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Fighting with Chucks

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"You know, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills... Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills."
Napoleon, Napoleon Dynamite

You are a Ninja. What's this? You don't have a Katana? Fine, then you may get the second most popular ninja Weapon of Choice: Nunchaku.

Nunchucks, like the katana, are the Japanese weaponization of the Rule of Cool. All ninjas that don't use swords use chucks and anyone that knows karate knows how to use them. They are even so easy to make that you can just chain two things together and make the Sub-Trope of Instant Chucks. Unfortunately, nunchucks are to katana as Luigi is to Mario: badass on their own but never given the lime light.

The nunchaku are a popular martial arts weapon developed from the rice flail in China, Okinawa, and possibly other places in the Far East, consisting of two hard sticks of wood or metal joined together by a cord or chain. In addition to being used for powerful strikes, the cord can also be used for strangling enemies. A variant of this would be the "three-section staff" (sansetsukon in Japan and san jie gun in China), which is primarily used in Chinese kung fu.


Often wielded by the Bruce Lee Clone, spinning them around his body and looking thoroughly intimidating. As such, in comedic series, expect anyone wielding nunchuks to make lots of Funny Bruce Lee Noises, just before their inevitable failure. Or triumph.

It should also be noted that the real life inspiration for ninja never actually used nunchucks (though there were peasants and farmers among them). Since they were spies more than warriors, when they had to fight someone, they normally had to kill their opponent quickly and effectively, and nunchuks were definitely not up for that kind of job. It was more a weapon used by farmers and peasants to defend themselves from attackers, since they were easy to make, they could be mistaken by farmers' tools at first glance (specifically threshing sticks used to loosen grains from plants), and don't require such a high level of skill to use effectively. Or at least to use without hurting oneself permanently. Furthermore, the purpose of the weapon is not to strike your enemy (common physics decrees that in most situations, the weapon would just smack your own body right back afterward,) but to force them to submit by cutting off circulation to their limbs by using them as a tourniquet. All in all, not a bad Improvised Weapon.


For a greater variety of flail weapons, see Epic Flail. This is a Sub-Trope of Double Weapon, being a weapon composed of joined parts.

This trope is not about fighting with a pair of shoes, by the way (although you certainly could make some nunchuks with some Chucks...). Nor is it about fighting with a certain Nintendo peripheral called a Nunchuck. Although those things do hurt if you let go by accident while it's hooked to the remote...

This trope is also not about multiple Chuck Norrises, because the universe is only big enough for one Chuck Norris, and he's more than a match for anyone on the planet.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Aggretsuko: In season 4, Retsuko starts carrying nunchaku with her for protection after she was attacked by a deranged fan at the end of season 3.
  • One Piece: Franky's "Heavy Nunchuck" from the Thriller Bark Arc. Giant steel nunchaku with half a marble pillar inserted over each stick. Seriously.
  • Bruno of the Kanto Elite Four in Pokémon Adventures uses chucks.
  • Might Gai of Naruto used nunchaku against a clone of Kisame at one point and again during the climactic fight against Tobi.
  • Bleach: Ikkaku's zanpakutou initially looks like a spear when it's released. However, this simply disguises the fact that it's really a three-sectioned staff. Justified in that Ikkaku's themes are based on Chinese warrior monks, so his weapon (in all its forms) is based on weapons associated with Chinese warrior monks instead of being based on Japanese versions.
  • Shinjiro from Gamaran wields Nunchaku in battle. His only named attack involve building up strength by pulling both sticks while the chain is over the shoulder, then suddenly release one stick to deliver a powerful slam attack. Too bad for him, he's up against Iori Sengoku.
  • Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star, though he is most known for his deadly fists and feet, has used nunchaku on at least one occasion, most notably to deflect thrown knives back at the goons of a whip-wielding minion of God's Army in Episode 6.
    • In his first scene, Rei lures a gang to attack him by disguising himself as a woman. When the leader of the gang tries to fight Rei, he uses a pair of nunchucks. Rei quickly defeats him by cutting off his hands.
  • Daimos: The titular robot had a three-section staff, stored around its waist, amongst its arsenal of melee weapons.
  • Saint Seiya: One of the weapons of the Libra Cloth. Shun uses them briefly to destroy one of the pillars in the Poseidon Arc.

    Comic Books 
  • Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles uses nunchaku as his Weapon of Choice. In fact, given that the drawing that inspired the comic was of a turtle wielding nunchaku, he might be the "original" Ninja Turtle. Additionally, the nunchaku is a meaningful weapon when compared to the rest of his brothers. Out of all the weapons given to the four turtles, it was the most complicated weapon to wield (compared to swords, sai and staff) and yet it was given to the one with seemingly the least motivation to train seriously, which highlights Michelangelo's Brilliant, but Lazy tendencies.
  • Shang-Chi often uses nunchaku, to the point that they may even be considered his trademark weapon of choice. During his time as a member of The Avengers, Iron Man even built him a repulsor-powered set.
  • Dashiel "Dash" Bad Horse from Scalped uses nunchaku to beat up the hoods on the Rez.
  • The titular Hawkeye, while renowned as the world's best archer and marksman, is also adept at using Nunchakus, and used them extensively and almost exclusively when he assumed the Ronin identity. Most other characters who have taken the Ronin mantle have used Nunchakus as well.
  • During the battle for Valhalla and to rescue Minerva in the fourth arc of The Wicked + The Divine, Dionysus wielded nunchaku made out of glowsticks.
  • Post-Flashpoint, nunchakus quickly became Stephanie Brown's weapon of choice.
  • Badass Normal street vigilante Gangbuster, an occasional supporting character for Superman, uses a pair of nunchaku. Though mostly he relies on his skill as former professional boxer in combat.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Blood Brothers (1973): Wen-Hsiang, the youngest of the three brothers, uses a six-sectioned chuck as his preferred weapon.
  • Dragon from Russia has the hero engaging in a nunchuck fight... while blindfolded.
  • The two heroes of the Post-Apocalyptic film Eternal Fist (inspired by Fist of the North Star) finds a pair of chucks on a dead marauder, and took turns using it to great effect in later fights.
  • Discussed in Napoleon Dynamite, which gives us the page quote. His mad skills are never shown, but his pronunciation of the weapon as "numchucks" gives a pretty solid indicator of his actual proficiency.
  • Undercover Brother. The title character knows how to use nunchucks as part of his martial artist skills. He also hits himself in the nuts while using them during his fight with Mr. Feather.
  • Dreamscape. When Tommy Ray enters the President's dream in order to assassinate him, he dresses as a ninja and uses nunchucks.
  • In the 2011 The Green Hornet, Britt Reid insists that Kato must have nunchucks. Kato seems reluctant at first, but does use them quite effectively in the climactic battle.
  • Bruce Lee made chucks popular in the famous scene from Fist of Fury.
  • In Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee takes them from a clueless Mook and demonstrates how to really use the nunchaku. Which, like the Ninja thing, is not how one really uses the nunchaku; it was just used to either strangle an enemy or go upside their head with it, like a western flail. All the fancy spinning and twirling was popularized by none other than Bruce Lee himself, who did it so spectacularly that everyone just assumed that's how you were supposed to use nunchaku. On the other hand, this display was enough to nonplus another Mook, who grabbed what he could find and charged. Then he got flailed.
  • The hero from Heroes Of The East (played by Gordon Liu) gets to use the classic three-sectioned staff while fighting his Japanese opponents.
  • The second Iron Angels film has Moon in a mansion full of machete-wielding thugs, all which she beats up using a pair of chucks.
  • The Chosen One in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist uses improvised nunchuks made out of gophers (a smaller variant of woodchucks).
  • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies had Mikey as the resident 'chucker of the four.
    • In the first movie, during the siege of April's apartment, one Foot Clan guy shows off with his nunchaku, prompting Mikey to go "Ah, a fellow chucker, eh?" before proceeding to have a show-off match with him which Mikey handily wins.
    • In the second movie, Mikey uses two sets of coldcuts as makeshift nunchaku to scare off the last of the robber mooks during the first fight.
  • Although never used for fighting, the main character of Sidekicks learns to use nunchaku and uses them for an impressive kata near the end of the film. After a training montage involving Amusing Injuries as he keeps hitting himself while practicing.
  • Black Dynamite's titular character is, of course, a master of the chucks. As it turns out, so is Richard Nixon. It Makes Sense in Context. Well, sorta.
  • In Shanghai Noon, one of the Chinese Royal Guards fights with the three section staff version in the final battle. Chon manages to take it away from him and use it against him.
  • Shaolin Mantis ends with a lengthy Run the Gauntlet battle where the hero must defeat the three acolytes of Master Tien, the second which uses the three-sectioned staff.
  • Lung, the main villain of The New One-Armed Swordsman, uses the three-sectioned staff as a weapon used to specifically disarm opponents who Dual Wields swords. As it turns out, the middle of the staff is detachable - during his fight he'll use the sides of his staff to trap his opponent's weapons, detach the middle and yank both his opponent's swords out of their hands, allowing him to strike. The one-armed hero must figure a way to defeat Lung by utilizing three swords'' at a time.
  • They Call Me Bruce? (1982). While learning martial arts, Bruce starts waving around some numchucks without being trained for it and breaks a Priceless Ming Vase, so gets thrown out of the class. When he tries to return the numchucks, the old master tells Bruce to go practise with the closet! Then he's confronted by some gang punks who challenge him to a fight with them, but fortunately he talks them into fighting each other. When two police officers see the chucks and threaten to arrest Bruce, he pretends they're his chopsticks. And during a Bar Brawl, an FBI Action Girl does a Wonder Woman twirl that transforms her into a ninja gal wielding a three-stick flail version.
  • Spoofed in The Magic Crystal, when the Fat Comic Relief pulls out a pair of chucks... and proceeds to use it in a Wimp Fight. He does accidentally knock out a mook sneaking up from behind however.
  • In Me, Myself & Irene, Charlie's slap-fight with an angry dwarf shifts against him when the little man whips out a pair of 'chucks.
  • Hilariously subverted in Raiders of the Lost Ark when creepy Nazi Arnold Toht takes out what looks like a three-part nunchuck only for it to turn out to be a collapsible hanger for his trench coat.
  • Like his idol, "Bruce" Leroy Green of The Last Dragon was proficient with nunchuks.
  • In Jumanji: The Next Level, Martha is delighted to discover that Ruby has gained 'Nunchuks' as a new strength in the 'upgrade' between the two games. She puts this skill to good use during the final battle.
  • Legendary Weapons of China features practically everything from the Stock Wushu Weapons list, including both the three-sectioned-staff and the short two-sided chuck.
  • Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, a belated sequel-slash-Continuity Reboot of Fist of Fury with Chen Zhen being darrined by Donnie Yen, once more ends with Chen beating up a dojo full of mooks using nunchucks tucked in his shirt as a neat Call-Back.
  • In Fearless (2006), Huo uses a three-section staff in his fight with Tanaka, who uses a katana. During the fight, they end up switching weapons with each other and keep going until Tanaka accidentally whaps himself in the back of the head. Huo graciously stops to allow them to swap weapons again (he was having no problems using the katana) before continuing the match.
  • Bruce Lee gets to use his chucks again in Way of the Dragon, although the weapon doesn't belong to him. It instead belongs to one of the restaurant's staff and one of Bruce's students, who brings the weapon out and tries intimidating enemy mooks... only to accidentally hit himself in the head. He then gives those chucks to Bruce, who uses them to far better effect.
  • Defied in the film adaptation of Battle Royale. When Kazuo Kiriyama is shown looting weapons from a group of students he killed, he has a double-take at a pair of nunchaku before tossing them aside and leaving with the rest of the items.

  • In the rather odd future of The Diamond Age, nunchucks are one of the choice weapons of the gangs in Hong Kong; Nell uses her brother's pair to break the leg of a molester after they run away.
  • Blackcollar - In Timothy Zahn's trilogy, nunchaku are one of the primary weapons used by the titular characters.
  • Also by Timothy Zahn, in the Quadrail Series, nunchaku form part of one successful attempt to get around the Quadrail's ban on taking weapons on board. The Bellido race routinely carry guns as part of their culture, and on the Quadrail carry harmless plastic copies instead. But the plastic guns can be filled with water and strung on lanyards to make quite effective nunchaku.
  • In Bruce Sterling's The Artificial Kid, the eponymous protagonist uses a set of nunchaku in his televised battles that included a holdout pistol in the base of each stick.
  • The hideously-beweaponed Special Constable Andy "Two Swords" Hancock, in the Discworld novels Thud! and Snuff, carries an Agatean weapon that he calls "numknuts", and that Commander Vimes thinks of as two truncheons fastened together. In untrained hands the most likely effect is to hit your own ear.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ultraman Leo uses a giant set crafted from two smokestacks (with the chain formed as a result of his Ultra Willpower) as a one-off weapon in Episode 11 of his debut series to fight Alien Kettle; Though used by Leo to great effect, the weapon is rendered useless after Kettle cuts the chain with his spear.
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "Messages From Earth," Ranger Marcus Cole defeats a group of bad guys that includes a nunchuck wielder. Done, perhaps, to show that the Anla-shok are truly Badass.
  • Jan from Juken Sentai Gekiranger and his Power Rangers Jungle Fury counterpart, Casey. The megazord also has a setsukon, but doesn't use it all that often.
  • In Chouriki Sentai Ohranger and Power Rangers Zeo, the Yellow Ranger fought with them. However, Zeo cut most of the footage where she used them (possibly due to the Fox Kids censors, no one knows).
  • In 1000 Ways to Die, a skinny nerd dies after hitting himself in the head with a nunchaku. Thing is, he had tried brick breaking with his head before fooling with the chucks....
  • In the Doctor Who serial "The Talons of Weng Chiang", one member of the Black Dragon Tong uses nunchucks... as a garrotte. Even the guy from the BBFC objecting to the scene (and calling them "chainsticks") pointed out this was wrong.
  • Bones has them as a possible murder weapon in one episode. Intern Arastoo warns Jack Hodgins that they can be difficult to use properly and Hodgins clocks himself in the face and is badly stunned. Arastoo then wields them flawlessly, to Hodgins’ awe.
  • The Professionals. In "Mixed Doubles", Bodie and Doyle are exhausted after running through unarmed combat training and wonder what else their Drill Sergeant Nasty has lined up. Cue Scary Black Man with three-stick chucks advancing on them...


    Pro Wrestling 
  • Tetsuo Sekigawa, later known as Mr. Pogo, was known for using a pair of chucks.
  • Kung Fu started attacking other luchadors with chucks after being unmasked in 1990 by Atlantis.
  • These were Aja Kong's Weapon of Choice, and she could lay a surprising number of strikes with them behind the back of a distracted referee.
  • Dramatic Dream Team Dojo graduate KUDO is known for using a pair.
  • Bolivian fighting Cholita Juanita "La Carinosa" has at least been seen using chucks in vignettes.
  • Cruiserweight Champion of the Puerto Rican CWS, The Authentic Joe, will take multiple pairs of chucks to the ring with him. He will not only blatantly swing them at his opponent but also hide them in his tights for more kicking power.
  • During a Steel Cage Match with Chris Jericho, Dean Ambrose pulled out some nunchucks and expertly twirled them before hitting Jericho with them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Nunchaku can be used as weapons in Dungeons & Dragons but there's no real advantage to them other than Rule of Cool — as exotic weapons only monks have the natural proficiency to use them and most monks will prefer to be fighting with their bare hands anyway. At least the other exotic monk weapons such as the kama or siangham do slashing or piercing damage.
  • Pathfinder inherits the nunchaku. It also has the sansetsukon, which is better in quite a few ways: martial instead of exotic, and with a 19-20 crit range with decent (d10) damage. Not a bad two-handed bludgeoning weapon.
  • In GURPS, the nunchaku has a number of attractive benefits: it's lightweight, cheap, deals decent damage, and is somewhat difficult to Parry/Block. However, they are difficult to master (the Flail Skill is Hard), and can't be used to defend immediately following an attack (unless a Defensive Attack is made).

    Video Games 
  • Double Dragon:
    • Available to Chin in the vs. mode of the first NES game.
    • The special weapon of Billy and Jimmy in the third NES game.
  • Ryu Hayabusa of Ninja Gaiden can buy and use a pair of Nunchucks. He can pick up a modified version later: Nunchucks with small scythe blades on the ends.
  • In Final Fantasy, the Monk can use five weapons (in descending power level): his fists, iron nunchucks, iron staff, wooden nunchucks, and wooden staff. The Ninja can also use the nunchucks, but by the time you get a ninja, he'll have vastly superior weapons anyway.
  • Selphie in Final Fantasy VIII uses nunchucks with ridiculously long handles. Her upgraded ones feature mace heads.
  • Fang in Final Fantasy XIII wields a double headed spear that can segment into a three section staff for her combo finishers.
  • Maxi of the Soulcalibur series uses chucks, as did his predecessor and mentor Li Long from Soul Edge. In games and versions where nunchaku are banned, these are replaced by a sansetsukon. The third stick apparently makes it a-ok by the law.
  • Suikoden:
    • Freyjadour, the hero of Suikoden V, uses an ornamental sansetsukon that (unlike real-life ones) can transform into a one-piece staff. Roy, in keeping with his role as the hero's Body Double, wields an exact copy of it.
    • Nanami in Suikoden II uses a sansetuskon, though hers is a more realistic depiction.
  • Zero The Kamikaze Squirrel uses a nunchuck. It's quite powerful, but short ranged, and it's the only way to attack the final boss during one of his phases.
  • Ling Tong of Dynasty Warriors also uses nunchucks. He later switches to a san jie gun by the time of Dynasty Warriors 8.
    • Guan Suo gets the nunchucks as of 7.
  • Chucks is one weapon the Dudes can pick up and use in Bad Dudes.
  • Koei's other sibling-franchise Samurai Warriors has Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who favors the sansetuskon. Curiously, while it would be geographically and chronologically appropriate, nunchaku do not appear in the series.
  • In the Mortal Kombat titles where weapons are featured, expect Liu Kang and/or Johnny Cage to use these.
  • Devil May Cry's Dante generally fights with fists, swords or guns, but one of his more exotic weapons is a three-piece nunchaku, consisting of three bars that are chained to a central ring, made from the collar of a Cerberus demon that he defeated in Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening. Then in Devil May Cry 5, he gets another version of it; a weapon made out of King Cerberus' soul that can transform into a three-piece nunchaku, a bo staff and a sansetsukon.
  • Bayonetta can get her hands on a pair of nunchucks called Sai Fung, and true to form, she busts out the Funny Bruce Lee Noises when laying into angels with them. In fact, they're not just nunchucks. They're gunchucks.
    • Jeanne's version of the weapon is called Tang Lung. Unlike her rival, she doesn't bother with the Funny Bruce Lee Noises.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, if a Stalfos looses his mace, he will use his arm as one of these!
  • Deus of Asura's Wrath fights with electric nunchucks known as the Sakras.
  • Ninja Combat have nunchucks as one of the earliest obtainable weapons, even before the katana. They can be picked up in later stages as well, offering a further range than fists.
  • In Vigilante, nunchakus are the only weapon you can obtain and use. A nunchaku is more powerful than your bare fists, but it's less effective for Scoring Points.
  • Nunchucks appear in Makai Kingdom as a powerful short-ranged weapon, favored by Merchants, Chefs, Berserkers, Hellcats, and the masked Muscle Demons.
  • There's a scene in Dead or Alive 4 where Jann Lee and Ryu Hayabusa both show off with a set of nunchucks before they fight. The former has also defeat a group of thugs with his nunchucks in his ending in DOA3.
  • Fei Long from Super Street Fighter II and onward plays with a set in one of his victory poses, though it never figures into his movesets. Must be something that comes with being a Bruce Lee Clone?
  • In Tekken 5, nunchuks are a costume item for Marshall Law. He gets to finally use one during a fight in Tekken 6 and Tag 2. When his son Forest tries to use the nunchuck, he accidentally throws them out of a window and causes a chain of car accidents.
  • Jon Talbain (Gallon in Japan) from Darkstalkers pulls some nunchucks straight out of Hammerspace in some special attacks, probably to emphasize his training in the martial arts.
  • In Wizardry 8, nunchaku are weapons available relatively early on for use by the "eastern" classes (monk, samurai, and ninja). While they're short range, and all three classes tend to eventually specialize in other areas (unarmed/staves, swords, and thrown weapons, respectively), nunchaku make for decent early weapons with their relatively high chance of knocking enemies unconscious.
  • Shows up in Legend of Mana as a weapon type (called Flails by the game, but all combat animations depict nunchaku, not to mention all of their techs having wuxia-inspired names). Although weak weapons, they are great tools for comboing, and their techs do high damage against single opponents at short range.
  • Although it may be weaker than other melee weapons available in Yo! Joe! Beat the Ghosts, nunchaku has the advantage of passing through walls and platforms and hitting enemies from a relatively safe distance.
  • The Escapists lets you make one yourself, with two logs and some wire. It's one of the deadliest weapons in the game, but it also requires a high intelligence to make.
  • The Ninja Warriors Again: This is Ninja's Weapon of Choice. He uses it to great effect by spinning it around to hit enemies in an area around him.
  • Warframe has the Shaku and Ninkondi, with the latter having earned a Prime variant. A later update introduced the Pulmonars, an infested variant that deals Viral damage.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Fighter of 8-Bit Theater combines these with swords to form Sword Chucks. Before that, Black Belt used regular nunchucks.
  • Sheila of At Arm's Length prefers to use four sets of nunchucks when facing close quarter threats.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja:
    • Mongo chainsaw-chucks.
    • Sean "Dark Smoke Puncher" McNinja also uses nunchaku. When the McNinja family is supplied with holy weapons by the Vatican, Sean gets nunchucks made with the bones of Mother Theresa.
  • Mierfa Durgas, Homestuck's infamous canon fantroll, is seen wielding a pair of nunchucks once. Emphasis on once.

    Web Original 
  • In New Vindicators, Mirage uses Nunchaku, specifically ones made out of Mithril, which Nephilim are vulnerable to.
  • Shadiversity deconstructs the nunchucks in one Overappreciated Historical Weapons video where he explains the serious flaws the weapon suffers from: you're just as likely to hit yourself with them as you are your opponent (even if you do hit your target, the nunchucks will bounce back towards you afterwards), and when you do hit, there's no way to keep driving the force home afterwards. He points out that almost anything would be more useful as a weapon; even a regular wooden stick is objectively superior in every meaningful way.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Nunchaku, Nunchuck



Combined with his lighting powers, Deus is a proficient fighter with his nunchucks.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / FightingWithChucks

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