12 Best Martial Arts Weapons

martial arts weapons

There have been some astounding martial arts weapons created during human history. Everything from bo-staffs, knives, batons, and swords that were perfectly designed for defense.

Here is our choice for the 12 best martial arts weapons ever created. Below is a short history lesson on each one and why they’re the best martial arts weapons.

What are the qualities of the best martial arts weapons?

The best martial arts weapons have specific qualities that make them superior to all other weapons. Qualities of the best martial arts weapons include:

  • Versatility 
  • Durability
  • Effectiveness
  • Balance
  • Easy To Wield 

Best Martial Arts Weapons

12. Shurikens

Starting off our best martial arts weapons list with one the smallest, yet versatile weapons ever made. The Japanese shurikens or as you know them from your school day ninja throwing stars.

There’s no doubt when you were a kid that you made your own shurikens and pretended like you were a ninja. 

Oddly enough, shurikens were actually never used by ninjas like pop culture has made us believe. Shurikens were originally used by the samurai to attack an enemy’s face or feet.

Not fatally hitting them, but stunning them just enough to take out their blades and finish them off. With a good throwing arm, you could definitely get some speed on a shuriken to deliver some damage.

They were numerous types of shurikens created from a variety of different materials. 

11. Sais

Number 11 on our best martial arts list are weapons popularized by Raphael from the Ninja Turtles, the sais. Throughout Asia, there are numerous cultures that used variations of the sais.

In Japan, they were used for years by domestic police starting in 1668. This versatile weapon was used for both defense and stabbing attacks.

The prongs were designed to block weapon attacks and trap an enemy’s weapon between them. Making them a phenomenal weapon to use for counter attacks.

Law enforcement officials like the early domestic Japanese police would use the blunt handle of the sais for non-lethal force. 

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10. Teko-Kagis

Teko-Kagis or hand claws are deadly knuckle dusters used in the Sengoku period within Japan. There are actually numerous types of teko-kagis in different cultures that have different designs and different names.

Teko-Kagis in Osaka, were originally farm tools that ninjas would modify into weapons. Many ninja were Osaka natives that were well versed in early striking arts, which Karate would develop from.

Ninjas would use teko-kagis in surprise attacks to target vital areas of their enemies. Everywhere from the face, neck, and body to puncture organs.

Using either blunt force punching strikes or slashing strikes to rip open an enemy. Making them one of the best martial arts weapons for in-close fighting, but not the best for ranged fighting.

9. Nunchakus

Easily one of the most popular on our best martial arts weapons list is nunchakus or nunchucks. We’ve all swung some nunchakus around after watching Bruce Lee or Michaelangelo beat up some bad guys.

Nunchakus were originally used to thresh rice and soy bean plants by Okinawan farmers. After the Japanese put a weapons ban on Okinawa in the 1600s, farmers would convert these tools into weapons.

There is actually another version of nunchucks used in the Philippines called Tabok-Toyak. Which was what Bruce Lee actually used in his film Fist of Fury, which he learned from Filipino martial artist Dan Insonato.

Nunchakus can be used to hit an enemy in various different ways at a tremendous speed. The drawback of course is that you’re more likely to hit yourself rather than an enemy.

8. Tonfas

Another famous weapon that is also one of the best martial arts weapons are the tonfas. These handheld defense weapons were first created centuries ago within Southeast Asia and China.

They gradually started to get adopted by various cultures as time went on. The original tonfas were hardwood sticks with handles that were designed for protection and counter attacks.

You could cover up to block attacks from bladed weapons and then answer back with a blunt strike.

What makes tonfas one of the best martial arts weapons is that they’ve stood the test of time and evolved. Their design was so effective that they were used to create modern nightsticks used by different law enforcement agencies.

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7. Bolo Knife

The Filipino knife is a multi use tool that is used for farming and clearing brush, as well as for combat. It comes from the machete family of blades that was used in the Philippines, as well as Indonesia and Malaysia.

There are actually over a dozen variations of the bolo knife due to being used for a variety of purposes. Also depending on which culture made the knife.

They would have different handle and blade designs along with being very deadly. Easily converted into a combat weapon that was balanced, light, and easy to handle. 

Also very durable, which makes the bolo knife very deserving of a spot on the best martia arts weapons list.

6. Kamas

At number 6 on the best martial arts weapons list are the versatile easy to handle kamas. A kama was originally a Japanese farming tool that was one of the various ones that were converted into a weapon.

It is also used in various other Asian cultures and goes by other names. A kama was commonly used in pairs, which made them even more effective.

With two kamas, you can block attacks or trap your enemies weapons, along with delivering slashing strikes. They are also very easy to learn and have fantastic handles.

5. Butterfly Swords

Butterfly swords are single edged short swords that are native to China. These mid ranged blades were about the size of a person’s forearm arms, which made them easily concealable.

Users would normally either hold them in their boots, behind their back, or on their hips. This made them easily accessible to pull out and use against an enemy.

Many were made with a guard around the handles made for defense and blunt force attacks.

This along with their slashing ability makes butterfly swords incredibly well rounded. No doubt proving that they’re one of the best martial arts weapons ever made.

4. Tiger Hook Swords

Easily one of the best martial arts weapons ever are the hook swords or tiger hook swords. Their original Chinese name is qian knu ri yue dao, which means the heaven earth, sun, and moon sword.

Tiger hooks swords were primarily used by Northern Chinese Wushu practitioners.

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These swords have a double edge blade similar to a jian, but with blades are the hands as guards. The creators of the butterfly swords may have been inspired by tiger hooks swords to add guards around the handles.

With these swords you can fight from a variety of ranges. Traditional sword fighting with the main blade or do slashed up close with the handles and ends.

3. Katana

The katana is not only one of the best martial arts weapons, but one of the most known and revered weapons. It was one of the main blades of the samurai and has been romanticized for centuries.

A single edged blade with a slight curve and either a rounded or square handle. Extremely light and balanced, while also being incredibly sharp.

To make a katana is in its own way an art form. The process is methodical and takes a long time, but the results speak for themselves.

A katana’s slashing ability has the power to easily cut through a stack of bamboo or an enemy. 

2. Bo Staff

The bo staff is most likely the first ever weapon ever used in human history. Just about every early culture uses these long and hard sticks.

They are generally made with the strongest wood of their region and are both a defensive and offensive weapon. A staff can allow you to control the distance and keep an enemy at bay.

Their long designs also allow you to use a variety of attacks. Everything from slashing strikes, spearing strikes, and sweeping your opponent off their feet.

The bo staff’s versatility, global reach, and history makes it a no-brainer for a best martial arts list.

1. Jian

Our choice for the best martial arts weapon was the jian sword of China. A double edged straight sword that has over 2500 years of history.

The jian is a perfectly designed sword that has been used in all three metal ages. It is everything you want in a sword. 

A jian is perfectly balanced, light, easy to handle, durable, and one of the sharpest weapons ever made. Often used with one hand and a shield in battle. 

If you ever get to wield a jian, you’ll see why it is our choice for the best martial arts weapon.