15 Best Martial Arts Weapons (Fighting & Training)

In the world of martial arts, the weapons wielded by skilled practitioners are like extensions of their own bodies, symbols of their mastery. From the thunderous strikes of the bo staff to the lightning-fast precision of the shuriken, these weapons have been honed and perfected through centuries of practice.

In this article, we will delve into the origins, designs, and practical applications of the 15 best martial arts weapons. Join us on this journey as we unlock the secrets of these essential tools for fighters and enthusiasts alike.

Key Takeaways

  • The Bo Staff is a versatile weapon used for striking, sweeping, thrusting, and blocking in Okinawan kobudō. It was originally used for carrying water and churning butter.
  • Butterfly Swords are 19th-century Chinese martial arts weapons that are concealed inside clothing or boots. They are mostly used in pairs and have a prong for blocking, a handle for gripping, and different parts of the blade for slicing and stabbing.
  • The Eiku is a classic Okinawan martial arts weapon resembling an oar. It is used for flicking sand and thrusting and is made from oak. It is used in various Okinawan martial arts styles.
  • Eskrima Sticks are popular stick weapons used in the Filipino martial art of arnis. They are made from rattan for training and sparring and hardwood sticks for increased damage. They improve coordination, dexterity, and self-defense skills.

Bo Staff

The Bo Staff is a versatile weapon used for striking, sweeping, thrusting, and blocking in various martial arts disciplines. Bo staff techniques are essential for self-defense and combat training.

The history and cultural significance of the bo staff in Okinawan martial arts can’t be understated. It originated in Okinawa, where it was traditionally used for carrying water and churning butter. Over time, it evolved into a powerful weapon that required skill and precision to wield effectively.

The bo staff is typically made from materials such as red or white oak, pine, bamboo, rattan wood, hardwood with metallic sides, or foam. Its length, around 6 feet or 1.8 meters, allows for a wide range of movements and techniques.

Butterfly Swords

Continuing the exploration of martial arts weapons in the article, butterfly swords are a noteworthy addition to the discussion. These 19th-century Chinese martial arts weapons hold great historical origins and cultural significance in the realm of Chinese martial arts.

The blade length of butterfly swords is approximately the length of a forearm, making them ideal for self-defense and concealed carry. Typically used in pairs, butterfly swords can be concealed side by side, ready to be drawn at a moment’s notice.

These weapons employ a one-sided prong for blocking, a handle for gripping, and different parts of the blade for slicing and stabbing. Techniques and training methods for using butterfly swords emphasize precision, agility, and quick reflexes.

Understanding the historical origins and cultural significance of butterfly swords provides practitioners with a deeper appreciation for their role in Chinese martial arts.


Eiku, a classic Okinawan martial arts weapon resembling an oar, is another fascinating addition to the exploration of martial arts weapons. This versatile weapon offers a range of techniques and training methods that can help practitioners achieve mastery in their martial arts practice.

Here are five key aspects to consider when working with the Eiku:

  • Techniques: The Eiku can be used for various techniques, including flicking sand and thrusting. Its unique design and length provide opportunities for striking, blocking, and even grappling maneuvers.
  • Training Methods: To master the Eiku, practitioners must focus on developing their strength, agility, and coordination. Regular practice of kata (forms) and partner drills can improve technique and build muscle memory.
  • Grip Variations: The Eiku can be held with a natural grip, reverse grip, or special grip, allowing for different techniques and strategies. Exploring these grip variations adds depth and versatility to one’s skillset.
  • Material and Length: Typically made from oak, the Eiku measures between 4.5 to 6 shaku in length. The choice of material and length can affect the weapon’s weight, balance, and durability, making it essential to select the right Eiku for individual training preferences.
  • Styles and Schools: The Eiku is widely used in Okinawan martial arts systems such as Matayoshi kobudo, Ryukuya kobudo, karate, and kata schools. Each style may emphasize different techniques and training methods, offering practitioners a diverse range of approaches to explore and refine their Eiku skills.
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Eskrima Sticks

Eskrima sticks, also known as Arnis sticks, are a popular stick weapon used in the Filipino martial art of arnis. These sticks are typically made from rattan for training and sparring purposes, while hardwood sticks are used when increased damage is desired.

The length of Eskrima sticks typically ranges between 60 to 70 cm, occasionally reaching up to 90 cm. Eskrima practitioners utilize a variety of techniques and training drills to develop their skills with these sticks, including striking, blocking, and disarming techniques.

When comparing Eskrima sticks to other stick weapons, their versatility and effectiveness stand out. The techniques and training drills used in Eskrima make it a formidable martial art that emphasizes speed, precision, and adaptability.

Hook Swords

The Hook Swords, used in Chinese kung-fu weapons routines by Shaolin monks, are a unique and formidable martial arts weapon. These weapons have a rich history and offer a variety of techniques for practitioners to master.

  • History of hook swords: The origin of hook swords can be traced back to the Qing dynasty in China. Initially used by the military, they were later adopted by Shaolin monks for their training routines. The design of the hook swords evolved over time, with the weapon featuring a distinctive hook, back, sharpened hilt, crescent guard, and link. Today, hook swords are made from stainless steel and have a total length ranging from 84 to 100 cm.
  • Different techniques for using hook swords: Hook swords offer a range of techniques that require skill and precision. Some of the techniques include slashing, stabbing, blocking, and hooking. Practitioners can use the hook to trap and disarm opponents, while the crescent guard provides protection and can be used for striking. The unique design of the hook swords allows for fluid and versatile movements, making them an exciting weapon to master.


Moving on from the previous subtopic of Hook Swords, the next martial arts weapon to explore is the Jian.

The Jian is an ancient Chinese double-edged sword that holds great historical significance. Its blade is divided into three sections: jiànfeng, zhongren, and jiàngen. The jiànfeng is used for cutting, slicing, and stabbing, while the jiàngen is used for blocking and defensive techniques.

The Jian’s guard, handle, and pommel provide protection and balance during combat. To master Jian techniques, practitioners must focus on elusive movement and avoid blocking behind the back, as the double-edged blade increases the risk of self-injury.

Over time, the materials used in Jian construction have evolved from bronze to steel, with occasional use of copper, tin, and nickel.

Understanding the historical significance and mastering the techniques of the Jian is essential for martial arts enthusiasts seeking to achieve mastery.


Continuing the exploration of martial arts weapons, the next weapon to discuss is the Kama, a traditional Okinawan farming sickle.

The Kama, with its unique shape and versatility, offers a range of techniques and training opportunities for those seeking mastery in martial arts. Here are some key aspects of the Kama that set it apart from other traditional weapons:

  • The Kama allows for striking, hooking, and trapping movements, making it a dynamic weapon in combat situations.
  • Its metal or wooden blade, typically around 6 to 8 inches in length, provides a balanced combination of reach and maneuverability.
  • When compared to other traditional weapons, such as the Bo Staff or Butterfly Swords, the Kama’s design and techniques offer a different set of skills and strategies.
  • Training with the Kama enhances hand-eye coordination, agility, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
  • The Kama’s unique shape and functionality make it a weapon of choice in various Okinawan martial arts styles.

Mastering the techniques and training with the Kama opens up a world of possibilities for martial arts practitioners, enabling them to explore the weapon’s full potential and discover new ways to defend and attack.


Kunai, often associated with ninjas, is a Japanese farming tool and weapon used for digging, prying, and climbing. While its primary purpose was for agricultural tasks, the kunai has found its place in martial arts as both a self-defense tool and a throwing weapon.

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When it comes to self-defense and combat, kunai techniques focus on utilizing the tool’s sharp blade for striking and slashing movements. Its compact size and versatility make it ideal for close-quarters combat situations.

Additionally, kunai throwing techniques are employed to enhance precision and accuracy. Practitioners learn to properly grip the kunai, adjust their stance, and employ proper throwing techniques to ensure the weapon hits its target with maximum impact.

Mastery of kunai techniques requires discipline, practice, and a deep understanding of the weapon’s capabilities.


The nunchaku, also known as nunchucks, is a versatile martial arts weapon that’s often associated with flashy and dynamic movements. It has a rich history and cultural significance in martial arts.

Here are some key aspects of nunchaku:

  • Nunchaku techniques and training methods: Mastery of nunchaku involves learning various techniques such as strikes, blocks, spins, and joint locks. Training methods include solo practice, partner drills, and forms to develop speed, accuracy, and coordination.
  • History and cultural significance: Nunchaku originated in Okinawa and was initially used as a farm tool. Over time, it evolved into a weapon for self-defense. Its cultural significance lies in its connection to traditional Okinawan martial arts and its depiction in popular culture, particularly in movies.
  • Skill and coordination: Nunchaku requires skill and coordination to wield effectively. Practitioners must learn how to manipulate the weapon’s momentum and adapt to different situations.
  • Material variations: Nunchaku can be made from various materials such as wood, metal, or foam. The choice of material affects the weight, durability, and handling characteristics of the weapon.
  • Versatile applications: Nunchaku can be used for striking, trapping, and blocking. Its versatility allows for a wide range of offensive and defensive techniques.


Although small in size, shuriken, also known as throwing stars or ninja stars, are long-range projectile weapons used in martial arts. Shuriken have a rich history as weapons in Japanese martial arts.

There are different types of shuriken, each with its own unique design and purpose. The most common types include the Bo Shuriken, which are small, pointed metal blades; Hira Shuriken, which are flat, star-shaped projectiles; and Shaken, which are concealed spikes. Each type of shuriken requires specific throwing techniques to achieve accuracy and precision.

Shuriken were historically used by ninjas for both offensive and defensive purposes, allowing them to strike from a distance or distract their opponents. Today, shuriken remain a fascinating part of Japanese martial arts, requiring skill and mastery to wield effectively.


Using the tonfa in martial arts involves striking, blocking, and joint manipulation. This traditional Okinawan weapon, resembling a side handle baton, is held in pairs and used in various Okinawan martial arts styles. Mastery of the tonfa requires knowledge of both traditional techniques and modern variations for self-defense. Here are five important aspects to consider:

  • Traditional techniques for using the tonfa in martial arts, such as the proper grip, stances, and striking angles.
  • Modern adaptations of the tonfa for self-defense, including techniques for disarming an opponent or using it as a defensive tool.
  • The importance of footwork and body positioning in maximizing the effectiveness of tonfa techniques.
  • Training drills and exercises to develop speed, power, and coordination with the tonfa.
  • The use of the tonfa as a versatile weapon, capable of both offensive and defensive maneuvers.

Whether you’re a martial arts practitioner looking to enhance your skills or someone interested in self-defense, the tonfa offers a dynamic and effective tool for combat.


As the discussion transitions from the tonfa, a traditional Okinawan weapon used for striking, blocking, and joint manipulation, to the topic of the tassel, it adds a unique element of visual appeal and balance to the jian.

The tassel, although primarily used as a decorative addition, serves a purpose in martial arts. In battle, the tassel can be used as a distraction to disorient opponents, allowing the wielder to gain an advantage. Furthermore, the tassel can be utilized to enhance the handling and balance of the jian. Skilled practitioners can incorporate the tassel into their techniques, using it to entangle and disarm opponents.

The tassel adds an aesthetic appeal to the jian, making it a visually captivating weapon that commands attention.

Jian Movement

The jian’s movement is characterized by its elusive nature, allowing for precise strikes and swift maneuvers. When mastering the jian, practitioners must understand and incorporate various techniques and strategies into their movements. Here are some key aspects of jian movement:

  • Elusive techniques: The jian’s agility and quickness enable practitioners to evade attacks and maintain a defensive advantage. By utilizing subtle movements and feints, practitioners can deceive their opponents and create openings for counterattacks.
  • Defensive strategies: Jian movement emphasizes the use of the blade for blocking and parrying incoming attacks. By skillfully positioning the jian, practitioners can effectively defend themselves while simultaneously setting up offensive opportunities.
  • Footwork: Proper footwork is crucial in jian movement. Agile footwork allows practitioners to maintain balance, control distance, and swiftly change angles for strategic advantage.
  • Offensive tactics: The jian’s double-edged blade enables practitioners to execute a variety of offensive techniques. Quick thrusts, precise cuts, and combination attacks can be seamlessly integrated into the practitioner’s movement, maximizing the jian’s offensive potential.
  • Mastery: To truly master jian movement, practitioners must dedicate themselves to consistent practice, honing their skills, and internalizing the principles of elusive techniques, defensive strategies, footwork, and offensive tactics. Through disciplined training and unwavering dedication, practitioners can unlock the full potential of the jian as a formidable martial arts weapon.
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Materials Used in Jian Construction

Jian construction incorporates various materials, including bronze, steel, copper, tin, and nickel, to ensure optimal weight, durability, and performance. While bronze was commonly used in the past, steel has become the predominant material for jian construction. Steel offers several advantages, such as exceptional strength, flexibility, and resistance to corrosion. It allows for precise blade shaping and edge retention, making it ideal for combat and training purposes.

Additionally, different types of jian handles are used to enhance grip and control. Some examples include the D-shaped handle, which provides stability and balance, and the round handle, which offers a comfortable grip. The choice of handle type depends on personal preference and the intended use of the jian.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the Bo Staff Be Used for Purposes Other Than Martial Arts?

The bo staff can be used for various purposes beyond martial arts. Its length and sturdy construction make it ideal for activities such as hiking, self-defense, and even as a tool for carrying heavy objects. Different techniques can be employed for non-martial arts activities, showcasing the versatility of this weapon.

How Are the Butterfly Swords Traditionally Carried and Concealed?

Butterfly swords are traditionally carried and concealed inside clothing or boots. The bo staff has various uses beyond martial arts. Eiku weapon grips include natural, reverse, or special grips. Eskrima sticks come in lengths between 60 to 90 cm and are used for training. Hook swords feature back, hook, sharpened hilt, crescent guard, and link.

What Are the Different Types of Grips Used With the Eiku Weapon?

The eiku weapon offers various grip options, including the natural grip, reverse grip, and special grip techniques. These different grips are used in Okinawan martial arts schools and provide practitioners with versatility and control in their techniques.

What Are Some Common Lengths for Eskrima Sticks and How Do They Affect Training?

Common lengths for Eskrima sticks range from 60 to 70 cm, occasionally up to 90 cm. The length affects training by improving coordination, dexterity, and self-defense skills. Different types of grips for the Eiku weapon include the natural grip, reverse grip, and special grip. The different parts of the hook sword serve various purposes, such as the back, hook, sharpened hilt, crescent guard, and link.

What Are the Specific Purposes of the Different Parts of a Hook Sword?

The hook sword, with its unique design and historical significance, has various purposes for its different parts. It enables practitioners to perform different techniques, such as blocking, striking, and linking attacks, making it a versatile weapon in martial arts.


In conclusion, the world of martial arts weapons is vast and fascinating, with each weapon having its own unique qualities and purposes. Whether it’s the power of the bo staff or the elegance of the jian, these weapons have played a significant role in both fighting and training for centuries.

Did you know that the tonfa, a weapon commonly used in Okinawan martial arts, is believed to have originated from a wooden handle used for grinding rice? This just goes to show the rich history and ingenuity behind these essential tools for practitioners worldwide.

Mike Williams
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