So I've been watching a lot of the 2003 TMNT cartoon, and I've noticed that whilst they claim to be ninjas they only seem to use their own iconic weapons.

Is there any evidence that they train with other weapons? I'm not asking about just use, I mean proper training, involving kata or some such?

Because I like to pretend all the reboots and remakes share a sort of pseudo-canon I'm happy for answers from the comics or other cartoons.

  • 1
    In at least one story in the original black and white comic they show an aptitude with guns, capturing them from Foot warriors and using them on other Foot warriors. Also when in Triceraton space they learn how to be good shots with Triceraton ray guns rather quickly.
    – Nu'Daq
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 4:18

2 Answers 2


All of the turtles were trained by Master Splinter who learned his martial arts from his owner before he was mutated. He taught the Turtles all the martial arts they knew and each Turtle is quite capable no matter what weapons they used. They are all capable open-hand fighters and able to use any weapon they have at hand when necessary.

When the original comics were written, each had chosen a signature weapon that suited their mental preferences and combat styles. Eastman and Laird showed many examples during their appearances in the comic series. The cartoons were far less likely to show such training since the cartoons were often a marketing tool for associated toys.

Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #55

The Turtles trained from 7:00 AM until noon. Master Splinter extols that diligence is the only path to mastery. Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #55

Bo Staff (Donatello) vs Tonfa (Raphael)

Bo Staff (Donatello) vs Tonfa (Raphael) from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vol.1 #9

Leonardo vs Raphael in sword training

Leonardo vs Raphael in sword training from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vol.1 #9

Leonardo throws shuriken

Leonardo effectively throws shuriken from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vol.1 #9

  • Leonardo (Dual Katanas): The Sword is the weapon of leadership and command. The de facto leader of the Turtles, Leonardo is courageous, decisive, and a disciplined student of martial arts. As a strict adherent to Bushido, he has a very strong sense of honor and justice.

  • Raphael (Dual Sais): The sai is used both offensively and defensively, can be used to pierce or club an opponent and is able to disarm an opponent. Sais can also be thrown. The team's "Hot-Head", Raphael has an aggressive nature and seldom hesitates to throw the first punch. He is also an intense fighter. His personality can be alternately fierce, sarcastic, and full of angst, and oftentimes delivers deadpan humor. Still, he is good-hearted, willing to protect others and is intensely loyal.

  • Michelangelo (Dual Nunchakus): Nunchaku are fast and deadly, requiring extreme skill and reflexes. Michelangelo is easily the most agile and quick of all the Turtles. The easy-going and free-spirited Michelangelo provides much of the comic relief. While he loves to read comics and eat pizza, this Turtle also has an adventurous side.

  • Donatello (Bo Staff): Used to keep an opponent at range, but capable of dealing devastating damage in the hands of a master. The inventor, and technology geek, Donatello has a reputation as something of a smart aleck. He is perhaps the least violent Turtle, preferring to use his intellect to solve conflicts.

  • Splinter - The Turtles' sensei and adoptive father, Splinter is a mutant rat who learned the ways of ninjutsu from his own master, Hamato Yoshi. Splinter is able to use any and all martial arts weapons. In the 1987 TV series and Archie Comics series, Splinter was Hamato Yoshi mutated into a rat instead of being just Yoshi's pet. Splinter's name is a parody of Stick, the man who mentored Daredevil.

  • I withdraw my main downvoted objection and the vote - the last 2 images clearly source things. Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 13:09

Do the four brothers in TMNT train in other weapons?

Well, Thaddeus Howze's answer already established that, yes, they did. There are other examples from the early comics as well.

Eastman and Laird's first sketches of a ninja turtle (later cleaned up and inked, as seen here) were both with nunchucks... awkwardly tied to the back of the arms for support rather than ready to be used as weapons. As they began to realize what a truly fun idea their truly ridiculous idea actually was, Eastman sketched and Laird inked this image

Put them into Daredevil's origin story, given them a mentor, and give that mentor a reason to restore his honor and that's the entirety of Issue #1 right there. Everything else grew from the rapid success of that first issue and the decision to run an entirely separate kid-friendly universe for the first TV show.

In other words, the turtles have been identified by their weapons longer than they've even had identities. The identities came from the weapons first, before they even had a story, and have continued on through every iteration of the concept. The TV show used color-coded headbands but the original series used all red masks in a black-and-white medium: having the turtles use their different preferred (or possibly only-available) weapons was the way you could tell them apart at all.

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