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Martial Arts Training Weapons - A Guide To Different Materials For Practice Weapons

March 22, 2019

Martial Arts Practice Weapons Materials

The practice of weapons forms within Martial Arts can be one of the most rewarding aspects of the discipline.  There are many benefits of practising with weapons including improvements to strength, reflexes, fine motor control, and balance.  Some weapon moves can directly translate into their unarmed moves, and fighting with weapons can offer insights in how to defend against them.

Obviously when training with weapons one needs to be extremely careful not to injure others. This is where practice weapons come in to play.  Practice weapons come in a variety of materials each of which offers advantages and disadvantages.

When training forms it is always preferable to train with the weapons made of the authentic material i.e. Metal Sai, Wooden Bo, Metal Sword etc...  The reason for this is that weight and balance will be perfect.  No matter how good the practice weapon is, the balance will never quite replicate the genuine item.  There are however exceptions to this rule.

Practice weapons can be great when training sparring or self-defence scenarios.  It is a lot less dangerous to practice sparring with a rubber staff than a wooden one for instance. They can also be great when practising in a packed dojo in close proximity to others.  Likewise, practice weapons can be a great introduction to weapons practice for children.

Practice weapons are typically made of a few different materials...

Wooden Weapons

The main example of this material is the use of wooden Bokken instead of metal swords in the practice of swordplay.  The advantage is that the weight and durability are similar to a sword but there is no risk of cuts.  These can still hurt but they are a lot less likely to cause serious damage.  Some examples of wooden substitutes are...

  • Wooden Swords (Bokken)
  • Wooden Kama
  • Wooden Staff
  • Wooden Knives 

Polypropylene

This is a relatively new material to make practice weapons from.  It is tough, durable, rigid, and has a similar weight to wood.  Whilst they can still cause a bruise, they are much less likely to injure a partner during sparring or self-defence practice.  Polypropylene can be used to make pretty much any style of weapon, so you will find anything from Escrima sticks, to Sai, through to spears and shields. 

This is a great choice for practice weaponry and is second only to Wood for the overall feel.

Rubber

Rubber is a great choice for small practice weapons i.e. rubber knives and rubber guns but is less good for things like Sai and Sticks. Its main advantages as a material are that it is soft and spongy.  It does not have the rigidity to support longer weapons so Sai, for instance, are a little droopy and less realistic in practice.  Rubber knives and rubber training guns can be a good choice for practising disarm without injury.

Closed Cell Foam

Typically things like practice Escrima Sticks, Staffs, and Nunchucks are made by wrapping plastic cores with closed cell foam.  The advantage of this is that there is almost zero risk of injuring yourself or your training partner using them.  They will not stand up to massive hits, however, so your sparring will be limited to low to medium power hits.  This is not normally a problem since when sparring you don't really want to go all out on someone :-)

Foam Rubber

This is arguably the most spongy and forgiving of the materials.  You can get Escrima sticks and Staffs made of this material.  It is typically a plastic core wrapped with foam rubber.  They will stand up to light sparring and there is again almost no risk of serious injury if you accidentally hit someone while sparring.  I own a number of staffs made of this material and find them great for training against an opponent.

Foam rubber is the primary material used in the construction of practice nunchucks too.  I always train on the practice chucks first before moving onto the wooden chucks so I own several pairs of foam practice chucks.  The weight and balance can be different from a wooden pair but the advantage of being able to practice anywhere with limited risk of injury makes up for it.

Purchase Your Practice Weapons

We stock a range of practice martial arts weapons in various materials.  You can shop our range of training weapons here.

 


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