There are at least four weapons in Chinese martial arts with flexible linkages. The theory is that most opponents are used to linear stabbing and more or less linear slashing. It is hoped that someone wielding a flail, which is a five foot long staff that makes up the handle to which is joined, usually by rope or a chain, a 12-18 inch wooden rod. There are a few problems: the flail is not blindingly fast on offense or defense; it can be reduced to firewood by most sabers, pole arms and swords; and the primary striking part – the rod – is not all that easy to control with any accuracy. For a variety of additional reasons Bruce Lee used a type of flail called a nunchaku in Japanese. Instead of a long handle and a rod we have two rods. The nunchaku has even less defensive capability than the flail. There aren’t a lot of kung fu or samurai movie scenes where a fighter armed with one or two nunchakus defeats a swordsman. Of the thirty-five weapons we practice with we’d rate nunchakus 34th least lethal ahead of only the fan.

However, in certain situations nunchakus, meteor hammers and flexible whips can be just the thing. They would be a tactical asset for someone in a wheelchair, for example. It is a bit awkward strapping a pu dao alongside, but a flexible weapon extends the reach and is certain to be a surprise for the despicable opponent (attacking someone in a wheelchair is really low). So if we had a student with limited mobility we’d encourage the study of at least three of the linked weapons. It turns out there are quite a few interesting moves with ProChux. Who could resist carving Lissajous curves in three-dimensional space?

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