Melee Weapons

This is not a comprehensive list of weapons, but a good coverage of the types of weapons designed for melee use.


One of the most basic weapon designs, Caestus are designed to help punching. There are three main "groups" considered Caestus.

Caestus itself generally refers to the more basic designs made from leather thongs tied around the hand plus some interwoven leather bracers that provide wrist support. These designs can include spikes, studs, metal plates, and cutting blades.

Brass knuckles are a metal design that also spreads out the counterforce across the hand. These weapons are made out of heavy metals and are designed to cover part of the front of the fist when slipped onto those four fingers while including a palm grip to help distribute counterforce. Unlike Caestus, brass knuckles do not include any wrist support.

"Modern" Caestus, usually referred to as weighted-knuckles gloves or sap gloves, are generally gloves with powdered metal or the like sown into pouches on the knuckles (and often backs of the fingers as well). These gloves distribute the force of the blow over a larger area than brass knuckles, and also serve to protect the hand from injuries incurred by punching someone. Some Caestus gloves include the pouches on the back of the hand as well, though some have a metal plate attached there instead.


Tojutsu encompasses all types of swords.

Also known as the broadsword or Jian. A double-edged straight sword that typically has a heavy or wide blade. Single-edged versions are referred to as backswords. Tsurugi are single-handed weapons with at least enough hilt length for at least part of the second hand. The average blade length of a Tsurugi is around 70cm (28in).

A variation of the Tsurugi exists that removes the majority of the guard and is typically 70cm to 1m in length, referred to as a spatha.


Weapons in the Bojutsu category are staff weapons.

A wooden staff 1.82m in length. The Bo is typically 2-3cm thick, may be tapered so the end are thinner than the center, and come in a variety of types. The typical Bo has a circular shaft, though some may be square, hexagonal, or octagonal. Some are inlaid or banded with metal for extra strength. Bo can be found in a variety of weights and flexibilities.

A 1.2m (~4ft) version of the Bo. A slightly shorter variation that is typically ~90cm in length is known as the Hanbo or half-staff.

A short wooden shaft typically 35-50cm in length. Tambo are generally made to be the length of the user's arm from wrist to elbow.

Rope and Chain Weapons

Simply two rods of wood or metal connected by rope or chain, Nunchaku are a close range weapon. Ideal length of a nunchaku section is long enough to cover the forearm when gripped near the chain, and the connecting chain is ideally just long enough to lay comfortably on the palm with the connected sections hanging perpendicular to the ground. Weight balance should be more to the outer edges for better control.

The rods are generally cylindrical, though octagonal cross-section allow more damage on strikes.

Other Melee

Similar to a sickle or small scythe, the Kama consists of a short shaft with a blade perpendicular to the shaft attached at one end of the shaft. The blade has a sharp inner edge along with a point with a blunt outer edge. It can be used singly or in pairs.

A hybrid between Kama and chain weapons is found with the Kusarigama. This weapon is a Kama attached to a metal weight or spike by a length of chain.

Sai are dagger shaped baton with curved prongs projecting from the handle designed for striking and bludgeoning. They are typically wielded in pairs. Varations include the manji sai — in which one prong is faced opposite the other to resemble the manji symbol — and the jitte, which only has a single prong. These weapons can range from 30 to 45cm in length.

The tonfa is a baton with a handle perpendicular to the shaft offset just over a hand's width down from one end of the shaft. It can be held on the main shaft or the handle, and are used in pairs. Defensive use of the tonfa allows the main shaft to protect hand and forearm.

Folding fans that typically have heavy plates of iron for the outer spokes. Another popular version, known as mu puche, is made of wood that has been tempered sufficiently to resist edged weaponry. Other modifications to tessen include additional metal reinforcement on the inner spokes, flexible metal ribbons along the outer edge for cutting, razor blades on spoke ends, launch-able hidden weaponry, poisons, and other changes to make it more combat capable.

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