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Martial Arts Weapons

Martial arts refers to a system of training for combat in the pursuit of self-defense and self-enrichment. With numerous types of martial arts from around the world, practitioners have many styles to choose from when learning to fight. Among these many styles, several of them incorporate weapons into their training regime.

What kinds of martial arts use weapons?

There are numerous forms of martial arts that utilize weapons as part of their combat systems, from blades to clubs and more. A few varied examples from around the world include the following:

  • Itto-Ryu: Itto-Ryu is a form of Japanese sword fighting. It is cited as one of the main inspirations for the sport of kendo.
  • Nunchaku Do: A form of martial arts based around the Okinawan nunchaku (or nunchucks).
  • Eskrima: Also known as kali or arnis, it is a Filipino martial art that utilizes sticks as blunt striking tools.
  • Tahtib: An Egyptian martial art using long poles or rods for combat.
  • Mau Rakau: A traditional fighting style of New Zealand's native Maori people, it involves different systems of combat for fighting with short spears or poles, knives, and axes.
What is a kata?

A "kata" is a Japanese word for a series of stances that martial artists rehearse during training that helps them to improve their discipline. While most associate it with hand-to-hand combat, weapon-based fighting also uses katas for practicing.

What kind of weapons are used by martial artists?

The weapon a martial artist chooses depends on what they have trained to use. Some disciplines offer multiple weapons to learn with during their training. A few of these tools are the following:

  • Sword: Swords are long bladed weapons held with either one or two hands. Swords can vary in length depending on style but are usually between 1 and 3 feet long. Some styles of sword include the katana, the zweihander, and the saber.
  • Staff: Staffs are long sticks around the height of the user (anywhere from 3 to 6 feet long) that can be used for striking and blocking. Different staffs have different names depending on their length and the martial art they're used in, such as the bo staff being used for bojutsu.
  • Sai: A sai is a short, three-pronged piercing baton used in several types of Okinawan martial arts, typically used in pairs.
  • Kama: Kamas, otherwise known as hand sickles, are short sickle-like weapons used for slashing. They can be used single or in pairs. Kamas are also the basis for the tool known as the kusarigama, a hand sickle with a chain and weight attached to the other end.
  • Baston: Baston are short sticks around two feet in length used in different kinds of Filipino martial arts like eskrima. Meant to be used in pairs, they can be used for striking or defense.
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