My early experience with nunchaku: 1975-1981

I began training with the nunchaku just after New York had made doing so illegal (although at the time I had no idea that had happened). I was then a high school student in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and was studying Uechi-Ryu, an Okinawan style of karate. I took a particular interest in the nunchaku because it is a very effective defensive weapon against an attacker armed with a knife. (My father had been stabbed to death about a decade earlier.) In 1976, I began studies at SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx, where I trained with the nunchaku every day in my dorm room. Neither I nor any of my classmates (many of whom came from other states and countries) had any idea that doing so was considered a crime under New York's newly enacted ban. In fact, one year I went to Philadelphia and brought back numerous nunchaku for myself and several classmates of mine who were on the fencing team and wanted to learn nunchaku. We practiced together.

Above are two photos from our summer training cruise of 1979, the last of three before we graduated and became licensed as merchant marine officers.

In 1981, a year after I graduated, I got into some trouble for demonstrating the use of nunchaku in public in New York. That was when I first learned of the state's ban. But I still did not fully appreciate that merely possessing nunchaku even in my own home could subject me to criminal prosecution.