One of the most common things people think of when thinking about the martial arts is the ‘Nunchaku’, or ‘Nunchuks’ as some call them. I think everyone who has ever watched a Bruce Lee movie, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been mesmerized by the skill it takes to be able to work a pair. I have known many people, who have tried to make them swing and dance over their shoulders, without knocking themselves in the head! Some were quite successful, others not so much. For decades, they have been a controversial martial art weapon as they can be deadly.
Traditionally Nunchaku, were an Okinawan farming tool used to thrash rice or soybeans. Some even say that their design was taken from a wooden clapper known as a ‘hyushiki’ which was carried by village night patrol and were used to hit blocks of wood to alarm people to danger in the village. As with many Okinawan farming tools, they were also used in secret as a self defense tool so farmers and their families could protect their land and themselves. Originally, Nunchaku were made from hard wood and attached together with a section of rope or chain.
Many different versions have been made over the years as their popularity grew. Metal and plastic versions have also been developed.
The popularity of the Nunchaku really grew with the infamous Bruce Lee. He was a master with them and you could almost become hypnotized by watching him use them on screen. Everyone wanted to learn how to use them and many people sought out instructors who could teach them. The Nunchaku, after all, like other popular Okinawan weapons such as the Bo, Sai and Tonfa were amongst many student’s motivation to learn the martial arts. Due to their growing popularity and the amount of serious injuries that occurred, they were a considered a dangerous weapon and were quickly prohibited in many States in the United States and other Countries. Nunchaku earned a reputation for being a thug or gang style weapon, largely due to the portrayal of them in martial art movies. The amount of damage that can be caused by them often led to deadly consequences.
When it comes to the legality of using the Nunchaku, one needs to do their homework. There are certain states such as California, New York who prohibit them. Other states allow them to only be used in a Martial Arts School. Countries such as Canada, and Germany have them on their prohibited weapons list. Other places such as Hong Kong, allow them, however you have to be a Martial Arts Instructor and have a special permit for them from the police.
Interestingly enough they have been used by some American Law Enforcement Agencies as a form of non- lethal force and can be used to help in controlling criminals.
If you find yourself tempted to learn how to use these flashy, quick, yet deadly martial arts tools, make sure you know the law in your area, seek out a certified instructor to help teach you the basics. Learn the safety of how to use them, where to store them so that young children cannot find them, and perhaps seek out a safer style to practice with. There are different types of plastic and foam ones out there. Nunchaku are very fun to learn and require lots of skill to become proficient in. Most importantly, use common sense. Lastly, it might be a great idea to have an ice pack standing by.
By Tracy Warrener