Nunchucks are a martial arts weapon consisting of a long pole with an irregularly shaped metal or wooden handle, joined by a short chain that passes through two rings. The wielder can use the combined leverage of the rings to perform trick maneuvers such as redirecting an incoming blowback against its original target, tripping an opponent, disarming him/her, etc.

These were historically made from hardwood with long thin spikes protruding from their ends. They have also been fashioned from pieces of broken ceramic in ancient times and later made from aluminum wire to increase the speed at which they could be spun as self defense weapons in duels or for sport.

Origin of Nunchucks

Real Nunchucks, which are also known as nunchaku or chain sticks, originated in China. This martial art weapon is made from two sticks connected by a steel cable or chain. The two ends of the two-stick weapon can be held in each hand. In Japanese culture, the nunchaku is often used to mean short staff - which is not true for most other cultures where it refers to these weapons. 

The first written mention of this weapon comes from 16th century China during an era when there were frequent peasant uprisings against social injustices and oppression from the wealthy upper class called Red Turban Rebellions (or "hong dai"). The peasants were armed with the "Wa-n-sao chui" or the "forked staff".

In China, the nunchaku was used by martial artists as a training instrument, while it also served as an offensive weapon. In Japanese culture, however, its use is associated primarily with self-defense applications. The nunchaku can be used against an opponent to cause pain or to disarm them. In Japan, there are different styles of using this weapon which allow users to strike and defend themselves without injuring the opponent.

Read More: Who Invented Nunchucks?

Features and Specs of Nunchaku

Nunchucks are one of the most unique weapons in martial arts across the world. They have several features that make them an ideal weapon for combat or target practice, which is why they are often referred to as the "Shen Gong" (Divine Warrior) or "Jian" in Chinese. While many of these features may vary slightly depending on a particular style, this guide will cover some of the most standard features found across all types of nunchaku and other related martial arts weapons:

  • The body handles are made from either wood or metal with two loops at their ends to keep them closed and become more rigid.
  • At the end of one handle is a metal ring to attach the second handle. The rings are usually made of metal and connected to a metal plate on the other handle. In some styles, the rings can be connected by a wire.
  • The handles are typically held together with an elastic cord to keep them close during combat or target practice.
  • One side of both handles is made from hard plastic or rubber, which makes them feel more durable and resistant to damage during training or combat. The other side may be wood or metal for extra durability and weight.
  • The blades are usually made of metal or plastic, depending on a style's preference. They may vary in length and thickness to accommodate different hand sizes. They may be either single-edged or double-edged with a point on one end and a curved edge on the other end.
  • As well as these common features, individual styles may have minor differences such as the finger holes and pressure points on the handles.

Major Categories of Nunchucks

Nunchaku can be broken down into two main categories: "Lap" Nunchaku (also known as "Jian") and "Punch" Nunchaku (also known as "Nu"). This is for several reasons, including the design of the handles, which are very different. These two types of nunchaku have a circular shape with a "hole" in the middle where the user holds both handles with their hands. 

According to some martial arts styles, the hole is supposed to represent the center of the universe or something similar or is simply used as an easy way to hold these weapons. It is also known that this hole makes it easier for other martial artists to grab onto nunchaku while they practice and train. However, beyond that, there are no real traditions or features that would differentiate them from each other.

One of the most significant features of "Lap" Nunchaku is that they have a longer handle than "Punch" Nunchaku. Because the hole is in their middle, practitioners need to use a longer grip on these weapons, meaning that with both hands-free, the practitioner can swing them more freely and reach more targets to practice against. This feature has earned "Lap" Nunchaku their name as they resemble a person with one hand in front while the other hand is holding onto this weapon's circular body.

Another major difference between these two types of nunchucks is that each type can be broken or deformed into multiple pieces. "Lap" Nunchaku's circular design allows for more flexibility, and therefore deformation to increase speed and power. "Punch" Nunchaku have more rigid handles, meaning breaking the weapon would only break one of the handles.

The major reason for this design is to allow the user a greater degree of control over their weapon during practice or combat. This is made possible through the stiffer nature of the handle, which allows it to be held more securely without accidentally becoming deformed.

Nunchucks Are Effective in Following Applications:

A Nunchaku, also known as a nunchaku, nunchucks, or sabaku, is a weapon consisting of two sticks connected by a short rope or chain. They have long been associated with the Okinawan martial art of karate and with Chinese martial arts in general. 

The weapon was traditionally used to catch an opponent's wrist and hold him/her in place while delivering strikes to the body and wrists; as such, they were also used to block punches. These have been shown effective against punching and kicking attacks by holding down an opponent's leg when he kicks (thereby hindering his movement) so that he cannot kick effectively.

  • Martial Arts

The Nunchaku is a traditional Okinawan martial arts weapon. Primarily used in pairs, some karate styles employ the use of nunchaku for fighting as an alternative or complement to empty-hand techniques. It can be used for blocking and striking an opponent as well as trapping and kicking. 

The versatility of the weapon is often seen on stage when karate practitioners demonstrate their skills in three sections: empty hands, weapons, and "kobudo" or ancient martial arts weaponry. In the United States, it has been adopted by non-Japanese martial artists such as Ed Parker, Chuck Norris, and Gene Lebell who were influenced by Bruce Lee and his teacher Yip Man while they lived in Hong Kong.

  • Entertainment

In the U.S., actors and stunt professionals who use the nunchaku in film, television, and stage are members of The Nunchaku Academy, the first organization dedicated to the safe handling of this weapon. Instructors from this school have appeared on a variety of television shows as well as commercials and films. 

  • Law Enforcement

The nunchaku is also used by some police officers as a control device for non-lethal weaponry, such as pepper spray and Tasers. To meet legal standards for non-lethal weapons, training is required for all officers using them in America.

  • Health/Medicine

The nunchaku is used in the martial arts of medicine, a form of therapeutic movement developed by Line Koepplinger, Ph.D., LMT. This form of movement incorporates martial arts principles to promote healing in the individual. 

Through physical contact and intentional breathing, martial arts of medicine work with the energetic aspects of the body to promote balance and well-being. The martial arts of medicine movement also uses a self-defense component to enhance safety and confidence as it relates to free expression and agency in movement.

  • Stage Combat

In this field, nunchucks are most often used for stage combat and representation of a fight. Many performers perform with trained animals including wolves, lions, and tigers. A common practice in theater is to have the actors battle it out on stage. The name Nunchaku is also used in many television shows in America and abroad as a means of effecting suspense, or as a method for breaking the fourth wall (breaking the barrier between audience and show).