Home > Martial Arts > Martial Arts Weapons And Their Lack Of Effectiveness

Martial Arts Weapons And Their Lack Of Effectiveness

Becoming over-dependent on martial arts weapons is dangerous!

Good Times With Weapons?

Possibly the only thing cooler than having the ability to use your arms and legs to defend yourself is being proficient in martial arts weaponry. There are a host of interesting weapons including the Kama blade, Nunte spear/dagger, the Naginata sword or the Bo Staff. Then there is the legendary Nunchaku. A feeling of pride and confidence swells in your chest as you become an expert in the use of these weapons. Yet the fantasy is better than the reality in this instance. Martial arts weapons are, in the main, a bad idea as a means of self-defence for a host of reasons.

Lack Of Skill

Beneath all the legal problems associated with martial arts weapons is the fact that becoming over-dependent on them is dangerous. It’s one thing being an ace when it comes to wielding a Bo Staff, it’s quite another when you find yourself in a combat situation without one. This is not ancient Japan. Your opponent will not allow you to retrieve your weapon before engaging in a bout. If you have improved your expertise in weaponry at the expense of your unarmed technique, you will quickly find that a huge mistake has been made.

Bo Staff (Photo ©Mike Oliveri All rights reserved)

How To Carry Them

Then you have the practical aspect of using weapons. Where exactly are you going to keep a Bo Staff? In your pocket? Most people don’t have room in their bag for a Samurai sword and Nunchaku can be a burden to carry. There’s no better way to attract attention than by carrying a huge 16th century Japanese sword down the street. You will certainly ward off attackers but will have company in the form of the police force.

Lethal Weapon: A drawn sword (Photo ©Mike Oliveri All rights reserved)

Legal Issues

Unless you have been living under a rock, the majority of martial arts weapons have been deemed illegal. Nunchaku for example, is deemed to be an illegal weapon in nations like Russia and Canada with various states in the U.S placing it on the restricted list. Until recently in the United Kingdom, Nunchaku could be purchased by those over the age of 18 though they couldn’t be carried in public unless you could prove you were travelling between your home and martial arts training. A February 2010 case ruled that Nunchaku fell into the illegal weapon category as outlined in the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

Most countries also operate a strict no tolerance policy when it comes to butterfly knives, the Bo Staff and a variety of other weapons. Being caught in possession of such a weapon could see you hit with a large fine or even a custodial sentence for multiple offences. It is also illegal to use such weapons for self-defence. Believe it or not, if you used a Bo Staff to defend yourself against a gun, you could technically find yourself in trouble!

Rina Takeda using a set of Nunchaku in Karate Girl (Courtesy of Terracotta Film Distribution)

Safety First

The final reason not to use martial arts weapons is for your own personal safety. Just because you see an expert use a sword or Nunchaku with ease during a demonstration doesn’t mean that you can follow suit. These men and women have been practising for decades in many instances. When you’re handling a sword, one mistake could cost you a limb or even worse. Martial arts weapons are often deadly in the hands of an expert but are more dangerous when handled by a novice.

Simply put, you can’t expect to have good times with martial arts weapons. They are not a practical method of defending yourself, are against the law and could do more harm to you than your assailant. Once you bring a weapon into play, a host of legal and physical ramifications manifest themselves. It’s much better than leave things uncomplicated and learn to use your hands and feet more effectively.

Author profile:

Justin Wheeler is a fitness fan, martial arts practitioner and evangelist for online Martial Arts supplier Black Eagle.

Special thanks to Mike Oliveri for the use of his photos.

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Categories: Martial Arts
  1. January 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Great points. I think students taking up kobudo should keep in mind it’s more about fun and history or tradition than anything else.


  2. Anthony
    January 14, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    In my experience, a good teacher will teach empty handed techniques first, and then the weapons. This way, the mechanical principles that are necessary to use the weapons effectively are already developed. If you learn and understand the principles, then learning to use the weapons (or anything in your environment as a weapon) is largely trivial. Likewise, trying to using a weapon without a solid foundation in body mechanics from ground up is pointless.


  3. February 13, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    The legal issues really make me laugh. Someone once pointed out to me that you would be in less or equal trouble for pulling out a handgun as you would be for pulling out nunchaku. I will go with the handgun. Kobudo (Okinawan Weaponry) is something for enjoyment and should be thought of similar to learning Long Bow in England – fun but useless for its original purpose.


  4. August 16, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Yeah I agree with the first comment


  5. September 14, 2014 at 8:36 am

    With heavier bo staffs comes higher prices so you’ll also want to compare prices.
    Get a discount by signing up for all three seminars INCLUDING the weapons for only $99.
    When you visit the school, is the practice safe, or are students
    allowed to train in dangerous ways or without proper


  6. Mark,Winchester
    July 23, 2016 at 3:36 am

    nunchaku is the MOST effective blunt force trauma type weapon. when folded up it is easily concealed in a coat pocket, in the small of your back, etc. yet when fully extended during a strike it is the same length as a full sized baton. the striking end of the nunchaku travels much faster than the striking end of a baton because it has to travel a larger distance in the same amount of time during a swing, much like a whip, making the nunchaku a much more devastating weapon. national geographics fight science did analyze the effectiveness of the nunchaku but their test is are VERY misguided and VERY misleading. they tested the weapon on a target that was made of rubber and bolted down. this target that was used to test the weapon doesnt move and doesnt give. the rubber target DEFLECTS all the energy causing the end of the nunchaku to rebound on the user. flesh and bone, on the other hand, ABSORBS the energy. if you smash an opponent over the head with nunchaku, it WILL NOT REBOUND. instead, the opponents flesh and bone WILL GIVE, will break, massive trauma!! it is not designed to strike wood, metal, rubber, concrete, etc. it is meant to be swung through your opponent smashing bone and causing massive trauma. it is not a dueling weapon. it is primarily an offensive weapon. the trained user is always changing positions and incorporates a series of feints and constant movement to beguile the opponent and find an opening to strike. in the hands of a trained user the nunchaku is the most devastating blunt force trauma type weapon.


  7. Mike
    October 21, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    I agree with you on all but one weapon. The BO staff. A staff can be as simple as a hiking or walking stick, and who is going to think of of it as a weapon if you’re using it for walking. Second observation on being skilled with a staff, is they’re are lond objects everywhere that can be used as a bo staff. As I sit here in my car at the store, I have counted 6 objects that I can get to easily to use as a bo staff. Lastly, a weapon is an extension of your body which can aid you. But you can’t solely rely on just one thing. Every skill learned is another tool in your bag. I can find a weapon in anything, like a single key put between your fingers can be damaging to an opponent. Train for the real world and not for the perfect situation.


  8. matio kong
    December 19, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    While it is true you can not carry these weapons we study them so we can take objects and make improvised weapons. For example the long bo can be replaced with a broom,a mop,a walking stick,etc nun chuck can be replaced with a belt,a shirt or jacket, a towel,and a sword just take a sharp stick like object while they may not be as effective as their practice weapon counterparts they’re better then no weapon at all. as for the legal issues as i said its the trick to use improvised plus it may be more casual then a gun . As for practice yes it does take time and it can be dangerous like a gun or knife their just as dangerous and easy to mess up on you sholudent just give up and never practice how else will you get good? The only thing i do agree with is its important not to rely on them.You should be flexible and ready to have many things at your disposal .I think the issue here is your think of what your taught but not why your taught it.You dont seem to see how you can apply it to other things.Its important not to be narrow minded when it comes to self defense practicality is important.


  1. February 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm

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