Gio Purpura, Medieval Weapons Enthusiast and Martial Artist

By Jimin Kim, 3/14/20

“When I graduated middle school I got my first crossbow and throwing stars,” said Gio Purpura, 20.


Since he was a kid, Purpura has been collecting and practicing using non-firearm weapons ranging from knives, weapons from medieval Europe and feudal Japan, a jousting stick, nunchucks and other armaments. He has never sold his weapons and plans to continue to collect them for the rest of his life instead of selling. His fascination for melee weapons began when he was young. 


“Some knives I would collect would be plastic knives,” he said, sitting in his room. “When I was a kid in my mind it would be real to me.”


Over the years, his collection grew to the point where he can only give an estimate on how many hand-to-hand combat weapons he currently has. He estimates owning about 200 to 300 weapons, which he spent about $2,000 on, mostly on e-commerce. He made some weapons himself including a three-section staff.


He also received some of the items as gifts, including a katana made in Japan for about a thousand dollars. He doesn’t own any firearms and said fighting with non-firearms is more honorable.


“When samurais fought, they fought with honor,” he said, when talking about how the samurais' mastery of the sword inspired him to grow his collection.


Additional inspiration came from his childhood cartoon characters and superheroes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman. An avid comic book reader, Purpura is particularly a fan of the core heroes in Batman’s universe such as Nightwing, but also Batman’s nemesis, the Joker. Purpura is also a practitioner of several martial arts including muay thai and krav maga, and regularly trains.


He said Batman’s origin story where Batman overcame the murder of his parents to become a hero motivates him to practice self-defense and be self-reliant in dangerous situations.


“You shouldn’t have to rely on anyone else but yourself and if you have to rely on other people then you got some things to work on,” Purpura said. “You shouldn’t be reliant on anyone, whether it is the police, the aliens — no. You just gotta do things yourself because one day, someone may not be there.”