History of Nunchaku

Terror for undesirables, Hoodlums, Bullies,

Murders and Thieves

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Photo Copyright©2011 by Gaylen Andrews, Celebrity Photographer for Martial Arts Stars™

Shuffling along the gravel laden road was an ordinary looking man of slight build—a man who would never draw any special attention. Tucked under his arm were two seemingly useless pieces of wood, strung together with a few short strands of horsehair. No one, except the most curious eye, would notice at all.

He walked ahead, his gaze fixed firmly in the direction of a house directly in front of him. The house belonged to any enemy of his family—a man who had cursed the family name.

He knocked on the door and the enemy, a big, burly, hard-faced man, opened it to him. Then, with a lightning-fast movement, the small, insignificant looking man swung the “harmless” sticks from under his arm and wrapped them around the stunned man’s neck. He quickly tightened the sticks and in just moments the enemy paid the ultimate price for slurring the family name—he would never again be able to slur any name!

I’ve told this frightening tale to impress upon you the deadly, historical significance of this unique martial arts weapon.

In the years 1609 to 1875, during the occupation of Okinawa by the Japanese warlords (Sutsuma Clan), farmers, fishermen and working men were forbidden to possess tools and weapons of any kind. This oppression of their rights inspired a clever farmer to put together what is now Nunchaku—two pieces of wood, connected with some strands of horsehair. Simple, but with the capacity to wreak bone-crushing power when used with proper training.

It was during this troubled era that the art of Kobujutsu or weapon fighting was developed for self-defense. Some of the traditional weapons used by the Okinawan people for their self-preservation were: the Bo (staff), Sai (short sword), the Kama (sickle), the Naginata (spear), the Tonfa (rice grinder) and the Nunchaku (sticks and chain).

Since its conception, the fascination with the Nunchaku has grown considerably and more rapidly now. They are easily available because many manufacturers are making them. Avid followers of the martial arts purchase them wherever they are legal. Due to its highly destructive capacity the use of the Nunchaku is restricted to training in private or with a class in a school (dojo).

Body form movements, know as kata, are techniques, systematically organized and performed in planned sequence. All the hand and foot techniques are incorporated in kata, including body shifting, muscle coordination and proper breathing. All these are used in strangling, blocking and striking movements.

Practically all of the formal exercises were developed by well-known karate masters and are skillfully utilized in various defense and attack techniques.

Forming the basis of all weapons’ practice, the kata is judged by your balance, coordination, positioning, breathing, timing, speed, rhythmical sequence, focus, power, reflex action and poise. Without a planned form of action, the Nunchaku cannot be a true weapon.

Kata is something like a recording of all the motions and moves of a particular weapon. The kobujutsu practitioner has, as one of his major aim, the ability to perform perfectly all of the kata.

As you perfect your form in the kata, you should be able to develop an awareness of yourself that goes beyond your physical being … your life will take on a new meaning and purpose.

To be effective, Nunchaku demands three basic actions: a speedy strike to the enemy’s body, a strong grip and a determined attitude. When you move in on an opponent, you should quickly swing the chaku (one stick) into action—before he has a chance to defend himself.

One of the greatest advantages of the Nunchaku over all over weapons is that it looks nothing like a weapon at first glance. It simply looks like two ordinary sticks strung together. In fact, the Oriental farmers of the ancient times who used the Nunchaku for protection, did not worry about hiding it from their enemies. These enemies looked upon it as a harmless farmer’s utensil—never aware of its deadly power as a weapon.

Although the Nunchaku has a fascinating history behind it as an unbelievably destructive weapon, today it is recognized by karate men as an important tool for developing poise, posture and coordination. As you begin to master Nunchaku through the instructions in this course, you will soon see why experts in karate and the martial arts call it “the perfect extension of the Art of Self-Defense.”
Why the Nunchaku has the advantage over other
Oriental self-defense weapons

  • • The Nunchaku is compact; it can be easily concealed; fits into you suit jacket; onto your belt; in a pocketbook, bag, newspaper, automobile; at the side of a bed. You can carry the Nunchaku any place, anytime for twenty-four hours of instant protection.
  • • The Nunchaku is light to to carry, weighing less than 1 1/4 pounds, and is eight to fourteen inches in length.*
  • • Innocent in appearance, the Nunchaku looks totally harmless to an outsider who does not know its lethal capacity.
  • • The Nunchaku enables you to hit your target at a safe distance. An extension of your arms and legs, the Nunchaku is truly remarkable and unique. Fully extended, the Nunchaku covers a vast distance (up to four feet), especially when you body shift forward into a long stance.
    A Final Word

Grandmaster Master Shinran Chang, 10th Dan, once said: “In studying the art of Nunchaku, the ultimate good lies not in winning a hundred battles, but in overcoming the enemy without a conflict.”

As a serious Kobudo practitioner, the art of Nunchaku will not only help you defend yourself in an emergency, it will lead you to understand the mental, emotional and physical qualities of your inner personality. You will defeat adversaries, and perhaps, eliminate weaknesses in yourself.

When you are first taught how to dance, your attention and concentration are focused on beginning events: step left, forward, now together and count 1-2-3-4-. Only after exposure to continual repetition of fundamental dance steps can you move autonomously on the dance floor without thinking or counting steps. Once the moves become second nature, you find yourself talking freely, laughing, and enjoying yourself. You have mastered a particular dance.

Compare learning to dance with learning the art of Nunchaku. Practice frees your mind.
The ideal goal for every student of Nunchaku is to attain some degree of perfection. This goal enables your instincts to guide you through life with a greater sense of humility, pride, honor and preparedness for most situations encountered.

Remember, studying the art of Nunchaku is not a pure test of physical strength. Like other martial arts, it instills a feeling of harmony, self-respect and inner peace for all living things in you.

Only by experiencing each and every technique in the art of Nunchaku, only by relying on those techniques learned in total rather than in part, can you truly benefit.

Study the record of any person who achieves noteworthy success. You will observe a strong-willed person controlling their mind and actions. Without this control, success is not possible.

When asked by fellow colleagues what my definition of a truly successful Martial Artist is, I responded: “I will tell you what is not success. A truly successful person is not one who acquires great wealth and riches or desires human adulation or fame. Success cannot be defined by what you obtain in life, but rather what you put into life—sharing your knowledge by unselfishly contributing to the lives of others.”

Practice, practice, and more practice is the backbone of a well-trained Kobudo practitioner. Good luck in all your efforts!

*Official Okinawan Kobujutsu Kyokai Association (O.K.K.A.) sanctioned Nunchaku, 12” in length. (Sticks Not sold where prohibited by law!)

Staying Legal While Staying Alive:
The Law and Self-Defense

by William A. Mandelbaum, Esq.

Streets are becoming meaner, and the martial arts are responding accordingly. Schools are teaching “American Combat Karate,” full-contact bouts are nationally televised and movies show eye and groin gouging in slow motion and close-up. This tendency to play up violence and play down self-control causes an increasing risk of the martial artist going too far in defense of himself, others, or his property. Remember, if you go too far and your attacker is fatally wounded, you may face legal action.

Today’s martial artist needs a basic background in the law of self-defense. While this article cannot offer a state-by-state summary of the law, it will provide the basic knowledge that can help martial artist avoid criminal court after having defended themselves on the street.

The Retreat Rule

You’ve just been confronted by a would-be-attacker. Knowing that your side kick could stop a charging rhino and you shuto is faster than a speeding bullet, you smile as you demolish him … right? In many Eastern-state jurisdictions there is a doctrine known as the “retreat rule.” The retreat rule requires that you run away before using deadly force on your attacker.

However, you may stand your ground and give a minor beating instead of receiving one, even though you could have run away and avoided the fight. But be aware of the risks. You lunge-punch the attacker, aiming at his chin, hit him in the throat, and he dies. Even very experienced martial artists miss on occasion. A few inches either way could mean the difference between a minor beating and a corpse. Thus, by an analysis of the inherent risks, it is wiser to run.

Now most martial artists will recognize that running away from a fight is not exactly in the highest traditions of Bushido. By focusing in on the solar plexus region with a front kick or a reverse punch, the risks of your hitting something that would cause a fatality is rather low. By using a knife-edge to the knee, you run a very low risk of doing any permanent damage.

Sometimes you have to go for more vital areas in a street attack. The law recognizes that you may use deadly force, when you are forced to protect yourself against on attack of similar magnitude. Unarmed against a weapon-bearing assailant is a case where deadly force might reasonable be used.

The word “reasonable” is the key. If that attacker lunges at your belly with a butcher knife and you tear his throat out, it is doubtful that you’re going to be charged with anything more serious than littering. But if the attacker has a Boy Scout knife at his side and is standing fifteen feet away from you, you have an opportunity to run, and you should take it.

The retreat rule only requires that you run away when it is safe to do so. A knife at your throat is a good time not to run, but where the threat is not immediate, you are required by the retreat rule to exercise the better part of valor.

The retreat-rule jurisdictions have their exceptions. When you are attacked in your home, there is no requirement to retreat before defending yourself. This home rule has been extended to offices and autos, but the decisions in those types of cases go both ways, so there is no hard and fast rule once you are out of the house.

Turnabout: Knowing When to Quit

You are in a bar or a train stations or any public place. Some thug comes up to you and grabs your wrist. In a flash, you perform the “Dance of Death” you learned as a purple belt, and the thug is now a puddle on the floor. The onlookers cheer as the police put the cuffs on and take you away. Not exactly the happy ending you expected?

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