Tag Archives: nunchaku

Are nunchucks actually a good weapon? It feels like a baseball bat would give the same result while being less complex to use.

One of these is a weapon, one of these is not.

(Hint: it’s the nunchaku. That’s the weapon.)

The nunchaku is essentially a short flail. It generates a lot of force on rotation and the loose chain allows for you to carry the full force of the swing into an opponent. A single swing can break your face. The nunchaku does so with a lot less effort and windup on the part of the wielder that you’d need when using a bat, while being far more effective.

Imagine for a moment another person walking up to you in a heavy trench coat. They reach inside and out comes the nunchaku, with a single flick of their wrist they’ve sent a bar of pure steel whipping across your face.

That’s the amount of time they needed to break your jaw.

Now, instead of being finished like one would with a bat, the nunchaku is spinning on that chain. The recoil it has when it hits an object allows the wielder to easily transition into building greater force. A strike across puts it in position to hit you again, this time with greater force than it did on the first strike. They strike diagonally across your head, specifically aiming for your temple, which now will have killed you.

Two strikes for the price of one, while maintaining a clean stance, all with a lot less effort than it takes to swing a bat.

Bats are designed to hit baseballs and all the force ends up in the tip, if you want to be successful when you hit someone else with them then you have to connect with that tip. Bats are ridiculously easy to stop on the basis of two things:

1) To take full advantage of the swing, they require the full wind up. This is a huge telegraphed motion. Any heavily telegraphed body movement is easy to dodge.

2) You either step back when they swing and let it go past, then go forward in the opening left available or you just keep going forward and let the mid point of the bat hit your ribs. It’ll hurt some, but that isn’t where the weighted point behind the force is. Their hands are tied up. So, you hit them.

The nunchaku is used in a single hand, leaving one free for defense. It can be switched between different hands to great effect. A trained wielder is usually ambidextrous, allowing them to switch off as needed or carry two if they feel like it. They use their body to catch, cushion, and redirect the strikes.

The nunchaku’s body is generally made of wood or metal. It’s extraordinarily easy to conceal, which is why it is banned in several states. It is an exceptionally good weapon if you know how to use it and can be a very painful weapon (for you) if you don’t.

It will give you many more options in strike pattern than a bat, opening up the whole of the human body, without loss of defense.

It’s fast and builds momentum faster, in fact, than the bat due to the chain.

It is easier to use than a bat, carries less associated risk than a bat, and allows for better defense. Bruce Lee made a career using the nunchaku on film which was considered by and large too risky because you cannot totally control how hard you strike the other person.

It’s not a weapon you carry if you intend to avoid cracking open another person’s head like an egg.

When asking yourself: which is the more effective weapon?

Always ask yourself: which one is the weapon?

In absence of all other context, that’s probably the most effective one.


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Are Nunchucks actually viable as weapons in a fight? All I have ever seen them used for outside of TMNT is very stylized…or people hitting themselves in the face or crotch.

Yes; they’re illegal in several states because of it. Like the tonfa and the sai, they’re a fantastic “fuck you” weapon against the samurai. Traditionally, they’re made from bamboo with rope, but modern ones come in metal and have a chain connecting them. They’re easily concealable too, and, you’re not trying to be fancy, it doesn’t take much training to be able to screw someone up with them. They’re a lot like a shorter version of the flail; you generate force through rotation and then connect to devastating effect. When they rebound off the victim, you can use that to kick start the inertia for the next strike. You can also duel wield them, but a single works just fine.

The key is learning the proper rotation of your own body as you turn them to use yours as a form of catch and release while the momentum builds and they are maneuvered into different positions. Commonly, one catches on the upper arms, shoulders, and ribs. Unless we’re talking about the old school comics, TMNT actually hides how dangerous they are, especially against unarmored opponents. The turtles originally killed people in the Mirage comics, which is why they have the weapons they do.

The nunchaku are a real weapon. But, because of the design, they’re very difficult to safely use in stage fighting. If you need a visual reference, Bruce Lee used them in several films.

It’s worth noting that, due to the danger nunchaku pose to other stuntmen, they’re something of a rarity on film. Bruce Lee’s phenomenal skill was the reason why he could use them in his movies and why he had the trust of his stuntmen not to hit/kill them, they were also occasionally made of plastic and probably padded. That said, Bruce Lee really is the best, so he’s worth watching. Just assume every hit involves a broken nose or jaw or wrist and there’s a lot more blood.


You touched on nunchaku earlier and mentioned a more in-depth article on that particular weapon was in the works. Will we be seeing it soon? I have a character who uses them and would love to read more about them.

Unfortunately, I can’t really do a weapon primer on the nunchaku until I reclaim them from my mother’s house in California. The same is true for the staff, it would be too difficult to do a write up on both weapons without having them in hand to mess around with. So, it won’t come up until after Thanksgiving.

But, here are some basic points to keep in mind when working with the nunchaku.

1) It is not a weapon of the Samurai.

The nunchaku is an Okinawan weapon that comes out of the Karate disciplines, so many of the outlooks of budo and honor that come with the Japanese warrior class simply don’t apply to it. The nunchaku is not an honorable weapon and it does not belong on a character who follows, what the West anyway views as, traditional ideals. You can’t take a character who is supposed to have what is considered to be a traditional warrior code or samurai outlook and hand them a nunchaku. It won’t work, the way the weapon works and the outlook behind it are too different. (You can take a character who is subverting that mentality and give them a nunchaku, because why not.)

2) A nunchaku functions more like a whip than a baton

The nunchaku is a weapon that creates power through rotation, you hold one end and spin the other. The chain or rope connecting the two pieces allows the weapon to gain a more significant force and also be more flexible in it’s approach. When rotating, it is controlled almost entirely by the wrist, where subtle shifts allow the wielder to change both the application of force and direction. However, because of it’s free nature, there is a certain level of control to the force application that the wielder will never have.

This is part of the reason why the nunchaku is outlawed without owning a concealed weapons permit. Unlike the balisong, the nunchaku is a very dangerous weapon and can quite easily be used, even by a beginner, to kill someone else.

3) When learning to use the nunchaku, expect pain.

The nunchaku is a fantastic weapon. However, when training, many of the stops and transitions require catching the loose end with your own body. Now, over time the wielder develops the necessary skill to keep from hurting themselves but in the beginning that level of control isn’t there. When one of my friends was training on the three-section staff, he had to wear headgear. The reason was that while he could control the first two pieces relatively well, the third was always coming up to clock him in the back of the head. Even the most basic beginning strikes with the nunchaku require catching on both the lower and upper body, if your character started their training on a non-padded weapon (which is traditional), it’s likely that they ended each training session with a bevy of bumps and bruises on their shoulder blades and both sides of their ribcage.

Now, the pain works as a form of encouragement for the student to develop the required level of control. Still, it hurts! As with all training mishaps, assume your character has clocked himself or herself in a few uncomfortable places at least once.

I’ll get into the nitty gritty later, once I can practice with it again. But, hopefully that’ll give you a headstart for now.