Stringing – Paracord and Braided Hemp

When it comes to designing and making nunchaku, I always focussed on the wooden aspect: timber species, shaft length, degree of taper and position of the holes.  Something I overlooked for a long time was the string joining the two pieces together. Ever since I strung my first nunchaku I’ve used what every other manufacturer did – paracord, however I’ve recently rethought this aspect too…

Handmade Ash Nunchaku by Seaholme Kobudo

Paracord is a strong and durable material comprised of 7 thin nylon strings (which provide the strength) wrapped in a woven outer nylon sheath which protects the inner strands.

I’ve always thought this is particularly useful for nunchaku as the sheath protects against wear when string moves around against the wood.

That said, I aim to be environmentally friendly where I can, and try to avoid using plastic, and so I’ve been looking for alternatives, and learned that hemp is a particularly strong natural fibre with excellent sustainability credentials; compared to cotton it grows much faster, producing much more usable fibres, requiring much less water and doesn’t require pesticides, and is of course biodegradable.

Using a natural fibre brings a touch of authenticity to your nunchaku, as the material is much closer to the materials traditionally used in Okinawa (compared to plastic string) offering a traditional aesthetic to your martial arts practice. It is also possible that the natural fibres might offer other benefits such as improved shock absorption and a smother swing due to the twisted fabric, though I can’t give any confirmation of this as yet.

It must be said, hemp does not match the sheer strength of paracord. The manufacturer states that paracord has a breaking strength of 550lbs whereas hemp fibre has 120lbs, (of course I triple string nunchaku – so that total strength would be closer to 1650lbs or 360lbs!)

When it comes to choosing the right material for stringing nunchaku, the decision often boils down to personal preference and specific requirements. If strength and versatility are paramount, 7-core paracord might be the way to go. If you lean towards a more traditional, eco-conscious approach with a focus on aesthetics and a slightly softer feel, woven hemp fiber could be your ideal choice. Ultimately, the decision lies in your hands; I’ve made hemp fibre available as an option for pre-strung nunchaku.