Foam Weapons

What battle are the foam nunchakus good for?

LARP WEAPONS EPISODE 4: FOAM NUNCHAKUS

Obviously when someone says nunchakus you either think about Michelangelo the turtle or, depending on your age, Napoleon Dynamite.

But how much do we really know about nunchaku? My extensive researching (Googling) of the history of ‘chucks reveals that it isn’t much. Scholars don’t even know the root of the word.

Popular myths say that they descend from the Japanese rice flail, an instrument for threshing rice and soybeans. The story goes that the famously rebellious Okinawa peasants, who, under the Sho Dynasty, were not allowed to use weapons (while their nobles were developing the origins of karate), turned to unconventional tools to defend themselves, such as these short, relatively limited, wooden flails.

The problem with that theory is that nunchaku aren’t particularly great at fighting. In fact, if you were to make a list of things that nunchakus are good at, it would probably start like this:

  1. not fighting

They’re not even that great at threshing rice. It’s too easy to hit yourself in the face, and anyway, popular threshes had handles longer than their beating ends, so that you didn’t have to crouch to hit the stalks stacked on the ground. Really, they’re no kind of defensive or offensive weapon, particularly against the katana or the staff, and we know of no traditional nunchaku kata, evidencing that, most likely, they never were in popular use.

Until recently. As as Alex Levitas says on his – unlikely – Russian nunchaku site, “[t]he nunchaku is so popular today, that almost any new martial art incorporates this weapon into its training.” Why are they popular? Probably because of this guy. Or, if you’re my age, these guys.

But then, as this guy could tell you, there’s lots of martial arts out there that’s useless for combat.  This is why we enjoy the use of foam nunchakus for show and flair.

Through my extensive Youtubing of nunchaku stuff, I have come up with a list of things ‘chucks are apparently good for:

  1. Distraction
  2. Fighting skinheads in the park (but only when you’re a skinhead yourself)
  3. Getting arrested in Norway, Canada, Russia, New York, or Massachusetts.
  4. Hitting yourself in the ankles and face, or injuring yourself in other, more creative ways.  The single greatest reason for foam nunchakus.
  5. Breakin’ tracheas.
  6. Glowing
  7. Wasp-fu.
Ninja With Foam Nunchakus

Ninja With Foam Nunchakus

What Foam Shield Designs Could Represent.

What Foam Shield Designs Could Represent.

Shields aren’t just for protection, we know that. If so, they would just be big black walls of steel rather than mobile warlike paintings. Though you don’t want your enemy to see your weapon until they’re close enough to taste it, shields are all about representing.

But what exactly do they represent? If you’ve read Game of Thrones at all, you know all of the lingo that goes with heraldry: gules field with lions rampant, bat over nebuly, a chief vert four axe-heads bentwise argent.

JoinTheRealm.com offers a (buggy) interface to create your own crest, and this site talks about the heraldry in GoT, but from these two sources you would think that all symbolism was subjective and that design was a matter of taste.

You could certainly throw together all kinds of designs when creating your own shield, but heraldry is a language as rich as Russian or Klingon or Victorian nictitation, and the items and lines on a shield tell your life story to anyone willing to listen.

If you want to learn how to make your own crests, there are some great resources online. I won’t go into that, but I will just share a few of the coolest discoveries I happened upon:

– All of the colors have fun names. Gold is or and silver is argent; green becomes vert, red gules; black goes by sable; and maroon is murray (named after mulberries) or Sanquine

– In fact, heraldry has as many weirdly cute terms as British slang, to the point where it sounds like baby talk: bendy means a diagonal line, and chequy and lozengy are different kinds of checkered; you can even diaper your crest.

– The next most important thing to the color on your crest is the icons. Some icons are more ethereal than others: a bear is strength or cunning, wings are swiftness. Some are more specific. A bat indicates “awareness of the powers of darkness and chaos, which seems a truly subjective indication to pop on your house crest, while a jessant (a leopard head eating a fleur-de-lis) symbolizes the lion of England devouring the lily of France.

So what foam shield designs show your interests and allegiances?

Swords Are Awesome

SWORDS ARE AWESOME

At one point in Your Face Tomorrow, Javier Marias’ epic three-novel digression on truth, violence, and transgression, the narrator flips his intellectual bean because his boss takes out a sword in a bathroom.

Swords Are Awesome, Your Face Tomorrow.

Your Face Tomorrow, Swords Are Awesome.

You don’t take out a sword just to intimidate a person, he says. It’s such an inconvenient, impossible to conceal, wonky tool that any 21st century person looking to intimidate someone would just use a gun or a shank.

The very presence of the sword drips with violence and murder.

They’re among the most primitive crafted weapons—basically just sharpened clubs—and were the main element of war for so long that our collective creative consciousness won’t let go of them.

Beside the fact that all of the best fight scenes in movies have swords in them, and the fact that the leader of any group better have a sword or else he ain’t really the leader, they continue popping up in symbolic, fictional, and practical uses. From duels, to raunchy 19th century novels, to military ceremony, swords remain.

The symbolic and emotional connection of the sword to the human heart is complex and richly varied.

At least 50% of the appeal of Star Wars comes from how it drags the nobility of the sword and the knight into space travel. It’s not only about cool-looking, light-saber fights. Even Darth Vader knows that he’s got to fight Luke and Obi Wan sword-to-sword—nobly, light a knight.

Of course, they’re not always noble. The Hound prefers a sword, too. His just happens to be massive, and excellent at hacking people in half.

A sword is, literally, an extension of the self. It extends your arm in a 2, 3, or 4 foot arc around your body and gives it a killing edge, turning a fleshy little target into a tiger: elegant, terrifying, and deadly. It also, like those people who start to look like their dogs, provides a physical representation for who a person is.

Thing is, swords are awesome because they just look cool. And when you hold one you look like a Bad Ass. You aren’t holding a little plastic lead projector and telling people to stay away or you’ll shoot.

You’re holding a three-foot shard of steel and saying, come at me bro. See what happens.

Playologist

Playologist

Playologist was on the placard sitting on my mentors desk. Someone made this rule that we all have to do something. That we all have to be something. We’ll it wasn’t until I saw this tile, immortalized in brass like so many professors door plates I has seen before that I knew what I wanted to be.  Ology, the study of, and play, the focus of the study was just so elegantly simple and joyful and instantly recognizable that I was like a bucket cold water.  My mentor Howard Moody had given me the gift of a magnifying glass. The gift of clarity. He was the most intensely playful individual that took his calling so seriously that he was guilty of taking it TOO serious. A Playologist was the name that fit him very well. Perfect state of being. Since that day over 20 years ago I have devoted my life to “building healthy community through play.” A mission that Epic Toys is keystone in serving. My favorite game is, without a doubt capture eh flag with fo swords. And let me explain why. It combine so many elements of play  that grip me. Physical sport that both challenge gone player personally and the player competitively. I love it because we have to honor our opponent by acting out our wounds while trying to defeat them. Helping the enemy so I can have a better game. Awesome!

Let's Dance

Playologist