The Nunchaku reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Nunchaku

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A nunchaku, also called nanchyaku or nunchucks, (Chinese 雙節棍; this name originated n=ng-chiat-kun, 兩節棍 in Fuzhouhua) is a martial arts weapon consisting of two sticks connected at their ends with a short chain or thong.

The most common martial arts to use nunchaku are the Japanese martial arts such as some forms of karate, but some Eskrima systems also teach practitioners to use nunchaku. The styles of these two arts are rather different; the traditional Okinawan arts would have used the sticks primarily to grip and lock, while the Filipino arts would have used the sticks primarily for striking.

Also referred to as a rice flail or karate stick, the nunchaku are often explained as a ancient tool used by farmers for threshing rice. Although it is true that many martial arts weapons were originally designed as farm tools, it is uncertain whether the nunchaku were used in their exact form for this purpose. A long pole with a short stick attached by chain is a more common shape for a grain flail, but the best shape for a flail depends on the crop. The flails currently used in martial arts classes may have been modified for convenience.

The length of each pole is traditionally the length from wrist to elbow and the length of the chain is the width of a fist.

The nunchaku were made popular mostly due to their use by Bruce Lee in a scene from his film Enter the Dragon, in which he demonstrates Eskrima flail techniques, and also by Michaelangelo of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame.

See also: Okinawa weapon