Nunchakus are glamorized by their swinging ability. A swinging nunchaku can reach in excess of 85 miles per hour. Swinging techniques are grouped by the direction of the swing. Examples are the up strike, down strike, horizontal strike, and the figure eight motion. Swinging techniques can also be used defensively where the user swings the nunchaku to deflect or otherwise stop an attack, such as a low kick) Nunchaku may also be used as an effective defensive/control tool.
Defensive techniques include using the shafts of the held together as an augmented block along the forearm, using the rope or chain to catch and control strikes and grabs, and using both shafts separated as a cross block technique for overhead and low strikes. The nunchaku may be used to bind an opponent's head and hands together in an "Okinawan Handcuff." It can also be used in a punching or clubbing motion to imitate most hand strikes.
The sai (pronounced "sigh") looks like a miniature trident. It consists of a metal shaft 18 to 21½ inches in length with a wrapped handle. At the bottom of the handle is a butt knob that may have various shapes. One third of the way up from the butt are two prongs that protrude upward, acting as a hand guard. The shaft tapers slightly toward the tip. Modern sai are normally chrome plated. The blade above the prongs is either an octagon shape or round. The round blade resists chipping better than the octagon one but the octagon blade does more damage on impact because the striking area is more concentrated. In modern times, the hexagonal shape reflects more light making a sia demonstration flashier. Original sai had a sharpened point on the main shaft. Sai are made from metal that is chromium-plated or black anodized. Sai may also have opposing tangs and two shafts as shown below.
Originally, the sai was made of two separate parts: the stem and the curved prongs. An early version of the sai had only one prong, consisting of a flat metal handle with a bamboo hilt held together with cord. Later two metal parts were used and pounded together. In late 19th century, another method was used. A finished sai would serve to create a sai-shaped cavity in the ground. Molten iron was poured into this shape, producing a perfect twin of the first sai. Rough edges were then removed and the sai was polished. To size the sai to your body:
- Hold the handle in the hand with the blade extending backward along the forearm toward the elbow.
- Blade should extend one inch past your elbow so that the sai may fully protected the forearm.