Did Ninjas Use Nunchucks?

Ninjas were specially trained mercenaries or covert agents. Highly skilled in martial arts like ninjutsu, these fearsome fighters appeared in 15th century feudal Japan during the Sengoku period. Ninjas used various weapons, but were nunchucks among their choice weaponry?

Ninjas used nunchucks as offensive weapons. While ninja weapons such as nunchucks were initially designed as farming tools, with time, the ninjas decided to transform them into weapons for their survival. 

Nunchucks are martial art weapons, but they also made some of the best ninja farming tools. This article will further explain how ninjas used these popular fighting tools, the other kinds of weapons used, the typical ninja fighting style, and whom they regarded as enemies.

ninjas nunchucks
What kind of weapons did ninjas use? See below

What Kind of Weapons Did Ninjas Use?

Ninjas used various weapons, including conventional fighting tools like the spear, sword, bow and arrow. They also used nunchucks, plus an assortment of specialized ninjutsu weapons like the shuko, kyoketsu shoge, shuriken, caltrops, explosives, bamboo bows, bamboo staff, and small escape weapons. 

The small-sized escape weapons were referred to as tonki. They included a baffling array of darts, dirks, daggers and throwing weapons, all fashioned for various escape tactics.

Being adept at using these weapons prepared ninjitsu trainees to use any alternative objects available during a fight. With time, they learned pyrotechnics (how to create explosives), which soon became part of their arsenal. These techniques were highly effective in creating distractions and inflicting damage. 

The fighters were expected to be highly skilled in all the ninja weapons in their arsenal. [1] These included:


This was not a primary ninja weapon, but it was easy to carry, highly effective, and could be adapted quickly to suit different situations. The nunchuck features a chain held between two sticks, allowing a ninja to trap the blade of an attacker’s sword, disarm, or even strangle the enemy. It was suitable for both defensive and offensive stances. 


This was a small metal plate with four spikes that extended from the palm. Worn over the knuckles, it was ideal for raking an enemy’s face or breaking the jaw with a backhand. The shuko was also helpful when climbing trees and walls. 


These vicious weapons formed part of tonki. They featured four sharp points designed to slow down a pursuing enemy since one point always protruded upwards. Ninja dropped them behind them as they fled from their enemies, knowing their pursuers would run over them, stabbing their feet in the process.


These hand-held throwing weapons included sharp star-shaped discs, knives, poisoned darts, and spikes. Ninja tossed them overhand or used them to side-arm an opponent with a quick, spinning motion. They practiced how to use the tools swiftly and accurately by throwing them at fixed targets like posts or tree trunks.

Kyoketsu Shoge

A potent weapon, the kyoketsu shoge featured a cord with a metal ring on one end and a double-pointed knife on the other. The end with the ring wrapped around the enemy’s arm, allowing the ninja to pull him close and swipe down sharply on the neck, using the curved knife edge. The ninja then thrust the straight-edged knife into a vital spot. 


Curiously, ninja also utilized mines, smoke grenades, flashing balls, firecrackers, and other explosives. Before Portuguese traders introduced gunpowder and firearms in the mid-16th century, ninja had developed a bamboo gun with a range of approximately 60 feet (18.28 m). When firearms became available, they started using derringers, amongst other handguns.

Miscellaneous Arms

These miscellaneous weapons included, but weren’t limited to, the following: 

  • Poison
  • Cane swords
  • Blowguns
  • Ropes
  • Chains
  • Acid-spurting tubes
  • Happō 

That last one was an eggshell full of blinding powder that would help facilitate escape.

ninjas weapons
What fighting style did ninjas practice? See below

What Fighting Style Did Ninjas Practice?

Ninja practiced the ninjutsu fighting style, a traditional martial art practiced to date. Their fighting tactics relied heavily on deception, secrecy, slowing down opponents, or inducing temporal blindness. Ninja were also knowledgeable about meteorology, geography, and pyrotechnics.

Ninjutsu is an umbrella term entailing all the ways in which ninjas trained to fight. [2] Their fighting styles and techniques were broken down into different categories, comprising various weapon techniques and martial art styles.

Ninjas trained in 18 traditional disciplines. Some of the skills taught involved the following:

  • Different forms of armed and unarmed fighting techniques
  • Training of various weapons
  • Horsemanship
  • Espionage
  • Infiltration
  • Sabotage
  • Disguise
  • Trickery
  • Watercraft 
  • Medicines
  • Long-distance hiking

Below are some of the martial art styles used by ninja:

  • Shurikenjutsu: This martial art entailed mastering the throwing techniques involving shurikens as well as learning how to use them in a closed area. The skill enabled ninjas to eliminate opponents from medium to long-distance.
  • Bojutsu: This fighting style was applied when using the bo staff, a famous ninja weapon. 
  • Kenjutsu: This style involved sword fighting and was especially useful for close combat. 
  • Sojutsu: This fighting style was like Kenjutsu, but the warrior used a spear instead of a sword.
  • Jujutsu techniques: Ninjas utilized Japanese jujutsu techniques like grappling when fighting close hand-to-hand combat without weapons. [3]

Unlike the samurai who engaged in standard hand-to-hand combat, ninjas were mostly sneaky. They specialized in setting up traps and misleading enemies. 

Ninja utilized their specialized skills in carrying out assassinations, spying, and guerrilla warfare. Today, these weapon-based techniques are still regarded highly, and anyone knowledgeable about ninja techniques and ninjutsu weapons can successfully defend themselves against an attack.   

black nunchucks
Who were the enemies of ninjas? See below

Who Were the Enemies of Ninjas?

Ninjas’ enemies were mainly the samurai. They were often tasked with assassinating high-ranking samurai leaders in a bid to destroy their groups. Ninja tactics were considered dishonorable by many. Thus, the fighters were often hired to perform dirty jobs.  

The samurai was an elite fighting group in early feudal Japan. These prestigious and highly paid servants of the great feudal landholders (daimyo) enjoyed special privileges. They also followed a strict code, Bushido, which forbade them from engaging in certain acts such as espionage and carrying out assassinations. 

Ninja gradually evolved as an opposing force to this upper-class fighting class.

Another formidable enemy was Oda Nobunaga, a 16th-century feudal lord (Sengoku period). [4] Oda was infamous for his brutal and savage means of dealing with opposition. He saw the ninja as a threat to his power, hence starting a campaign to conquer their territories. He finally won by luring some ninja to help him.


Ninja masters kept ninja fighting methods a secret. Thus, modern ninjutsu varies from one school to the other, while some techniques are no longer applicable. 

[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source
[4] Source

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