Nunchaku

3Nunchaku also known as nunchucks, chucks or chain sticks is a traditional weapon and consists of two sticks connected at their ends with a short chain or rope.

The popular belief is that the nunchaku was originally a short Southeast Asian flail used to thresh rice or soybeans (that is, separate the grain from the husk). It is possible that it was developed in response to the moratorium on edged weaponry under the 17th century, and that the weapon was most likely conceived and used exclusively for that end, as the configuration of actual flails and bits are unwieldy for use as a weapon. Also, peasant farmers were forbidden conventional weaponry such as arrows or blades so they improvised using only what they had available, farm tools such as the sickle.

However, it seems that mythology surrounding the origins of the nunchaku has little historical accuracy. Unlike rice flail, original nunchaku had curved arms, resembling an horse bit, which gave rise to the theory that nunchaku was originally a horse bridle. Yet another theory asserts that it was adapted from an instrument carried by the village night watch, made of two blocks of wood joined by cord. The night watch would hit the blocks of wood together to attract people’s attention and then warn them about fires and other dangers. According to Chinese folklore, the nunchaku is a variation of the two section staff.

Associating nunchaku and other weapons with rebellious peasants is probably a part of romantic imagery. Martial arts were practiced exclusively by aristocracy and “serving nobles” but were prohibited among commoners. Furthermore, disarmament was never total; nobles were still allowed to carry their swords. Whatever its origins were, the nunchaku was not a popular weapon.

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