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An assortment of club weapons from the Wujing Zongyao from left to right: flail, metal bat, double flail, truncheon, mace, barbed mace

A club (also known as a cudgel, baton, bludgeon, truncheon, cosh, nightstick, or impact weapon) is a short staff or stick, usually made of wood, wielded as a weapon[1] since prehistory. There are several examples of blunt-force trauma caused by clubs in the past, including at the site of Nataruk in Turkana, Kenya, described as the scene of a prehistoric conflict between bands of hunter-gatherers 10,000 years ago.[2]

Most clubs are small enough to be swung with one hand, although larger clubs may require the use of two to be effective. Various specialized clubs are used in martial arts and other fields, including the law-enforcement baton. The military mace is a more sophisticated descendant of the club, typically made of metal and featuring a spiked, knobbed, or flanged head attached to a shaft.

Examples of cultural depictions of clubs may be found in mythology, where they are associated with strong figures such as Hercules or the Japanese oni, or in popular culture, where they are associated with primitive cultures, especially cavemen. Ceremonial maces may also be displayed as a symbol of governmental authority.

The wounds inflicted by a club are generally known as strike trauma or blunt-force trauma injuries.

Law enforcement

Truncheon, Yuan dynasty

Main article: Baton (law enforcement)

Police forces and their predecessors have traditionally favored the use, whenever possible, of less-lethal weapons than guns or blades. Until recent times, when alternatives such as tasers and capsicum spray became available, this category of policing weapon has generally been filled by some form of wooden club variously termed a truncheon, baton, nightstick, or lathi. Short, flexible clubs are also often used, especially by plainclothes officers who need to avoid notice. These are known colloquially as blackjacks, saps, or coshes.

Conversely, criminals have been known to arm themselves with an array of homemade or improvised clubs, generally of easily concealable sizes, or which can be explained as being carried for legitimate purposes (such as baseball bats).

In addition, Shaolin monks and members of other religious orders around the world have employed cudgels from time to time as defensive weapons.


A Yuma war club

Though perhaps the simplest of all weapons, clubs come in many varieties, including:

Animal appendages

Some animals have limbs or appendages resembling clubs, such as:


See also


  1. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Club" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 564.
  2. ^ Lahr, M. Mirazón; Rivera, F.; Power, R. K.; Mounier, A.; Copsey, B.; Crivellaro, F.; Edung, J. E.; Fernandez, J. M. Maillo; Kiarie, C. (2016). "Inter-group violence among early Holocene hunter-gatherers of West Turkana, Kenya". Nature. 529 (7586): 394–398. Bibcode:2016Natur.529..394L. doi:10.1038/nature16477. PMID 26791728. S2CID 4462435.
  3. ^ Image of clava cefalomorfa Archived 2014-03-14 at Wikiwix Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino
  4. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Single-stick" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 148–149.
  5. ^ "Jutte". Retrieved 2008-12-26.
  6. ^ Tuttle dictionary of the martial arts of Korea, China & Japan – Page 168 Daniel Kogan, Sun-Jin Kim – 1996
  7. ^ Pauley's Guide – A Dictionary of Japanese Martial Arts and Culture – Page 90 Daniel C. Pauley – 2009
  8. ^ Classical weaponry of Japan: special weapons and tactics of the ... – Page 91 Serge Mol – 2003
  9. ^ Secrets of the samurai: a survey of the martial arts of feudal Japan, By Oscar Ratti, Adele Westbrook p.305
  10. ^ "Spring Baton Martial Arts Weapons | AWMA". Archived from the original on 2017-02-11. Retrieved 2017-02-08.. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
  11. ^ Francis, Dick. Straight (New York: G.P Putnam's Sons), 1989, pages 99–100 and 309.
  12. ^ "leangle – Definition of leangle in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries – English. Archived from the original on 2017-08-23.
  13. ^ "Notes on the Sherlock Holmes story The Bruce Partington Plans". 1908-12-12. Archived from the original on 2011-12-26. Retrieved 2011-12-17.
  14. ^ Eric Kjellgren, How to Read Oceanic Art (Metropolitan Museum of Art/Yale University Press, 2014), p. 153.
  15. ^ "On modifications in form and ornament of the Australian Aboriginal weapon the lil-lil or Worraga, etc; with additional remarks on the Langeel, Leonile, or Bendi". Internationales Archiv für Ethnographie. 10: 7–10. 1897.