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Shaolin Academy Disguised Weapons and Small Tools

The Unusual, the Bizarre and the Unexpected

On this page ....

On this page you will find most of the information that you require to learn, train and pass the Shaolin Academy the various forms of Short Weaponry for Fun, Fitness, Recreation and Self Defence. → → →

Prologue to this Weapon Group

China had many periods; most periods, where weapons were not allowed for the common folk. This is much the same as in many other countries. yet with a 5000 year plus history, they had more time to be a bit 'inventive'; that is to say, have weapons that are not seen as weapons. This page is dedicated to this types of weapons and the associated style or form.

Perspective on Weapons Training

It would almost seem ludicrous to train with Weaponry now-days where most weapons are forbidden. Yet forbidden dose not mean not present. So, some people feel that training to defend against weaponed attackers is the right thing to do, especially with the increasing amount of weaponed violence occurring in Australia and many other countries. And not all weapons are weapons. Some are just everyday objects like bats, sticks, iron bars and the like. This is much the same as in the past where everyday objects were turned into weapons such as spades, flails, pitch forks, cooking utensils and the like. An unprepared person was much a victim and often, when in remote areas or far from constabulary, left to their own devices. Today we seem to be subject to a similar trend where police numbers are inadequate to offer an effective prevention and police are often forced to deal with the crime after-the-fact rather than in a preventative way.

This is not a criticism of Police or our times, but a statement of fact. Much the same situation that Shaolin (Buddhist) Monks had to deal with in their day to day lives. They were situated far from any 'civilized' area (by choice) and needed to provide their own security, deterrent to their shelter being occupied, their food stolen and the lives threatened. A part of this training was recognizing what weapons are and can be, how they can be used against another human being and how to neutralize them without the use of other weapons. This mean having to learn the weapons to understand it's limitations and possibilities so as to know how to best disarm a weaponed attacker.

This is much in the same way that the Shaolin Kung Fu Academy trains and teaches weaponry, much like the Shaolin Monks of China's past but with a few extra options. Below is a short list of reasons for weaponry training today, they main being Interest, Heath and Well being!

Acting & Movies Competitions and Events Fitness and Sport Health and Recreation Lifestyle & Life Professional Teaching Self Defence
Martial Art skills seems almost a pre-requisite to Movie and theater roles, if you want more than just extras work. Just entering and participating in competitions improves self esteem, confidence and self worth; very important. Same-old, same-old is the usual way of fitness and exercise, not with Kung Fu and Weaponry Training! You choose the intensity and strength or your training whilst you are learning and 1000 year old art. Kung Fu and Chinese Weaponry has a long and rich history for Reenactments and the learning of Strategies and Tactics. Martial Art teaching is one of the oldest professions and one of the professions still in need today and tomorrow. Shaolin Academy has an Instructor and Business development program for members. It is not about fighting but about having the skills and confidence to stand up for yourself; If you know Kung Fu you will not need it!

Introduction to Spears and Spear like Weapons; and Tools

Long Weapons were for professional warriors, guards, soldiers, and bandits. Just like today you would (in most countries) not walk down the street with a loaded assault rifle or a spear; a normal citizen could not carry a weapon overtly. A walking cane yes, a travelers staff often, a farm implement, a hammer or cooks knife would be acceptable and even normal but a Weapon of War was not. Yet, times were often tough and people wanted to defend themselves at home and on the road. They needed something that would function as a Weapon but not look like a weapon; not be recognized as a weapon. 5000 years of history and the earliest entry into the Bronze and Iron Age ages gave the Chinese a long time to be inventive in the development of and hiding of weapons weapons; sometimes concealed within another object or sometimesin plain sight.

Concealed Weapons

When we talk about Concealed Weapons we mean not hidden about the body but discussed to be something else. The most popular to be found in many cultures is the Iron Rod or Short Sword concealed in the walking stick. Or a particular solid flute made of iron; metal reinforced bracelets or a Fan with sharp steel edges. These are all examples of Weapons Concealed within other objects.

Weapons Hidden in Plain Sight

This refers to Weapons that may not look like weapons and be in plain sight. A good example of this were Character Weapons; weapons made to look like common Chinese characters and mounted on walls. Or even Weapons that may look like an ornament or artwork.

Tools as Weapons

Most any item can be used as some sort of weapon but there are some tools which are particularly well suited and historically often used. Of these, in terms of Chinese Short/Small Weapons we have some very popular ones. Of these, the ones that stand out are the Baat Cham Dao or Butterfly Swords and Fu, the plain small Axe (not Battle Axe - Shan Fu).


Possibly the most common and prevalent type of Small Weapon, a category all of it's own. From small sharp pocket knives to longer knives verging on being a small sword, these by themselves may have the largest variety of all the Small Weapons. Knives come in many shapes and sizes from kitchen and cooking knives, throwing knives, bayonets, spear heads, Stilleto, darts knives, inverted knives, ceremonial, hunting, skinning, gutting, filleting and the like. With many different designs from Straight, Drop Point, Clip Point, Spear Point, Kukri Point, Dao Point, Talon or Claw Point, Needle Point and Razor or no point.

Although all these knives are often unique to a specific function or culture, a knife is a knife is a knife. yet that said, there are many knife forms specific to the different shapes.

Summary to Intro

This is in no means an exhaustive list of the weapon group but just an indication to understand what is covered here and what styles and forms of Weaponry training to find on this page. If YOU have a suggestion, an addition to this page of Chinese Cold Small Weapons please write to Sijo by clicking on this line and make a suggestion.

Background to Understanding the 'recent' development of many of these Weapons

Many of these types of weapon required the discovery of Iron and eventually steel as Iron's high melting point meant the smelting process limited smiths to the production of a porous mass of iron called a bloom, which was subsequently hammered out over the course of numerous heating and cooling cycles to produce the desired blade. This usually created a heavy and not very strong weapon. Hotter temperatures were needed to create better Iron. Over the course of history some smiths would manage to create the perfect blend of content and temperature and some very strong and valuable weapons were created. But mostly, many of the original iron weapons were only marginally better than their bronze predecessors. Iron ore was readily accessible in just about every region of the ancient world, and while the copper required in the production of bronze was also abundant, the simplicity in producing workable iron and the relative rarity of tin meant that iron weapons could not be produced on a larger scale and thus such weapons were very very rare.

Transition to Steel

Introducing trace amounts of carbon into the iron purification process in the proper quantities and with the correct technique gives rise to the vastly superior alloy commonly known as steel. The trouble with adding carbon to iron is that it is a decidedly difficult process to control. Consequently, many of the earliest weapons smiths working with iron were wont to produce weapons of vastly different qualities from one day to the next. The fact that early iron blades were work-hardened (meaning they were formed by way of hammering out a bloom over the course of several cycles of gradual heating and cooling, as described above) rather than quench-hardened (an incredibly meticulous process wherein the alloyed blade is rapidly cooled in a way that reduces the formation of unwanted crystallization within the blade while increasing its overall structural integrity) meant that the superior qualities of true steel remained elusive and poorly understood for hundreds of years.

Even when early weapons smiths happened to imbue their iron blooms with the optimal quantities of carbon, their chances of of producing a steel blade - while possible - are believed to have been exceedingly slim; while some regions gradually came to demonstrate varying degrees of mastery over the production of steel, the process eluded many sword smiths until as recently as the early middle ages or Ming Dynasty.

Chinese Short Weapons

Guaizhang - Walking Stick/Damo Cane

Sooner or later, if you live long enough, you will need some support in walking. Although nowadays we have replacement joints and hips, a walking stick will come in handy. Combining this, with the knowledge that some sort of structured activity will help (usually) with health, wellbeing and joint problems, the Damo Cane or Walking Stick form is ideal for the more mature of us.

The form should be first learned slowly and deliberately focusing on stable body postures and good foot positioning, especially during the times of using the Cane. When you are fairly proficient with the form increase the speed a bit and then swap sides; redo the whole form using the other hand supporting the other leg. When you have a Balanced Form meaning that you use your left and right sides equally then you have a complete and usable Exercise and self defence routine. Enjoy!

Tie Zhua - Iron Claw

The Tie Zhua looked like a back scratching tool except it was made of iron and very sharp. It was very solid and was already efficient as an iron bar or club. But the addition of the Claw-hand at the end with the sharp ends made it a very effective scratching and piercing weapon. Although there are many stories of how the Zhua was used, it's shape allowed it to be mistaken for a back scratcher and thus 'hidden in plain sight' to be used as a weapon when needed.

There are stories of these weapons being very long, up to 6 foot, 185cm long, but for our purposes the short version that could be used as a back scratcher with 'attitude' is the perfect example of a Short Weapon hidden in plain sight.

Tie Xiao - (Iron) Flute

The Chinese flute was originally made from Bamboo and many people prefer the Bamboo sound over that of the Metal Flute. Be as it may though, the flute would have been the perfect clubbing weapon for a traveler if it were built solid and from metal. Again, an ideal length would be about 3 feet to a meter, the Iron Flute would readily pass as an instrument as that is what it was. But some of the flutes were modified even further to have concealed needle knives or even shoot darts.

An ideal defensive weapon for a mistral or a scholar both at home and traveling; much the same as an Iron Brush!

Loong Feng Shan - Dragon & Phoenix Fans

The Fan was a fairly common house item in China especially in the warmer regions. it is therefore not really surprising that someone would create a Fan as a defensive and even offensive weapon. In it's simplest form the fan would have steel ribs instead of bamboo and in an advanced version the tips of these ribs could be sharp, jagged and even poisoned. Fan forms were not unusual for both as a fighting defensive form but also for exercise and sport. A person having a weapons fan would not arouse suspicion unless they used it. If you also used toughened hide instead of cloth between the ribbing it could be used as a light shield against thrown knives, darts and the like.

There are a number of styles regularly using the fan and training fan forms including Choy Lee Fut, Tai Chi and even Japanese Karate styles.

Hudie Dao - Butterfly Knives/Swords

Much is written about the Butterfly Knives and how they belong to this or that Chinese Martial Art style and this may be true today. But the origins of the Butterfly Knives are in the Chinese Kitchen, which seem all to originate sometime in the 18th and 19th Century. There are no know finds or Butterfly Knives before this period and no know writings, pictures or accounts. This would support that they are a Kitchen Knife that found it's way into kung fu styles, when all weapon carrying and training was forbidden and especially enforced by the white invaders of China. There are also no records or evidence of the Hudie Dao being any part of any military organization during the Ming or Quinn Dynasties (last two Chinese Dynasties) and most depictions of the use of Butterfly Swords is of Peasant Army's, Uprisings and Ritual Chinese Theater but all during and after the 19th Century.

The Knives were popularized to a wider audience by Ip Man. But pictures and drawing though show them to be also used in some forms of White Crane, Choy Lee Fut, Hung Gar and others. Most of the know finds of Butterfly Knives are centered around Guangdong and Fujian where the above mentioned styles are also probably originated or at least popularized.

From all this we can assume that as a Martial Art Weapon Butterfly Knives/Swords (Hudie Dao, Wup Di Dao, Baat Jaam Do {8 Movement, 8 Defence Sword}) were adapted from an almost everyday item like a kitchen knife. A bit like in some Hong Kong movies the villains use Kitchen Hatchets as they can not be made illegal being a cooking tool. And if we look at the make-up of the Butterfly Knife we can see how they are used in preparing food and how they can be useful in fighting and defending against weaponed attacks.

The spine is solid, much like a modern day kitchen chopping hatchet. The bottom flat bit is also blunt and used for tenderizing. The rounded front bit is sharp for cutting and slicing. When a multi purpose kitchen tool as essential and not always easily attainable, this knife would have been every chefs dream tool. Usable in most aspects of food preparation, by limiting the sharp part to the front a clever user would avoid blunting that part and keep it sharp for a long time.

This also gives us clear function and area for using the Hudie Dao as a martial art weapon. The front edge would be for slashing and cutting whereas the straight edge would be impacting and blocking. The rounded guard would both protect the wielding hand as well as make the accidental dropping of the knife a bit less likely. the size of the knife would be best proportioned to the person using it, about the length for the clenched fist and forearm; although it would also depend on the users strength.

We need to remember that mass production is something more of the 20th century and that most of these blades would have had quite a variation from smith to smith although, there would have been a size consistency in larger city's. Variation is often not the Chinese way.

(Zi Wu) Yuan Yang Yue - Deer Horn Knives

The Deer-Horn Knives or Mandarin Duck Blades a reputed to be from the Baguaquan school of Chinese martial arts, founded by Dong Hai Chuan, who was said to have specializes in the use of these. But other records suggest the use of a similar weapon made from Deer Horn or Antlers that predate the usage of metal. Either way there is nothing really definitive on this weapon in the way of origins and history.

The name 'Deer-horn Knives' or Antler Knives come from their possible original creation. Antlers are tough and well suited for making a weapon from them if you have an idea of function and shape. By combining two rounded pieces together and binding them with hide at the joints a fairly effective mostly defensive weapon can be made. Using two such weapons would even allow for an effective defence and offence combination against much longer and metal weapons including Swords and Spears.

Although there is no set standard for these weapons, they generally come in one of three variations; the balanced yin/yang shape, the from Baguaquan school preferred elongated version and the shape that possibly got them the name of Duck Blades!

Feng Huo Lun - Wind-Fire Wheels (or Hot Wheels)

Wind and Fire Wheels may be a recent addition to Chinese Wushu Weapons. There are no referenced articles on this Weapon that could show some insight into history or usage. Yet, India had the Chakram, a circle made of steel usually used as a thrown weapon but also used in hand to hand combat as well as attached to the end of a stick. Usually the Chakram was a plain metal wheel but inventive users made their wheels look a bit like neck ornaments which allowed them to be worn around the neck and thus concealed as jewelry.

As the Chakram dates back to around 200 BCE (earliest confirmed records), it would not be a stretch to imagine, with the cultural exchange between India and China, (ie. Bodhidharma, Buddhism) that the Chakram made it's way east and over many years changed it's appearance and usage. This could have also lead to the development of the (Double) Snake Ring Knives.

Shuang She Quan Dao - Double Snake Ring Swords/Knives

Much like the Wind-Fire Wheels, there is little know of these items historically. Although of fairly common use in Wushu, historical Martial Art accounts of these weapons are not really to be found.

Many of the martial arts suppliers cite these weapons to be 'traditional' but nothing can be found on history or style that uses it. Wushu seem to use and some Tai Chi styles prefer the Ring Snake Daggers to the Sword but aside from this..... That said, much Chinese history has been lost and much like the Wind-Fire Wheels, this weapon may have it's roots in the Chakram.

Another possibility is the occasional appearance of 'modified' or 'unusual' weapons in some weaponed martial art styles. Weapons that were specially designed to suit the time and circumstances of the are or current political climate. Such 'odd' weapons are not uncommon and some styles used them a 'signature' items, unique to their way of doing things. And as with many of the items on this page, unusual shapes allowed the item to be not seen as a weapon, even concealed in plain sight like the next weapon, the Character Knives.

Ri Yue Qiang Lun - Character Swords

A Sword on the wall is a sword on the wall; a sword hidden is not necessarily easy to get to when needed. But say a wall ornament just hanging there loosely would be easily concealed in plain sight.

Chinese Characters give themselves to be used as decorations specially with the different ways of writing the characters; Seal Style, Clerical, Semi and Cursive and just regular. This is by no means an exhaustive listing of Chinese Writing styles else we would need to include Oracle Bone Script, Greater Seal, Lesser Seal.... etc. And then the various variation and interpretations of script writing. Thus, the concept of a 'Character" or ' Script' Weapon is not so far fetched as it may seem, especially when you consider that through history only a very small minority of Chinese could read and write and defiantly not all of the vast amount of Chinese Characters.

Shuang Bi Shou - Twin Ring Daggers

Usually, the Ring Daggers are trained as a pair but that is not the only way to use them. They can also be seen as a Spear with out a Shaft, in as much as you throw them. It is unusual for Chinese Weapons to be thrown, not unheard but unusual. In this form we simulate a double dagger combat with the daggers being thrown. When learning this form you will be invited to learn the art of defending against the Standard Knife, Inverted Knife as well as projected Knife attacks. That is why it is called the Five Dagger Form.

At this time we do not have a recording of this form but we do have a video of the 5 Knife Interloper routine. Whereby an intruder attacks the host at a function and is disarmed 5 times before the attacker gives up. It is just a short video but a nice routine to have or to build on.

Yueliang Fu - Moon Axe (and Shield)

For Shaolin Practitioners the Axe is not a good weapon. It is mostly geared for attack and has almost no defensive capability. the only exception to this is the Moon Axe; which has another advantage as a Shaolin Training Weapon.

Most who start training with axes in martial arts start with two or a pair. This causes a number of problems one of which is that the Axes are usually too heavy and they are then held incorrectly to close to the blade. This also dose not allow for a focus on accuracy and control. The first Shaolin Academy Axe form is that of Axe and (Tiger Face) Shield as this allows for an excellent balance between attacking and defending moves, allowing to focus on the detail and precision of the Axe whilst maintaining an effective defence with the Shield. That said, the Moon Axe does not have a pointy top and thus you can poke an attacker without using the blade. As the blade is not as heavy you can invert the head and strike with the axe like a weighted club, not needing to draw blood or risk serious injury to the attacker.

Once you are proficient in this form then you can choose one of the heavier axes but keep the shield. You do achiever a better workout with two of the Wushu Axes but it would be better to train practically and learn the Moon Form with the larger Axe; but twice, once handling Axe in one hand and the shield in the other and the other time swapping the two. This would be the Shaolin Way.

Zhen Bishou - Needle Daggers

Although often cited as being Emei Needle Daggers from Mount Emei, the common needle, as a weapon, will have a history almost as long as the temple on Mount Emei. Specifically this version of weapon, with the Needles attached to a ring, are know to be a defensive tool for Barge Pole operators.

Having a boat or barge at a strategic point in the river to ferry travelers, goods and horses across the river was at one time a reasonable form of earning a life. If you built a pier on either end and had a barge you would ferry customers across. Mostly, you would ask for payment in advance and mostly this was all good, but occasionally, your customer would consider you to be their source of income and would seek to rob the ferry man. With Sword, Knife or some such in hand thy would seek to rob you.

The Barge Poles would be to unwieldy to use for defence so having the Needle Daggers already in your hands as you are propelling the barge across the stream or river would allow you to go overboard and possibly take the attacker with you. in the water, what ever armor, whatever weapon they would have it would not be as efficient as a pair of needles attached to your hands allowing you to swim. When the attacker was dispatched, the barge would usually float to one side or another and the pole too. In a time where constabulary was not really around this was an efficient way of protecting yourself.

But, as with many of the weapons of this page, the Needle Daggers could also be concealed in the sleeves, hair and along the legs. Using various poisons, they are also an excellent assassination weapon. We at the Shaolin Kung Fu Academy practice the Ferryman Form which simulates an attack by multiple attackers on a ferry and sees half the form done on Solid Ground and half simulating a swimming-in-the-water defence.

First things First

We first need to mention that Shaolin Monks would not use any Bladed Killing weapons against another human being. It is against the Buddhist Precepts practiced by (most) Shaolin Monks (most) of the time. The only reason a Shaolin Monk or a Shaolin Martial Artist would learn the use of a Bladed weapon is to understand it and to know how to defend against it! This is often show in traditional Chinese Martial Art movies when the hero disarms their opponent and throws away the weapon rather than using it against their attacker.

Targets for Short Weapon

Unlike Swords and Spears, this weapon group is very diverse and there is a great variation of incapacitating and mortal techniques. It is fairly essential to understand each Weapons Strengths and Weaknesses to understand how best to protect and defend against each. This will be covered individually in each specific weapons segment below.


The above information was in a way an introduction to a special sort of Short Weapons both Bladed and not. If you are wanting information about Chinese Cold Weapon History or Shaolin Temple Temple just click on the underlined text. If you wish to know more about these weapons, we ask you to read the following warning and agree to the disclaimer.

Shaolin Academy Main Focus for ALL Members - Safety

It would be difficult to achieve perfection through hard work if you constantly injured yourself in the process. The very spirit of Kung Fu is Safety and Control. What use is any exercise if it causes you pain and injury and sends messages to your brain of pain whenever you are exercising your body? Eventually you will associate health-giving exercise with pain.

Pain is nature's way of telling you that there is something wrong!!

The human body has in-built redundancy to allow us many choices which in times of threat allow us to push it way beyond its normal usage. Yet when we do this, we damage our body in some way. This is what top sports people do constantly and why we hear about knee reconstructions, shoulder injuries, ankle problems and damaged backs. We do not want this consequence arising for you when training in Shaolin Academy (Australia) materials. We choose to train in a slowly, deliberate and safe way to allow our Physical, Mental and Spiritual aspects to develop together in rhythm and harmony with each other. This is the Shaolin Way.

It is not about Risk Elimination but about Smart Risk Management!

Even in the Book of War by Sun Tsu, possibly the greatest and most quoted martial strategy book, stats;

"The good warriors first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy"

If you are a Kwoon member of the Shaolin Academy you will have read, have explained and signed the "Blue Form", the Indemnity Statement. If you are a Cyber Student or anybody for that matter, that wishes to use any of the information on any of our pages please peruse "The Blue Form" and if you have any questions please write to us at the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy (Australia).


The Shaolin Academy only makes this material available, beyond this point, under the provision that you, the user (reader, potential student, interested person, etc.), indemnify the Shaolin Academy, it's Master & Instructors; and any person or persons from any liability arising from you following, learning, using or anything else derived from any Word, Picture, Video on the Shaolin Academy WEB pages! If you can not agree to this please click here NOW.

Beyond this Point

Reading beyond this paragraph you agree to follow the instructions given on these WEB pages, in a safe and responsible way including the following rules;

  1. Do not cause harm through action or inaction if anyway possible and/or reasonable
  2. Do not break the law unless your safety is compromised or the safety of the persons in your charge.
  3. Do not misuse your skills for personal gain or benefit.
  4. Do not bully or intimidate, directly or implied.
  5. Do not initiate, suggest or imply violent, threatening or intimidating action

Only use Shaolin Skills for fitness, competition, fun, development and when needed self defence. Never initiate the course of violence. If you agree to this, please read the following also and only continue if you are in agreement with both this and the below.

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If you wish to train ANY of the Shaolin Academy Materials; you must agree to be safe and responsible, indemnify the Academy and Instructors and follow the rules and guides as stated above. Register yourself with a $35/y reoccurring subscription with the Shaolin Academy. You will then receive Master Level support when you ask for it to help you there where you need it. Once you have subscribed you will receive confirming e-mails from both PayPal (almost immediately) and the Shaolin Academy (within 72 hours) with instructions how to proceed. And when you are ready book your for a Assessment or just a Review below at the bottom of this page.

Shaolin Academy Traditional Chinese Weaponry Home Training

It is in the 90's that the professional workforce became very mobile. A number of Shaolin Academy members needed to travel a lot and often missed their training. It was especially frustrating for those living in Hotels as there was enough spare time (being away from friends and family) to do training but frequent short term relocation made it virtually impossible to find local training for any meaningful period. Sijo was asked if he could tape a few classes and make these available to members for when they were traveling. And this is how the Cyber Program Started! Around the same time, Sijo was put in charge of a Engendering Development Program. Here the challenge was to inform and update Engineers of the latest developments in Telecommunications, Transmission technologies and Fibre Optics. Long story shortened, Sijo co-developed both programs using the same principles, one for Engineers and the other for Shaolin Academy members.

Since then we have added over 1000 members in around 82 different countries, but mainly US, Canada, Australia, England, China and the EU. The program has expanded to include all the Bare Hand Levels to Black Sash and around 20 different Weapon Forms. One of the reasons this works so well is the detailed description of each technique and form, not only the what and how but also the Why; why is this done and why so. SO, have a look at the Cyber Intro Video above left and the Shaolin Staff Intro Video above right. Specific training videos are below the Indemnity and Safety notices.

The Shaolin Academy Weapon Warriors Main Principles

10 Principles of the Shaolin Staff Warrior

1 - Safety - Is always at the forefront, never do any harm, even if attracted, if possible. But also consider the long term effect that your training and practice of the martial art has; will it cause long term damage to your body, mind or spirit; will it create health issues through its practice or use (excessive impact on training objects) and even to the point; will it mark your body in such a way that everyone will recognize that you are a fighter and assume that you are also a thug!

2 - Consideration - Is a key element of Shaolin Style Martial Arts. Think and Consider before you Act. If you feel that you are becoming aggressive, emotive and possibly out of control, the style should be one that promotes a calming, reconsidering process rather than a "Strike First - Think Later" action. A true Shaolin Academy supported style places Thinking and Consideration before Action and Violence.

3 - Peace - and health are the reason for Shaolin Martial Arts. It is not about War Style that seek to kill and destroy. The level of skill needs to be such that no one needs to be hurt or damaged more than the situation requires.

4 - Management - not Domination of a volatile situation. It is a tool for conflict situations which has a number of options, tactics, strategies and methods of dealing with these, backed up by the possibility (not inevitability) of an active response (which also gives the confidence not to need a physical action).

5 - Appropriateness - is a far reaching concept. Do you really want to spend year learning to bash someone or does your training have considerable other benefits? Is the style right for you; your physical, mental and spiritual aspects. If you are a non-violent person how can a martial art help you or if you are a violent character, how can it support you in finding human and intelligent outcomes.

Plus the Shaolin Academy Special Weapons Encounter Principles

6 - Focus on Defence - You have a deadly weapon in your hand; do not miss-use it. Ensure that you really need to use it before you do. Walk away if possible, defend if necessary but only strike if it is life threatening.

7 - Seek to Escape - you can not loose if you are not there. Shaolin do not seek conflict but do seek to avoid it; not at all cost but mostly always.

8 - Watch for Detail - as you will see the flaws of the attacker. It is also easier and safer to allow an attacker to loose than to beat them

9 - Use the Terrain - is a way of having multiple defensive weapons. If you use the obstacles around your, the uneven ground, the uniqueness of your surroundings; this will help you achieve the above 3 points.

10 - Prefer Bare Hands - is the motto of the Shaolin Warrior. We learn weaponry to know and appreciate the Weapon, Style, Possibilities and Limitations. But we prefer to defend bare handed even against a Sharp Blade weapons. Know the weapon well, know the weaknesses and strengths and follow th guides; this will improve your chances of coming out unharmed, without causing harm.!

Traditional Chinese Weaponry Curriculum, Grading and Advancement

Reminder that each (most) of these videos are recorded in full HD and can be sized to full screen by clicking on the open square at the bottom right of each video bar.

Bare Hand Skills Link

The Centerline Principle

Shaolin is all about Protection and Management thus after we had a review of the Bare Hand Requirements, the most important Shaolin Iron Staff Technique is the Guard!

The Main Shaolin Sword Guard is held controlling the Center-line (between your spined and the attackers spine) with the tip of the Sword hovering between the tip of your nose and the tip of the attackers/opponents nose. The other hand is in Guard Position, half bent and hovering around your solar plexus.!

You posture is in Guard Stance almost exactly like the bare hand centerline guard except that you leading hand has a Broad Sword in it!.

Shaolin Moving and Evading Methods

You need to move as prescribed in the relevant form. But you also need to learn evasion and defence; and the best way not to loose or get hurt is 'not to be where the attack is attacking'. For this reason we suggest that following movement skills corresponding to your Shaolin Weapon Forms, any forms!

Linear Forward and Backward Linier Side to Side

Initially for your first Traditional Chinese Weaponry (TCW) Level, use the natural and simple advancing and retreating movement. On the second TCW (Traditional Chinese Weaponry) Level learn and practice the sideways linier evasion. For the third TCW level/form you need to learn diagonal movement and Snake Stepping. Fourth level requires complex patterns movement and the 5th level the ability to evade a strike without moving the feet... much.


There are 5 parts to each of the 10 levels of the Traditional Chinese Weaponry Curriculum;

  1. Essential Warm-up - Preparation, Warm-up, Stretching.
  2. Bare Hand Skills - a minimum of Kung Fu techniques, stances and such required for each level.
  3. The Form - and you can choose which form you wish to do first.
  4. Application - is the part where you also show that you know how to use and defend against the weapon.
  5. Theory - is a written paper on an aspect of the chosen weapon style.

Each of these categories is explained below.

1 - The Essential Warm-up

Always, always, always do a full Warm-up before any form of training or sport! In almost 60 years of Martial Art experience have shown me that if you are not prepared to prepare you are not really wanting to do what you are going to do. If you do not have the time to do the preparation for what you are about to do, be it a Warm-up before training, taping and masking before painting, planing and working the wood before making a table, then you just want results without the effort of achieving a safe and superior outcome through Hard Work. As Kung Fu means (loosely) "Hard Work leading to Perfection", your Kung Fu will be 'not good' with proper preparation.

Always, Always, Always, do the Essential Warm-up, unless you are being attacked, that is the one and only exception!

2 - Bare Hand Skills

Each progressive Traditional Chinese Weaponry level has a Bare Hand requirement, independently of the Weapon you are learning. Traditionally, the progression was Staff, Broad Sword, Spear, Straight Sword and for Shaolin, one of the 4 remaining Shaolin 'Tools' (the first being the staff); Monks Lantern, Monks Spade, Walking Stick (Damo Kane) and Sash. After these 5 levels you would have a large range of other weapons for specializations from which to choose. Usually, Weaponry Training would be complimentary to your mainstream Bare Hand, Kung Fu Skills training. But now in the 21st Century, we do not always train Weaponry for Combat and Competition but also for Appreciation, Recreation and Play. So, many people are not 'bothering' with Bare Hand Skills when training Weaponry. This is not possible with the Shaolin Academy. A certain number of basic or essential Bare Hand Skills are required.

As we appreciate that we have very many experienced martial artists training with us both locally and internationally, we do not insist of the Bare Hand Skills being exactly as we suggest. We will accept your skills from other styles as long as they are related to that what we require. We have further detail on this on the Traditional Chinese Weaponry, Bare Hand Requirements page. We strongly recommend you have a look at the page if you are serious in training Shaolin Academy Traditional Chinese Weaponry.

3 - The Shaolin Short Weapon Forms

It is your choice which form you choose for your Shaolin Curved Blades accreditation. We strongly suggest that you start with the 1st Form but the decision is yours. The form will be judged on 5 key points, some of which you already know.

Safety - is the key to each and every Shaolin Academy Form, technique, System, Routine and Self-defence. Controlled accurate movements are essential. It is important that you are safe and secure with your your staff and movements before you start to practice the form. So we prefer you to grade the first time as Tai Chi speed and correctly. This allows us to give you corrective and supportive feedback with which you can then re-grade your form at the level and speed you would like. This regrading is free after you have passed the initial and safety grading.

Form/Posture - of the body, position of the sword, correctness of stances all are important. Thus we ask you to learn the Bare Hand requirements listed above in addition to the correct movement and positions of the form. To support you in this there are a host of Sword Techniques Video about Strikes and blocks. We suggest you use these videos to understand what is happening in the form you are learning.

Pattern - of movement. Each form has a specific pattern of movement. The first form is very simple and needs you to move just forward and backward. But most forms after this have a practical movement pattern and just as important as your handling of the sword is your ability to move where you need to be. Learning this patterned movement allows to to master your own movement style and method.

Start, Flow & End - of the Sword technique. Each of the Sword techniques has a specific starting point, flow and ending point. Usually at the start or end the Sword is either fully vertical, horizontal or at 45 degrees. Especially the correct Sword Centerline Guard is important when used in the form or otherwise. Shaolin Academy is a strong proponent of the Centerline Principle in all variation and the Centerline Guard is the Key to this protection be it in Bare Hand Styles or Weaponry.

Understanding of Uniqueness - of each weapon. the Form needs to be real! Meaning that the techniques are functional and realistic, blocks do what they are meant to do, distances are appropriate and the strikes are functional. Empty Moves are to be avoided.

4a Defending against the Short Weapons Bare Handed

Although developing and training Weaponry Skills is essential it is not the focus of the Shaolin Martial Artists or Shaolin Fitness; it is the ability to defend bare handed against a weaponed attacker. Whereby it may seem that long weapons have the advantage against bare handed defenders, often the short weapons are the real danger as they are just as effective in tight and confined spaces. It will be very important to grasp the essential strength and weakness of each weapon and learn how to manage an attack by these. Especially difficult is defending against a competent two weapon wielder. But, on the first level you will only need to defend against one weapon; advanced level is defending against two weapons and/or/either two or more weaponed attackers. This depends on your specialization (if any)

For 'Pro-active" people, defend and attack or Defend and Disarm; for reactive people, defend and run or defend and hold. Seems simple; choose you style by learning all four and finding out which works best for you. Don't want to sound like a broken record but Choice is also the Shaolin way, though in order to choose you way must first learn and try!

4b Defending with the Short Weapon against an Equal Short Weapon

Although, for Shaolin Practitioners, the Bare Hand defence against an attacking Staff is most important, you also need to be able, at this level, defend against a Sword attack with your own Sword. On advanced levels this will mean defending against multiple attackers. This does not mean Sparring or Fighting; no, this means, meet the attack and manage it. The key three actions are Defend (yourself), Disarm (the attacker) and Debilitate (them from further attacks). And you need to do this the first time correctly and absolutely; often you can surprise an attacker by quick, sudden and determined action; often you do not get a second chance.

4c Defending with the Short Weapon against other Weapons

Again, this is covered in advanced levels and for persons who wish to specialize in Weaponry. Remembering that the key for the Shaolin practitioner (martial arts or fitness) is in the bare handed defence against any given attack, weaponed or not. If you choose this path, by all means go ahead but ensure that you basics are sound and that you are well versed in Bare Hand skills before you go to deeply into Weaponry Training.

5 - Assignment

Understanding a weapon or style is an essential part in both using the weapon as well as defending against the weapon, bare handed or otherwise. So a part of each grading is an assignment, about 2½ pages, around 1000 words addressing an aspect of the weapon, history, style, usage, uniqueness or some-such. Evaluation will be both on choice of subject as well as the content.

Final Words

This will not make an expert out of you, or a Champion or a Warrior; but it gives you are good grounding that will enable you to specialize, if you wish, in a direction you care to take. Some have chose to enter competitions and have done well in All Styles Competitions, Kung Fu Competitions, Internationally and Nationally. Shaolin Academy students have even been used as action stand-in's in theater, movies, music videos and shows. We even put on a show at the Shaolin Temple in Henan China.

You may choose to want to use the style for Acting, Stage Work, Shows, Street Theater and such but it also applies for everyday life. Recognizing when you are confronted with a Tiger Style personality, you will know what you are up against, be it in the office, at a party, in the street or elsewhere. And the more you immerse yourself in the understanding of your Tiger, you will find that you are able to manage it within yourself better, both to restrain it when it will harm and to use it when appropriate. You will also learn the weaknesses of the each animal and relies that, for example, a Tiger can only be defeated by a Greater Tiger or by a mouse (and you need to work this out).

Level Review Application (and Certification)

Shaolin Short Weapon Grading Review

Additional Info or Request

e-mail address for report

Shaolin Martial Art & Self Defence Instruction & Training

Before you attempt the next level, ensure that everything you have learned in this level is correct. As you progress, many, many of the techniques that follow are based around, founded or along very similar principles as the ones from the 1st levels. Fix any problems and details now before you learn new techniques and carry through the errors thus doubling and tripling the effort to fix them later. And as an old and new wisdom stated "It is 5 times more difficult to fix a habit then it is to establish it!

Apply for an Official Review by the Shaolin Academy and Confirm your Skill!

If you reject feedback, you also reject the choice of acting in a way that may bring you abundant success. John Mattone

More Question, Thoughts, Ideas Proposals and/or Suggestions (QTIPS)?

In Australia call us on 0458 742 654 or e-mail sijo@shaolin.com.au!

Links to other interesting Shaolin Kung Fu pages.

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