Pete Zaitcev makes an interesting observation in this comment …
“And historically in my previous country martial arts were heavily regulated, their teaching prohibited to anyone but security and police officers.”
Why do I find that interesting? Because the deadliest open hand fighting techniques were originally developed by the common folk when emperors and kings banned owning and carrying regular weapons!
But it wasn’t just open hand martial arts that were invented to provide self defense. Common everyday tools were also taken up to provide a means of protection.
Case in point is the karambit.
Originally, karambits weren’t all skeletal and cool looking. Instead they were used to dig up roots, and as scythes to cut rice stalks during harvest.
Nowadays these curved knives are considered effective weapons for serious martial artists willing to devote the time needed to train with the little blades.
Scythes of one kind or another seem to be very popular martial arts weapons, probably because they were one of the few sharp metal objects that could be found on farms before the Industrial Revolution started to make us all rich. Small rice sickles are another extremely popular martial arts weapon.
They can be used to keep brigands away from your family, or they can also be used to bring in the harvest. Dual use technology!
Scythes have also captured the imagination of anime artists, although they tend to take it to extremes.
But scythes are really only useful at harvest time. Howsabout in the spring, when the crops are first being planted?
Seems there is a martial art developed around the common hoe.
What is the weirdest martial art I’ve come across? Probably the one where a milking bench is used as a self defense tool.
Most of these odd martial arts weapons can trace their origins to Okinawa, a large island about 400 miles south of the main Japanese islands. It must have been an extremely dangerous and violent place through most of its history, considering how the people who lived there were so desperate to snatch up anything that might be used as a weapon.
My understanding of the Okinawa situation is that the huge variety of martial arts based on using common tools sprung up there because the rulers banned actual weapons but (for obvious reasons) couldn’t ban agricultural tools. I had thought that Okinawan martial arts originated in the peasants but Wikipedia suggests that I’m wrong and they’re the product of a relatively middle class cultural group (in fact apparently a warrior class that was denied routine use of weapons for various reasons).
Of course, I feel obliged to mention that our own ancestors were making use of agricultural tools as weapons; this paper from a conference on 18th century history/literature discusses the threshall and billhook. These are effective weapons indeed, and it should also be noted that even a simple 6-8′ staff has significant advantages over the sword in combat.
Numchucks were used for threshing, I’ve read.
Personally, I carry a 6-pak ring. I whip it out, advise whomever I am a master of the ancient Chinese technique called “The Six Rings Of Death”…and when they fall on the ground laughing, I put my legs into warp drive.