The Deadliest Martial Arts Weapons

Weapons used in martial arts range from the traditional katana sword of the upper-class samurai, to metal whips, claws, longbows, or a simple wooden staff. Martial arts weapons vary by culture, time-period, and style of fighting - but they're all badass. Making everything from nunchucks and simple wooden tonfa to priceless swords and giant hammers, ancient weapon-makers of Asia had a reputation for creativity and style that was unmatched anywhere in the world. Their weapons weren't just elegant, however; they were deadly. 

Japanese martial arts weapons especially embraced multiple uses. A chain weapon could be used for offense, or for climbing. A wooden staff might be a blow gun, a breathing tube, or a combat weapon. Samurai had many different kinds of swords for different uses, and Shaolin warriors in China could take simple sickles and use them to attack, defend, or intimidate.

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    Photo: Yokoyama Sukenaga / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The long, curved katana was the mainstay of the Samurai and it could be used as both a defensive and offensive weapon.

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    Hand Claws (Tekko-Kagi)

    Hand Claws (Tekko-Kagi)
    Photo: Daderot / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Four-pronged iron claws, called tekko-kagi, were used for offensive, defensive, and utility (pulling up weeds) purposes.

    Are you going to mess with a guy wearing hand claws? No, you're not.

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    The Shuriken is a traditional concealed weapon, used for throwing, slashing, or stabbing. While Western culture usually depicts these as throwing stars, they could also come in a variety of designs with curved or straight points. There were even versions that weren't flat discs, but rather, darts, covered in poison or bacteria.
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    Nine Section Whip

    A weapon of incredible striking power, the nine section whip could come in a variety of sections and lengths. It had a wooden or metal handle at one end, a spike at the other, and numerous lengths of metal chain in the middle, linked by rings. They could be used for offensive or defensive purposes, blinding, slashing, tying an enemy up, or striking from a long distance.

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    Based on a masonry trowel, the kunai is a short dagger with a soft blade, used to smash holes in walls, and, if necessary, as a close-quarters weapon. It also has a pommel at the end, and can have a rope affixed to use as a climbing implement. It's mostly a multi-purpose tool, but can also kill quite effectively.

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    Shorter than the traditional katana, the tanto was primarily used by samurai as a slashing and stabbing weapon in close-quarters combat. The traditional kanto is a flat and straight blade with extremely sharp edges - perfect for stabbing at an enemy's unarmored weak spots.