Weapons have been synonymous with the martial arts throughout their history. From training in a dojo to protecting the crops of Asia, weapons have been instrumental in the evolution of martial arts combat for years.
What is the greatest weapon in the history of martial arts?
Many would concur it to be the mind. Discipline is the key principle. Without discipline, without perseverance, without tactics and without dedication – there is no place for martial arts. Meditation, self-improvement and understanding do not come from a blade, but from your brain.
This follows onto the body as the second most powerful weapon. Before attempting to perform with any physical weaponry, you must be sure that you are fit and ready in your bodily capabilities. Strength, endurance and fitness.
Healthy in body and mind.
This article focuses on the top 10 deadliest martial arts weapons that are an extension of yourself. They range from a wide list of schools, and each display their own particular style of deadly combat possibilities.
Here we go!
Shurikens are traditional Japanese concealed weapons often referred to as Ninja stars in the West. They are small and sharpened blades used to throw at or slash an opponent.
The video below demonstrates the throwing technique, highlighting the covert potential of these deadly little weapons.
A tonfa is a wooden stick with a handle based two thirds of a way down, allowing it to align with your forearm to defend the bone, and to use as a punching weapon with devastating results.
Check out the amazing fighting simulation below. The fast paced duel is an awe-inspiring piece that demonstrates the full range of attack that is possible with this simple weapon.
8. Throwing Knives
Throwing knives can be a controversial weapon. If you are not trained enough in the art to make sure that you can make effective use of them, you may just arm your opponent. Having said that, with the right technique and skill, a throwing knife can mean the difference between life and death.
Take a look at the tutorial below. It discusses the correct way to build your throwing technique, including practicing distance and holding.
Traditionally used as a farming tool, the Kama was later improvised as a weapon in combat. Largely used in Indonesian fighting schools, it can also be found in some Chinese martial arts. The Kama is particularly effective, not just for its fear inducing aesthetic, but also for its multiple uses, which include attack, defence and disarming an opponent of their weapon.
Below is a Kama-kata which gracefully demonstrates the uses of the weapon.
The Kusari-Fundo is a particularly snappy weapon consisting of around 12 inches of chain met with a weight at both ends. The weights would typically reach around three inches, though there are no particular rules on the construction of this weapon. It is possible to have a much heavier weight or even a blade at the end of the chain for added effectiveness in battle.
This video uses a substitute in the fight simulation, but with a little imagination you will be able to understand the devastation ways of this variable weapon.
If you cast your mind back to the days of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you may remember Raphael and his two Sai. Though populated by a children’s cartoon, there is nothing suitable for youngsters here! This fast and mobile weapon usually comes in a pair. Aside from the blunt elongated spike, there is a curved prong on each side to protect the handle area, and a heavy butt end that can be used to strike.
The clip below is a demonstration of how to handle a Sai for full effectiveness.
4. Bo Staff
The Bo Staff, or Bō, is a popular instrument in Japanese martial arts, in particular Bōjutsu. It’s a versatile weapon that can be used to attack, defend or disarm an opponent. Averageing a length of 6 foot, it is a weapon to be reckoned with. It can be used for strikes, sweeps, entrapments and even to sweep sand into an attackers eyes.
Check out the video below to see an impressive solo performance which employs a number of fast paced Bo Staff moves.
3. Two Hook Swords
Perhaps these are the most visually threatening of them all! These swords, which include a wide variety of blade shapes, are characterised by the long sword which bends into a hook at the end. Their deadliness is indisputable, and as such are very rarely used in sparring competitions.
The clip below includes a brief description of the instrument, followed by an impressive kata.
The Nunchakus are one of the most visually recognisable martial arts weapons around. Their simplistic design, traditionally consisting of two wooden sticks connected by a short rope or chain, are at the forefront of my mind when I think of martial arts weaponry.
Though popular, they are also dangerous and difficult to master. There are numerous videos around depicting the accidents that have happened when an inexperienced martial artist decides to film their skills! That being said, when performed correctly, they are absolutely mesmerising to watch. What better way to exemplify this than with the person who helped popularise martial arts as a whole in the West?
The following clip is from ‘I am Bruce Lee‘.
There is arguably no deadlier close combat weapon that the Katana, or Samurai Sword. It is a majestic weapon – a curved and slender blade, met by a circular hand guard pitted over the handle, which is large enough to support two hands. Historically rooted with the Samurai of feudal Japan, the weapon is renowned for its immense sharpness and strength.
There are many videos that display the slicing capability of the Katana – everything from thick wooden poles to gold balls. Though interesting, they can tend to become a little over indulgent. Below is a choreographed fight scene that, despite not displaying the sharpness of the blade, definitely showcases the reasons why I believe the Katana is the number one martial arts weapon around.