Rope Dart


March 31, 2014, 04:29 PM
Anyone use one of these? Infantrymen used to use them in the orient ages ago, to attact calvarymen - only in those times, there was no "flag" attached as the modern ones use for Martial Arts displays.

Here's how to make a practice one using a fishing weight, but I replaced it with a Fury 3-angle knife. Here's how it is used in the Martial Arts forms:

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March 31, 2014, 07:19 PM
I wouldn't put too much belief behind the claim that infantry could use rope darts to fight cavalry with. Never heard of it, never read about it. Most likely an embellishment as are most Chinese stories like these. Even your link says this is merely "folklore".

What I have personally seen and had discussion with martial artists about rope darts and nine-sectional whips is that they used to be carried in the pocket as a hidden weapon, and they were still commonly used into the 1980's in China by village night watchmen.

Big Shrek
April 1, 2014, 07:28 PM
One of my truly bad habits is collecting & practicing with oddball martial arts weapons :)

Rope dart is one of my favorites, but if you screw up, a hospital visit is usually in order for stiches ;)

The key with the circular style weapons (dart, meteor hammer, & chain whips),
is practice, practice, practice, and practice some more!!
Just don't let familiarity breed contempt, because as soon one starts showing off,
its almost a guarantee you'll slice something and bleed all over the floor...

And Good Job!!
It is very helpful to have multiple tools in your arsenal other than firearms...
because ya just never know how an issue is going to shake out...
sometimes you can't use a firearm due to proximity issues/etc...
but you can definitely hand out an old-fashioned booty-kicking!!

April 1, 2014, 08:26 PM
If they used it to fight cavalry, it certainly didn't work so hot against Genghis Khan.

I am hardly an expert on ancient Chinese weaponry, but I suspect the main defense against cavalry was terrain and archers. For a really long time, once cavalry was in your infantry, your infantry was doomed.

But, I totally could be wrong. I really don't have any clue as to what the Chinese did against cavalry.

April 1, 2014, 08:36 PM
Rope darts were not used against cavalry since the speed of charge would have made them pretty useless.

They're like any number of other exotic martial arts weapons, interesting, usefull in concealed roles, NOT military weapons of any significant value.

OTOH, having worked with the chain whip a bit I know what these sort of flexible weapons are and arent capable of. Interesting from a MA standpoint, but you don't see them in military actions because they don't have military value.

April 1, 2014, 11:11 PM
But, I totally could be wrong. I really don't have any clue as to what the Chinese did against cavalry.

Same as in the West & Middle East. Massed archers hiding behind spearmen, shields, pavises, entrenchments and walls.

April 3, 2014, 11:36 AM
I've thought rope darts are cool and all (I've even played around with them), but the impracticality of the ones I see used in wushu raise a lot of questions about their alleged claims. There's little combat use to something that requires years of training just to not kill yourself with it.

A little research I've done in some books indicates they were very early weapons, and didn't have all that crazy twirling. It seems they fall into a large class of "tethered throwing missiles," and in olden times you simply held the dart itself in your hand and threw it at your opponent. The idea was to improve on hand-thrown projectiles by allowing the wielder to retrieve and throw again and prevent the enemy from throwing it back at you. The "flags" tied to them I think probably were meant to create "drag-stabilization" so they landed point-first, much like a blowgun dart. I'm just speculating on that part, but if you watch how they fly in wushu, it makes sense.

Certainly pulling the sharp dart back and preparing for another throw would not be easy and carry some risk, but you can see the benefit when compared to throwing a regular knife that missed or simply didn't disable the enemy, and being left to face them unarmed.

April 3, 2014, 01:17 PM
I have a lot of experience using weighted chain. An experienced MA's weapon, for sure, potentially effective as a surprise stand-off weapon, but not much good against cavalry.

April 11, 2014, 05:31 PM
"There's little combat use to something that requires years of training just to not kill yourself with it." LOL ... that's pretty much true with any MA weapon, no? Nunchaku anyone? (OUCH! Dang! that is gonna leave a mark.)

April 12, 2014, 07:43 AM
Most flexibles require a lot more training to use well than other weapons.

April 12, 2014, 08:08 AM
HSO has the right take - these are not military weapons.

But from an attacker's perspective, how would you feel about being hit with a rope dart? Probably just make you mad.

Thrown weapons like shuriken and tonki are mainly designed for a retreat. You have accomplished your job and are heading back to safety. But you have pursuers. So you pause, throw the weapon, and continue running. You're discouraging pursuit.

A rope dart doesn't make much sense. If the weapon had significant effect, you could run up to the enemy, pull it out, and use it again.

I do train with a manriki gusari - a long chain with weighted handles on each end. With this weapon, you can throw a weight and pull it back, but it does so much more. You can use the weights, the chain, you can whip it around, snap it out, use it like a garrote, a nunchaku, you have options.

You can master a manriki gusari with less training than needed for a rope dart or meteor hammer. I love obscure kung fu weapons and have a number of them in my arsenal, but the rope dart doesn't have an identifiable use-case.

April 12, 2014, 08:53 AM
Most flexibles require a lot more training to use well than other weapons.

And a spear has so many more applications and ease of use, especially against cavalry.

I think we can put the idea to bed that a rope dart has any value against cavalry and no use against military.

April 12, 2014, 08:23 PM
Almost all of my flexibles training has been with the kusarifundo- what some call a manriki. And my comment about requiring more training than other weapons stands.

April 12, 2014, 11:02 PM
From what I've seen of rope darts, they are used similar to weighted chains and flails. The point of the weight is used by those expert enough to throw them straight into an opponent's face or other vital area but the idea is to use the weight for multiple strikes.

These are the traditional Chinese ones that I'm talking about.

April 23, 2014, 12:45 PM
Right. Those are the very heavy weights used in Martial Arts competitions, like the ones seen on you tube. Switch it off for a Fury 3-Angle fixed blade knife (about 20% of the price of the weights ... less expensive, and about 1/4 of the weight), and it is pretty dangerous.

April 24, 2014, 01:51 PM
I think it would be interesting if you were to do some testing with this and the 3 angle knife you've linked.

Penetration tests might be interesting to see on mockups or carcasses, different thicknesses of dress (denim, winter coats, etc)

Maybe it wasn't a military weapon, but it would be interesting to test your hypothesis.

April 24, 2014, 04:44 PM
I've got a few of those knives that I throw like bo shuriken. Might try some controlled experiments myself. Like I was saying before I think the wushu twirling/spinning thing is probably not how real ones were ever used for combat. But using them like a simple retrievable dart might have more practical results. It probably will not look as "cool" but the proof will be in the consistency of the strikes and the wounds inflicted.

April 25, 2014, 01:29 PM
I have the Fury 3-angle attached to the rope dart setup I made (see my initial post, "Instructables" link), but am not proficient enough to use it to actually strike a target from a rope throw yet ( I practice WAY far from objects and people because I don't yet have sufficient control. LOL ) I've been called "lightning, 'cause I never strike the same place twice!

April 25, 2014, 02:19 PM
Here's my take on swapping knives for actual rope dart weights... what happens if you get good-enough to stick your target? Will you be able to retrieve that stuck blade from your opponent? What happens now that you are disarmed and your "stuck" opponent wants to continue the fight? Perhaps the other guy has a weapon, or decides to use your dart against you?

Ever practice ducking rope darts when thrown by other people?

April 26, 2014, 12:21 AM
No, I've actually never MET anyone in person who throws rope darts. Met a few wushu blackbelts who knew of it, but none that ever threw them. At my age, I seriously doubt I'll get that good at it (to stick them consistently into a target) before I'm too old to actually do that anymore. I've only just started it about two months before my initial post.


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