Kusari fundo, short combat chain - Ninjutsu

By Yossi Sheriff
(Redirected from Manrikigusari)

Kusari-fundo (קוסארי פונדו), (万力鎖) also named Manriki-gusari (Manrikigusari), is a short chain or rope with lengths varying from (30 cm to 120 cm) used for fighting. Some Marikigusari or Kusarifundo are equipped with weights at both ends. Manrikigusari is literally translated as "ten thousand strong chain", in Japanese.

Video of a full seminar for Short chain basics

Background of the weapon

Kusari (שרשרת), means chain (鎖) in Japanese. The Kusari-fundo usually ends with weights used to lend force to striking movements or when held in hand, to strike vulnerable points. The various lengths of the weapon are arbitrary and vary according to use (Such as a long chain with a sickle - Kusari gama)

Chain usage in cavalry by eastern warriors. From [1]

The Manrikigusari (Kusarifundo) short chain is a highly concealable weapon: The flexibility of the chain or rope helps the weapon fold inside a pocket, around the neck or tucked into the waist belt of the carrier. The main material used to connect the weights in Kusarifundo is chain. The advantage of chain compared to other materials are, presumably, the ability to entangle a live blade without being cut, and the friction a chain creates that prevents slippage when looped around a limb.

Ninjutsu chain techniques

Origins of Manrikigusari, Kusari fundo

Japanese Origins

Masaki Toshimitsu Dannoshin, the guards officer in Edo castle supposedly started using a chain in he beginning of 1700. Palace guard in japan were, persumably, equipeed with kusari as it is possible to ensnare or hit with the weapon without spilling blood. Another story tells of the same personage, Masaki Toshimitsu Dannoshin, but this time places him as a Buddhist monk, circa 1600, in charge of protecting a Hermitage. Again, the chain is the weapon chosen because of the prohibition to spill blood on holy grounds.

Western origins

Chain usage in cavalry by western warriors. From [2]

In the west, the first mention of chain is in the Icelandic Eyrbyggja Saga about the use of a short chain with a knife attached to it. The use of various farm tools and their derivatives have been widespread. Longer chains have been used in the west mainly in cavalry to entangle a mounted adversary.

Manrikigusari combat chain techniques

Analysis of the chain in combat

The short weighted chain is a weapon that necessitates a good command of distancing and stepping techniques. Only the whirling of the Kusari is the distance maker and as such has mainly a psychological effect. Against a charging opponent or one armed with a stick or sword the short weighted chain must be coupled with proper distance maintenance in order to keep the opponent in striking distance. Against an an armed opponent the Manrikigusari maintains the same problems. When an opponent closes to clinch the advantages of the chain are the friction caused from the links, when the opponent is entangled and the end weights that can be used to hit or pressure vital points. Moreover, as the ballistic force generated by the chain can be unpredictable and cause serious uncontrolled injury it's not suitable as is for self defense and has to be adapted accordingly.

Traditional Schools that use Manrikigusari

A complete curriculum of the short chain exists in Hoten Ryu and in the, now extinct Yumio Nawa's Ninjutsu. The use of the long chain, the Kusarigama, is widespread in many Koryu systems in Japan, mainly Isshin Ryu and Tendo-ryu.

A Hoten Ryu video of the Kusarifundo

Outside links


  1. Mair, Paul Hector. De arte athletica.
  2. Mair, Paul Hector. De arte athletica.