Monday, August 22, 2016

Nunchaku - the Big Surprise

I had my first training session with nunchaku recently.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that this is the weapon in my kobudo class I was least looking forward to.

First off - there is a lot of nonsense and shenanigans out there with this weapon.  Not only are nunchaku often featured in "martial arts fail" videos, but even "good" nunchaku is mostly just dances with weapons.  You never actually see them HIT ANYTHING - and y'all know how much I love weapon arts that dance around in the air, right?



Secondly, I actually respect nunchaku as a dangerous weapon to face (and to wield).  Remember, it was against nunchaku that I jammed my fingers (read about how fun that was here).

So I was a little nervous starting my first class in nunchaku.  I didn't want to do it poorly, and I was definitely aware of the risk of knocking myself right out, as our nunchaku are white oak bound with cord - so they will hurt when I hit myself.

 A lot.

Class started, and they lectured us on the correct name for the weapon.  It's "nunchaku", not "numchucks",   Now, hear this being said in a Texas accent.

Nummm-chucks. Kinda fun to say, isn't it? BUT DON'T.  They are noon-chah-koo.  Got it?

At the start of class, our teacher said, "At this point, it's a better strategy, if you have nunchaku and your opponent does not, to hand THEM the weapon, as it's more likely that they'll hurt themselves than hurt you."  I believe him.

We started with some basic exercises to get used to the weapon.  One major point is that we hold the weapon at the END of the handle, not "choked up" next to the cord (or chain).  Now that I have learned this, I see it in 97% of every nunchaku video I see on the internet; this "choking up" to make the weapon go faster in the air.

Next, we were shown that we strike through ("lobtik" in the terminology we use in Arnis) the target, vs. hitting and stopping. That's how you get rebound and how you end up hitting yourself in the head.

The neat thing is that these exercises, once we got used to catching the moving handle in our hands, were literally identical to classical strikes found in Arnis.

I'm talking about specifically arco, banda y banda, and ocho-ocho.

HEY! I know this stuff already!  It's... ARNIS!

Then we learned our first striking pattern.  It is similar to our tonfa pattern, and I picked it up pretty quickly.  By the end of class, I was having fun and I wasn't worried or nervous at all.

Now I have to practice hard because we are learning our first nunchaku form, Nunchaku Ichi, next class.

I admit, I'm much more upbeat and positive than I was about nunchaku before this first class.  I may even actually... like nunchaku a little bit.

A... tad.

Just so's you get an idea of what we're learning really looks like, this is the closest thing I can find online.  Enjoy.

Tell us about a time you were nervous about something new in the martial arts and how it turned out.  Or tell us your nunchaku stories - let us know in the comments!