Martial Arts Weapons

Martial Arts Weapons – Expand your knowledge on this vast subject and understand in what ways it completes the martial arts empty hand world…

The story of the martial arts weapons is the story of the martial arts themselves.When humanity started to train in fighting it wasn’t for enjoyment, sport or recreation it was to survive; as such every means was acceptable.

(To learn more about Kung fu, Wushu and Chinese Martial Arts and or Japanese Martial Arts history and development)

Due to this, fighting with a weapon was taught often before empty hand fighting was introduced to the student, and sometimes empty hand fighting was “neglected” all together.

As was done in many sections on this site, we will try to examine weapons fighting in the eyes of the present circumstances of martial art training.

* Note – we only treat short range weapon fighting in this site – middle range and long range weapons (like guns, bow and arrow, grenades…) which are actually used from these distances (a gun held at short range becomes a short range weapon) require a different fighting doctrine.

Our personal objective

The Warriors Project avoids telling people why they should learn martial arts. Every person and martial artist does it for his or her own reason, (even inside the project we have people motivated for and from different reasons).

We do however encourage people to define and understand what it is they are looking for, and to understand the theory and training system behind their martial art so they can maximize and optimize the “fruits” of their training and truly reach their full potential.

Why is this point ever so relevant when regarding martial arts weapons training?

The weaponry world, because of its versatile nature, can cause us to drift away from our initial goal even further, with out noticing.

Weapon theory and training system

In contrast to empty hand martial arts systems (which we examined both in the types of martial arts article and in the list of martial arts) where the unknown factor is big but not great – we know our opponent has two arm two legs… and the variables are “only” his strength, height, fighting style… - all things which are dealt with in the tactics and technique section of the theory.

When we deal with weapons the variables grow dramatically. Every unknown factor which is relevant for empty hand fighting remains relevant, but on top of that we need to be prepared to handle things such as - the kind of weapon/s he is using, the kind/s we have…

This forces the martial art theory to adapt, change and define itself also in defenition and conception aswell as in strategy

Martial arts weapons, empty hand fighting and what’s in between…

It is far too vast a subject for this article and even this site to try and “answer” all the variables reality can provide, but there are some points worth mentioning in the big martial art picture which connect empty hand, pure weaponry and combined martial arts.

The Human Equation

In the home page as well as in the mental training section we discussed the elements and factors which can determine a fight.

We discussed that in general, the most important attributes a fighter or martial artists needs to win a fight are:

His mental level and abilities

After that in importance is his Physical level and abilities

And next are his technical abilities

In the martial arts weapons world – the equation changes –

First and for most in importance is the weapon which is used (i.e. a superior fighter can face an opponent who “only” uses a sharp knife or heavy stick and still have bigger a chance of losing than winning…).

The technical aspect of the fighter becomes even more important than the mental and physical now that a weapon has come into play.

There is a way and method to fight against weapons, but for an untrained fighter it will be virtually impossible to bridge the gap only with his mental and physical abilities (this is not the case in empty hand combat…).

Technical differences in the martial arts weapons world

In empty hand fighting a block is a useful technique. We can use our hand or legs to block a strike, we might decided to receive a body shot in order to deliver a blow to the head, we might even “sacrifice” getting hit in order to gain a physical and sometimes even a mental advantage (for instance if we took our opponents best shot and overcame, it can have devastating effects on him and great effects on ours confidence).

With weapons this is not the case. In general we consider any hit to be crucial and being potentially lethal and devastating..

Whether it’s a stick, knife, sword, brass knuckle, stone… when “touching” any part of the body they can break, cut, and maim.

To this rule, of course, there are exceptions, and when fighting for our life, we might need to “sacrifice” getting injured, but that’s definitely in the extremes… Further more when using a weapon our variety of targets change dramatically as well. We can now aim to injure any body part, knowing that it might end the fight.

For instance, as a knife fighter we should aim to cut and slash the arms and legs of our opponent even before trying to reach the body or head. In some weaponry martial arts it is considered “bad execution” to win the fight with only one fatal wound or blow, rather many injuries should be inflicted on the road to the fatal blow.

* Please note as was written in the Warriors Project – violence section, the subjects examined and discussed are not a “to do list”, this is only a theoretical discussion, and by no means should it be seen as an encouragement to inflict injury and spread or practice violence..

Due to the physical difference in weapons fighting which we will soon cover below - another element which is very hard to utilize in empty hand martial arts opens up when using a weapon…

As we examined in the punching article, an empty hand strike can be effective in power mainly when going forward or to the side. Using a weapon, however, allows us and or our opponent to cause severe damage even when stepping back.

Continuing these thoughts the method in which the actual techniques such as: countering, deflecting and avoiding are done change as well.

In general when fighting against a weapon our movements for these techniques are much wider and circular than without, because we must make sure we’re totally out of the weapons lethal “touch”.

In many combined martial arts we will find that the techniques which are used for empty hand combat remained similar to that of its weaponry “mother” system which are very circular and rounded.

This fact in some cases can reduce the effectiveness of the empty hand techniques. In some cases these disadvantages are taken into consideration, because the upside of it is that our body doesn’t need to choose from too many solutions and technique options (more on this in choice reaction time).

A sub-headline in the martial arts weapon world is

Fighting with out a weapon.

Many things change when one opponent has a weapon and the other doesn’t. In most cases this will require a change in conception and strategy of the fight at least until the equation is changed.

In most cases an unarmed person’s first goal when fighting against an armed one is to neutralize the weapon. It is usually too risky to try and strike the body or the head of a person while he is still holding the weapon.

The main goal in this situation is to take the weapon or force him to drop it. This is done through joint locking, submission holds and rarely striking (which is used for disorienting before the joint locks, and only in rare cases can they open the grip holding the weapon).

We aim to hold the weapon or the arm which controls it without letting go, sometimes even if it means getting hit from another empty hand strike.

“The best defense is attack is not always right in these situations, unless it is meant for attacking the weapon and not the person holding it…”

Physical training differences in the martial arts weapons world

Strength and power verses agility, quickness and speed (AQS).

In many empty hand striking arts much emphasis is put on developing the correct structure and power which will allow to deliver a “worthy” strike (we examined this when we talked about punching).

In the martial arts weapons world strength and power are needed, but not nearly as much as in empty hand fighting (We would be better off sharpening our knife or sword for 10 minutes than training to improve our strength in that time). We can be very weak and small, but still be extremely deadly with a sharp knife or hard and heavy stick.

However, when comparing the importance of reaction time and agility training - these elements are just as much important. We must have superb AQS in order to overcome the advantages a weapon provides its holder. The motion and movements must be evermore precise, accurate and quick, because there is no room for mistakes.

Mental training differences in the martial arts weapons world

Some mental attributes required in a quality empty hand fighter can change when examining the needs of a “weaponry” fighter.

One of the obvious is aggressiveness. As we examined above the techniques needed for dealing with a weapon are more circular and rounded, a fact which in many cases contradicts “aggressive oriented” techniques such as cutting the way, attacking on an attack exe...

Another element which enhances its importance in martial arts weapons fighting is the fighting spirit element - the life and death situation part.

There’s was a saying in the Soviet Union – “Don’t take out a weapon if you’re not prepared to use it”

This drives home the point – when fighting against and with a weapon it has life and death consequences – we must “program” our mind to this state of mind.

Conclusions for martial arts weapons

When learning a combined martial art, the first question which needs to be answered is - what’s more important for us to learn – the weaponry or the empty hand art?

In many cases learning a mixed martial art (or combining between some) can help build a well rounded martial artist, which can extract great building tools for his development.

Meaning that a martial art training system must supply the training tools needed for assimilating a certain behavior. Adding the study of a weapon or adding the study of empty hand fighting can compliment one another and add tools for improving.

The question is, as always, on the timing. At what phase of study should it be introduced and taught?

Our answer is logical - only after one of the behaviors (either of the weapon or the empty hand) is assimilated and ingrained enough in the fighter/warrior. If it is not it will cause confusion in the mind and body of the martial artist and the potential gain is likely to be lost.

Welcome to martial arts weapons.

Learn about the Samurai Sword -Katana

Learn more about the Nunchaku

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