Monday, October 10, 2016

For the Love of the Ropey-Whackstick

My friend on Tumblr, Graciejits, came up with the term "ropey-whacksticks" for nunchaku, and honestly, it's the most accurate description that exists.

"Numchucks", "Nunchucks" and "Chux" annoy me, but "ropey-whacksticks" is the BEST NAME EVER.


Lawd help me, I think the nunchaku have become my second favorite kobudo weapon.

Me and you both, man.
My favorite, so far, even though I'm not great at it, is the jo.   

In weapons sparring (we use ActionFlex), I have found the jo to be the most useful of the weapons against longer weapons (bo) and shorter weapons (nunchaku, sticks, swords, etc.).  Combine that with the size being most similar to long improvised weapons you might have around the house - like a broom handle - the jo is an incredibly versatile and practical weapon to study.

Nunchaku may not be as practical as the jo (or sticks for that matter). 

"May not be"... actually, it totally isn't practical as studying other weapons are or can be.  Nunchaku are great for base study of flexible weapons - but I wouldn't use one of those if I have something else available, so honestly, it's a very, very long shot I'd ever use what I'm learning in a real life situation.

But that's true of most of martial arts study, isn't it?

Professional bouncers, bodyguards, security, and law enforcement exceptions to the general rule, of course.

I now understand the fascination so many people have with them, though.

When you relax and really understand the weapon, it's fun to chamber up and get that nunchaku flyin' around.  When I'm practicing my strikes or working on a form, and I can really let a strike go, the WHOOOSH!  sound the nunchaku makes makes me smile.

The risk of getting hit by your own weapon is very great.   As the joke goes, "How do you beat a guy if you have nunchaku?  Give him the weapon and let him beat himself!"

I've smacked myself in the back and arms more times than I can count (hard enough to hurt and leave a bruise). I've jammed my fingertips more than once in trying to catch a handle.  I've hit the back of my own weapon hand in a rebound.  I am a veteran of getting hit in the hands, knuckles, and fingertips with weapons and this is a whole 'nother experience on ways to get hit.

I haven't hit myself in the leg, knee, face, or head yet.  Note the word YET, as I'm sure it's going to happen.  After all, I've only learned one form, one striking pattern set, and one 7-step drill.

Pictured: My future.

We've determined that my nunchaku are too big for me, and I'm switching them out for a shorter pair in November, which will be very helpful, as I end up having to choke up on the handle when I really shouldn't.  That's one way dangerous rebounds happen - check out dude's grip on the gif above as an example of too much choking up on the weapon.

Some folks have very long chains/cords or handles for tricking.  I'm not interested in that - I'm interested in hitting stuff and trapping stuff and actually using the weapon for putting on the hurt.  It's critical my weapon is sized appropriately for me.

Speaking of hitting stuff, our last class was outside and we practiced hitting bo with various strikes (helloooo rebound!), and then we hit trees.  I was making the bark FLY off the tree I was striking, and in the process, I riled up a whole bunch of angry ants! I was happy that I didn't get any rebound on my strikes due to doing a good job of committing to the strike and pulling through (and holding the handle properly at the end).

As I noted when I started studying them, nunchaku are a lot like what we do in Arnis. The striking patterns, some of the footwork - heck, you could consider stick exchange in flow (from hand to hand) a very similar skill to what we do with nunchaku.

I am surprised to find I like nunchaku as much as I do.  I'm really enjoying this segment of our kobudo training, and I'm looking forward to studying this weapon more and in-depth.

Finally, here's a quick video of me practicing our striking pattern.  I don't think you can hear the weapon WHOOOSH, but trust me, it happens!

Do you enjoy the Ropey-Whacksticks?  Or are you like I was, and dislike them due to the amount of shenanigans that goes on with this weapon?  Are you afraid of them?  Let us know in the comments!

UPDATE: I've hit myself twice now.  Once in the bone just above my right ankle, thanks to a bad stance. Another in a miscue in a turn in a form and whacked myself in the shin.  AND YES IT HURTS.