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Rings and Hoops

This article comes to us courtesy of Chris Smith who kindly keyed it all in and secured permission from Comtech to reproduce it here.

Martial Arts and Cutlery: Adventure and News, Volume 1, Issue 1.

The Comtech Excellerator will be published four times a year, plus one yearly special edition.
For subscription ($15/yr), contact Combat Technologies Inc.
(800) 625-8133
Box 142, Walla Walla, WA 99362.

RINGS & HOOPS: Their Relativity to Combat
-- The Singh Chakram
By: J.A. Keating

How hoops or rings are used in martial arts varies from culture to culture, art to art. Some Chinese fighting arts use them as weapons to flail or to shear limbs. This style of Kung Fu is sometimes referred to as chicken fighting because the flailing action of the rings resembles the wings of the fighting cock. Other systems, like the Red Boat style of Wing Chun and the stick and ring methods of the Filipino arts employ hoops as developmental tools and training aids. The infamous Shaolin rings may be smaller than the other hoops and rings employed by the various arts, but they are considered to be nonetheless effective in doing their job.

Hoops can be thrown. The East Indian war quoit is a simple ring of steel and it is used like the Chinese use their rings, except for one variation. The war quoit is meant to be thrown, and it flies with the unerring accuracy of a frisbee from hell. Even the Irish warriors of old had a flying ring type weapon that was capable of some pretty sophisticated maneuvers under the guidance of one who knew how to use it.

As odd as it may sound there is still a lot of validity in hoop work for today's open minded martial arts practitioner. In this article I would like to address the various hoop arts and methods individually. I want to list each one, then explore the how's and why's of it. I will also be interjecting some ideas on using these ancient skills for applications in today's world, both for training and for self defense. Hold on Gang, we are about to take a high speed look at hoop and ring work from around the world-Hit the Excellerator!!!

If you look up Quoit in the dictionary you will find, "(kwoit) N., 1. Quoits: a game where rings are thrown at a peg. 2. A ring that is used in this game." Hence the origin of the name, but what of the weapon that men call a "war quoit?" How do the game and the weapon relate to each other? If you have ever watched Xena the Warrior Princess, the popular T.V. series starring Lucy Lawless, then you have probably seen the circular metal ring that she throws. This is a war quoit. Now you know what one looks like at least, and in actual use the quoit is thrown much like it is in the series. While the Hollywood wizards do their special effects magic for Xena, you and I must practice to use a quoit. In combat it was used in a fashion much similar to the European hurlbat. Hurlbats sometimes really do look like bats, but they are actually large double bitted fighting axes. They, like the war quoit, are meant to be thrown into a group of charging enemy soldiers. Sometimes a specific target must be hit and at other times with more of a random toss to damage whatever may be in the way. A modern incarnation of a hurlbat is Cold Steel's Bad Axe, and I believe Atlanta Cutlery stocks their own version as well.

The quoit is usually but not always sharpened aroun the outer edge (the impact area). If unsharpened, the quoit was worn on the belt as part of the foot soldier's defensive gear. The sharpened versions used by the East Indian Sikh warriors was carried into battle in a most unique manner. The quoits, or Chakrams (translates into wheel or vortex) as they are referred to by the Sikhs, are worn set upon a special conical turban type of head dress. This is a somewhat reinforced battle version of a standard turban, but with an extra neck piece attached. The quoit/turban combination provided a small degree of armor-like protection while being worn.

The Sikhs of northwest India are most famous for their abilities with the chakram. They may spin the ring around their index finger as they prepare to let it go, or they may pinch it between the thumb and fore finger and sail it underarm-identical to how most now throw a frisbee. At Comtech the practice of throwing a war quoit often takes the form of a frisbee session with each other or one of the ever present dogs. The game of quoits is played something like horseshoes. It builds the accuracy and range necessary for the deceptive blind side attack needed when actually employing a chakram to seek out and damage a distant adversary.

Some chakrams are mere rings of flattened steel. Others actually have aerodynamic configurations as part of their overall design. They will cut, fly and perform to a more refined degree than a flat one could. Some chakrams have eye catching engravings and inscriptions to adorn them and their beauty is surpassed only by their deadly purpose.

It is almost impossible to find a chakram in today's cutlery market. Most of them are custom made, and the maker must know his business well. The quoit must not be too heavy, but it must be very durable and rust resistant. The metal should not be too soft nor too hard. It must be aerodynamic enough to travel distances on a straight plane and even be able to hover over an enemy before descending to injure him. It need not be overly sharp. A utility edge as is found on axes and shovels will suffice.

Because of the airborne ability of the chakram, I am reminded of the sport of falconry. The chakram is very much a steel bird of prey that seeks out a living target, just like a falcon. Watching a quoit as it nears an unsuspecting target is an unusual experience. If it is thrown correctly the target never hears or sees it. On the other tack, some of the more elaborate rings of war had small holes drilled in them to produce a whistling sound as they flew. I believe that throwing a good chakram is as much fun as knife throwing. Set yourself up the end of a log out in a clearing and let'er fly. The deep thunk of a solid hit when the chakram sticks is reward enough for the hours of practice you could spend mastering this weapon.

This is the first installment of our coverage of ring and hoop type weapons. In future issues of the Excellerator we will discuss the rattan ring used by the Red Boat Wing Chun clan and also the chicken fighting methods of the Southern schools. The unique training methodologies employing the stick and hoop as per the Filipino arts will be addressed as well. Not many individuals play the rings though they are a fun and interesting hobby. I hope that you enjoy these insights that I will be sharing with you over the next few issues. Until then-Keep Training!

For more information, check out Ted Bailey's Chackrum page!

Recently there has become available a commercial copy of the chackrum used by the character Xena in the TV show of the same name. Here is some information, pricing, and availability, as of 6/97

Date: Fri, 6 Jun 1997 13:52:09 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Chakrum availability

Due to the overwelming requests for the Chakrams, I have pushed up the production date. I am now taking orders for all Models. I will operate on a First Paid, first shipped bases. All models have the following:

13 1/2 " Outside Dia. 12" inside, all models include a belt Hook. Thickness is 1/4 inch.

Prices are as follows:

  • Aluminum Display Model, (dull edge, Gold detail work on sides) $37.00 + 4.50 S/H (sorry for the slight price increase, price of Aluminum keeps going up.)

  • Steel Model (sharp edge, polished, Gold detail work on sides) $65.00 + 4.50 S/H

  • Plain Steel Model (sharp edge, polished) $50.00 + 4.50 s/h
  • The Alum. Model is for Display only, and should not be thrown. The steel Models are sharp and can be used and thrown. (Please remember, safety first, I won't be held responsable for any damage that may occur)

    Shipping will start on June 10th, orders will be shipped in the order they are received, with those names on the waiting list going first. If you would like to order one or more, please contact me by email, the address below, or visit our new WEB SITE.

    Ageless Armory
    301 Rochester Hwy.
    Seneca, SC 29672
    George Fisher - Owner

    Thrower at your service!

    Mail to mjr, goto survival, back to thrower, or to knives

    This page is part of the official ARCHIVE COPY of the pioneering but abandoned Thrower website on knife throwing. Copyright and details