Is The Canadian Government Being Unfair?
When it comes to weapons in society and how people should be able to use them, it’s hard to settle on an answer that suits everyone. It seems that the only thing that everyone involved agrees on is that all weapons, no matter how large or small, should only be wielded by those with the training and knowledge necessary to use them properly. Today we want to discuss some of the restrictions on martial arts weapons that you may not even know exist
Many of the weapons that you might think of when you hear the words “martial arts”, such as nun-chuks, bo staffs, sais, and small clubs, originated as farming equipment in China. In the 1600s, the Chinese government outlawed weaponry for civilians, but also required that they were able to defend themselves and the country if needed. Due to this, they created new techniques with the objects they had on hand, and many of the modern symbols of martial arts were born.
Just like many other household items, like kitchen knives or construction tools, the danger of these weapons depends on who is wielding them. Yet, strangely, while you can own as many knives, chainsaws, nail guns, sledgehammers, baseball bats, and shovels as you want, you cannot own – or even carry! – nun-chuks, three-sectioned staffs, self-opening blades, or ninja stars in Canada. It’s illegal for you to own them, or even transport them for the sole purpose of training somewhere else!
This can be disappointing for martial artists, as it’s a double standard: we trust carpenters, arborists, and chefs with their tools, which are all equally lethal. We allow hunters to bring guns and crossbows into the wilderness, once they’ve shown that they know what they’re doing with them – and if someone gets hurt, we hold them responsible. Why is it not the same with martial arts weapons?
Now, we are not advocating that our students should be able to carry around potentially lethal objects and wave them around for fun – far from it. What we do want is for our students to be able to become familiar with, respect, and transport these traditional martial arts tools to a safe training session without fear of breaking the law, just like plenty of other people do with the tools of their trade. After all, why would a disciplined and knowledgeable martial artist be any more likely to cause trouble than anyone else, who could simply walk into any hardware store and choose from hundreds of potential weapons available? How dangerous is a chainsaw or a set of bolt cutters compared a sai or a set of nun-chuks?
There is a necessary and implicit trust present in many places of society. Just because someone wants to learn how to use a traditional martial arts weapon effectively does not mean that they will have any desire to hurt anyone, or ever use them beyond the walls of the gym. For example, we don’t assume that every gun owner is angry or maniacal – why would we treat martial artists any differently?
So what do you think? Would you like to see reform in the laws, and allow qualified martial artists to own and transport these weapons? Or do you think the risks are too high for the relatively small amount of people that would benefit from such a change?
Despite the restrictions on martial arts weapons in Canada (which includes our city of Calgary), there are still ways for martial artists to legally acquire and use them for training. One option is to purchase training versions of the weapons, which are made from non-lethal materials like foam or rubber. These can be used for practicing techniques and drilling, but cannot be used in a dangerous manner. While these options do not provide the same level of freedom and flexibility as owning one's own weapons, they are legal and accessible for those who are dedicated to training in traditional martial arts.