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The nunchaku (Chinese: 雙節棍, shuāng ji gn; 兩節棍, liǎng ji gn "Dual Section Staff"; 二節棍, r ji gn "Two Section Staff"; Japanese: ヌンチャク nunchaku listen (helpinfo) ; 梢子棍, shōshikon "Boatman's staff"; 双節棍, sōsetsukon "Paired sections staff"; 二節棍, nisetsukon "Two section staff", also sometimes called "nunchucks", "numchuks", or "chain sticks" in English) is a martial arts weapon of the Kobudo weapons set and consists of two sticks connected at their ends with a short chain or rope. The other Kobudo weapons are the sai, tonfa, bo, eku, tekko, tinbe-rochin, surujin, and kama. A sansetsukon is a similar weapon with three sticks attached on chains instead of two.

Although the certain origin of nunchaku is unknown (as with most weapons in history), it is thought to come from either China or Okinawa; and according to the History Channel they were created in their current incarnation for the movies. The Japanese word nunchaku itself comes from the Min Nan word ng-chiat-kun (兩節棍). When viewed etymologically from its Okinawan roots, nun comes from the word for twin, and chaku from shaku, a unit of measurement. The popular belief is that the nunchaku was originally a short flail used to thresh rice (separate the grain from the husk); rice, however, can be broken if treated this way, so it would be more appropriate if it had been used to break open the ripened pods of soybean. An alternative theory is that it was created by a martial artist whose staff was broken in three pieces in combat and then strung together, creating what is commonly known today as a three section staff, and that nunchaku were derived from that weapon. It is also possible that the weapon was developed in response to the moratorium on edged weaponry under the Satsuma daimyo after invading Okinawa in the 17th century, and that the weapon was most likely conceived and used exclusively for that end, as the configuration of actual flails and bits are unwieldy for use as a weapon. Also, peasant farmers were forbidden conventional weaponry such as arrows or blades so they improvised using only what they had available, farm tools such as the oar. Regardless of the origin of the nunchaku, the modern weapon would be an ineffective rice flail.

The nunchaku as a weapon has surged in popularity since martial artist Bruce Lee used it in his movies in the 1970s. It is generally considered by martial artists to be a limited weapon. Complex and difficult to wield, the nunchaku lacks the range of the bo (quarterstaff) and the edged advantage of a sword. It is also prone to inflicting injury on its user. Nonetheless, the nunchaku's impressive motion in use and perceived lethality contributed to its increasing popularity, peaking in the 1980s, perhaps due to its (unfounded) association with ninja during the 1980s ninja craze.

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