best martial arts weapons

15 Best Martial Arts Weapons

Weapons are a common feature of most martial arts. Training with these pieces of equipment will assist you to build up strength in your arm and shoulder and helps you keep a better fighting distance.

In this article, we’ll be looking at the best martial arts weapons used across the world.

Note: this list is not ordered in any way.


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Nunchaku, also known as “Nunchuck” or “chainstick”, is a martial art weapon that’s originally developed in Okinawa, Japan. The weapon is designed to have two sticks (made of harder wood), usually connected by a short thin chain or nylon rope and hooks.

Nunchaku has been around for a very long time but it started gaining popularity after the martial artist and icon, Bruce Lee, and his martial arts student started using it in movies in the early 1970s.

Today, the Japanese weapon is used by several different styles of martial arts, including Okinawan Kobudō, Karate, Taekwondo, Aikido, and Eskrima. Furthermore, the basic technique of handling Nunchaku is often based on a centrifugal force, which occurs as a result of swinging the weapon. 

In any training session, the use of Nunchaku helps to enhance posture and boost the development of hand movements.


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Occupying the second spot on the list of the best martial arts weapons is Spear or Qiang (in Chinese).

A spear is a martial art pole weapon that compromises a shaft (usually made of wood) and a pointed head. The pointed head is either the sharpened end of the spear itself or an attachment. The attachment can be made of several different materials, such as steel, iron, bone, flint, obsidian, and many more.

Martial arts spears are categorized into different types, depending on their sizes. For instance, the Ming military categorized the spears with a length of 14 feet and more as long spears. As for those above 9 feet, they are called short spears while those below 9 feet are spiked staffs.

Today, several different styles of martial arts use spears. Some popular ones are Sojutsu, Tai Chi, and Kung Fu.

Hook Swords

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Hook swords, also called “twin hooks” or “tiger head hook” is a type of martial arts weapon originally designed in China. Initially, this weapon is only used by the northern styles of martial arts in China. Today, however, the weapon is widely used by both the northern and southern styles of Chinese martial arts.

Hook swords are usually characterized by five common components; the hook, back, sharpened end, crescent guard, and link. The hook is used for slashing, tripping opponents, or catching their weapons.

The back of a hook sword is often used as a sword. As for the crescent guard, it has several different functions, including slashing, blocking, and trapping.


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Tonfa, also called tong fa, is a type of weapon that is commonly used in Okinawan martial arts for blocking and striking. The weapon, which is usually designed with a stick, comes with a perpendicular handle. The handle is attached about one-third of the entire length of the stick.

Furthermore, Tonfa sticks can be made of different materials, such as oak, hardwood, rubber, and polypropylene.

As earlier mentioned, Tonfa can be used for blocking and striking, depending on how you handle it. For instance, by holding it along the forearm area, you can use it to protect yourself. Moreover, gripping the weapon by its shaft will allow you to use it as a hook. That’s not all;  Tonfa can also be swung out to strike your opponent.

Bo Staff

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A Bo staff is one of the most common weapons used in Okinawa martial arts. This staff is usually long; to be precise, the weapon is about 6 feet in length. A Bo Staff is made of oak wood and utilized for a couple of functions, such as striking an opponent, thrusting, blocking, sweeping, and entrapping.

Furthermore, a Bo Staff can also be made of foam and metal materials. The foamy type is what people use when training. As for the metallic type, it’s often used during demonstrations.


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A Katana is a type of sword that originates from Japan. This martial weapon is different from the regular sword because of its features. In case you don’t know, a Katana sword usually comes with a curve and a single-edged blade.

That’s not all; a Katana sword also comes with a guard (circular or square) and a long grip, which allows people to comfortably hold it with two hands.

Originally, the Katana swords were designed to be carried by the Samurai warriors in feudal Japan. The weapon can be used for cutting, striking, and blocking battles. In practice, however, the sword can be utilized for learning different styles of martial arts.


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This weapon, also called hand claws, was commonly used by the ninjas for farm purposes. Speaking of the shape of Tekko-Kagi, they are hand claws that come with four iron nails. They are often used by the Ninjas to attack and scratch enemies.

Furthermore, you need to understand that there are two different types of Tekko-Kagi. First, one is designed in such a way that allows the edges to come on the back of the hand. The second type has the edges coming in the palm.

Apart from being used to mark enemies, Tekko-Kagi can also be used for defense and offense.

Nine Section Chain Whips

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Nine section chain whips, also called chain whips, are a type of martial arts weapon designed with several metal rods. These rods are often connected end-to-end with the help of rings to form flexible chains. As with the name, this type of weapon is made of nine different sections, including two end pieces.

Furthermore, nine section chain whips are made of steel and grip materials. It’s often used in Wushu and Shaolin Kung Fu for different functions, including striking and slashing.


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Wakizashi was commonly used by the Samurai warriors in Feudal Japan. The Japanese weapon is more of a sword but different from the regular ones and the Katana sword.

Here’s a brief description of what the sword looks like; it has a blade, which is usually about 12 and 24 inches in length. Furthermore, there are two types of Wakizashi. Those that come with almost the same length as the Katana Swords are called ō-wakizashi.

As for those that have a similar length as the tantō swords, they are often called ko-wakizashi.

In terms of usage, Wakizashi swords are worn by Samurai of feudal Japan as backup or auxiliary swords. They are also utilized to behead any defeated opponent in the 15th and 16th centuries.


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Up next on the list of the best martial arts weapons is Sai. In 1668, the equipment was used by the domestic police in Okinawa, Japan. Sai is a type of martial art weapon used mainly for blocking and stabbing enemies. 

Furthermore, Sai is typically made of metal. It often comes with a blunt metal prong, which also has two curved side prongs. These side prongs project directly from the handle of the traditional Okinawan weapon.

Sao has several different components; one of them is called Monouchi. This is the main cutting portion of the traditional weapon. Furthermore, Sai’s monouchi can come in two different shapes; faceted or round.

Other components of the Sai weapon are Yoku, Tsume, Moto, Tsuka, Saki, and Tsukagashira. “Yoku” represents the two shorter prongs projecting from the handle. “Tsume” represents the tip of the curved side prongs.

As for “Moto,” is the center, where the main prong and the curved side prongs (Monouchi and Yoku) converge. Furthermore, Tsuka is typically the handle of the weapon. “Saki” is the sharp tip of the Sai weapon while “Tsukagashira” is the handle’s butt end.


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Another type of weapon that’s commonly used for martial arts is Shurikens. In case you don’t know, this fighting equipment originates from Japan. The weapon is more of a concealed dagger used to distract enemies.

Here’s a fun fact about Shurikens; they are illegal in some states in the US. For instance, according to Penal Code 22410 PC, the government says that it’s a crime for anybody to manufacture, sell, give, or own a shuriken or ninja star.

That said, Shurikens, also called “ninja stars” are dangerous weapons used by ninjas and Samurai. They make use of the weapon to target the eyes, face, and other exposed parts of the enemy’s body.

Rope Darts

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Rope darts or “rope javelins” are another type of traditional weapon used in different styles of martial arts. Just like its name, the weapon is designed with a long rope. Furthermore, the rope, which is at least 10 feet in length, often comes with a metal dart attached to one of its ends.

Rope darts offered tons of benefits to the fighters. For instance, they can be used to hitting, piercing, and slashing enemies. That’s not all; the weapon is also effective for several other techniques, including twining, binding, and tightening.

Using this weapon isn’t an easy thing to do. Anybody using the equipment must have a pretty great balance and coordination when shooting it.


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The Kama is a type of martial arts weapon that originates from Japan. The equipment looks more like a sickle and is designed primarily for farming purposes. Apart from that, the weapon is also essential for several other things, such as blocking, trapping, and collecting an enemy’s weapons.

Furthermore, the weapon comes in pairs; you can either decide to use it that way or utilize it as a single half.


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A Kunai is another martial arts weapon that comes from Japan. Originally, the design of the fighting equipment was based on a masonry trowel, a hand trowel used in brickwork for leveling and shaping concrete.

A Kunai looks more like a Shuriken. The difference, however, is that the former is larger and heavier than the latter. They can be used for stabbing and throwing.


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Podao is a Chinese weapon that’s still in use to practice several different martial arts in the country.  Also called a “horse cutter sword,” Podao usually comes with a sharp blade, which takes the shape of Dao, a Chinese broadsword. 

Apart from the blade, the traditional Chinese weapon also packs a long handle, which is usually about 6 feet in length (max).

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
Article by

Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.