flexible weapons historical use?

Discussion in 'Weapons' started by mewtwo55555, Nov 11, 2019.

  1. mewtwo55555

    mewtwo55555 Valued Member

    So I am trying to find info on the historical use of flexible weapons. Weapons like the 3 section staff or 2 section staff or nunchaku or chain whip or meteor hammer or rope dart ect. Does anyone have any historical texts or stories on their use? I can't find much beyond the "stories" of how they were created.

  2. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    No, can't help but please share some of what you find here! If you find anything.

    I personally don't believe these types of weapons were used on a large scale in a practical way, despite the stories. They just aren't practical. And the time one learns to use them safely, one could have developed skills with a more practical weapon like a sword. Why would people who needed these weapons for actual use pick something so difficult and with greater danger of self injury?

    Mind you, I am not saying we shouldn't learn them. I am having great fun with the three section staff. And my love of it has me thinking I want to learn maybe the double chain whip next level. But I think they are something modern practitioners picked up more than they were actually used. There is nothing wrong with that.

    This is just my theory though. I have nothing to back it up. So I would be VERY curious as to what you can or cannot find.
    axelb likes this.
  3. mewtwo55555

    mewtwo55555 Valued Member

    I would agree. A sword or staff or such is more practical and easier to use. With regards to some flexible weapons like nunchaku I have heard they were a training weapon. Meant to aid in developing quicker hand movements and better stance. Would you say learning three section staff has helped you in your staff work or other martial arts practice?

    Also I remember seeing a documentary a few years ago where they tested a meteor hammer against a punch. And both were about equal. The only advantage the meteor hammer had was it was a punch but something like 14 feet away or such.
  4. ned

    ned Valued Member

    I think it's a case of using what was to hand, most of these weapons were agricultural implements.
  5. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    Well the legendary origin of the three section staff says that Chao Hong-Yin while working as a bodyguard to a royal, broke his staff while defending her, then had it reattached, and that soon other bodyguards were also using it. Given that Chao Hong-Yin was the first emperor of the Sung Dynasty, this story actually seems do two things. One is it gives a likely fantasy origin for the weapon to someone who held a position of prestige where people were unlikely to be able to serious oppose the story, like the idea of Edison inventing the lightbulb. Two is it points out the pragmatic purpose for having a folding weapon, concealment and ease of carry.

    With the nunchaku yes, there is an storied element of using whatever is to hand, but it's also important to point out the romantic idea of resisting a foreign oppressor which is contained in the legends of karate necessitates either actual concealment, or hiding weapons in plain sight. Nunchaku look in actuality nothing like a grain flail, which for pragmatic purposes like actual purpose built combat flails, has a longer handle than flail end because it stops you risking hitting your own hand when the end impacts something. So really its strength is its ability to fold much like a current telescopic baton.

    Given all the capabilities you lose in making a weapon flexible and the few that you actually gain, I think both from the stories about the weapons and from practical analysis, the real benefit is concealability and ease of carry. That is of benefit really only to the two groups mentioned, mobile guards who don't require any greater force capability than impact, and insurgents. Neither group tends to be a particularly voluminous source of information in the periods you're describing.

    One other notable flexible weapon is the Urimi or 'whip sword' and I've never been able to find actual historical accounts or depictions of its use. In all likelihood I think it's either a weapon meant to show skill or is a novelty as with some of the odd weapons found in HEMA manuals. It could also be a short-lived duelling weapon given its less than fatal nature compared to regular swords. Either way I'm not surprised at the lack of historical source material for it.

    All said I too would be interested in anything you find.
    Grond likes this.
  6. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    I googled every weapon mentioned before I posted so I wouldn't sound stupid, but aren't these all more or less types of "flails"? These are weapons for going around shields, etc, right? Developed from agriculture?

    The weapon, Flail (weapon) - Wikipedia

    The gardening tool, Flail - Wikipedia
  7. mewtwo55555

    mewtwo55555 Valued Member

    So far I have googled a bunch and have only found basically what you guys have said about the items. Stuff I already knew or was available on wikipedia.

    You are correct.
    Grond likes this.

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