Pseudo-Weapon FAQ

The Playing Mantis sells a number of props which are very similar to existing martial arts and fantasy weapons in both appearance and usage.  We call them “Pseudo-weapons.” They tend to be very striking visually and audience favorites.  While some of them are durable enough to handle stage combat, they are intended for exhibition and display only.  They are not, nor should any any attempt be made to use them as actual weapons.  To put it more simply:  We sell things to set on fire and wave around, not things to hit people with.

That said, please consider the following before using these props:


Law enforcement agencies may not make a distinction between a weapon and a weapon-like performance prop. This is at the discretion of local authorities, and you are encouraged to contact them prior to using any prop which might be questionable. Nunchaku, swords, and related props are the most frequently regulated, but in certain jurisdictions the list may be longer. The Playing Mantis assumes no responsibility for any legal trouble you may get yourself into.

A few tips which may save you a lot of hassle:

  1. If you practice in a public area (like a park or open lot) either get friendly with your local police or consider moving your pseudo-weapon practice to a more secluded and/or controlled location.

  2. Though it might seem silly, you may be able to save yourself a lot of trouble by inquiring about getting a permit for the use of hand weapons like nunchaku.

  3. Doing a street show with nunchaku or related props could be very risky. If the police don't hassle you, a cocky audience member usually will. Know your performance area and control access to your props carefully.


We offer padded and/or practice versions of most of our props designed for building skill and learning new tricks. While these versions are designed to minimize potential injury, it is impossible to anticipate all conditions which may arise and injuring yourself or those around you is still possible. Performance versions tend to be heavier and non-padded and can do a lot more damage. Please use these props carefully and with due regard to your current skill level and surroundings.

That said, you're probably not looking at fire swords or nunchaku because you want to gently wave around a padded stick. Here's a few tips to help you progress safely:

  1. Start slow. Build speed only once you've mastered the basic movements.

  2. Consider practice versions. We are able to make practice versions of nearly any prop. If you don't see a practice version on the site, a padded version is generally available as a special order.

  3. Get professional instruction. While there is information on using these props available on our site (as well as elsewhere on the internet), there is no substitute for live, hands-on training. We offer workshops in many of the props we sell, and the majority of our pseudo-weapons will wield enough like their martial arts kin to make your local dojos and martial arts instructors an excellent resource as well.

  4. Respect the weight of your prop. With props like nunchaku, striking yourself is generally the primary safety concern for most people. Remember though that if you are learning a new prop your body is generally not ready to wield it at full speed or through the range of motion the prop may require. Take the time to strength train with basic moves with your prop to help avoid strains or repetitive stress injuries. Our fire swords (especially those designed for stage combat) and polearms are very heavy and will require physical conditioning and training in order to use them safely and to full effect.

  5. Take breaks. Pseudo-weapons are fun. Really fun. Don't forget that practicing with them can be physically demanding, especially on joints like your shoulders. If you're working on cracking a particularly difficult trick, especially one which is difficult due to flexibility or body position, consider taking a break now and then and using a lighter or even a related prop to help you get the movement down to help minimize the strain on your body.

The bottom line is that practicing and performing with these props is a lot of fun for both artist and audience. Use common sense and a little consideration and it will help make wielding them a positive experience at every stage.