Freestyle nunchaku refers to the use of the nunchaku, traditionally a weapon, in an artistic and visually impressive, rather than combative, way.
While it has origins in the martial arts, freestyle nunchaku is essentially a form of object manipulation - an activity based on the dexterous handling of a prop. Unlike other forms of object manipulation, freestyle nunchaku covers a wide variety of activity. Indeed, the emphasis and meaning of the activity can vary largely between performers. Each performer may have a unique style to the art. While some performers take great influence from the martial arts, for other practitioners, freestyle nunchaku better resembles other object manipulation such as poi, staff, various forms of juggling, or rhythmic gymnastics.
In addition to argument between freestyle practitioners about different styles, freestyle nunchaku as a whole has received criticism from both traditionalists and fighters. Traditionalists argue that freestyle downplays the historical use of the nunchaku dating back to its Okinawan roots. People valuing modern combative and self defense applications of nunchaku argue that freestyle nunchaku removes the value of the nunchaku as a weapon and "abuses" it as a "toy." Others value the style of Bruce Lee the most, thinking it to be the most combatively practical.
Meanwhile, some freestyle practitioners argue that the nunchaku as a weapon is impractical in the modern age due to the advent of firearms. Other freestyle practitioners value both artistic and practical sides of the nunchaku.