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Old 21st May 2007, 01:18 AM   #1
CourseEight
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Question Manrikigusari?

Hi all --

I picked this up at an antique mall for virtually nothing. I know nothing about these kinds of weapons, but this seems to be a manrikigursari:

http://www.geocities.com/koryu-bujutsu/masaki.html

My question is: how old is this one, and was this one intended for use? The patina on the weights seems genuine, but I can't find any constructed like these are: they have a spindle protruding from them, with the decorative washers and the means of attatching the chain threaded through the spindal. Then the spindle is flattened on the top to keep it all in place. One of the weights is missing some of the washers. From each weight is a little brass "tag," but though they're the same basic shape they are slightly different, so not machine done. The whole thing jingles when spun, which might be the point. The links of the chain itself are formed in an "s" shape, and a couple look like they've been broken and repaired.

I'm happy with it, even if it's a chinese knockoff or some kind of novelty weapon. They still sell plainer ones brand new for about what I paid for it anyway. But of course if it does have any authenticity I'd love to hear it!

--Radleigh
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Old 23rd May 2007, 07:07 PM   #2
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Thought I'd bring this back up to the top, just in case anyone can help. If anyone has seen something like this in the past on ebay coming out of China, or in marketplaces there, I'd really like to like to know, since I can't find anything like it for sale now. If not, perhaps a more general question: does anyone have any experience with this type of chain construction on any Asian pieces?

Thanks for any replies!

--Radleigh
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Old 23rd May 2007, 07:28 PM   #3
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IT IS A ATTRACTIVE ITEM AND APPEARS WELL MADE CONGRADULATIONS I WOULD CERTIANLY HAVE BOUGHT IT FOR MYSELF. I HAVEN'T SEEN A LOT OF THESE ON EBAY SO THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE IT MAY BE THE REAL DEAL. THE ONLY THING I CAN THINK OF TO DETERMINE IF IT IS A REAL WEAPON WOULD BE IF THE CHAIN IS IRON RATHER THAN BRASS OR BRONZE. A BRASS OR BRONZE CHAIN MADE WITH THOSE KIND OF OPEN LINKS WOULD BE VERY PRONE TO BREAKING OR COMING APART. THE LINK SHAPE IS DECORATIVE BUT IT MAY HAVE ALSO HAVE HAD A FUNCTION OF CATCHING AND STOPPING A BLADE BETTER. MANY OF THE MORE RECENT CHINESE ANTIQUES ARE ARTIFICALLY CORRODED AND HEAVLY PATINATED YOURS IS NOT SO THAT IS ALSO A GOOD SIGN. SORRY I CAN'T BE OF MUCH HELP. GOOD LUCK
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Old 24th May 2007, 04:34 PM   #4
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I have a very similar set that is definitely antique. It is a Chinese chain whip, usually about the length from the center of the chest to the hand. Modern ones are usually about double that length or longer.

That said, mine has a differently constructed chain with swiveling links that are riveted closed. I also would like to know what the chain whip is made from, mine is all steel but this one looks like brass. However, that just might be the photo. The weights look almost exactly like mine and two other sets I have seen for sale, one from a reputable dealer that was expensive. I have also seen a set from a dubious dealer with genuine weights and a replacement chain. From the same dealer I saw one that was all genuine but the chain had been shortened. So the chain may be questionable but the weights are almost definitely genuine. They come from a recognizable type that is not common but that does come up fairly often and shows no signs of being counterfeited. If you got them for =<$100 you got a good deal.

Be careful practicing with them, they are deadly and the chain might not hold.
Josh
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Old 24th May 2007, 04:48 PM   #5
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What is on those little metal tags on the rings of the weights? Are they decorated figures of some sort? I have not seen those tags before but they look like the kind of thing that could fall off easily as they are attached to the un-riveted rings on the weights. Some examples I have seen had one, two or no rings on each weight. Mine has the same rings but no tags. I always thought the rings were there to make a nice jingly sound, and the tags would help.
Josh
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Old 25th May 2007, 01:14 AM   #6
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Thanks for the responses!

Quote:
I have a very similar set that is definitely antique. It is a Chinese chain whip, usually about the length from the center of the chest to the hand. Modern ones are usually about double that length or longer.

That said, mine has a differently constructed chain with swiveling links that are riveted closed. I also would like to know what the chain whip is made from, mine is all steel but this one looks like brass. However, that just might be the photo. The weights look almost exactly like mine and two other sets I have seen for sale, one from a reputable dealer that was expensive. I have also seen a set from a dubious dealer with genuine weights and a replacement chain. From the same dealer I saw one that was all genuine but the chain had been shortened. So the chain may be questionable but the weights are almost definitely genuine. They come from a recognizable type that is not common but that does come up fairly often and shows no signs of being counterfeited. If you got them for =<$100 you got a good deal.

Be careful practicing with them, they are deadly and the chain might not hold.

Thanks for the reply Josh! I'm so happy to hear that it is genuine! I thought China at first, but the only chain weapons I could find were kau sin ke, like this. There were several notable differences in strucure which let me to the Japanese manriki. Do you know of a book or article where I can learn more about them? Or do they fuction like a manriki, but are the Chinese equivalent? For that matter, which do you think came first?

The links are indeed iron, not brass. The coloration in the picture is due to some rust I haven't been able to get out of the crevices of the links.
The length of mine in about 42", so its a little long for me, but would be fine on someone taller. Happy to say I'm not going to be twirling them about much, even if the chain diid look stronger. They do seem stronger than they look, actually, since I can't pull them apart with my hands, or by pulling with all my force on each end of the chain.

Happy to say it was less than half of a hundred, so a good deal it is! Thanks so much for the info.

Quote:
What is on those little metal tags on the rings of the weights? Are they decorated figures of some sort? I have not seen those tags before but they look like the kind of thing that could fall off easily as they are attached to the un-riveted rings on the weights. Some examples I have seen had one, two or no rings on each weight. Mine has the same rings but no tags. I always thought the rings were there to make a nice jingly sound, and the tags would help.

Indeed they jingle quite a bit. The sound is lind of like you hear on saddles, actually. The shape could be the outline of a Chinese character, but I know nothing of the language or symbology. Given the unriveted ring, it could have been added later just as well, who knows.

Quote:
THE LINK SHAPE IS DECORATIVE BUT IT MAY HAVE ALSO HAVE HAD A FUNCTION OF CATCHING AND STOPPING A BLADE BETTER.

This is an interesting point, Vandoo. The links have more of a tendency to "catch" on one another than a standard chain would, creating little "knots" that shake straight. It is certainly possible that this could aid in parrying or whathaveyou.

Now that I know it is real, on display with the good stuff it goes!

--Radleigh
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Old 25th May 2007, 03:09 PM   #7
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Most videos and books I have seen show techniques for chain whips about twice as long. With the shorter chain they go much much faster. This makes them extremely dangerous, but clearly this would add to their effectiveness. Historically, chain whips were easily concealable weapons for self-defense. I don't think police or the military used them. However, I have heard stories that the guards of the Forbidden City used them because they were not supposed to spill blood. Here is another example of the type of whip you posted from Oriental Arms.

http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j.../chain_whip.jpg

As you say this type is a bit more common.

You mentioned locking techniques, and that is definitely part of the practice, and the chain if it is authentic should work well for it. I can catch and hold a smooth steel sword breaker (bian). The chain locks and does not let go until I give it a little shake.

It is a very effective little weapon but very dangerous to practice with. I padded one end with duct tape and bubble wrap and it still makes me see stars occasionally.
Josh

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Old 25th May 2007, 05:16 PM   #8
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Radleigh,
I lived in Coral Springs for about three years, my wife was the youth librarian and I worked at an architectural Iron company in Ft Lauderdale.
Not many cool antiques when I was there. I found some things in Ft. Meyers, but not much in Lauderdale.

I would call that one genuine.

Ric
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Old 25th May 2007, 09:17 PM   #9
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Josh -- Do you learn how to use all the weapons you collect? I myself have fenced before, but never taken up anything serious, mostly because I have rods in my back from scholliosis. I'd imagine its a very rewarding and educational study, to use the weapons as they were meant to be used.

Ric -- Happy to meet someone else from Coral Springs! I got this at the Atlantic Antique Mall in Delrey Beach. The only other good antique place I've found was in Deerfield Beach. I went to GA Tech for two years and found the antiquing in that area far superior. But, occassionally (as in this case) it surprises you!

Best,

--Radleigh
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Old 25th May 2007, 11:43 PM   #10
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Hi Radleigh,

Nice to see another flexible weapons type around here.

There are a couple of books that might be useful if you want to use it. My favorite is Sanchez' Flexible Weapons, which is available from Amazon.

While I can buy that's it's Chinese, that isn't a chain whip. It's effectively a manriki-gusari. The issue is weighting. A chain whip has a separate handle and 3-11 metal rods joined by short lengths of chain. A "kusari" (=gusari) is a chain with weight on either end. Such weapons were not limited to Japan or even the orient. In Europe, they're called "slung shot" and in the Andes, there are two-stone bolas.

If you want to learn how to use it, I'd very strongly suggest either buying a modern kusari or making one yourself-- a length of chain and a couple of padlocks make a cheap analog. The weakness in yours (as pointed out by Vandoo) is that the links are s-shaped and bent, not welded. The S-shape means that the ends of the links can cut into your hand as they're sliding through your grip (unless they've been filed down), and they can also be straightened out by force. The fact that it's been repaired suggests that it might be a bit weak for weapon use.

Have fun!

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Old 29th May 2007, 03:12 AM   #11
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Radleigh, I'm in Fort Lauderdale as well. There are some pretty good antique stores in Dania, and scattered throughout the area. Slim pickings on weapons, though, I'm afraid. I'll occasionally trip accross something at a yard sale or the Swap Shop, though.
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Old 29th May 2007, 06:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CourseEight
Josh -- Do you learn how to use all the weapons you collect? I myself have fenced before, but never taken up anything serious, mostly because I have rods in my back from scholliosis. I'd imagine its a very rewarding and educational study, to use the weapons as they were meant to be used.


I started as a martial artist with a side interest in ethnographic weapons, but it was when I started bringing my kung-fu practice together with Chinese weapons that I got really hooked on the collecting. Each new weapon makes me think of the movements in new ways, and the movements let me understand why the weapons are made as they are. I think the only way to have more insight into the relation of function and form would be to make the weapons myself.
Josh
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