Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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One of the most recognizable weapons in the martial arts world is the nunchaku. Popularized in the west following Bruce Lee's film heyday, they have been used in countless pop culture movies and television shows. Much of the romance and mystique of East Asian martial arts is encapsulated in the hand-held, quick-strike qualities of the nunchaku.

Currently, nunchaku are being used by legitimate western law-enforcement agencies both on and off the silver screen. The Orcutt Police Nunchaku system has slowly spread in use across the country, with over 200 agencies using the system. One of the strengths of nunchaku--their versatility--is employed in the Orcutt system, which focuses on using the tool as a control mechanism, not as a weapon for dealing incapacitating blows to the target.

Differences in Modern Western Use and Traditional Use

Perhaps the most instantly recognizable difference between traditional and modern nunchaku is the shape of the sticks. Traditionally, the two main nunchaku shapes are round sticks and octagonal sticks. Chinese martial arts uses round sticks, and Japanese and Okinawan (Kobudo) art forms generally use octagonal sticks. Orcutt nunchaku are shaped slightly differently, octagonal ends, rounded grips, and small guards just above the grips.

Though there are many modern masters of nunchaku that are fluent in traditional movements, nunchaku are unique in the Kobudo weapons cannon in that no forms, or Kata, survive. Modern usage has produced at least two nunchaku styles, the Orcutt and Nunchaku-Do, a style taught by the World Nunchaku Association.

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