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:
- 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:
- Fighting skinheads in the park (but only when you’re a skinhead yourself)
- Getting arrested in Norway, Canada, Russia, New York, or Massachusetts.
- Hitting yourself in the ankles and face, or injuring yourself in other, more creative ways. The single greatest reason for foam nunchakus.
- Breakin’ tracheas.