Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sure, they’re ninjas, and over the course of six movies, comics, more than one TV show, and hundreds of action figures, they have portrayed a very…unique idea of what martial arts are.

Did you know that you can tell them apart by the color of their masks? Yeah, we didn’t either. It wasn’t even always a possibility, as the TMNT started out in black and white comics. Even worse, the cover was black, red, and white, so even the cover didn’t help! So, what’s the only way that you could really differentiate them? By their weapons, of course. Leonardo had the swords, Donatello had the staff, Michelangelo had the nunchucks, and Raphael had the sai.

But with two generations having grown up with the Turtles since 1984, the idea of what a martial art is has been warped by the idea that weapons are often used. The fact is, most martial arts don’t use weapons at all. Why?

The Origins of Martial Arts

Most martial arts didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. Most have a rich history and a very specific reason that they were created.

One reason that martial arts came along is they were developed to help those who were unable to afford weapons. Sometimes the people were outright banned from owning weapons, which kept them under the rule of despots. Unarmed people would be able to subdue those who were much better armed and armored than they, meaning that they could fight back. Jiu Jitsu itself started in such a way (before it became BJJ), allowing common people to fight back against Samurai. Capoeira is much the same.

Another reason that martial arts come into being is that they are part of military training. But these martial arts are often used as a last resort once the weapons are gone, having been broken or lost in the mud of a battlefield. Most military training in the days before projectile weapons had close-quarters combat with weapons and then martial arts when weapons weren’t available. They were separate training. Sorry Turtles.

Weapons Are Dangerous

When kids come in for their first martial arts training class, they might ask where the nunchucks are. (Some adults ask it too!) While it might sound like the most obvious statement of the day, we’ll go ahead and say it: weapons are dangerous. We don’t want anyone getting hurt in our martial arts classes, and that means not having the weapons around at all. Take a look at our About Us page. No weapons. Here’s a tour of our martial arts school. No weapons. Not even as decoration.

We Like The Sports Aspect

There are some martial arts that incorporate weapons; Krav Maga is an excellent example. But Krav Maga is modern military training, and while it’s excellent self-defense, it’s not really a sport. And it’s not really for kids.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai are also great self-defense, but no matter how intense they get (such as MMA), they are still sports with rules in a controlled environment. We’re not out there to permanently injure someone as will often happen with weapon-based martial arts.

Weapons Aren’t Always Around

One great thing about most martial arts is that they don’t use weapons. After all, no one can take your hands, feet, or arms away from you, so you always have your self-defense “weapons” with you.

On the other hand, what if your martial art relied on weapons (as the Ninja Turtles almost always do)? If those weapons are back in the Turtle Van, or if they get broken, or if they get lost in the sewers…we’ll, they’re out of luck. In the world class martial arts that we teach, you can’t leave your hands back in the Turtle Van!

Weapons have their place in some martial arts, but the ones that we teach at our martial arts training doesn’t use them. It’s self-defense, and weapons end up being used in an offensive way. We’d love to have you come in to visit us and find out what our martial arts classes are all about and how they can help you get more exercise no matter your age. Check out our class schedules right here!