DY-NA-MITE! DY-NA-MITE! (and Discussion Question)

Posted: April 15, 2010 in Jeff Holland, reviews, Threat Quality
Tags: , , ,

Highly recommended: Black Dynamite, a blaxploitation homage/parody that is utterly, utterly hilarious, while also being not half-bad as a movie itself. It will also confirm what you probably already knew: that everyone should have their own personalized theme song, to be played whenever they do something cool.

Starring Michael Jai White (who everyone should forget starred in Spawn), Mykelti Williamson, and an incredibly intrusive boom mike.

But it did raise this question for me: I know they look pretty badass and all, and whenever I get Liu Kang to use them in Mortal Kombat I do okay, but…are nunchucks really all that effective as weapons?

I mean, a stick attached by a chain or rope to another stick? It seems like, physics-wise, you wouldn’t be getting all the power you could, as opposed to just using, say, a stick (or two sticks, one in each hand? Double-clubbing action!)

Anyway: Discuss.


  1. I’m not sure a hand weapon that causes the user himself to flinch — check it, even Bruce Lee had to twitch when those bad boys spun past his face — would really be all that effective. That said, a club on a chain gives you a longer moment arm, so the whacking should theoretically hurt a good deal more.

  2. Moff says:

    My best friend turned this on late one night a few weeks ago, when I was staying over at his place after a night of many, many drinks. I was so gone, I asked him about six times whether it was a real blaxploitation movie or a parody. I mean, the line can get pretty blurry in the case of that particular genre.

  3. Jeff Holland says:

    True – apparently Rudy Ray Moore insisted that Dolemite is a comedy. On the other hand, he made no such claims for Avenging Disco Godfather.

  4. dagocutey says:

    Re: the chucks question: In general, it seems like one could inflict serious accidental pain on oneself if one isn’t well-trained and practiced with them. However, an obvious advantage is that they’re easier to conceal than, say, a spear, sword or heavy club. Also, there’s the versatility — you could start with a good whack across the face, and while your opponent is recovering, you could grab both “handles” and quickly wrap the chain around your opponent’s neck, tightening as needed. Just a thought.

  5. Jeff Holland says:

    Well. Turns out real nunchuck fighting is boring as hell:

  6. th3chicg33k says:

    If all those YouTube videos of dudes hitting themselves in the nuts with nun-chucks is any indication, than yes. I think they are an effective castration device.

    Oh wait…

  7. Carl says:

    I have to confess that I’ve always thought of nunchucks as the greatest thing the world has to offer by way of non-lethal weaponry. I’ve owned several pair, I have become proficient with none. I’m sure my impressions about the weapon go back to my youth and were created by the combat-no-nothings of Hollywood who liked them because, you know, things that spin are fun to shoot. On the other hand, if you WERE trained with nunchucks, you might argue they’d be less dangerous than a sword in actual combat if only for the fact that, should they be wrestled away from you by an opponent, they will do your attacker absolutely no good. He’s far more likely to injure himself if he tries to turn your own weapon on you that he would a sword or spear. Maybe that’s my combat approach, actually. Show up to a fight with nunchucks, intentionally lose them in a hand-struggle, and sit back and wait for the magic to begin.
    And yeah, this video sucks. I’d rather watch padded combatants battle it out with cupcakes.

  8. Erin says:

    I always assumed they were popular as a weapon because they’re small and easily concealed. I checked Wikipedia, though, and it looks like I was wrong: according to the article, nunchucks were never popular.

  9. braak says:

    Their primary value comes from the fact that they are actually rice threshers, so Japanese peasants could carry them without breaking the law against carrying swords.

  10. Carl says:

    Hm. Apparently governments far and wide are worried about people hitting themselves in the groins. From wiki:

    Private ownership of nunchucks is illegal in Germany, Norway, Canada, and Spain. In Hong Kong, it is illegal to possess metal or wooden nunchaku connected by a chain. In New South Wales, Australia, the weapon is on the restricted weapons list, and thus can only be owned with a permit. In the US, personal possession of nunchaku is illegal in New York, Arizona, California and Massachusetts.

  11. Jeff Holland says:

    And that’s why Michelangelo had to switch to that stupid grappling hook in later seasons of Ninja Turtles.

  12. braak says:

    Actually, now that I’ve seen the video, that nunchuck fight is pretty impressive. You can see, immediately, a couple advantages that nunchucks would provide over bare fists: they’ll hit very hard (as Jefferson pointed out, flexible implement means longer moment arm), they’ve get an extra eighteen inches to two feet of range, which makes both the head and leading knee viable targets, and you can grab both sides for an overhead line parry (the guy in blue did that a couple times, which I’d have thought was pretty unlikely). In a regular fight, I imagine you could do some pretty effective binds–maybe not chokes, but certainly wrists, legs, or weapons. I can see something like this being pretty effective against a spear point, also (remember at the end of Ninja Turtles, where Splinter takes out the Shredder?).

    They have virtues over swords in that they can be concealed and, as I mentioned, they weren’t illegal because they were actually a tool. They do seem kind of dangerous, even to experts–you can see that the guys have to pin the free arm of the nunchucks after every swing, to prevent it from flying around and hitting them in the face again. Like any flails, nunchucks hit hard, but there’s a reason we call it “flailing.” In that Jet Li movie (Fearless, I think), he fights a Japanese guy, and Jet Li has a three-sectional (a kind of flail that’s like a large nunchuck but, obviously, with three pieces) and the Japanese guy has a sword. There’s a point in which, after a close bind, they end up switching weapons, and the Japanese guy accidentally conks himself in the face with the three-sectional. So, Carl’s theory about the weapon’s value as a self-destructive device might hold up.

    They’re also intimidating as shit; that’s not necessarily an advantage in tournament martial arts, but in a street fight? If you whip out a pair of those and look like you know what you’re doing, there’s a fairly likely chance that your opponent will piss himself.

    There’s a lot of martial arts weapons that ended up in the canon for reasons of relative convenience. In Okinawan karate, there’s a form that you do in which you use an oar–not because an oar is an especially good weapon, but because in Okinawa, if you got in a fight, there was a reasonably good chance that there’d be an oar nearby. The ad-hoc weapons become codified into the system (east Asia likes its traditions), and then you end up with Shaolin monks spinning nuchucks over their head, or ninjas fighting with pruning shears.

  13. Jeff Holland says:

    I have to disagree on the intimidation factor. A guy whips those out (SHUT UP, SNICKERING MASSES!), and my first thought (assuming I am someone who’s not already terrified of, say, Michael Jai white) is: “If I can dodge his first nunchuck swing, I could tackle him. OR, I could grab the other end of the nunchuck, yank it away from him, and then it’s anyone’s game.”

    Granted: This is a lot of thought when someone’s swinging a billy-club-on-a-chain at you, but…crap, where’s the relevant “Mythbusters” episode? They have to have dealt with this by now.

    Anyway, just point a knife at me. Show some respect for both of us.

  14. braak says:

    All right, Holland. LET’S PUT IT TO THE TEST.

    Carl! Bring me some nunchucks!

  15. dagocutey says:

    Easy now, boys — it’s all fun and games until someone chucks a testicle out.

  16. Jeff Holland says:

    Quiet, you! Or you’ll get a nunchuckin’, too!

  17. dagocutey says:

    Three words for you, Holland: Bring it, baby.

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