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If someone attacks you with nunchaku, what is the best way to defend yourself?

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  • Because ninja zombies are a serious street fight problem and people proficient with them (takes years of serious training) and running around attacking people pop up everywhere? What does motivate this question? Why do you think this is a problem? What are your thoughts and research efforts so far? – Philip Klöcking Feb 14 at 9:48
  • I don't think that theoretical-scenario questions like this are out of bounds, and they certainly don't merit sharp-edged sarcasm like that. – Amorphous Blob Feb 17 at 18:19
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I agree with Macaco's answer. Just wanted to chime in with my own thoughts as well.

There are generally five ways to use a nunchuck:

  1. For intimidation. Twirling any weapon around is scary to your opponent.
  2. Flailing it around. The end of the nunchuck is used to strike your opponent.
  3. Using it as a solid stick instead of a flexible weapon. Usually you grab both sticks and use it like a short baton to thrust, smack, or use in grappling as leverage.
  4. Using the chain part to wrap around wrists, ankles, and necks for various effects.
  5. Throwing the nunchuck at someone to hurt or distract.

Each of those tactics requires a response.

But assuming we're in the free fighting range (nobody is grappling), and assuming he's flailing it around at you or intends to do so, and assuming you can't or don't want to run, you've got some options.

One counter to a flailing nunchuck is to time the strikes. Nunchuck "twirling" is fast, but like with regular sparring, people are often repetitive. You can see their pattern and time a counter to it. Half-beat timing is preferred. That means when you see him start to move, you move to counter. You want to connect with him at a time when he's vulnerable. That would be when he's past half-way into his technique.

So timing is very important, as always, in self-defense. It is perhaps the most important thing. In order to learn the timing, you have to spar. There's no way around it. You can't learn timing while doing kata. You have to have someone in front of you actively trying to use that nunchuck on you. For that, you'll want to use practice chucks, which have foam padding. And you yourself should wear goggles and head/face/ear protection. Maybe add some MMA gloves as well, because you can still break fingers even on foam padded chucks.

The other thing to realize about nunchuck fighting is that their power greatly decreases the closer you become to your opponent. So if your timing fails, keep moving towards your opponent and stick to his torso. If he's smart, he'll stop flailing and then will switch to using the chain to wrap around your neck or putting both sticks together and using them like a solid baton to smash down on your head. This is where your grappling skill needs to come in. You need to neutralize the threat of that nunchuck. Don't let go, because as soon as you give him some space, he's going to go back to flailing. And if he's on the ground, your ankles are right there for him to attack.

Here's the thing, though, about grappling someone who has nunchucks: They also have a knife hidden away. Or at least, that should be the assumption. You figure if he's so nonchalant about twirling around nunchucks in public, he's got a knife hidden on him. So if you do grapple with him, you're risking him tossing his nunchuck away or letting go of one stick, quickly grabbing out his knife, and stabbing you with it. So that's the risk of grappling in this situation.

Again, you'll need to incorporate this in your sparring to make sure you're aware of this problem and can address it. I can cut to the chase (no pun intended), and say: You will get cut a lot in sparring. It's going to become obvious that you're not very good at this. But the training can still save your life if you ever encounter this situation for real, so keep trying. You may get cut, but maybe the sparring will train you not to get cut in the worst ways.

All of that is for unarmed self-defense against someone with a nunchuck when you can't run away. As always, if you're fighting unarmed against someone who is armed, you may need to improvise a weapon to neutralize his advantage. A shield is appropriate. Pick up a trash can lid or take off your jacket and use it. A long weapon is good to keep him away. Throw stuff at him to disrupt his flow and then rush him. Knives are always good to have on you if you end up grappling. Obviously, a gun is probably the most effective weapon to have.

This is all hypothetical. I don't hear of a lot of nunchuck fights out there. If anything, I sometimes hear about machetes. Sometimes I hear about some crazy guy with a sword, but nunchuck fights are even more rare than that. I think the reason for that is because most people can't use nunchucks effectively. When deciding how to prioritize your training time, this should be pretty low!

Hope that helps.

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  • Nunchaku used to be a bit of a gang thing (how much it actually was versus scaremongering, or an excuse to keep kids from hurting themselves...), mainly for intimidation factor, but also because they are easily concealed for their length of striking. I like your answer better than mine. – Macaco Branco Feb 16 at 15:53
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Just to get the obvious out of the way, your best defense against most attacks is to run and get help, maybe preceding it by delaying the other person by throwing something at them before running.

Outside of that, a lot of the defense will depend on the flexible nature of the nunchaku. I'd say that your first priority is to have something other than your bare hands. Even something flexible like a belt or a scarf held between your hands gives you something to block with. As a flexible weapon, when blocked, the wielder loses some degree of control as it bounces back. If you have a longer weapon, like a broomstick, you can similarly take advantage of the flexible nature of the weapon by going on the attack. It's more difficult to generate enough energy to deflect (and again, upon using the nunchaku to deflect, you lose some control of the weapon for a time).

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