4 Basic Shaolin Kung Fu Weapons

Weapons play an important role in Chinese kung fu training. There are 4 primary Weapons that everyone should learn before branching out.

Shaolin Staff
The Shaolin Gun/Cudgel owes its reputation to its use as a defensive Weapon against peasant rebels. Like many peasant rebels throughout Chinese history, the Red Turbans of the late Sui Dynasty advocated “plundering from the rich to give to the poor.” Shaolin was by far the wealthiest temple in Henan making it a attractive target for such armies.

When a peasant army appeared before the Shaolin temple (Ssu) gate, Jin Na Luo, a monk who tended the stove, grabbed his fire stoker and laid it about him with such fearlessness and vigour that the Red Turbans scattered in utter confusion. Jin Na Luo became known as the first of the Shaolin Staff Monk.

The Gun (Staff) was the first Weapon ever actually used by the martial arts practitioners of Shaolin Temple. Even today the art of handling the Gun is still the most profound and best known of any other Weapon practiced at Shaolin.

Shaolin Broad Sword
The Broad Sword, Saber, Scimitar, Cutlass, Dao is possibly one of the most popular of all Weapons around the world. It is also a very contemporary Weapon as what you learn with the Dao can also apply to sticks of similar length; both using it for defence or defending against someone trying to use it against you.

Training with the Dao (Dao Shu) it is important to train slowly, deliberately with a great focus on both the Weapon, your physical and postural position as well as focus and ‘other’ hand. You will learn that the ‘unused’ hand will make the difference in real terms between a successful defence and a tragic end.

In its family of Sharp Weapons (further divided in to Slicing, Piercing & Chopping) we possibly have the largest variety of the 5 Weapon Family’s. To these belong also the Japanese Katana, The English Cavalry Saber, the Bedouin Saber and many more.

The Broad Sword was know as the “Hundred Day Weapon” especially in the turbulent times after the fall of the Ming Dynasty. It was considered that this was the amount of 8 hour days that a person needed to train to become proficient in its use. Comparatively, this is considered a short time!

Shaolin Red Eagle Spear
The spear is a Weapon of precision and beauty; and there is a lot that we can learn from it. It is now your choice to make the most of what the King of all Weapons has to offer.

There are virtually only two techniques that the Spear specializes in. Yes it can use all the movements of the staff but when we are learning Spear we will learn the Spear. We learn from the spear Precision, Timing, Perfection. IT IS IMPORTANT that you embrace this to the highest degree possible. If ever in your life you have worked on perfection or ever want to, this is the time. Two techniques, only two movements with the spear, but these two need to be spot on, perfect.

To pass this level all you need to do is be able to block a stabbing attack from 5 directions and to accurately stab with a spear into a small ring 1, 3 and 5 times also in 5 directions. Of course there are a few stances, kicks and elbows but these are incidental and supplementary to the actual Spear Techniques.

Now there are at least two ways of approaching these two Spear levels, “good enough is good enough” or ” the best i have ever performed”. You are a spear person if you chose the latter.

Shaolin Wu Dang Straight Sword
Possibly, one of the first things that come to mind when thinking of the Jian, Chinese Straight Sword is either tai chi or Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Yet the most applicable would be to associate it with the usage and movement of a Rapier, Epee and Floret! As with many of the Chinese Weapons (possibly also others although i can only speak for Traditional Chinese Weapons) they are often confused with what is seen in movies and dramatic representations of Weapon play.

As you can imagine, if you were to use the sharp part of a Sword for blocking or even clashing sword against sword, the blade would not last long and become useless. let alone, there would not be the tradition of handing down of generational swords! Especially with the Shaolin Straight Sword, you avoid all matter of clashes and choose more the re-directive and accelerating blocks.

The Jian is considered the Lord or Gentleman of Weapons and possibly one of the most difficult to learn let alone master. It takes such a long time to make it truly usable that it was considered in-efficient Weapon for Warriors & Soldiers. Yet for Nobles and persons who had time on their hands the Jian can be second to none. It requires large amounts of Accuracy, Patience, Focus, Agility and Timing. it is very dependant on the wielder to be very agile and flexible, more than any other Weapon. Your success with it is dependant how well you can move around the sword rather than the other way around.

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