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9 Different Types of Martial Arts Weapons

martial arts training weapons

You might have seen a movie or a video of someone training with various weapons, ranging from those steeped in traditional heritage to more casual training scenarios. It's true, some of these weapons look pretty wild!

There's a wide array of martial arts weapons used for training, some of which date back to ancient times, while others represent more modern advancements.

Weapons have always been a fundamental part of martial arts, so we thought it'd be fun to explore 9 different types. Who knows, you might recognise a few!‍

ancient battle

The Purpose of Martial Arts Weapons

Martial arts weapons aren't just for combat; they're also cherished tools for learning and upholding traditions.

In various martial arts disciplines, these weapons are essential for practitioners looking to sharpen their precision, control, and discipline.

They offer martial artists practical training in self-defense techniques, geared toward real-life situations we'd rather not encounter.

Engaging with these weapons helps deepen our connection and understanding of the rich philosophies and ancient traditions that have shaped martial arts throughout history.

1. Sai

Often overshadowed by more visually striking weapons, the Sai deserves a special mention for its utility and technique-driven use.

The Sai is a weapon used traditionally in the Okinawan martial arts. Resembling a dagger, the Sai has a blunt tip and two curved prongs projecting from the handle, making it effective for trapping and snapping opponents’ weapons, or for striking.

The sai has made some memorable appearances in several movies, showcasing its unique design and versatility in combat. Here are a few films where the sai really shines:

  1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Probably the most iconic portrayal of the sai is by Raphael, one of the turtles. He wields a pair of these weapons across the franchise, from the classic 1990s movies to the recent reboots, making them a central part of his cool but rude persona.

  2. Elektra - In the Marvel Comics adaptation, Elektra, played by Jennifer Garner, chooses sai as her weapon of choice. The film features some slick fight scenes where Elektra deftly handles her sai, adding to her mystique and martial prowess.

  3. Daredevil - Although the 2003 film focuses more on Daredevil, Elektra’s use of sai also makes an appearance and plays a key role in defining her character's fighting style.

  4. The Last Samurai - While the sai aren't the main focus here, they do appear in several training and battle scenes, adding authenticity to the historical setting of samurai warriors.

2. Katana

The Katana is arguably one of the most iconic Japanese martial arts weapons, recognised for its elegant, curved, single-edged blade, either a circular or squared guard, and a long handle that fits two hands.

Historically wielded by the samurai of ancient and feudal Japan, the Katana transcends its role as a mere weapon. It stands as a profound symbol of craftsmanship and discipline.

Today, martial arts practitioners often seek out Katanas for Iaido and Kenjutsu practice, preferring wooden or foam practice weapons to master their form before advancing to sharper blades.

Katana martial arts weapon

3. Nunchaku

Popularised by the legendary martial artist Bruce Lee, the Nunchaku is a traditional Okinawan weapon made up of two sticks linked by a short chain or rope. This is one of the training weapons that youve most likely seen!

Renowned for its challenging nature, mastering the Nunchaku requires skill and control due to its unpredictable movements. This weapon is primarily utilised in martial arts like Karate and Kobudo.

For those keen to learn, there are various foam practice Nunchaku available that ensure safety during intense training sessions.

Here's some of the different materials from which Nunchaku are commonly made:

1. Wood: Traditional and most common, often made from hardwoods like oak or ash for durability.

2. Foam: Used primarily for training and practice to reduce the risk of injury.

3. Metal: Typically used by more experienced practitioners, metal Nunchaku are durable and heavy.

4. Plastic: Lightweight and often used for practice or by beginners.

5. Fiberglass: Offers a good balance between weight and durability, less common but valued for its unique properties.

6. Acrylic: Used primarily for demonstration purposes due to their clear, decorative appearance.

Nunchaku Training Weapon

4. Bo Staff

The Bo Staff, a favourite in various martial arts styles, is essentially a long wooden stick crafted for hitting, sweeping, and jabbing.

This traditional staff is typically 6 feet long, perfect for keeping a comfortable distance from your opponent while landing strong hits.

Thanks to its simple yet versatile nature, the Bo Staff is a popular pick for those practicing Bojutsu and many Kung Fu styles.

Whether you're looking to sharpen your abilities or just starting out, you can find both wooden and foam Bo Staffs at specialty stores geared towards martial arts training including Bytomic Wholesale

Training with a Bo Staff

5. Bō Shuriken

The Bō Shuriken is a fascinating throwing weapon, crafted from spikes typically made from steel or iron.

In the Japanese martial art of Shurikenjutsu, mastering these weapons means focusing on precision and control. Each spike is meticulously designed to be balanced and aerodynamic, slicing through the air to hit its target accurately.

Beginners usually start their journey with rubber or foam Bō Shuriken to safely enhance their throwing techniques. These training versions are readily available on websites dedicated to martial arts training gear.

6. Hook Sword

The Hook Sword stands out with its distinctive design, featuring a hooked blade and a crescent-shaped guard—a classic weapon created by the Chinese. 

Usually wielded in pairs, these swords showcase the impressive skills and techniques of ancient Chinese martial artists. The clever design of the Hook Sword is perfect for snagging opponents’ weapons between the hook and the guard and is equally effective for slicing and stabbing in close combat encounters. 

It's fascinating to see the variety of martial arts weapons that have been traditionally used to counter enemies in battle.

7. Kama

Originally a farming tool, the Kama was adapted into a potent weapon in Okinawan martial arts.

With its sharp blade and short handle, the Kama is used in martial arts to make quick, slicing motions against opponents. The use of Kama requires exceptional control, as the weapon's effectiveness is heavily reliant on precision and timing.

8. Escrima

Escrima, also known as Arnis or Kali, is a Filipino martial art that primarily uses fighting sticks made from rattan. Known for its speed and fluidity, Escrima also incorporates knives and other handheld weapons.

Practitioners learn to move between different ranges of combat quickly, making this a highly effective discipline for self-defense.

Escrima sticks have made exciting appearances in many TV shows.

For example, in the series "Arrow," Oliver Queen skilfully uses Escrima sticks in his action-packed combat scenes. Their presence on screen really highlights how versatile and effective they can be in close combat, mirroring their practical use in Filipino martial arts.

Escrima weapon

9. Roti Kalung

Meet the Roti Kalung, a fascinating weapon that might be new to you! Hailing from Southeast Asia, it's used in traditional martial arts like Silat.

This unique weapon features a chain or rope with weights on both ends, demanding a high level of skill to handle safely.

Designed to be swung to strike or entangle opponents, showcasing its versatility and potential danger.

Beginners start their training with lighter, non-metal versions to safely learn the techniques needed to master this intricate weapon.

Brass Knuckle training weapon


This exploration offers a glimpse into the rich and varied arsenal available to martial arts practitioners.

From the striking elegance of the Katana to the intricate techniques required for the Roti Kalung, each weapon brings its own unique flavour to the martial arts world. 

Caution: Training weapons are serious tools. Make sure you are thoroughly trained and certified before using them, especially if you are a beginner!

At Made4Fighters, we are dedicated to supporting your martial arts journey by providing access to high-quality equipment and apparel for every level of practice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Okinawan martial arts?

Okinawan martial arts are traditional fighting styles from the Okinawa Islands in Japan, known for their focus on striking, grappling, and weapons training. The most prominent styles include Karate, with variants like Shorin-ryu and Goju-ryu, and Kobudo, which specializes in weapons such as the Bo Staff, Sai, and Nunchaku. These arts emphasize self-defense, physical fitness, and mental discipline, rooted in a rich history of local and Chinese martial influences.

Are Tai Chi Swords Legal in the UK?

Yes, Tai Chi swords are legal in the UK. However, they are typically considered ceremonial or practice weapons and must be used responsibly within the context of training or demonstrations.

Is the Bo Staff Legal in the UK?

Yes, the Bo Staff is legal in the UK. It is widely used in martial arts training and demonstrations without any legal restrictions.

What is the Best Martial Weapon?

The "best" martial weapon varies depending on personal preference and the specific martial arts discipline being practiced. Each weapon has unique characteristics that might make it more suitable for certain techniques or styles.

Do You Need a License to Own a Samurai Sword in the UK?

Yes, in the UK, you need specific authorization to own a samurai sword unless it is an antique or made traditionally by hand. These types of swords must be proven to have been crafted before 1954, or by traditional methods.

Are There Weapons in Taekwondo?

Traditionally, Taekwondo focuses on unarmed combat techniques involving kicks, punches, and open-handed strikes. However, some advanced training might incorporate weapons for demonstration purposes, though this is not common in all schools.