The Best Martial Arts Weapons

Martial arts is a versatile defensive art form. It can be a weapon or can defend you. The same thing goes for weapons. They can defend or attack.

It all depends on what’s available to you and what is appropriate during the fight. Martial artists use many types of weapons to enhance their practice. They’ve used things like knives to the ever-so-popular ninja stars.

The following is a collection of the most effective martial arts weapons out there in order from worst to very best. If you’re trying to figure out which weapons are right for you, then this list should help guide you in the right direction.

The Quick List

Some people don’t care for the explanations behind the weapons.

If you’re one of those folks, that’s okay. You’ve got a life. You’ve got stuff to do and don’t have time to go through a huge article. The following list should help you choose the best martial arts weapon you can find:

  • Shurikens
  • Sais
  • Tekko-Kagis
  • Nunchakus
  • Tonfas
  • Bolo Knife
  • Kamas
  • Butterfly Swords
  • Tiger Hook Swords
  • Katana
  • Bo Staff
  • Jian

What Makes a Good Martial Arts Weapon?

Figuring out which weapon you should choose is all about understanding the qualities that make a weapon effective. When you do this, you’ll be able to figure out which weapon is better than the other.

The work is done for you here. Some can use this list to create a list of martial arts weapons that are more personalized to your needs.

The following are some common qualities of good martial arts weapons:

  • Real versatility
  • Good durability
  • Great effectiveness
  • Impressive balance
  • Simple to wield

If you can find these characteristics in the weapon you’re considering, you’re on the right track.

The Best Martial Arts Weapons (most versatile)

The following is a list of martial arts weapons from the good to the best. You’ll get an explanation for each so that you know why each weapon is on this list:


The Japanese shurikens are one of the smallest weapons for martial artists.

Those who know their martial arts weapons probably know what shurikens are. Those who don’t know what this word is may know the nickname: the ninja star.

Yes, that amazing little ninja star that’s shown up in countless movies and TV shows has an official name, and some people don’t know what it is.

Now, you know that it’s one of the best martial arts weapons. This is the case because it’s small and quite convenient yet also versatile.

You know how versatile these weapons are. You probably made a paper version of them in school, and you know how wonderful they are.

They’re effective, and even if they’re made of paper, they can still hurt your target. That’s probably the reason teachers started to hunt and punish kids who made ninja stars in school.

The reality is that true samurai never used ninja stars or shurikens the way it’s depicted on TV or in movies. Shurikens were mostly used to disarm an opponent rather than kill that opponent.

People throw these towards an opponent’s feet or to attack their face. Once the opponent is sort of impaired, the samurai can proceed with more direct hits to finish the opponent off.


If you don’t know what this weapon looks like, it’s okay, The name isn’t commonly known, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t seen it.

If you grew up watching the Ninja Turtles, then you’ve seen the sais. It’s the weapon that Raphael liked to use.

The weapon doesn’t come in one specific style; it’s made for different purposes. You’ll see slight differences throughout the countries. The police in Japan used the weapon back in 1668.

The weapon is used in two different ways. People use it to defend themselves or to stab the person that’s attacking them. Hopefully, you never have to use it to attack, but it’s good to know you can.

The sais come with prongs, which aren’t there to make the weapon look pretty. They’re there to trap an enemy’s weapon or to at least block an enemy’s attack.

When the police in Japan use the sais, they always use the blunt handle to ensure they don’t kill the people they attack.


The Tekko-Kagi is an intimidating martial arts weapon. It turns your knuckles into claws, like the Wolverine character from those X-Men comic books.

The Tekko-Kagi was a weapon during the Sengoku period. Folks use it for different reasons, but the weapon was born in Japan. The funny thing is that the tool didn’t start as a weapon at all.

It was a little farm tool. Ninjas saw the tool and the potential. They modified it a bit and created what folks now know as the Tekko-kagi.

Ninjas use the weapon to surprise their opponents when surprise attacks were necessary. It was used anywhere, from the face to specific areas to puncture vital organs.

Some ninjas use the weapon to slash their opponents. Others used the weapon to completely open up an enemy, making it one of the most deadly weapons on this list. It’s great for close fighting, but it’s harder to use during ranged fights.


Everyone knows the nunchakus. Several TV shows, movies, mangas, and comic books made them popular. It’s the weapon that Michaelangelo of the Ninja Turtles liked to use.

The name is already popular. No one has to explain what this weapon is. The tricks you can pull off using this weapon highlight how effective you are at using it. The nunchakus are sometimes referred to as nunchucks.

The person most responsible for making this weapon known is Bruce Lee. Still, it might have happened either way since it’s a cool weapon to master.

The funny thing is that the nunchucks weren’t a weapon when first used.

Farmers used them to thresh things like rice or soybeans. These tools became weapons because Japan put a ban on normal weapons in Okinawa.

You should know that the nunchucks Bruce Lee popularized were called tabak-toyok. These were a version of the nunchucks used in the Philippines since Bruce Lee learned martial arts from someone native to that country.

They are super fast. They can hit and defend. They can do a lot for you, but you need to master them first, or you might end up hitting yourself.


The tonfas are popular among martial artists. These handheld defense tools were first used in the southeast part of Asia and China.

At the time, they were mostly made out of hardwood. They have protection handles built in to ensure that you can use the tool to protect yourself.

The handles were designed to block attacks from blades, which is a big deal since most martial arts weapons somehow end up with a sharp end. The tonfas have gone through many redesigns in various cultures.

If you don’t know what the tonfas are, that’s okay. You might be familiar with one of its redesigns: the nightstick. Yes, those nightsticks that cops hold on their belt is a tonfa.

It’s wild to think that the tool cops use has so much history behind it.

Bolo Knife

As mentioned before, for some reason, most martial arts weapons come with sharp ends, and the bolo knife is the perfect example of that. It’s a Filipino knife that people used for various reasons during farming.

People used it to clear brush and to fight back an attack.

If you don’t immediately recognize the name, it’s okay. You probably know one of its siblings, the machete, which is popular in the Americas. It’s a very large blade that’s supposed to help farmers clear the land a bit.

The bolo knife was used in places like the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The weapons went through many redesigns.

Some have different handles, while others have differently-made blades. The design doesn’t matter though. When they’re used in a fight, they’re quite deadly. The weapon isn’t only sharp but also pretty balanced and light, making it a weapon you can easily learn to handle.

The knife is also quite durable, which makes sense as people used it for farm work, and those types of tools need to handle a lot of wear.


The kama is the next martial arts weapon. It’s one of the easiest weapons to handle and quite versatile, too. Again, the kama wasn’t a weapon when it was first used.

Farmers used to do what they do best, ensure that the people ate well. A weapon made to produce life was turned into something more deadly.

The weapon was used in Japan but traveled throughout the countries. As it traveled, it went through all sorts of changes. The kama can strike enemies or deliver powerful slashes.

The handles are great. They’re designed to be ergonomically comfortable, which is a good thing, especially during a fight. If you have two kamas, you can use the weapon to defend yourself or block attacks.

Butterfly Swords

The butterfly sword had to be on a list like this. The sword is native to China, and it’s always been a weapon.

The sword is not super small but small enough to be easily concealed.

It’s the size of a forearm. This means you can hide this weapon in your long sleeves or on your hips. You can also hide it inside your boots without making you too uncomfortable.

When concealed, you can probably surprise your attacker, which is a good thing depending on the situation. Sometimes, the element of surprise can disarm your opponent when used effectively.

The butterfly sword comes with guards around the handles to make it safer for the user.

These slashing swords are quite versatile, so they’re something to consider.

Tiger Hook Swords

The tiger hook sword or the qian knu ri yue dao is originally from China. For those that do not know what these words mean, they mean “heaven, earth, sun, and moon sword,” which is pretty peculiar.

The sword was used mostly in the northern part of China by those that practiced Wushu. Yes, this fighting style became popular in China because of movies that highlight this specific type of martial arts.

The swords are double-edged, though the blades by your hands guard you.

When you look at the handles, they remind you of tiger hooks, which is probably what the designers were thinking about. Once the weapon is mastered, people use it in many ways.

It can be used as a regular sword or used defensively during close combat. The blade is easy to handle and light, which is part of the reason it’s so beloved.


The katana is popular and beloved. It’s renowned within the martial arts community for good reason.

The samurai loved a lot of weapons, but the one they used the most was the katana.

The sword showed up in many samurai movies. It’s romanticized so much that it’s now a collectible item for many people. Earning a katana is important; it’s almost like an honor to some.

The blade only comes with one single edge. While many swords are straight, this one has a curve.

The handle is either square-like or rounded. The choice is up to you and your preference. One thing that makes this particular blade so special is that it’s sharp, especially compared to other blades.

It’s also very light and beautifully balanced. The katana takes a long time to make; katana makers consider it an art form on its own. It may take weeks to complete a katana.

Bo Staff

The bo staff is potentially one of the first weapons ever made by human beings.

It’s a long, hard staff or stick. The size varies between cultures, but it makes sense that this may have been the first weapon.

Someone probably noticed that a branch was an easy weapon.

All they had to do was make a straight, sturdier branch, and you’ve got yourself a weapon. That’s exactly what people did, and the bo staff was born.

The staff is normally made with the strongest wood available in the region. It’s made pretty long to ensure that the user can use it in long-range combats. It’s used to attack and defend.

Since it’s so long, it can keep an enemy far away from you, which keeps you safer.

You can do a lot with this staff, from slashing to striking. You can even cause your enemy to trip and fall.


The Jian sword came from China. This double-edged sword is pretty straight.

It’s one of the longest surviving weapons out there with a lot of history. You can trace it back over 2500 years ago. Read up on it, and you’ll be fascinated.

The sword has everything you could ever want, it’s perfectly balanced and easy to master.

The sword is very durable, so it’s the type of weapon you can pass down to generations. It’s one of the sharpest swords ever made, which makes it a deadly weapon to yield.

When the weapon was first used, it was used on one hand with the other hand firmly holding onto a shield. All you need to do is hold the weapons, and you’ll see why many people love it.

You’ve now learned about some of the best martial arts weapons out there to choose from. Hopefully, this list makes it easy for you to find the best weapon for you.

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