Nunchaku – Learn about one of the martial arts most famous weapons…

The Nunchaku is part of the martial arts weapons world.

It was made famous by Bruce Lee in the 70 s’ and has since been a symbol of kung-fu jeet kune do and the martial arts in general.


The names used to describe this weapons vary – nunchak, nunchakus, nuns, nu-chaku, numchaks and more…

Its name means “twin” (nun) + length measurements for each stick (shaku)

We will use the various names randomly during the text

Brief history

Unlike common thought, the nunchack is part of the Okinawan martial arts (which karate is a prime member of…)

Like many weapons and martial arts developed in Okinawa which have their origins tracing back to Chinese influence, the nunchakus are said to be a mutation of the 3 sectioned staff.

There are many other and completing theories regarding its origins. Many weapons and martial arts developed in the island, due to the ban on locals from using classical weapons, the nunchaks are said to have been developed in the 17th century from a flail used thresh soy beans and rice grain.

Size, structure and components

The nunchack are normally made from 2 rounded pieces of wood ( they should length like our fore arm – to supply full cover and effective blocking) with a rope or chain connecting between them.

The chains length should be enough to “sit” on the width of our hand allowing the sticks to fall down easily (to provide just enough agility and control)..

The numchak itself should be balanced at the middle. Nowadays the wood is replaced by other materials - hard if used for combat purposes and soft if used for training. The material is not the element changed, the shape of the sticks may also vary, with some nunckaks being edged and octagonal for increased damage purposes some having bladed tips and more....

Pros and cons

The nunchak is a very dangerous weapon both for the defender, but also for the attacker.


It strikes with great force and speed. The fact that it’s connected with a cord or chain makes the ability to estimate its striking distance very difficult. Nevertheless it is still considered a medium-short range weapon.

It is a very agile weapon as are most “connected” weapons such as the 3 sectioned staff, the whip, the flying dagger and so on… This makes it very hard to follow, and understand where the strike is going to come from.

The chain also allows it to be used as a submission holds weapon.


It is a very hard weapon to control, and one can hurt himself as easily as he can hurt his opponent.

The correct distance of striking is hard for the user to understand as well. The full range of the strike is not the full length of the nunchaks because of the cord and the fact that the strike is always with an angle (as opposed to, for instance, the thrust of a pole or stab of a knife.

It is also a weapon which can be neutralized and disarmed fairly easily when using, for example, a counter pole or stick and striking the chain.


They nunchaks stayed relatively unknown until the late Bruce Lee popularized it in his 70s’ renowned movies.

Today many associations practice and teach it both in and for competitions and self defense reasons.

Some nunchaku organizations are:

• WNA – World Nunchaku Association

• FINCA – Federation Internationale de Nunchaku de Combat et Artistique

• ITNA – International Techdo Nunchaku Association

• And More (please contact us to add…)

Martial arts which teach and use it

Surprisingly there are many martial arts which teach the use of this weapon. Most of them, however, began this after the nunchucks fame grew.

Martial arts which teach the nunchak primarily for submission holds:

• Okinawan martial arts primarily karate

Martial arts which teach the nunchakus primarily for striking:

• Jeet kune do

• Eskrima

• Kali

• Nenbushi

Martial arts which teach it for both:

• Taekwondo

• Hapkido

• OPN (Orcutt Police Nunchaku)

Martial arts teaching it primarily for show:

• Wushu

When to study it

As any other weapon, the nunchaku can help our empty hand ability fighting, as well as the obvious advantage, fighting wise, of using a weapon.

We discussed about the appropriate time for to teaching a weapon in the conclusion section, of the martial arts weapons

Nunchucks training can increase our reflexes, eye hand coordination and coordination itself, but if these are the only qualities aimed to be improved through the training, it might be better to concentrate on other drills which can also improve these physical attribiutes.

A factor that should be considered when wanting to learn the nunchuck for self defense is whether or not they are legal in our region, state or country. If not it might be a better idea to train a weapon which is more available, legal and easy to carry.

Buying a nunchaku

Like many weapons we buy, we need to pay attention to details in order not to get ripped off. Some points to notice:

• Make sure that the build of the nunchucks, are as we described above.

• Notice that the cord is attached safely and firmly – not only glue.

• The sticks should not be too polished and smooth as they will tend to slip.

• Make sure the wood isn’t cracked or damaged.

• There should be a coat of water resistant color, so that our sweat won’t damage the wood.

• When buying a non wooden nunchuk, make sure they don’t cut or hurt your hand on the grip.

• Check prices and guarantees.

If you have any more advice please contact us.


The nunchack is a very challenging weapon to master.

Mastering it can help improve various physical attributes as well as providing us a weapon we’ll be able to use.

Nevertheless as discussed in so many sections in this site, we should make sure that the assimilation and behavior we want to ingrain in our body for empty hand fighting or other weapons fighting, coincides (or at least doesn’t contradict) with that of the numchack theory of fighting.

If it is, the timing for studying and practicing it is crucial for our ability to master its use, while mastering other fighting aspects we want to assimilate.

For information regarding this and more visit Martial Arts Weapons

Learn more about the Samurai Sword - The Katana

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