Killingworth Ju-Jitsu Club

Basic History of Weapons

Basic History of Nunchaku:  Bo Staff:  Tonfa:  Sai:  Jo Staff  can all be found bellow


Basic History of Nunchaku

There are many theories to the origins of the Nunchaku or rice flail.  It is said that they derive from the Chinese big sweeper which had one long and one short cudgel attached together by a fabric hinge, used to sweep the legs of the enemies horses, but this only give a two-dimensional movement.  The modern Nunchaku may have been developed in the Phillipiens with two cudgels of the same length and weight attached together with cord (may have been leather) or later with chain. The farmer used a similar tool to flail rice and night watchmen used a device unlike the Nunchaku to warn of any danger by clacking them together.    

The fighting skills of the Nunchaku was developed successfully in Okinawa by the farmers, by using and further developing a fighting system with their rice flails who would easily disguise them by placing them next to other farming tools.  Nunchaku are generally made from hard wood, the cudgels are normally round or hexagonal.  The connected space between the cudgels would be about 10 cm but this can be very flexible to suit the individual. In modern times it is now advisable for the novice to use safety Nunchaku to practice made of plastic covered with dense foam. 

The Nunchaku can be used to ensnare an opponent’s weapon, block an attack, strike, immobilise or throw an attacker.  Training skills teach how to control swinging the batons to produce various striking methods, controlling methods of transfer from one hand to the other which can make a wall of whirling wood around the user through which nothing would be able to pass.



Basic History of the Bo Staff

The Bo Staff is one of mans oldest weapons its earliest forms would have been mere tree braches used by the first men that roamed earth.  Our interest of the Bo is mainly that of the Japanese Bo the Rokushakubo (Roku Shaku Bo) and the Kon Bo of Okinawa.

 The Rokushakubo was made of heavy hard wood and would be generally 6 foot (1.8 meters) long, most often round but could also be hexagonal or even cubiod; it was also sometimes made of Bamboo.  

Although the Bushi (Samurai Warrior) considered the techniques of the Bo to be of secondary importance they learnt and practiced its methods.  The Bo was also used to learn the skills of many bladed weapons in safety such as the Naginata (Nag In Ata) which is a Bo with a short sword blade attached at one end, or a spear.  The Rokushakubo can be used to block attacks from opponent’s weapons and to strike an opponent from a distance.  Hard and heavy blocking, swinging and striking movements and thrusts where generally used.

The Kon is basically a Rokushakubo tapered from the centre to both ends.  It was probably introduced to Okinawa by the Chinese as a basic Rokushakubo then developed into the Kon by the islander.  Due to the reduced circumference of the Kon its penetrating power is far greater and it is much harder to ensnare with chained weapons than its Japanese counterpart.

The fighting systems developed in Okinawa are totally different in both technique and application of that of the Japanese.  The Okinawan system relies on thrusting, swinging, parrying and striking techniques stemming from empty-hand styles.  By using agile footwork and returning with an effective strike to the opponent’s weak points an attack was often avoided.


Basic History of the Tonfa

The Tonfa developed from the handles of a rice grinding millstone.  Once again the farmers of Okinawa would have developed this weapon to resemble an actual handle of a grindstone so they would be undetected during the era of weapon prohibition of Okinawa. 

The Tonfa are made from wood generally18 – 24 inches long (45 – 60cm) with a handle projecting at a right angle near to one end.  Tonfa are now made in various shapes such as round, hexagonal or squire.  Rubber Tonfa are now made for safety training.  The Tonfa are held by a handle with the long shaft held close to the forearm to act as a blocking surface. 

The fighting system of the Tonfa used the open hand techniques of Okinawate (fore runner to Japanese Karate).  Blocking by using the shafts tight against the forearm, punching by thrusting the ends at an opponents weak points, and striking techniques by using swinging movements.

The Tonfa for many years been used by the Japanese police for crowd control and self-defence and are now used by many Police forces around the world as a side arm baton including Britain.


Basic History of Sai

Sai Daggers were not unique to Okinawa as many instruments of similarity were found around the world. The Okinawan islanders did use them as a weapon disguised as a farming tool.

The Sai are a sort of iron trident, the handle is protected by two hooks, and they are around 19.5-21.5 inches (49-54cm) long. It can be used to parry sword attacks by catching the blade with the hooks.  This was an easy way of disarming an opponent or even used to break the attacker’s sword blade.  The shaft and the hooks of the Sai could be used to block, strike and ensnare an enemy’s weapon.  The hooks can be used to manipulate an attacker into a lock. The shaft can be used to strike like a truncheon or like the end pommel in a thrusting motion. The Sai shaft was never bladed but blunt enabling it to be held against the forearm or held to manipulate the use of the hooks.

The Sai were used in pairs although sometimes an extra one may have been carried in the belt as a backup.  The extra Sai carried would be to replace one that may have been used to thrust into the enemy, because of the suction it would have been very difficult to withdraw. 

The Sai was adapted by the Japanese police force that amended its design by having only one hook and calling it the Jutte.  They used it initially to block the Samurai’s sharp blades and to subdue prisoners during an arrest, by pressing against their pressure points.  It was replaced eventually after a considerable time of service for the hand gun.


Basic History of Jo Staff

The Jo or short stick has a historical link to Japan.  The Jo was developed by a Samurai called Muso Gonnosuke, who was a master Bo-man.  Muso travelled Japan seeking duels with anyone that would care to challenge him until one day in Edo (now Tokyo) he was defeated by a Samurai called Miyamoto Mushashi with his sword.

Muso after many years of meditation developed a system using a shorter stick than the Bo to enable closer fighting than that with the Bo this enabled him to attack the venerable point of his opponent.  He later re-challenged Miyamoto and won.

The Jo Staff is made of very hard wood and can be used in similar ways as the Bo with blocks, parries and striking movements, it can also be used as a substitute sword, held in the same way with blocking and striking movements similar to Ken-Jutsu techniques. 

The Jo was often taken up by retired Samurai who became monks as a self defence weapon and by Samurai during the Tokugawa period when it was no longer necessary to kill an adversary.

The practice of Jo-Jutsu (art of the Jo) was kept secret for many years and only in 1955 its fighting image gave way to become a safely practice way, and become Jo-do (way of the Jo).


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