Freestyle Nunchaku Wiki
Chuckamo nunchaku

Nunchaku of corded and chained variety

The nunchaku is an object made out of two sticks connected by a cord or chain link. Traditionally the nunchaku are used as a weapon in Okinawan kobudō. It is similar to the sansetsukon (three-sectioned staff), which has three sticks connected instead of two.


The Japanese word "nunchaku" itself comes from the Hokkien (Min Nan) word nng-chiat-kun (no-chiat kun; 兩節棍). When viewed etymologically from its Okinawan roots, nun comes from the word for twin, and chaku from shaku, a unit of measurement. In this latter way, the word can be roughly translated into "twin units." The word is pronounced as [noon-chah-koo], though the pronunciation [nuhn-chah-koo] is also common.

Commonly, in the English language, the object is referred to instead as "nunchucks". Many variations of "nunchaku"/"nunchucks" (including mispronunciations and misspellings) exist, too: "numchucks," "numbchucks," "nun-chucks," "nun chucks," "nunchuks," "nunchuka," "nunchukkas," etc. More modern usages in XMA and sometimes freestyle nunchaku include "nunchux" and "nunchuks." Also, often in modern usage, the "nun" part of the name is removed, forming "chucks," "chux," or "chuks."

International names include:

  • Chilean Spanish
    • "linchaco"
  • Chinese
    • "雙節棍", "shuāng jié gùn"
    • "兩節棍", "liǎng jié gùn" ("dual section staff")
    • "二節棍", "èr jié gùn" ("two-section staff")
  • English
    • "nunchucks"
  • Filipino
    • "tabak-toyok"
    • "chako"
  • Finnish
    • "nunchakut"
    • "nunchat"
    • "chakut"
  • French
    • "nunch"
    • "nunchak"

  • Indonesia
    • "ruyung"
  • Japanese
    • "nunchaku"
    • "ヌンチャク" ("nunchaku")
    • "梢子棍", shōshikon ("boatman's staff")
  • Korean
    • "ee chul bong" ("two-section stick")
    • "tahn do li ga" ("short flail")
    • "ssahng jeol bahngs"
    • "ssahng jeol bongs"
  • Malay
    • "pemukul dua kerat" ("dual section beater/stick")
    • "cota berantai" ("chained baton")
  • Swedish
    • "karatepinnar" ("karate sticks")
  • Thai
    • "กระบอง2ท่อน" ("two-section staff")


Although the certain origin of nunchaku is disputed, it is thought to come from China through the Japanese island of Okinawa. The popular belief is that the nunchaku was originally a short flail used to thresh rice or soybeans (that is, separate the grain from the husk).

It is also possible that the weapon was developed in response to the moratorium on edged weaponry under the Satsuma daimyo after invading Okinawa in 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. The modern weapon would be an effective flail.

Some sources say that the first Song Emperor was in battle when an enemy general cut the end off of his staff. Instead of using a different staff, he connected the two pieces with a short section of iron chain, creating a weapon known a "sweeper". At the time, it was not illegal to carry a weapon, but it was inconvenient to carry a sweeper because it was a long stick with a loose section, so some people shortened the staff section so that the weapon could be tucked in a belt. This was called a "small sweeper", later renamed the nunchaku.

Another popular theory is that the nunchaku originated from China, Song Dynasty. It was named "da pan long gun"(大盤龍棍), meaning great coiled dragon stick. The weapon is composed of one long stick and a short stick connected by horse hair. It was commonly used in wars against cavalry to trap horse legs. The weapon eventually evolved into a short range weapon as seen in our present day nunchaku.

The nunchaku as a weapon has surged in popularity since martial artist Bruce Lee used it in his movies in the 1970s. It is generally considered by martial artists to be a limited weapon, although it is also one of the least understood weapons.


Kriztov describes the parts of the nunchaku

Nunchaku are made of two sticks and a connecting link.


Each stick (sometimes labeled as a singular "nunchuck" or "chuck") can be made from a range of materials (traditionally wood; more recently extending to foam, plastic, metal, and graphite). In addition, the sticks can vary in shape. In terms of traditional nunchaku, Chinese nunchaku generally feature round sticks while Okinawan nunchaku generally feature octagonal sticks. In freestyle nunchaku, stick shape may vary according to the user's preference. Sticks may also feature a taper, or narrowing diameter.

The end of the stick that is connected to the link is called the head and the end furthest from the link is called the tail. The middle is called the body.

While in a normal one-handed grip of the nunchaku, the stick held is called the handle and the freely swinging stick is called the striker.


Main article: Link

The link is usually either chain or cord and the length varies.

The way in which the stick and link are connected is the join. With cord the join is normally a series of holes through which the cord is repeatedly threaded. With chain the join is usually a ball-bearing swivel unit.



Main article: Freestyle nunchaku

Freestyle nunchaku refers to the use of the nunchaku in an artistic and visually impressive, rather than combative, way.

Martial Arts[]

The most common martial arts to use nunchaku are the Chinese, Chinese-Okinawan and Okinawan martial arts such as some forms of karate/kobudo, but some Eskrima systems also teach practitioners to use nunchaku. For its part, Taekwondo teaches how to use one and two nunchaku, though in Korean, they are known as Ssahng Jeol Bahngs, or sometimes Ssahng Jeol Bongs. The styles of these three arts are rather different; the traditional Okinawan arts use the sticks primarily to grip and lock, while the Filipino arts use the sticks primarily for striking, while Taekwondo teaches a little bit of both.


Although it may cause injury to an inexperienced user, the nunchaku is purported to be a very effective close-range weapon by its proponents. When used in combat, the nunchaku provides the obvious advantage of an increase in the reach of one's strike. Somewhat difficult to control, the cord or chain link of the nunchaku adds the benefit of striking from unexpected angles. Practitioners of the flashier styles contend that the motion of the nunchaku is often found distracting by opponents, who may have trouble keeping up with the nunchaku's rapid movement. In addition, the reach of the nunchaku is often underestimated, even by those experienced with its use. However, when swung, the nunchaku loses between one to two inches in reach.

The original Okinawan techniques involve holding the weapon in a variety of preparatory postures. Once an opponent has moved their weapon or body into close range, the nunchaku is used to strike vital spots, and apply joint locks, chokes and other control techniques. The chain link version of the nunchaku has also been known to be able to fend off enemies with swords or staves.

Gripping the nunchaku is usually a matter of preference. Gripping it close to the chain or rope link increases control but decreases both striking power and reach. A grip further down would have the opposite effect of increasing reach and power while decreasing control and, with the link further out, would also render it susceptible to capture. Unless in expert hands, it is unadvisable to use a nunchaku against a staff or a stick since disarming is often only a matter of striking at the link and jerking it hard out of the hands of the nunchaku practitioner. It is primarily because of this specific vulnerability of the nunchaku that most styles tend to minimize striking.

Critics of the nunchaku often point to the level of difficulty to control the weapon and question whether the extended reach and unpredictability provide sufficient offensive advantage to offset this disadvantage.


Possession of nunchaku is illegal in a number of countries including Belgium, Germany, Norway, Canada, and Spain. In the United Kingdom it is legal to own for martial arts purposes, although public possession is not allowed unless transporting between a place of training and a private address. Legality in the United States varies at state level, e.g., personal possession of nunchaku is illegal in New York, Arizona, California and Massachusetts, but in other states possession has not been criminalized. Legality in Australia is also determined by individual state laws. In New South Wales, the weapon is on the restricted weapons list, and thus can only be owned with a permit. In New York, Attorney Jim Maloney has brought a federal constitutional challenge to the statutes that criminalize simple in-home possession of nunchaku for peaceful use in martial-arts practice or legal home defense.

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