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August 28, 2014
The Impracticality of a Rope Dart?
August 28, 2014
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The Best Prerequisite for a Rope Dart?

A question I received about prerequisites for the rope dart:

I heard chain whip is a requirement for rope dart. True or false? It makes sense to me. Because of this knot I”m going to practice chain whip too. It seems good for close combat. Maybe see if I can use the whip left handed then switch to the rope dart. Ambitious I know, but I’ll think of it as a long term goal. -Robert

My answer:

Glad to hear you were able to figure it out. I had the idea of doing some leftie whip chain then going into the dart years ago and never pursued it. It would be good if you can get it, in fact, you should do it. As for whip chain being a prerequisite for rope dart I both agree and disagree.

While the whip chain is the easiest and most obvious answer to the rope dart prerequisite question, I can personally attest that the one thing I’m glad I did before the rope dart, and completely by accident were the nunchucks. I swear to the idea that growing up playing with nunchucks from about the age of 7 upward had the biggest impact on my dart play. I guess I should thank Eastman and Laird for that one (for all the young kids out there, Eastman and Laird are the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was without a doubt 100% responsible for influencing me into the Martial Arts.)

I used the whip chain for a few months before I even heard of the rope dart, and while I can attribute some of my initial rope dart ability to having fundamental whip chain skills my biggest secret has always been the nunchucks. The nunchucks are difficult to learn but by far the easiest flexible weapon when compared to the others. After doing the nunchucks for well over a decade I picked up the three sectional staff, which I practiced and used for about 2 years and it is still to this day my 3rd favorite weapon (pun, for once, not intended.) After the 3 section staff I went to whip chain and then when I discovered the rope dart I left every weapon for it, with the exception of the spear.

I don’t dismiss the idea of the whip chain being a prerequisite for the rope dart. But what would the obvious prerequisite for the whip chain be? The nunchucks, in my opinion. In my mind there is no question that my ability with a rope dart comes directly from the fact that I started nunchuck play at about 7 years old. My mother still has pictures of me as a kid wearing a TMNT mask swinging my nunchucks. Of course, the techniques between nunchuck and rope dart are different but both share a basic, similar concept: weight at the end of a rope or chain being controlled and manipulated by a person. Add that to the fact that I had been using the nunchucks for so long and at such a young age that I was acquiring skills as my own body grew. My physical body literally grew all while swinging stuff around it.

I don’t know if I was born to do the rope dart, it certainly is my passion, but everything I ever did lead to me with a rope dart in my hand. It’s funny to think that when I first started the rope dart my brother, Tom, commented saying that it was like a nunchuck with a longer rope. An interesting foreshadowing to this article as he said that about 9 years ago.

I am not saying forget about the rope dart and run out and get some nunchucks (if you have a pair, swing them around a bit. You will be amazed at how much easier they are when compared to the rope dart.) I would encourage anyone to play with the chucks for a while then pick up the rope dart if they were planning on picking the rope dart up. I guess what I’m trying to say through all of this babbling is that if someone gave me a kid to train, teach and coach and told me, “Make this kid the next rope dart champion ten years from now,” I would hand that kid a pair of nunchucks : )



  1. JQST says:

    There is no actual prerequisite, but there are weapons that will help you train aspects also required in ropedart.
    For me, apart from other soft weapons, staff(bo) spinning helped a lot in the beginning.
    It gives a way to spin something big and clumsy (but potentially painfull) around, but now you can easily stop halfway through a technique or even do the whole technique in slow motion.

    • Frank says:

      While we agree there is no actual pre-requisite we found that beginners who had experience in other flexible weapons tend to understand the concepts of Rope Dart motion easier. Also, many traditional martial arts schools demand certain weapons as a prerequisite to Rope Dart – something the RDA wholly disagrees with. We do believe that anyone can start using the Rope Dart at any time.

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