Nunchaku Kata

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Unlike the other kobudō weapons, few kata were formulated for the nunchaku, and even fewer survived to modern day. The nunchaku was not a popular weapon in its time, since it is less effective against attackers armed with swords or polearms. Nunchaku only became popular in the 1970’s, after their appearance in Bruce Lee movies. The great majority of nunchaku forms are “dōjō kata,” forms created by individual teachers for their handful of students, so they could have something to practice and hone their skills.

Our Nunchaku Kata is a Chinese Kempō form introduced to the Goshin-Justu system by Bill Burns, who was Grandmaster Durant’s friend and collaborator. It is a very linear kata, emphasizing a variety of basic strikes and catches.

Directions

[video of Murasaki, performed fast and slow, viewed from cameras at #1, 3, 7, 5. Be sure that you take up the whole frame. A lot of our old kata videos are from too far away, and it hides some detail. ]

Points of Harmony.png
  1. Start with the nunchaku folded in your right hand, with the rope/chain facing forward. Drop into a left cat stance, facing #1, swing the nunchaku vertically so that it wraps around your right shoulder and comes to a stop
    (This is a “right shoulder stop.”)
  2. Swing the nunchaku vertically downward, catching both handles in your right hand.
  3. Step-slide forward, and swing the nunchaku vertically, into a right shoulder stop.
  4. Swing the nunchaku vertically downward, trapping the free nunchaku handle in your right armpit.
    (This is a “right armpit catch.”)
  5. Step your right foot to #8, entering a front stance facing #1 with a downward diagonal swing, trapping the nunchaku against your left hip.
    (This is a “left hip catch.”)
  6. Step your right foot to #8, entering a left cat stance facing #1, and step-slide as you spin nunchaku clockwise three times, then right shoulder catch and grab the free handle with your left hand.
  7. With the nunchaku in your left hand, step-slide as you spin the nunchaku counter-clockwise three times, then left shoulder catch and grab the free handle with your left hand.
  8. Take nunchaku into your right hand, and rapidly perform the following:
    • Swing the nunchaku vertically upward and right shoulder stop.
    • Downward diagonal swing with a left hip catch.
    • Horizontally swing the nunchaku across your body, so that it wraps around your right leg.
      (This is a “right thigh stop.”)
    • Swing the nunchaku vertically upward so that it falls along your spine, into the palm of your waiting left hand.
      (This is a “back stop.”)
    • Do not grab the nunchaku with your left hand, to confuse the opponent. Instead, turn into a left sleeping crane stance facing #3, swinging the nunchaku vertically downward into a right armpit catch.
    • Swing the nunchaku forward, catching both handles in your right hand.
  9. Step your right foot to #8, entering a right front stance facing #1, swinging both of your arms out horizontally.
  10. Swing both of your arms in horizontally, so the nunchaku wraps around your chest, under your left armpit.
  11. Swing both of your arms out horizontally, catching both nunchaku handles in your right hand.
  12. Simultaneously right nami ashi and left downward pressing block, while chambering the nunchaku on your right hip.
  13. Step your right foot to #8, entering a right front stance facing #1, with a simultaneous (Kūsankū) left pressing block and a right nunchaku-enhanced spearhand strike.
  14. Step your left foot to #2, entering a left cat stance facing #1.
  15. Swing the nunchaku vertically upward with a right shoulder stop.
  16. Swing the nunchaku vertically downward, catching both nunchaku handles overhead, in your right hand.
  17. Step your right foot to #8; entering a right front stance facing #1, and snap your right wrist forward, sending the butt of the nunchaku handle flying forward. Then, pull the nunchaku in for a left hip catch.
  18. Step your right foot up to a left cat stance, and step-slide as you spin the nunchaku clockwise three times, and right back catch.
  19. Take the nunchaku into your left hand, and step-slide as you spin the nunchaku counter-clockwise three times, and left back catch.
  20. Take the nunchaku into your right hand, and step-slide as you spin the nunchaku clockwise three times, then simulate a back catch, but do not take the nunchaku into the left hand.
  21. Swing the nunchaku vertically downward, catching both handles in your right hand.
  22. Place your open left hand on your right shoulder, by your right ear. Place your right hand on your left shoulder, by your left ear. Place your right wrist to wrap the nunchaku around your neck. Finish with both of the nunchaku handles in your left hand, and pull your left hand to your left hip.
    This is a “behind-the-neck catch.”
  23. Step-slide forward, and swing the nunchaku vertically, into a left shoulder stop.
  24. Swing the nunchaku vertically downward into a left armpit catch.
  25. Step your right foot to #8, entering a front stance facing #1, with a downward diagonal swing into a right hip catch.
  26. Step your left foot up to a left cat stance, and step-slide as you spin the nunchaku counter-clockwise three times, and left back catch.
  27. Take the nunchaku into your right hand, and step-slide as you spin the nunchaku clockwise three times, then simulate a back catch, but do not take the nunchaku into the left hand.
  28. Swing the nunchaku vertically downward, catching both handles in your right hand.
  29. Execute the behind-the-neck catch. Finish with both of the nunchaku handles in your left hand, and pull your left hand to your left hip.
  30. Step-slide forward, and swing the nunchaku vertically, into a left shoulder stop.
  31. Swing the nunchaku vertically downward into a left armpit catch.
  32. Step your left foot up into attention stance facing #1 and swing the nunchaku forward, catching both handles on your left in left hand. Bring your left hand to your left hip.
  33. Step your right foot to #6; entering a right front stance facing #7 with a left downward pressing block to #1.
  34. Twist into a left front stance facing #1, with a right two-fingered spearhand strike, (palm down).
  35. Execute a right front kick.
  36. Upon re-chambering, step your right foot out to #8, entering a right front stance and block by holding nunchaku at chest level, then snapping your hands to your hips. This will pull the nunchaku taut, horizontally, at waist level.
  37. Execute a downward diagonal swing to the left, into a left hip catch.
    When done correctly, this will make a satisfying “woosh.”
  38. Quickly look over your left shoulder to #5. Step your right foot to #4 and enter a right front stance facing #5. Block by holding nunchaku at chest level, then snapping your hands to your hips. This will pull the nunchaku taut, horizontally, at waist level.
  39. Twist into a left walking crane stance facing #7 with a right side guard. Right side kick to #5.
  40. Upon rechambering, execute a forward swing to #7, catching both nunchaku handles in the right hand.
  41. Execute a left pressing block, a right pressing block, then step your right foot to #6, entering a right front stance facing #7 with a right nunchaku-enhanced spearhand strike, ending with your left hand inside of your right armpit.
  42. Step your right foot up to an attention stance facing #1. Bow.

Notes

Power is generated mostly through snapping your wrists in a “crack-the-whip” motion. Please make it a point to include this motion in every swing.

Do not rotate your wrist to spin the nunchaku at your sides (e.g., Movements 6 and 7), as that results in a weak and dangerously-erratic technique. Instead pump your arm back and forth, like a reverse punch, or the connecting rod in a piston engine. For best results, step-slide forward on the upswing.

Do not swing the nunchaku at your head. That’s not how the behind-the-neck catch works. Instead, you place your hands on the sides of your neck, and gently flick the nunchaku from one hand to the other. This is actually one of the safer and less-challenging moves; it only appears impressive and dangerous to the uninitiated.

After performing an armpit catch, you need to push your hand forward, to maximize the tension on the rope/chain. Releasing this tension makes for a faster and more explosive follow-up strike. When performed correctly, your forearm, upper arm, and the nunchaku handles all form a rectangle.

When both handles are held in one hand, they are gripped with the bottom three fingers and the thumb. The handles are shifted with respect to one another, so the thumb side is shifted forward, and the finger side is shifted back. The index finger is curled around the top of the finger-side handle, pushing down to maintain the tension. Please refer to the image below. A nunchaku-enhanced spearhand strike is thrown from this position, striking with the rope/chain side end of the extended handle.

[Image]

Bunkai

An attacker approaches in from #1, and you attempt to intimidate him by showing that they will encounter armed resistance (Movements 1 and 2). Undaunted, he rushes in with a renewed commitment to hurt you, only to walk into powerful strikes (Movements 3-5).

Another attacker approaches from #3. You lure him into a false sense of confidence by thinking that you are distracted with your own egomania, showing off to taunt the fallen opponent. In reality, you are countering the new opponent’s surprise attack by luring them into a surprise attack of your own (Movements 6-8).

The attacker at #1 recuperates long enough to attack again, but this time they have learned to quickly step-slide back up to avoid your swings (Movements 9-11). When the opponent finally lunges in, you deflect their punch and off-balance them, before knocking them back with a strike to the throat (Movement 12). You flail the end of the nunchaku into their eyes, as an atemi (Movements 13-16) to distract them long enough to setup a powerful diagonal strike (Movement 17).

You continue to swing the nunchaku in a series of flow exercises (Movements 18-22) to generate momentum to augment the next strikes (Movements 23-25), when the opponent recuperates and attacks again. This sequence more-or-less repeats itself (Movements 26-32) due to the opponent’s exceptional zeal and/or stupidity. They attack with a front kick, which you block (Movement 33) and counter (Movement 34). The opponent evades, but you pursue them (Movement 35). The opponent kicks again, but you block this attack (Movement 36) before finally crushing them (Movement 37).

Another opponent, shocked at the brutality and horror which has befallen his colleague at #1, attacks with a kick from #5, which you block (Movement 38) and counter with a kick of your own (Movement 39).

A final opponent appears at #7, and you swing at them as an atemi (Movement 40), but they attack anyway, un-distracted. You block their punches before crushing their throat (Movement 41).

Having defeated all those wishing to harm you, the encounter ends (Movement 42).