History of the American Style Nunchaku
American Style Nunchaku started it’s early development in the 1970’s by a martial arts enthusiast by the name of Michael L. Burke from Richmond Virginia, a karate black belt and three time nunchaku weapons champion.
Grandmaster Burke began his martial arts career at the age of 20 in Okinawa style karate. During his karate training Grandmaster Burke got fascinated with the nunchakus and started to make up his own techniques. In the early 70’s the amount of training materials on the nunchaku was limited, so GM Burke had to make up his own set of techniques. After many years of practice these techniques began to come together – and the first embryo of the style was born.
Grandmaster Burke’s first instructional video, CHAKUS!, was produced in 1990, and it was a big time seller. Over 20.000 copies sold. In 1992 a karate Grandmaster from New York, Brian Lee, contacted GM Burke to encourage him to continue to make instructional videos showing more advanced forms and techniques. He also suggested that GM Burke should create a new weapons martial arts style with a structure based upon the new training material.
Over the next eight years, four more videos were produced, Chakus 2-5. Like the first one they too were big sellers. Many martial arts students from all over the country began practicing the techniques they learned from the videos. It is reported from one karate school in New York that some 26 students began winning tournaments using the Double Dragons Kata taught on the third video Chakus 3. The style was designed to be fast and flashy, but at the same time easy to learn. Some students won first place awards in competitions after only six weeks of training.
Today, the culmination of many years of hard work have come together as the style continues to gain attention and support from the martial arts community. The style has it’s own belt rank system ranging from 9 degrees of colored belts to 9 degrees of black belt. The training material available are seven “Chakus” DVD’s, containing techniques required to progress from white belt to 3rd degree black belt, and two “Open Style Nunchaku” DVD’s that cover techniques required for advancing above 3rd degree. Grandmaster Burke continues to produce new videos and still adds new material to the curriculum. The style is still evolving.
The first martial arts school to make the American Style Nunchaku available to a broader audience was the SunDragon Martial Arts Association in Florida, founded in 1992 by Dr. Richard Finch. As the style continued to grow, and more schools joined, it needed it’s own organization to regulate the common rules and regulations of the style. So in 2010 Grandmaster Burke, together with his top student Kim Gylling, founded The American Style Nunchaku Federation with the mission to oversee the structures and regulations of the style, and to help and support the joining schools and students with their practice of the martial art of the American Style Nunchaku.