A morning episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with my son got him a bit curious about how their weapons came about. What he probably knows is the story of how these turtles became ninjas. Mikey, Raph, Donny and Leo have been kicking foot soldier asses for as long as he can remember but what about their weapons? Are they really Ninja tradition? Let us try to see what history can teach us.

I mentioned in my article entitled, Karate Origins: The Adopted China Hand, how the local practitioners of the early form of Karate had to practice in secret. This was during the Sho Shin Dynasty of Okinawa when all weapons were banned out of fear of uprising. Understandably, the fighting art in Okinawa at that time called “Te”, even if it literally meant the empty hand, had to go in hiding together with the weapons.

It is quite interesting to know that weapons such as the BO, the Sai, the Nunchaku, and the Kama were developed at about the same time.

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The BO or Staff.

The BO was used practically as a long piece of pole to balance two buckets of water or carry other loads. In combat, it allowed blocking and striking across a range of weapons. Present since feudal Japan, it was part of early Japanese martial arts. At six feet in length it allowed defense and striking within a safe distance from an opponent. While the fighting aspect fo the BO has already been developed even before the Sho Shin Dynasty, it was easy to conceal it due to its usefulness in running chores and household work. Remember that weapons had to be concealed during this time.

saiThe Sai.

Classy, simply the classiest weapon of them all. It is traditionally present not just in Japanese martial art but in Southeast Asian Martial Arts as well. It is in fact also present in the southeast asian system of Kali. It was used to stab, block, trap and punch. It could also be thrown. To conceal it as a weapon, it was used as a pitchfork.

The Nunchaku.

0064971410199_500X500The king of all deception when it comes to weapons is probably the Nunchaku. It was originally used in agriculture to thresh grain. With its original appearance of having two equal wooden parts attached by horse hair it resembled nothing but a tool. As a weapon, it can be used to strike, trap, choke and block.

The Kama.

bo and kamaMy last example is the Kama. It was nothing but a tool to cut grass. When weapons were prohibited by the Sho Shin Dynasty, the Kama was easy to conceal as an everyday wok tool for the common man. As a weapon, this was used as a fighting blade that can have a chain attached to the base for greater reach.

There are other weapons concealed in everyday agricultural and work use by the common man during that time. That didn’t stop them from developing the fighting art of these weapons. Let’s look at other Karate weapons next time. For now….



2 thoughts on “Nope, Not Turtle Weapons!

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