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Okinawan Weapons

Nunchaku

Nunchaku

Nunchaku

The most controversial of the weapons of the Ryukyu but in essence the least properly explored. Made preferably of red or white oak, or a heavy wood, the sections are tapered from the chord end (2.5cm) to the predominant strike end (3.3cm). The shafts vary from octagonal to round in shape and the weight is dependent on the strength of the user. Again too light and there is no power, and too heavy and the movement is slow and ponderous. Traditionally this weapon is not used in pairs, as the actions of the one should be sufficient. Nunchaku belongs to the family of Bo and is known as the “portable Bo”.

History has not endowed this weapon with traditional kata as shown by the content of those handed down. They are by design training kata to enable better handling and combination work. The essence of the weapon is the kumite, exploring distance, angles and footwork. Impact should be on the tip of the weapon or it will bounce back on the user. For a long period, the nunchaku was said to have been derived from a rice flail, or grain flail. However the grain flail was a much larger tool. Its development on Okinawa is not wholly clear, since a direct precursor to the modern Okinawan nunchaku seems to have been a wooden horse-bridle, or muge.

 

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