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Shaolin Academy Spear & Straight Sword;

and other Stabbing Medium and Long Weapons

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 Spear, Trident and the-like weapons for Fun, Fitness, Recreation and Self Defence. We focus on this page only on Stabbing Long and Short Weapons; Cutting, Chopping and Slicing Long and Short Weapons are covered on our segment 'Curved Blades' we have a special page for our Staff Weapon Forms and Short Weapons and Forms.

Prologue to this Weapon Group

As far as bladed weapons go, there are three types, Chopping like an Axe or Executioners Sword; Cutting/Slicing like most Curved Blades, Sabers, Cutlasses & knives; and Stabbing Weapons like Spears, Straight Swords, Stilleto and Needles. On this page we focus on the latter type of Weapon in the Medium (Sword) and Long Versions (Spear and Spear like weapons. For the other types of Weapons have dedicated page for Curved Blades which cover our Chopping and Cutting Medium and Long Weapons; Short Weapons such as Knife, Small Hidden Weapon and Disguised Weapons Forms are a sperate page; Flying Weapons covers a host of Thrown, Blown and Projected Weapons, including Throwing Knives, Bow and Arrow, Javelin, Thrown Stars, Blow Darts and the like. And there is one page dedicated to the Father of All Weapons, the (Shaolin) Staff. This page is purely for the Long and Medium Stabbing Weapons; mainly Straight Sword, Spear and Spear like weapons (ie. Trident).

A Modern Perspective on Weapons Training

It would almost seem ludicrous to train with Weaponry now-days where most weapons are forbidden. Yet forbidden does not mean not available, not in use! So, some people feel that training to defend against weaponed attackers is the right thing to do, especially with the increasing amount of armed 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 etc. An unprepared person would often have to stand by and be robbed or even worse before constabulary could arrive. 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. And many people report that once they have been attacked, nothing is the same again.

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; a 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 or even harming the person attacking you with a weapon. This meant having to - learn the weapons to - understand the weapons limitations and possibilities so as to - know how to best disarm a weaponed attacker or at least how - to manage the situation without anyone being hurt or killed. Shaolin Academy Weaponry is for Recreation, Fitness and Exercise but it is with the underlying factor to understand the weapon and learn how to manage it if being attacked by a person wielding it.

But there are many other better and more positive reasons for Weaponry Training aside from Interest, Recreation and Fitness;

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!


Spears were the Weapon of Choice if you wished to survive during the Paleolithic Era (app 2,600,000 BCE to app 10,000 BCE aka Old Stone Age) and considered to be the first Weapons. With fire hardened tips, the Spear allows a measure of safety through distance and allowed a deeper penetration thus a surer kill in hunting.

As strange as it may sound, we have more knowledge of stone tools/weapons from a million years ago than we do of metal tools/weapon from 10,000 years ago. Metal tools tended to rust with time whereas Stone tool-parts can survived millions of years. Although Bronze was the exception to the metal rusting dilemma. The oxidization of bronze was superficial and tended to protect the object once it was covered with the green rust. This allowed the item too survive for long periods of time in the right condition. Thus we know much more about the Bronze Age as opposed to the time of transition from Stone to Metal/Bronze age. Because of this and the fact that metal was discovered at different time thought the world and in some areas not at all, it is difficult to know when the first Metals came to be and when we moved from Stone Chipped Spears to Metal Bladed Spears. Why may this be important? This would be the time where longer Spear may have started looking a lot like Straight Swords or Long Headed Spears with very Short Handles. So, as far as history goes, Spears are over 2 million years old but Swords on the other hand are a bit younger, even though we had knife like stone implements much longer. Possibly one of the earliest record of a Chinese Metal Spear comes from the time of the Shang Dynasty (1600 BCE to (1045 BCE). It was a combination weapon with a Spear Head and a Side Sickle. Spear used for stabbing and the side Sickle used for pulling mounted troops off their horses or pulling down shields.

Note - to avoid confusion Spears that are made for throwing will be (usually) referred to as Javelins will-be/are covered separately in the Flying Weapons page; very long and solid Spears will usually be referred to as Lances and are also included on this page; Harpoons are usual for Whaling and will be covered on Shaolin Academy pages.

Note - there are many, many accounts of different types of spears and sometimes confusion occurs between the term Polearm, Halberd and Spear. Polearm is almost anything that is on the end of a 'Pole' (Staff, Stick, etc.) and can be used as a weapon; it is a general term whereas Halberd normally this refers to items on a pole that generally made for Chopping and Hooking actions; ie Long Handled Axes and Long Handled Broad Swords, Kwandao's, Ge and the like.

A Spear is mainly a Jab and Thrust weapon can can mean a great variety of items all of which have at least one point at the end of a Staff. To the right you see some examples of this. The first four Spear Heads are a 1-Red Eagle Spear, 2-Flame Spear, 3-Bull Head Trident and 4-Coin Spear; there are many more variants but these should give you a good idea of the spread and variety. Next 3 items, Halberds, do not usually thrust and are more of a Cut, Chop or Tear action; they are 5-Quandao, 6-Ge and 7-Long Handled Axe. All of these have no or very little thrusting capabilities. Finally, we have the combination weapons which are often also termed Halberds for a lack of a unique name for this group. But as you can see, they are usually just Spears with additives or Halberds with a Spear addition; 8-Sickle Spear, 9-Hook-Scythe Spear and a Long Handled Battle Axe with a Spear Head.

At this point! we focus only on the Spear and Spear like thrusting weapons; ie. the first 4 items (1, 2, 3 & 4) on the list above that can include also the Single (not pictured but like 8 but with a Sickle only on one side) and Double Sickle Spear (8), Hook-Scythe Spear (9) and the like but not any of the Halberds (5, 6, 7 or 10) or the Long Handled Battle Axe. There is/will be a sperate page for Halberds other than Long Handled Broad Swords and the Kwandao (5) which already are covered in the Curved Sword Weapons page.

Straight Swords proper required the discovery of an Iron strong enough to hold some sort of an edge. Early Iron Smiths usually created a porous mass of iron called a bloom which only allowed for heavy stubby, not very sharp Straight Swords. Although, occasionally, someone would get the heat high enough, the mixture right, and the hammering process correct; if they then repeated the numerous heating and cooling cycles also patiently and correctly, then this may have produced produce a relatively usable blade. And this did happen occasionally! Some of these blades survived to become part of history like the Swords The famous Sword-smith Fujiwara Kanenaga sometime between 1640 and 1680 or the William Wallace Sword (made famous by the film Braveheart) is said to be from the 13th century making. El Cid had two such swords Colada and Tizona made some time during the 11 the century and another from that time the Sword of Mercy. From the 7th Century the Sword of Zulfiqar as well as Joyeuse, the Sword of Charlemagne. 1500 years of Sword making produced the occasional legendary Sword. So also with Chinese Swords which until recently were not really know in the wast.

The earliest record of a legendary Chinese Sword is from around the Shang Dynasty, The sword of delicate elegance; Cheng Ying. It is said to have been a fine example of a Straight Sword, well balanced and comparatively light. Around 473 BCE the King of Yue State, Gou Jian is said to have possessed the Sword of Majesty; Chun Jun, which already then was said to be of much earlier manufacture. Yu Chang, the Sword of Bravery; Gan Jiang and Mo Ye, the Swords of Love; and a number of other such legendary blades were all Straight Swords. And there is a good reason for this. Curved Blades required a much better type of metal and processing and only started appearing in any number in the past 500 years.

Metal Weapons Making Process

Usually, the process of 'heating and hammering' created heavy and not very strong weapon that required the weapons to be broad, thick and heavy (Sword a). Over the course of history some smiths would manage to create the perfect blend of metal content, temperature and process to create a very strong and enduring Straight Sword. Some of these then became Swords of Legend like the above listed Swords.

But it was the introduction of specific amounts of carbon into the iron purification process with the correct technique heating and quenching that gave rise to the vastly superior alloy commonly known as steel. Adding carbon to iron is a decidedly difficult process to control and very exacting. Thus, 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.

So, until we were able to make Steel Weapons, most swords did not have an enduring edge or even shape, were heavy and usually simple like the Roman Short Sword (b). It was not until we were able to produce Steel and had the correct Heating and Quenching process that elegant Straight Swords were able to be made (c) and the picture below left.

Sizes of individual Sword will vary, this is just to show the different Blade Shapes and profiles.

Fiction vs Reality

Although we have legends relating to Damascus Steel and Samurai Swords, you will find that often things were not as they seemed. When you see two Samurai Fighting and smashing Sword Blade against Sword blade; this is nonsense. Even a well hardened and optimal blade would chip and eventually break. The skill of the Samurai was to block by not blocking but by allowing the attacking blade to be 'slid aside' rather than stopped. This required a high degree of skill or else a lot of replacement blades (as eventually the chipping would make the blade unusable and unreliable.

This is where the Chinese Broad Sword was so ingenious. It had three parts to it. Like the Katana, the curvature was enough to allow good cutting actions but did not stop Stabbing and Thrusting. But unlike the Katana, the Broad Sword had a Stopping/Blocking area closer to the hilt. This is very similar to advanced Chinese Straight Swords! Which have a Sharp point and are sharp approximately one/third of the way down from the tip after which they then become thicker and blunter, allowing blocking with the bottom part of the Blade like the Chinese Broad Sword.

The Chinese Straight Sword

Is this a Long Knife, a Short Sword or a Spear (Bayonet)?

As mentioned; the Chinese Straight Sword is only sharp at the tip; like a spear. The rest of the blade is usually blunt and made for deflecting and blocking metal weapons; something that you can not do well with the wooden shaft of a spear. And this is what you need to take from all this that the basic function of both the Straight Sword and Spear is mainly Jabbing, Stabbing and Thrusting; nothing else, aside from some blocking and evasion/positioning. The skill in in the precision of your weapon and your ability to evade and avoid the attackers weapon. For the Spear Blocking is almost non existing as it would harm the shaft, evasion, distancing and some deflecting is the key. For the Straight Sword blocking is a real option but the precision of your Stabbing and Jabbing is the key and the ability not to be there where your opponent want you to be.

Chinse Spears and Spear Like Weapons

A Spear is a Spear is a Spear; but there are many variations to the basic spear with some special adaptations to usage and style.

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. So, when we look at Spears and Straight Swords, Long and Medium (arms length min, else we classify them as short) we are talking mainly about Weapons of War or Dueling; although we could also add Bandits and Hunters to that list of users.

An experienced and able Spear Warrior can not be easily beaten. The length of the Spear and the ability to dart in and out quickly makes the Spear a formidable Weapon, if you know what you are doing. There are many real historical accounts of Spear Soldiers being unbeatable when working together. From the Famed Spartens who armed with a Spear, Hoplon (Shield) and the Helmet; Alexander the great Himself also preferred the Shield and Spear; and had Phalanxes of Soldiers wielding the Sarissa, app 3 meters to 6 meters in length, solid Spear, which was credit to have been developed by his Father Philip II.

Many, many armies and warriors used variations of the Spear from English Knights that adapted Spears into Lances for Jousting to the Short Spear of the African Elite Warriors, to the Middle Aged Muslim Warriors through to Quin Warriors (~200 BCE) which had Spears (Mao) with simple and functional design, medium strong staff, a wide and flat, and very sharp spear head and tip. But there are many accounts of Spear Soldiers and Warriors through China's history usually depicted as unbeatable in their skill from the time of Chinese Bronze age to as recent as the Ming Dynasty.

History is not really kind to Long Weapons and very few if any are recorded in history like Swords and Bladed Weapons. yet, often the Gods were said to wield unusual long weapons. The Giant Balor had a Lance that cast a powerful beam of flux energy. Lugh was the user of the Spear of Victory which was blazingly hot and became hotter the more it was used. And of course Poseidon had his famous Trident with which he could influence Wind, Water and Earth. Possibly the most famous of all is the Spear of Destiny. Longinus is said to be the name of the Roman soldier who committed this act.

Yet in China, where metal was scarce, the use of Polearms was more prevalent. Specifically to overcome cavalry; which in it's time was like a Tank against foot soldiers. Many types of combination Spears were created which usually were made for Stabbing and Hooking; stopping the oncoming rider by piercing their armor or even both horse and armor; or Hooking them off their horse as they tried to kill with their Lances (note, in western long spears are sometimes referred to as a Lance). There is a great variation in Chinese Spears, lengths from Half-man height to several man heights; small flat tips like the Red Eagle Spear to longer blades also used for cutting on the draw back; or multiple tipped spear like a Fishing Spear or Trident. The Polearm graphic above shows just some of the many variations found in history.

Summary to Intro

So, this page looks at the the 4 aspects of Spear and Straight Sword;

  1. the Heavy battering Straight Sword like the English Claymore used to batter and dent armor; both one handed and two handed versions,
  2. the Light and elegant quick and dancing straight sword that we refer to as the Wudang Sword, used a lot like the European Foil but with more options,
  3. the Heavy styles of Spear used against riders and to puncture armor; Tridents, Heavy Bladed Spears and hooking Spears and
  4. the light, quick, snake-tong like darting spears that seek the openings in armor rather than piercing it; specifically for us the Red Eagle Spear.

We have a number of these form on video and some suggestions how to prepare yourself to learn and master these. We also accredit you on these styles, forms and weapons; more info to that below. If YOU have a suggestion, an addition to this page of Chinese Medium and Long Stabbing/Piercing Weapons please write to Sijo by clicking on this line and make a suggestion.

Spear Forms, Styles and Essential Routines

The Greater Shaolin Academy Red Eagle Spear Form

The Greater Red Eagle Spear form is the most advanced of our Red Eagle Spear Styles; it may not be the best form to learn first. It contains many of the Red Eagle Spear unique aspects and movements. it is a complex form with combines most of the Red Eagle Spear skills. In preparation of the form you may want to also practice the Red Eagle Spear, System of Stances.

In addition to this are a series of Drills that are within the Red Eagle Spear form but that need to be trained separately and demonstrated on their own

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.

Spear and Straight Sword Targets in Sparring and Combat

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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