The Japanese Weight and Chain
By Russ Ebert
September 18th, 2010
The history of the Japanese weight and chain weapon is not unified. There is no single legend that mystifies the weight and chain, associating it with the divine or connecting it with the spirit of all budo. At best this is just a fantasy. There are different stories associated with the ryuha (schools) that used it and therefore it has a wide range of both history and ideology. Some of the ryuha that have or had the weighted chain as a part of their curriculum include: Toda Ryu, Kiraku Ryu, Araki Ryu, Masaki Ryu, Hoten Ryu, Shinto Ryu, Hikata Ryu, Hoen Ryu, Koyoshin Akechi Ryu, Hongaku Kokki Ryu, Engaku Ryu, Kinshin Ryu. Yet of those ryuha, it seems that the only ones actively practicing it today are Toda Ryu, Kiraku Ryu, Araki Ryu (Kiraku Ryu and Araki Ryu are connected historically), Masaki Ryu and Hoten Ryu. (Important note to the reader: there may be other ryuha with the weight and chain in them, it is just that I do not know them or have inadvertently overlooked them.)
I am not going to delve into the mythology that surrounds it. There will be no stories about monks or guards that took vows not to spill blood and thus resorted to the weight and chain henceforth. At best these stories are allegories, so I am not going to deal with them here. The weight and chain has also appeared attached to other weapons from time to time. The chigiriki (a long stave with a chain and weight on one end) and the kusarigama (a sickle with a chain and weight on the end) are two of the most common examples. The weight and chain seems to blend nicely with these weapons and adds a dimension that was not there before. These types of weapons were feared in the hands of a proficient user and they spawned the stuff of legend. However, I am not going to deal with these two weapons here either, as I want to simply focus on the weight and chain alone. The fact that Japanese blacksmithing had advanced far enough to create weights and chains and that someone was crafty or wicked enough to clobber another soul with it is sufficient for my purposes. I will start from there - it simply exists and that's fine by me.
This paper is a primer on the tactical side of the simple weapon of the weight and chain. This is an incomplete primer in which the blanks and perhaps, errors are to be filled in by the user through exploration and practice. With any luck that will eventually be you, the reader.
So far I have intentionally avoided formally naming the weight and chain in Japanese. This is because there are many different names of said weapon. There are diverse shapes of the weight that vary in size and mass. Sometimes there are two weights at each end and at other times only one weight on a single end. There are a myriad of chain lengths, sometimes with fancy or plain links and sometimes no chain at all (replaced with thick cord).
The classification and anatomy of a weapon will expose a lot about it. I will start with names first and then move on to the weight, which is a key point of interest really. From there I will go into the chains (or lack thereof). After this, a clearer picture of the weapon can be imagined and then the setting in which it was used can be approached. Finally, the simple mechanics can be explored. This seems to be the most logical approach to the subject so, into the breach I trudge…
What's in a name? Sometimes a lot, sometimes nothing, other times a mix of both. In Japanese culture this is especially true. In Japanese martial arts, the nuances of the culture mingle with the secrecy that once gripped different ryuha in attempts to hide their secrets. The weight and chain is no different in this respect. There is literally a rogue's gallery of monikers that this little beast goes by, ranging from fancy to simple. One possible reason that there are so many different names is due to the ryuha that used them. Many had an original name for the weight and chain and often it went by that name in the ryuha. From there it may have spread out and become popular or stopped short and remained only within the school. So no matter what you call it, in essence it is the same thing.
An incomplete list of these names might go something like this: fundo-kusari, kusari-fundo, nichobin, ichobin, ryofundo, manriki-kusari, sode-kusari, tama-kusari, kusari-jutte(jitte), futokuro-kusari and so on. As a note to the reader: if I didn't list a name here this does not mean that it does not exist. This is my eternal disclaimer. I either do not know it or I have overlooked it. So take this with a grain of salt and get over it already…Anyway, these are only a few of the most common and recognizable names.
Sometimes there is a hint within the name that alludes to way the weapon is used. For example, the name sode-kusari implies that it was hidden away in the sode (sleeve) of the traditional Japanese regalia, the kimono. From small glimpses like this, it is easy to see that a version may well serve as a hidden weapon, one that was carried within the folds of cloth and coiled there until needed. This type of naming is at the whim or propriety of the school, so it may or may not be accurate in terms of its actual use and etymology.
This is really the heart of the weapon, the part that makes it formidable. The striking end, to which the recipient can testify, makes it something to be wary of. The weight enables the weapon to be manipulated by the user, so it is the key to the weapon's existence. There is no set style, mass or fashion by which the weight is made. In fact there are several styles, with several different shapes and masses. These range from the complex, made with fine materials and extreme accuracy, to the crude, simple forms signifying makeshift assembly. By no means is the effectiveness of the weight as a weapon influenced by its monetary value or good looks. The only concerns are whether it works or not and that it not fall apart. The weapon is made effective by the user, regardless of the quality. Despite the seeming endless variety that one can find in museums and private hands, there are some standard shapes. Although there will be many that break the common patterns and styles, there are still bits of similarity between them. This is due to the physical limitations of aerodynamics, balance and geometry for a weapon that relies on centripetal force. Those styles that proved to be the most popular have made it down to us through the ages, passing through hands to ancestors, museums or into personal collections. These are also the ones that were produced in the greatest numbers.
The following are the most common general categories of weights:
Shinkakusui -Pyramid shaped polygon, can have three or four sides.
Rokakusui - Hexagonal shaped polygon.
Hakakusui - Octagonal shaped polygon.
Shikaku-chu - Rectangular shaped prism.
Tanzoku - Cube shaped prism.
Kirikodama - Rhombus shaped polygon. This is actually a Japanese bead style; the midsection is flattened and not at sharp angles.
Ensui- Cone shaped prism.
Enchu - Cylinder shaped prism.
Hyotan - A "figure 8" shaped prism, generally top is smaller than bottom.
Kyu - Sphere/globe shaped prism
These forms were created by pouring steel or copper in molds made of clay, which were then broken away by hand and tidied up, or by filing a hunk of copper or steel down to create the shape. Holes or loops for the chain on the top of the weight were either punched or drilled into the metal of the weight itself, or a small link was welded to it. The number of different weight shapes that occur more than likely depended on the fancy of the wielder who was having it made. One would like to think that there are powerful, aerodynamic differences to these shapes that lend deeper meaning to their wielding by the practitioner, manifesting in physical balance and technique. However it is more likely the shape represents a traditional style found in the ryuha or perhaps the cash one had to spend on making it.
An issue to keep in mind is the material with which the weight was made. Wrought iron was highly prized in Japan as the smelting was a complicated, time consuming and exhausting effort. The iron was usually found in limited areas along beaches in the form of satetsu (literally "iron sand"). From there it was put into a large, disposable smelting furnace called a tatara where it was separated from the sand by fire. Afterwards the furnace was broken away manually and the iron pulled out in rough clumps for the blacksmith to go to work on. On the other hand, dou (copper) was plentiful in Japan and was far easier to smelt and work, so it was a viable alternative to the more expensive steel, although it was considerably softer. It could be coated with urushi (a lacquer made from sap the rhus verniciflua tree; the rhus family is related to poison ivy, oak and sumac), and while this was also common with the iron equivalent, in the case of copper it was more practical than decorative. Coating copper with urushi would keep it from tarnishing and give it some protection from the elements. However, copper was not an ideal material as it was far weaker than iron albeit more practical in cost.
In many scenarios, it is believed that the craftsmanship is defined by the fanciness and expense, usually created by a good smithy. The less-fancy, cruder counterpart was created for little money or perhaps made by a less-than-average skill blacksmith, maybe creating it themselves. The style and quality are varied, and the prices that represent them as antiques today are still echoed from their original worth in terms of craftsmanship, artistry and materials.
If there was more than one weight, the equal proportion and mass of the weights is imperative, and this seems to be a common theme. Yet again there are exceptions to this rule as there are some that have a lighter weight on one end and a heavier weight on the other. In some cases, a hook replaced the weight on one end, which could be fastened to the chain, giving it a diverse range of possibilities.
The size of the weight also varied in relationship to its shape. Some of the weights were small, some of them were large and the root of cause of this represents its intended use (which will be discussed later). The length of the weight is measured in sun, an old Japanese unit of length, which equals 1.2 inches or 3.3 centimeters. The general shapes ranged in lengths of approximately 1 sun or smaller to 3.5 sun and bigger. In the case of the kyu (spherical) shape, it usually had a diameter of about .6 sun or smaller to 1 sun and bigger- making it somewhat more unusual than the other shapes because of its geometry and dimensions.
If the weight is the part that makes the weight and chain a weapon, then the chain is the delivery system that the weapon relies on. As powder is to a cannonball, so the chain is to the weight. The chain has the ability to be a weapon unto itself, so it also acts as an auxiliary feature. The quality of the chain, just like the weight, is represented by expense and craftsmanship. In some situations a chain may have been "borrowed" from another source and then attached to the weights. I previously mentioned that at times no chain was used as the lashing for the weight, replaced by a cord instead. There may be a number of reasons for that, but simple ones usually provide the best explanations.
The cord replacing the chain was found in the poorer, more rural areas of the Japanese countryside. A chain was a big money item given the difficulty of iron smelting and welding and was hard to come by. If a chain was available, more than likely it was put to some other use. Copper could be made into a chain, but the soft nature of copper makes it vulnerable to breaking due to the friction and stress caused by swinging a chain around with a weight on it. Sometimes these weapons were actually weights on the end of a sturdy rope made of either hemp or fine, thick silk. This changed the way it was used as well, but I will get into that later.
As with the weight, the links of the chain come in many styles and classifications, and usually defined by the shape of the links. These are:
Nadekaku - rectangle or square shaped links.
Marugata - circle shaped links.
Koban - rectangle shaped links with slightly rounded edges. Like an old Chinese gold coin.
Daengata - oval shaped links.
Tamagogata - egg shaped links, an oval where one end is wider than the other.
Mayugata - Cocoon shaped links.
Hyotangata - "figure 8" shaped link.
These links were cut from small rods of steel, then bent and formed into the shape, then welded and finished. The link that connected to the weight to the rest of the chain is usually a little bigger or heftier in order to accommodate the attachment, to resist bending and to ensure that the weight would not break off and fly into a nearby field, leaving the wielder helpless. The shape that the link takes is essential to its fluidity as a weapon and it is very important that a uniform nature is kept in its design. Another reason that the chain was expensive is because it was hard to make perfect links and only a skilled blacksmith with a jeweler's touch could do such fine work. The physical properties of each chain style create a unique dynamic when being used. Some chains were easy to tangle while others are much easier to control and keep from being kinked. Yet, the 'kinkability' made it easier to trap weapons and body parts, so there was a function in the nature of the chain and it may have been preferred.
The length of the chain is also variable and this depended on the intended use. The old sun unit of measurement is still used, but because of the chain's long length a larger unit of measurement called the shaku is applied. A shaku equals about .9942 feet or about 30.3 centimeters. The chain's length generally ranged from about 10 sun or less to 2 shaku or more.
The overall weight of the weapon, including both the weight and chain, was measured in monme which is about .1323 ounces or 3.75 grams. The weights themselves ranged from 10 monme to 30 monme, depending greatly on the materials used and the density/purity of the material.
Stopping short of a glorious history full of myth and legend, we have a very simple and practical weapon. The weight and chain was generally considered to be an auxiliary weapon, not a primary one. It was not something one rushed onto the battlefield with, in the middle of a full scale war, unless there was no other option. More than likely this weapon was used for defense, dueling, or within what could be considered police work. This made it a more-than-rare battlefield weapon. Yet it did have advantages despite its reserved disposition. It could be taken into a situation as a backup to a main weapon, or in the worst case scenario as a hidden weapon, in times when carrying a primary one was not practical or allowed. It is light and compact by comparison, it can be tucked away almost un-noticed and implemented through surprise. It is quick. The range can be controlled by the position of the grip on the chain and the force of the strike can be regulated. In addition to this, it hides well on its own as it does not look like something formidable. It perhaps appears as a simple tool, an innocuous part of a wagon or horse bridal to the unknowing and unsuspecting. In a matter of speaking it was the tail of the dragon that followed its fire, teeth and claws. One which delivers painful and sometimes devastating results while hiding until needed. It manifests itself in different physical forms and through its form its use becomes clear. These physical forms create two classes of weight and chain. First there is the "hidden" variety, which is smaller, lighter and concealable, making it ideal for defense or a surprise attack. Then there is the "ordinary" or "common" variety, which was much heavier, larger and powerful. Its primary use was for dueling or subduing opponents. The common variety could be displayed openly and did not necessarily need to be hidden, but it still could be employed in a surprise attack and was none the worse for being tucked away secretly.
There are some general principles about the weighted chain. Like all weapons, it is tied to its physical nature. The anatomy of the weapon defines how it is used, meaning that the wielder draws upon the weight and chain's physical properties to manipulate it. It can be tucked away in a ball and then extended to full length as quick as lightning with as much momentum as necessary. The chain and weight move together as a unit relying on centripetal force, which can be increased by speeding up the swing or slowing it down and thus increasing or reducing its striking power. A short weapon has a closer range a longer weapon has a further range; these characteristics are both true of the chain as it can be made longer and shorter depending on where one grips it. It is flexible so it can be used to entangle, restrain, choke and grip.
The weapon displays the following properties: deployment and articulation; speed and size; distance and timing; targeting and intent.
Deployment and Articulation
The way the chain is carried directly affects the way it is deployed, or brought into battle. It can be hidden inside the breast or sleeve of a kimono or overcoat, tucked into or hung on a hook from the belt, wrapped around the waist or shoulders, stored away in a bag or finally, concealed or openly held in the hand. The weapon's flexibility allows it to be carried in a wide variety of methods, and the size enables just as many ways to hide it. From the "carrying" position, the way one wielded it depended on the way it was drawn out, as life and death could hang in the balance from the moment when it was at rest to when it was in action. The way of getting it from point A to point B and then beyond is essential, and needs to be given a little thought. For example, a chain with double weights can be held in either hand and switched back and forth. A doubled weighted chain also has two live ends that double as handles, so it does not need as much preparation compared to single weighted chain, which has one live end and one handle end. So the first step is to focus on carrying, gripping and extracting the weapon to a wielded (out in front, ready to go) or resting (held down or natural) position. There are basically four hand positions when holding the chain. These are left side, right side (the arm has to cross the body at one point depending on which hand is holding the weight), front and overhead.
From the wielded position, there are a number of ways to handle the weight and chain. This again relies on the design. Two weights make it ambidextrous and symmetrical, where a single weight makes it deliberate and held in only one hand. For the single weighted chain, the chain is sometimes wrapped around the wielding hand for a better grip; making it a task to switch it back and forth. The way it is swung and whipped also needs to be considered. There are a number of ways to articulate the weapon, with as many angles to match.
The chain can be snapped like a whip, being thrust out and pulled back like a viper biting at prey. The weight can also be spun in full arcing circles or in semi circles, cutting through the air, striking and retracting and loaded for another attack.
Let us look at the whip-like strike. The weight is first drawn back and behind the body, then whipped out and way from the body and recoiled to the rear. Here the hand position has to first pull the weight slightly back behind the body, pull forward to the front and then retract back behind the body again - following the motion of the chain. Whipping can also be done from the use of centrifugal force as well, where the chain is spun in a circling arc and then released or "thrown" outward to the target, striking and again recoiling to the rear of the body. The hand must first swing the chain close to the body, extend outward and again be drawn back slightly. Whipping can also be done from a resting position, where the chain is thrown forward and then snapped back and to the rear, not unlike whipping wet towel. The hand starts from the wielding or rested position, throws the weight, and as the weight reaches the full length of the chain the hand is pulled back violently, snapping the weight out drawing back quickly, which creates the force in the strike.
There are two ways to spin the chain to strike, one that extends from the wielded position or at rest, and another in which the weight is continually being spun. The power of leverage is put into use as the fastest moving part, the weight, is the striking surface. Regardless of which spin is being used, the principles of centripetal force, centrifugal force and leverage are required for it to work. The hand is the source of the motion and acts as an axis. The motion is produced by the rotation of the hand and wrist is a small, circular "back and forth" which in turn is created by the movement of the shoulder and scapula which extends down to the elbow and then to the wrist. As this is done, the weight spins and extends fully to the end of the chain, tightening the entire length to a rigid position.
The spin of the arc is rather simple and is tied closely to hand position. The body is perhaps the easiest and most consistent frame of reference. So, the body's relationship to the weight and chain simplifies things greatly when explaining it. Therefore, the body will almost always be used as a frame of reference. The way in which the weight and chain is swung is delineated by the direction of the arc's spin (out and back; upward and downward; left and right) and the plane on which the arc spins (vertical, angled, "figure 8" and horizontal).
The upward and downward circling arc can be divided up into two categories. The first is outward, where the weight swings "away" from the body. The second is in the opposite direction or inward as the weight swings "towards" the body (not literally, in both cases this should be off to one side or the other). The vertical plane, at 90 degrees and parallel to the body, lends itself to both the outward and inward arcs. It can be done from each the left and right hand positions on either the left or right sides of the body. To illustrate this, if the hand were held directly in front while attempting to swing on vertical plane, the weight would hit one in the head or groin. So, it is important to keep the swing on one side of the body or the other. This sounds silly, but it needs to be pointed out that the vertical plane is on either the left or the right side of the body, unless the vertical plane as at an angle, which leads us to….
Angled planes are swung vertically as well, but at about 45 degrees and not parallel to the body. Because of this angle the hand can be held to the left side, right side, overhead or even in the front. As the chain cannot be held in the front or overhead when swung at a 90 degrees (completely perpendicular to your body) because it hits you, the chain can be swung at a 45 degree angle while the hand is held out in front or above because the angle allows to swing past you. That is to say, the angle goes past the body and returns to the front, instead of hitting the body. A "figure 8" plane is similar to a 45 degree angled plane in that the weight switches back and forth to either side of the body, the weight crisscrossing its flight path in front. Like the angled plane, the hand can be held to the left side, right side, overhead or even in the front. Again, this is due to the angle.
In a horizontal plane the weight spins to left-to-right or right-to-left, parallel with the earth and horizontal to the body. It is usually done with an overhead hand position, spinning the weight in a full circle. It can also be done when the hand is held in front or to the side, however the body turns at 360 degrees along with the chain. That means if you want to hold your hand to the front and spin on the horizontal plane, you need to spin your body along with the weight. It is also possible to spin vertical with a half circle, which is a type of whipping motion from the left to the right, the recoil has to be controlled and rolled back toward the front. If not, then the weight will not stop and continue on to hit the back of the wielder.
Hiding behind the arc and plane of the chain is a very important technique to note as well. The arc of the chain and the plane in which it spins provides protection to the wielder. In Japanese this is called "shadowing" or kage. This implies that one is literally hiding in the shadow of the weapon. This serves to keep the weapon defensive like a shield, but also allows the wielder to strike with as little effort in manipulating the weapon to an ideal position as possible. If the chain is perpetually spun, it creates an entire "sphere" to hide behind, because the weight keeps being drawn forward.
The chain lends itself to grappling nicely or even to strike or block with. In grappling it can distract, fence-in and entangle an opponent. Remember that sometimes a cord could replace the weight? This is where the use of the cord changes the weapon's utility. One cannot rightly block or whip with a cord to make any kind of lasting effect. So in this case it would be used to entangle an opponent's body or weapon; in the case of an edged weapon, it would have to be at the hands. The rope could also serve as a makeshift lash to tie someone up, it being far more reasonable to create knots with and untie than a chain. A strike from a chain, however, could prove to be enough to rock an opponent back far enough to initiate a strike with the weight. It could also strike at the eyes, blinding the opponent. The chain itself could also be used to entangle limbs, to choke or throw - just as a cord could. The chain would of course cause more pain in the process. It could also be twisted around a weapon and used to control it, keeping it at a distance or forcing it out of the hands of the opponent.
Blocking with a chain is risky business because as it is flexible, a solid strike can fold it in half and allow the weapon to connect to the defender. When blocking, the chain is never held straight and taut, waiting for the weapon to strike it. Usually an outward snapping motion is employed using both hands, connecting the chain with the weapon before it has enough time to gain momentum on the way to the target. Ideally this snapping motion bounces the weapon back like a spring, neutralizing the force of the strike. This is could be demonstrated by the defender starting with the ends of the chain in both hands, held relatively close to one another, the chain relaxed and loose. The attacker then strikes to the defenders head with a weapon, as the weapon strikes down, the defender rushes in and under before it has time to connect with any target. The hands are brought up and apart rapidly which makes the chain snap up; ideally the attacker's weapon and defender's chain connect precisely at the right moment, at the full force of the snap, before the attacker's weapon is fully positioned to hit solidly. There is another method where the chain is held vertically, the weight freely hanging down towards the earth. The strike hits the chain, which in theory the chain absorbs and neutralizes the attack, wrapping itself around the weapon and allowing it to be controlled. These are risky techniques and require an unbelievable amount of skill and calculation. There is a high chance of failure which ends badly for the defender. However, most schools still teach these kinds of blocks, for better or for worse.
Speed and Size
Striking is the overall theme here. However, it is the speed and the force that the weight and chain generates from being swung that creates the strike. So these things are one and the same and it is easier to break the strike down in terms of these two principles to understand them. Centripetal force, as stated previously, is the principle behind striking with the weight and chain. This is generated by the twirling of the weight at the end of the chain from the hand, which is the axis point. The longer the chain is and the faster one swings it, the greater the force the weight delivers to the target. Control of the weapon, creating a clean arc and even plane, directly correlates to the force in which the weight strikes the target. The more efficient the swing of the weight and chain, the more powerful the strike will be.
The faster the chain is spun, the harder it hits, yet this also increases the likeliness one will lose control of it. At increased speed the possibility of accidentally hitting something and sending the weight ricocheting back to hit the user is also increased. It is also far easier to accidentally lose control of the chain's angle, which can send the fast moving weight on a one way trip into the wielder's body. On the other hand, if a chain is spun too slowly, not only does it make the impact of the weight less effective it is also makes it easier to analyze by the opponent, which makes it easier to avoid and increases the chances of the wielder being disarmed. These are both bad situations. Speed, therefore, needs to be at an "in-between" point, with the ability to slow down and speed up through the momentum of the weight equal. That means one has to be like Goldilocks in the tale of The Three Bears searching for "just right." Proper hand control, regulation of the small, circular back and forth action that generates momentum, and control of the arc's direction all blend together to create the perfect meter and rhythm. The use of reciprocal force, meaning reversing the direction of the arc and plane suddenly, can neutralize the weight and chain and serve as a tool to keep it under control. Inversely, the smaller the length of chain, the faster it must be spun in order for the strike to be potent. Fortunately, a smaller chain is easier to handle and manage, so it is easier to control.
The impact (force) of the weight's strike is wholly generated by the speed of the arc (velocity). However the size (mass) of the weight must also be considered. A heavier weight will hit with much greater force than a smaller one at the same speed; that means a larger weight can move slower and hit harder. However, the smaller weight is lighter, so it must be going faster to hit with the same force as a larger one. The idea is to utilize the mass of the weight through control of the chain and the ability to keep the weight in an even arc and speed up in order to maximize force when needed. Balance is also a major consideration as the principle of a clean arc and plane in accordance to the weight's size and speed is deliberate. The question then is "How fast will the weight need to be going (velocity) in relationship to its weight (mass) in order to hit and cause the intended damage (force)?" This is answered through practice and repetition, experimentation, making mistakes and learning from them. One must build an understanding of the weight and chain in order to utilize it fully, therefore practice makes perfect. All of these things must be kept alive in the mind and used during practice not only to avoid injury but to facilitate mastery.
Distance and Timing
Grips on the chain can be changed rapidly by allowing the chain to coil around the hand while in motion, by holding it with both hands and choking up on the weighted spinning end or by simply gripping it in the middle with the other hand during rotation. By doing these things, the distance of the chain can be shortened or lengthened. The weight and chain is highly versatile in terms of distancing as it can fill a gap, or create one in an instant. It is not only the chain that can be controlled, however, as the arm can be extending out or pulled closer to the body to create a longer or shorter range. These two methods of extension and retraction, by chain grip or by arm, used together have the advantage of being able to follow an opponent's range as they move. It is also important to note that controlling the length and distance of the chain in this way also impacts the method of a striking or whipping with the weight. For example, when the chain is choked up to a smaller length it has to be spun at a higher speed to allow it to strike with force.
It is one thing to spin and hit things with the chain, and another thing completely to know when and how to hit with it. Understanding and being able to do this is especially important from the rested or wielded position. Timing plays a key role in allowing the weight to strike properly with full force. The weight has to stretch the chain out to its full length and snap out and back or strike just at the upward or downward pull of rotation. When snapping the chain like a whip, it is essential that the weight connects with the target just as it is being pulled back, maximizing the force that it hits with. If this is not timed just right, or the target is too far away from the chain or in too close, the weight will not hit properly. In the case of rotation, thinking of the weight as a pendulum swinging outward is important. If one tries to strike while the weight is drawing back towards the body, then the strike is missed. With the upward swing, compensation is usually done by jerking hand up in order to speed up the chain's arc and bringing the weight back around to hit the target. However, this is easily seen and predictable, which increases the likelihood of being countered. Contrasted with the downward swing, if the chain is just at the beginning of its forward momentum when the target presents itself, the strike is again missed. Compensation is done by jerking the hand down in order to make it hit the target in time. While the jerking action is more likely to hit the target outside of the swings rhythm, if missed it creates a stutter in the pace of chain's swing, which is a dangerous gap that can be taken advantage of. So the key lies in proper timing by adjusting the rate of the swing without over compensation, which brings us back to that Goldilock's idealism of "just right". Not too late, not too soon, but just on time. However, this is not always possible and it is far better to learn how to jerk the hand up and down in a way that is controllable and makes the weight and chain an extension of the arm. This leads directly into targeting and intent...
Targeting and Intent
By now the idea of how the weight and chain works is hopefully clear and one is ready to start clobbering things with it. Yet knowing how to hit something is different than actually hitting it. When the target is alive, moving around and looking to reciprocate with damage to the wielder, the circumstances become more difficult. Luckily, the weight and chain does all the work for you through centripetal and centrifugal force. A quick burst of speed can be generated with very little effort, which translates into a solid strike. The idea is not only to understand the physics of the weapon as it moves and strikes, but also to guide the weight successfully to the target and back again without getting disarmed or gored in the process. So focusing on the targets is the key to hitting them. The way one gets to the target is crucial, appreciating that striking with a flexible weapon requires the ability to time the arc, utilize the plane of the arc and rhythm of the swing. Therefore the act of targeting and hitting should become one and the same. This creates a new facet to the circumstances, but fear not as the beauty of the weight and chain is found in perpetual motion. If you overshoot the target and the weight extends past the opponent, the circular, reciprocal motion of the weight is going to coil around them and hit the opponent in the back. If the opponent starts to enter on the chain's backswing, and they are unable to stop the momentum before entry, the circular motion of the weight is going to catch and strike them. This is especially true if the wielder retreats successfully as the opponent enters. It is important to be aware of the coiling properties of the chain because the targets are on both sides of the body, front and back, left and right. The problem here is that the chain can coil to hit targets, it is now wrapping around the opponent when it strikes, which means it is starting to entangle. Manipulating the weapon so that it entangles only when desired should be studied closely. The ability to coil the chain around and trap targets will also be advantageous, but it must be done with caution. If the snare is made and then nothing follows it, then it is only a matter of time until the attacker becomes loose or is able to figure out how to strike back while being snared. It is also important to focus on the withdrawal of the chain after striking. This prepares for the next strike or entanglement, as the weight must be brought quickly back into the swing of the arc, lengthened or shortened or brought to a wielded or resting position. From here, the weight and chain has the ability to seek a target, retract and seek the target again and so on. Understanding targeting and how it works with a weight chain is essential to be able to strike with it over and over, or to entangle and move on to something else.
The intent of the weight and chain is straightforward: to overcome the opponent by clobbering them down or by snaring them up, in a perfect scenario a little bit of both. It is not that simple though, as one's intent has to be established in the heat of the moment, springing from the opponent's movement and attacks. Therefore, intent must be a combination of distance, timing, execution and maneuvering in order to create victory. Most likely it will never be a case of a pre-arranged movement, where the attacker will do such-and-such a strike, the defender will do such-and-such a defense, ending with a crushing blow that a splits the attacker's cranium. It never works out that way. One can practice techniques constantly, but in the end it will be judgment and ability to apply those techniques which wins or loses. Intention, therefore, must combine several elements in order to be used properly. One intends to strike, but one also intends to counter and block. One intends to evade, but one intends to close in, etc. Somewhere a harmony has to be reached where decision making, intent and ability blend seamlessly together. That means being able to coordinate all of the above information and distill it into the moment. As if this was not hard enough, the intent of the opponent must also be under constant observation in order for the wielder to attack and defend. Meanwhile, the opponent is thinking the same thing you are.
Hopefully, through this discourse of the weight and chain I was able to cover enough for it to be called a well rounded primer. I attempted to explain the anatomy of the weapon and give an overview of how it varies by detailing some basic designs and how the design affected the way it was used. I tried to show how it was carried into battle. I strove to show a tactical side of this simple weapon by covering the mechanical use and its underlying principles. Finally, I intended to put all of the above in terms of a confrontation with an opponent, how the weapon strikes and the way the mind has to coordinate the principles into a single instance. I hope that this body of work was informative, easily read and lively enough to keep from being too boring. My desire is that some interest is sparked in the weapon and people will be attracted to learning it.