There are several theories about the history of the nunchaku.
Nunchaku as a flail? Or maybe not?
Somewhere around medieval times there was an emperor in Japan who didn’t want to risk his people standing up to him. Therefore his civilians weren’t allowed to carry real weapons anymore. It was around this time that many martial arts started to take form, so the people had at least some way to defend themselves.
Some belief that the people also used a flail to defend themselves. They used the flail for rice fields, so it was a tool that was available. People started training with the flail, which eventually became the nunchaku. Others belief a similar story, except that the nunchaku used to be a different tool used for horses. Another story is that the nunchaku was developed by someone who wanted to hide his weapon from the government and therefore developed a 3 piece nunchaku, he could use as a cane.
Nunchaku in kobudo
What we do know is that the nunchaku as a weapon was used in the martial arts of kobudo. Here the nunchaku isn’t a primairy aspect of the martial arts, but it is used and there are certain exercises for it.
Bruce Lee and nunchaku
Around the seventies the nunchaku as a weapon became pretty popular. Mainly because of the Bruce Lee movies. He used the nunchaku as weapon in several of his movies and it was a trademark for him. With the weapon he was able to defend himself against any other weapon, at least that is what we believe after seeing his movies.
Unfortunately the popularity of the nunchaku in these movies also had a downside. Several nunchucks were found on the streets with criminals and gangs. Therefore many governments forbid the nunchaku.
Nunchaku-do as a sports
Although the nunchaku was used in several other sports, it never was a sports on its own before. In the eighties there was a kobudo tournament in the Netherlands around the nunchaku. Milco Lambrecht won the tournament. After this event he wanted to make a sport around this unique weapon. However he was hold back due to the fact, that the nunchaku was a forbidden weapon in our country. He developed a safety nunchaku. The government approved the design and allowed the safety nunchaku in the Netherlands. In 1987 Nunchaku-do as a sports was born. Along with is came a the Dutch organization for Nunchaku-do (SNN). Almost a decade later the sports got global interest and therefore in 1996 an international organization was set-up (World Nunchaku Association).