Traditional Weapons – Martial Arts – Bruce Lee included…


Just like the song says, “Everybody was Kung Fu fighting…” Well, not exactly everybody or everywhere. The explosion of the interest in Martial Arts, started a few decades ago in the U.S. and has slowly tamed back down, but it is still alive.

After the great Bruce Lee died, it seemed that a lot of these wanna-be successors were coming out of the woodwork – some talented, some were just plain amusing. Many walks of life from young to old were Karate kicking, Kung Fu slapping, while the limbs were just a slinging.

Below, I’ll list a few traditional weapons in the diverse field of martial arts – Bruce Lee included. Side note: even if they are not used for self defense, the routines make for great workouts and it helps to sharpen your hand-eye coordination.

Nunchaku or Nunchucks – is a personal favorite of mine. Ever since I seen the movie “Enter the Dragon” at age 5, I was destined to own a pair. I started out with foam, later I made my own, now I probably have 10 or 12 professional ones ranging anywhere from telechucks, minichucks, studded chucks, metal, acryllic & wood.

The nunchaku consists of two sticks of wood or metal, connected with a chain and ball swivels. This swirling device can put on one hell of a display and can be used as an effective weapon in self-defense. Check out the video below, for a demonstration via Bruce!

Nunchucks via Bruce Lee

3 Sectional Staff – is one traditional weapon that I haven’t mastered yet, and it isn’t seen as often in martial arts films. I only know a few moves but, once it is mastered, it can be an excellent weapon for defense along with a creative display of whirling wind and swinging fury. It consists of 3 long sticks connected by short chains. It is very interesting to watch; check out this awesome display, below:

3 Sectional Staff – Demonstration


Sai – is an attractive, effective, traditional martial art weapon from Okinawa.

This is great for trapping, blocking, blunt end strikes, and so on. It is believed by some, that this used to be an agriculture tool (like a lot of weapons) that later become “weaponized.” It is usually used in pairs. The Sai is versatile and can be wielded in many different ways. It is often twirled around during demonstrations, but in combat it is used for jabbing-type strikes, punches, blocks, and has the ability to ward off and/or trap a sword, etc. I own a large pair, and they are fun to play with, to say the least.

Bo Staff – this single section, long staff is favored by many. I was never that enthused about a bow staff – due to the simplicity of movements. But, regardless, if you become familiar with this long-range weapon, it can do some damage.  I must add, some grammar gurus will state that you can only say “staff” or “bo” but never “bo staff.”  I say call it what ya want, hell, saying “a long stick” is descriptive enough for me.  Ha-ha!

Bo Staff – Demonstration

Kama – this is another farm tool that got modified into weapon form, and is also referred to as the “Okinawan sickle.”

It is dangerous, so I recommend buying an unsharpened, practice version for beginners. I have both, the training one and the real razor-sharp sickle. A real professional, razor-sharp Kama is lethal. I haven’t had much experience with it, for I only trained with this weapon for a short time. If you get enough speed going, it makes a nice whipping sound. I’ll provide a video below, that goes over some basic strikes; nothing flashy, just a simple demo:

Basic Movements of the Okinawan Sickles

Rattan Escrima Sticks

Eskrima or Escrima Sticks – is basically a short staff cut into 2 pieces. Often referred to as stick fighting. Most people look at this style of weaponary as primitive battle, sort of like having 4 sticks and 2 maniacs going at it like crazed lunatics. But actually, there is a lot of techniques to master and it takes a good deal of time to perfect.


Tonfa – is sort of like enhanced, defensive, police nightsticks and are often used in pairs. They have exceptional defense properties along with the offensive tactics of holding/pinning an opponent and/or striking repetitive blows into you opposition. The picture to the right, depicts this traditional weapon.

Ninja Sword

Swords – of all kinds are often used in martial arts, ranging from the training bokkens to ninja swords (ninjato) to the ancient samurai swordsman. Whether you’re fencing for play or wielding a powerful blow to an opponent, swords have played a big role in martial combat, down through the years.

Bruce Lee – Links & Products…

These where just a few common examples of traditional weapons in martial arts, as there are many more that I could have included…

Informative Links for the great Martial Artist & Philosopher Bruce Lee:

| Bruce Lee Foundation | Bruce Lee – Fight History | <–Previous links no longer active… Wikipedia Link

‘Shop’ Bruce Lee: Bruce Lee’s DVDs | Bruce Lee – Books |

Leave a Reply