortunately, the law does not see things this way. The law would demand that women should be psychics and perform Oprah-approved whistle blowing and Cellular Phone Self-defense…they might come down hard on a woman who put an attacker’s eyes out, etc., if it were not a clear cut case where lethal force was OK.

I’m just saying this as a warning… In Kelly McCann’s ["Jim Grover"] Self-Offense, he speaks of the "Ocular Knockout." Where the eye is pushed in to a depth where this causes a knockout. That would probably be the result of a forceful strike, along with the possibility of eye damage and blinding…if you used a blunt Kubotan or something along those lines. But the Wild Kat’s "ears" are rather pointy. This is for you to decide.


I did not know if I should mention this in the Yawara Stick Article or the upcoming Article on Blackjacks, Saps and Slungshots. I left it out of the Yawara piece and it will probably be spoken about more in-depth in the Blackjack Article coming up.

It is a keychain-based device and can be a fistload, that’s why I’m placing it in here…

The Romatron has a body and a plastic ball, the ball is connected to the body by a steel cable. The ball can rest in the end of the device and then with a flicking motion, the ball exits the body and becomes a striking flail.

I had my hands on one in the early 1990s and the plastic ball did NOT have lead in it at that time. It was very light and I thought it would be rather ineffective against a determined attacker.

The website for Romatron now states the ball has lead in it. That’s a whole new ballgame now…I have not had my hands on one yet, however, not one of the newer ones…

The "Ninja" Keychain

Man, ain’t ya tired of Ninjas being whored out like this? This thing has about as much to do with Ninjutsu as Archie Bunker does.

I purchased one of these about 14 years ago for a girlfriend and she carried it daily and loved it. It’s not a bad Self-defense keychain; in fact, it’s going to be really nasty-effective on the street!

It’s just the whole "Ninja" thing associated with anything to sell it. Why, hell, I think the words "Ninja" and "Romatron" are now associated as well…sigh…

With this device, you have those two nasty, aluminum prongs sticking out the front when a fist is formed…that’s going to hurt. The prong sticking out the bottom is a bone breaker with a hammerfist, to be sure.

It really is a cool design; it’s just the way everyone sells the damned thing. I know, I know…it sells…I know…

It’s a keychain! It can always be with you! It’s not a bad device at all. Just a bit bulky for slipping in the pants pocket with the keys hanging outside which is the norm for me. I’ve carried Kubotans and Koppo Sticks for years now…it’s second nature… This Ninja Thang might get hung up coming out of the pocket, however. Something to consider.

It is definitely something I don’t want to get hit with…

As an interesting sidebar, my buddy Seth sent me a video that he received as a "bonus" from a TRS Series he had ordered or something. This keychain was featured in part of that video. I won’t go into who or what the video was but will list one thing shown on the video with this device.

There was a straight punch to the trachea, at extension, the palm would be down. Upon contact, you twist your fist so these two prongs that have basically landed on both sides of the trachea…wrench the trachea…crushing it.

There are a lot of things on videos you will see that are rather odd, crazy, bloodthirsty and strange. Most of them won’t work at all. This one was brutal and having held these keychains before, I have to say, as odd as this movement seemed, it would probably do the damage the fellow said it would.


Yet another keychain enters into the fistload category. Could have been in the Brass Knuckles Article…but it’s not metal and…did not seem to fit.

As I wrote elsewhere, this thing is close to being "Knucks," and as such, you could be arrested and charged with carrying "Knuckles." Especially if your State has a catch-all game with its’ Citizenry regarding carrying NOTHING to defend yourself with. Some States say, "Metal Knuckles." I believe others say, "Metal or other knuckles."

Again, this is for you to decide. I have no experience with this device but it’s another puncher-hammerfist-reverse hammerfist device that looks viable. Just not so forgiving if you are hassled or arrested for it.


This rather odd fistload device was advertised in an issue of Black Belt back in 1983. Long time ago…around the same time, Tak Kubota of Kubotan Fame was advertising a "T-Hold Kubotan." Thicker than this Shu-Chu device…think of a miniaturized version of a PR-24 Side Handle Baton and that was the T-Hold Kubotan.

Anyway…this Shu-Chu device is a lot like that T-Hold Kubotan and the reason I did not go ahead and scan the T-Hold Kubotan. Redundant.

This is sort of neat and I’m absolutely sure it would be effective. The beauty of fistloads and pocket sticks is, they do not have to be radically involved to be effective. So, of course it will work. But it is just another in a sea of devices…

The G.I. Fistload

Yes, the Government issued a fistload. Amazing, huh? Well, it’s not really a fistload, but a lot of people sure use them for fistloads. They are catching on in popularity in the more restricted areas of the country.

The good old Carabiner makes one hell of a fistload/knuckleduster. Or, you can simply hook your index finger through it and kerrang someone that way as well. No more explanation is required. It can do a lot of damage. Metal has a tendency to damage people.

Maybe I should have included that in the Brass Knuckles Article. Maybe I should have included this next device in the Knuckle Article as well…

The Karate Key

Hardy-Har-Har, found this in an old issue of Soldier of Fortune. Ahh…do you watch, "That 70s Show" on FOX? Well, this is the 70s for ya. Someone took the concept of "Half Knuckles" and instead of contouring everything, they just made it into a block of aluminum.

Effective, I’m sure. I found it after the Knuckle Article was written, so I figured I would place it in here for your enjoyment. Knuckles are technically a type of fistload as a far as I’m concerned, but not all fistloads are knucks.

Wrap Up

Fistloads, Pocket Sticks…Knuckles and Knuckledusters of all types…these cause a severe amount of damage. The reasons are listed in the beginning of this article. Reinforcement of the clenched fist or open hand, weighting it so you hit harder, etc.

People do not realize that these sorts of things break bones easily. They also break facial bones easily as one of my sinuses bears painful testimony to, to this day.

An interesting thing about striking the face with something like brass knuckles, or in my own injury I sustained, a simple piece of steel…

These injuries do not really hurt until the adrenaline wears off…then it hurts. If you hit the thicker parts of the skull, you can knock someone out or kill them.

Aiming for the face against someone determined will not necessarily stop them from hurting you as the facial bones break so easily and dissipate the force. The skull can be a fatal shot, as can anywhere in the neck so if you were to target these areas with some sort of reinforcer. Be aware that it would have to be a situation where your life is in danger, immediate threat of grave, bodily injury and/or death…for you to counter in that manner.

These devices can break ribs easily…anything they hit gets smashed and damaged to some degree. If you train with these things to familiarize yourself with various weapons, expedients and improvised weapons and tools…do so with the utmost caution. Dentists are very expensive Doctors to have to hire and death is forever. Be careful please.

The PlastiKen, Wild Kat and other "Keychain" Self-defense impact tools can be purchased through


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Don Rearic


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