Flexible weapons: how to defend with a nunchakuFlexible weapons like the nunchaku (or erroneously “nunchuks”) are very versatile for the attack but we rarely speak of them in purely defensive terms.
When we are practicing free sparring, even with a training tool (light, with soft covers, etc.), we immediately notice a problem that concerns 70% of flexible weapons: the defense.
While the attack they seem lightning fast and safe but the reaction to the various types of aggressions of our training partners can appear almost “unstoppable”.
If, for example, with a sword it is possible to block, deflect (etc.) the opposing shots, with a nunchaku (or a chain with 9 sections, etc.), it is much more complicated to set up a good defensive system.
In this regard, despite the fact that flexible weapons were not born for this purpose, we want now to see some ideas on how to manage the opposing action.
- All flexible weapons have different possibilities, depending on their length and on the length of their not flexible parts (eg. 3 sections stick is also used as 2 short sticks / swords)
- The material (metal, cord, wood, etc.) of our weapon in relation to the material of the opponent’s one makes a big discriminant in what you can do and what not
- Again, flexible weapons are good to attack, not good to defend in a classical way (parry, etc.); for example in a push power against push power situation, the flexible weapon always loses the confrontation
In terms of defense organization, there are a few things that we can do, so, let’s see some advice:
- Adjust the length of the moving part of the weapon in relation to the opponent’s distance (zero distance means use it as an impact tool)
- Use the flexible part to grab with the intention to pull / lock / strangle / etc. the opponent (or his eventual weapon)
- Do not forget to use our entire body, the fact of having a weapon must be an advantage and not a limit (we can always use kicks, punches, etc.)
- We have to avoid any kind of rigid contact but, in the case it happens, we can try to use a two-handed grip with which “pander” the force that comes upon us (accompanying it where we want)
- Never completely stop the flow, do not allow the opponent to close the distance; for doing this we obviously need extremely strong wrists, a good spatial intelligence, etc. (read Weapon training: advanced exercise for spatial intelligence)
- Always move our body in favorable directions to maintain the right timing / distance to hit properly and especially to do not be hit / trapped (eg. we can use circulars directions)
- The instant when a weapon makes us weak is when it is reaching the end of his path, we always have to think about a plan to defend ourselves in those dangerous moments (eg. using kicks)
- Do not attack if we are not sure to be able to reach the target, contrarily to a rigid weapon, the return to a favorable combat position can be very slow
In specific terms of parry / trapping, first of all, we must try to move our body away from the trajectory of attack, then we can:
- Hit with the rigid part of our flexible weapon on the opponent’s attacking tool (a leg, a sword, etc.), bouncing then at a more vulnerable point (head, hands, etc.)
- Accompany the attack motion to deflect it, for example, to unbalance the opponent (very hard without any type of grabbing and specific training)
- If the aggression is not too strong we can try to hit the opponent’s attacking tool with the tip of our flexible weapon to create an occasion to grab it (or him) with our eventual free hand (very difficult without the right training)
Unfortunately, weapons sparring sessions can be less realistic than the empty hand ones: the adversary, knowing he is risking not too much, becomes more courageous.
In a real fight, for example with a nunchaku (of hardwood or worse made of metal), if the opponent is in front of a fast / unpredictable flow he will be surely more afraid to close the distance because it means to risk being hurt in a serious way (breaking bones, etc.).
In the next article of this series (not for beginners) we will see some tips about the attack with flexible weapons.
Author: Master Kongling
Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.