One common misconception about martial arts is that those who practice it rely only on their physical attributes, and the use of their body parts like hands and feet to ward off their opponents.
On the contrary, martial arts practitioners especially in the olden times used weapons such as swords. In Asia, martial arts weapons were created as early as the 15th century most of which were assembled in China. Through the years, martial arts weapons have had this mystique as legends and folklore suggested that those who use these items were guided by spirits.
Martial arts weapons can be grouped into two: bladed and non-bladed. A bladed weapon has a sharpened edge for slicing, cutting, and slashing, or a sharp point for stabbing and thrusting. Some of the weapons that are in this group are spears, daggers, knives, swords, and clubs.
On the other hand, non-bladed weapons are those used to stun, club, or bludgeon an opponent. The most popular blunt weapon may have to be the staff, or bo and stick.
That said, here are some of the more common martial arts weapons:
The sword may have evolved from the dagger during the Bronze Age period, when construction of longer blades became possible. In Asia, Chinese steel swords were said to have been used at the end of the Western Zhou Dynasty which was around 1,000 years before the birth of Christ. It was not widely used in the country, however, until the Han Dynasty or around the 3rd century B.C.
The Japanese are also known for the use of swords. Of course, you may have heard of the katana or the samurai sword. This is a curved and singled edged blade with a long grip that allows users to hold it using two hands.
The Japanese also have different types of swords. They call a straight sword Chokuto, which was produced prior to the start of the 10th century. They also have a two edged sword called Tsurugi, and a long, big and curved sword called tachi which was in vogue during the 13th century.
The sai looks like a small sword but unlike the latter, it is versatile as it can be valuable for its offensive and defensive capabilities. A kobudo karate weapon, it can be used to disarm an armed attacker, or beat him using a variety of offensive strikes. It can also be a show weapon that is used in many martial arts demos around the world.
The staff is also another popular weapon among martial arts practitioners because of its long range striking capability. It can also beautifully spin during demonstrations. Legend has it that the bo staff, which was used in feudal Japan, was not designed to be a weapon. It was originally intended for balancing baskets of harvested crops, as well as milk or fish. But since it was so common, martial artists eventually found another use for it– as a weapon.
The nunchaku is another traditional Okinawan martial arts weapon. It consists of two sticks that are connected by a short chain or rope. It was first used by Okinawan royalty. It was not really popular at first because it was relatively ineffective when ranged against other weapons at that time like the samurai sword, aside from the few techniques that can maximize its use.
In modern times, the weapon became popular thanks to Bruce Lee, widely regarded as the most influential martial artist of all time. Lee popularized the use of the nunchaku in his movies. His student, another actor named Dan Inosanto also used this weapon in some of the flicks he made.
A contemporary nunchaku can be made from wood, plastic, metal, or fiber glass.
5. Fighting Fans
It’s very likely you are familiar with fighting fans, as these weapons have been extensively featured in martial arts movies. Fighting fans are well used in martial arts like Kung Fu because these can be utilized to surprise an opponent. These weapons are made of either wood or metal, and often have beautiful designs that are intended to distract an unsuspecting victim.
In Japanese martial arts, these fans are called Tessen. In fact, many martial arts assassins disguise themselves as geisha by using fans. They then surprise their enemies by using tessen.
Bamboo kung fu fighting fans are also used for demonstrations because of their light weight and flexibility. The heavier steel fan, meanwhile, is more of an offensive weapon and can be used for striking. It can even be utilized to deflect weapons.
6. Eskrima Sticks
Eskrima is a martial art that is popular in the Philippines and similar to sword fighting. The weapon of choice in this martial art is the eskrima stick, which is available in many styles and weights. These sticks are durable and flexible, made from lightweight wood like rattan and waxwood.