Some weapons used by traditional Japanese martial arts

This is only a short list of traditional martial arts weapons, favoring the japanese arts mostly. In addition there are many weapons that will seem more recognizable to westerners, such as the cane, rope or chain, broadsword, and throwing knives. Many of the weapons on this list came from agricultural applications, such as the club, sickle and staff, in part because the development of martial arts was often spurred by government prohibition against weapons and the practice of fighting.

  • Sai - Short metal club, usually used two at a time, with one long rod and two shorter rods. Useful for disarming opponent's weapon.
  • Tonfa (tuifa) - Very similar to a police club or billy club, these wooden clubs have handles three-quarters of the way down that are perpendicular to the main shaft.
  • Bo (rokushakubo) - A six foot wooden pole, used to stab and swing. Sometimes other lengths as well.
  • Jo - Four or five foot wooden staff.
  • Nunchaku - Usually two wooden sections, approximately a foot in length, joined by a short length of chain or rope. This weapon evolved from tools used to thresh grains.
  • Katana - A single bladed, slightly curved sword.
  • Kama - Essentially a sickle, these too are often used in pairs by martial artists.
  • Boken (bokken) - A wooden sword, usually used because the use of a metal (and sharp) sword in training is unsafe.
  • Tanto - A Knife (usually wooden), often used in pairs.