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For some time, I've trained Modern Arnis (an Escrima Variant) and enjoyed this greatly, eepecially the fact that one learns to handle diverse weapons - sticks, machetes, knives, ball pens, etc.

I think of starting Arnis again, but I'm open to other systems that also offer me the physical and intellectual challenge of handling vastly different weapons. I believe that there are many well-rounded systems (and many scams and lots of BS too) and different valid approaches and I don't have a problem with challenging my believes and feelings by learning techniques from different traditions than Arnis. I don't have specific self-defense needs, but I do want to learn techniques that make sense and are realistic in their context.

So, what are good Arts for me?

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Welcome to the site! Why not join a historical martial art club or Aikido or a shooting club or ... There are lots of different weapons to chose from and without narrowing down the field a little, your question will be closed as too localised and asking for a list. – Sardathrion Jun 26 '13 at 16:35
Edited the question to remove list aspect. This is a fine question. – Dave Liepmann Jun 26 '13 at 16:41

This might make a few people here unhappy, but I would say look into Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) and other western martial arts systems. There are three kinds of SCA weapons combat categories. Heavy list/Weapons. This is the modern sport equivalent of medieval combat. It is fought with armor, either 1 on 1 (tourney) or group vs group (melee). The weapons are rattan/plastic and sometimes have a bit of foam for looks( this is to allow for full strength hits.) Weapons that are used include:

  • Sword and Shield
  • Two handed sword
  • Pole-arm
  • Shield and Spear
  • Axe
  • Mace

The second style is rapier with is basically fencing with a slightly different rule set (it allows for three dimensional moment and a wider range of swords and daggers)

The last is called "Cut and Thrust" This is sword-fighting that is entirely based off the manuals from the Renaissance and middle ages. To compete one has to not only be able to fight, but must be able to identify which moves come from which manual. This style of fighting trains nearly every kind of sword that was used over that time period.

(I have been involved in martial arts and combat sports for years before I started with the SCA. From my experience a good SCA group is not at all different from a good training dojo)

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Aside from the internal politics of the SCA, this is a good answer. IIRC there are some Kingdoms that also have archery as part of their Grand Melee events. In addition to the training, SCA also has live combat events of both one on one and multiple opponent scenarios. – JohnP Aug 26 '13 at 14:59
In regard to the politics, it is possible to avoid them. Plenty of people do. – Btuman Aug 27 '13 at 14:28
Oh, agreed. But the very structure of the SCA with the royalty, squires, etc., lends itself to political machination. It's actually a good representation of what royal society was like for the era. I used to perform at Ren Faires and I have some friends in SCA, some are into the politics, some aren't. – JohnP Aug 27 '13 at 15:29

It really will depend on the art, and what types of weapons you would like to learn. For example, I currently take taekwondo, and we utilize the following weapons (Not all of which are traditionally Korean):

  • 6' staff - mid and long range forms.
  • Single and double bangh mang ee (escrima)
  • single and double ssangh jeol bangh (nunchaku)
  • ssangh nat (kama)
  • jee pang ee (cane)
  • gum do (sword)
  • oh sung do (curved sword, similar to kung fu broadsword)
  • sam dang bangh (3 sectional staff)

Okinawan styles may also include sai, tonfa, oar, spear. Kung fu has the butterfly swords, then there are various styles of knives, shurikens/darts, etc.

If there is a specific weapon that you are interested in, find an art that teaches that, or if you want a broad spectrum, I've found that kobudo, bujinkan or Okinawan arts have some of the widest varieties.

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My kung fu class teaches: staff[6foot or 13foot], fan, straight sword, broadsword, butterfly swords, spear and, once our teacher has finished learning, 3 section staff. It depends on teacher rather than style. My teacher was in china for very long time so has learned a lot of weapons.

Kung fu can train in a lot of weapons. Japanese weapon arts usually focus specifically on one or two weapons and street combat classes give you some experience but do not make you proficient with any weapons.

If you want a large variety i recommend kung fu but you may hard difficult finding experienced enough teacher or one that allows sparring with weapons instead of only learning forms.

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Is weapon training part after some time/graduation, or do you start from the beginning to include weapons? – mart Jun 27 '13 at 16:33
You start staff and [if you want to, fan] right away. There is a class solely for teaching straight sword, but you have to be in main class for a month before you can join. Other weapons are after each grading. – アキオ Jun 28 '13 at 10:22

There are a few options:

  • Kobudo - traditional Japanese weapons style so you will use weapons like: jo, bo, hanbo, tonfa, kama, katana, nunchucks
  • Traditional Jiu Jitsu - should include level at some point depending on the school
  • Filipino Martial Arts - most of them start off with weapons and work with sticks, knives, kerambit, various swords and some have rope or scarf techniques as well
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