You will find an overview on Traditional Chinese (Cold) Weaponry; the principle 4 Weapons, a description of these as well as an intro to the 5 Weapon Family's. A bit further down is a feature on the Shaolin Red Eagle Spear in the form of a Techniques Listing and a Video. Towards the bottom of the page is an Interesting Weapons Game as well as links to a comprehensive Weapon History and the Weapon Family's. Enjoy.
Over a period of several thousand years, this system of learning first the four foundation Weapons as the pre-requisite to learning any other Weapons has evolved and been very effective. It teaches students equally about Long & Short Weapons, Cutting and Bludgeoning Weapons, Linear & Round moving Weapons. To further make Weapon training safe and effective each of the four basic Weapons are divided into two levels each. Each student first learns the correct handling of the Weapon including Techniques, Defence and Postures and when this is satisfactory they proceed to the second level which focuses on Application, Form & Sparring. These 4 primary Weapons, that everyone should learn before attempting anything else in weaponry are;
Heavy Staff also known as the Father of All Weapons due to the fact that it is mainly a very long wooden handle and that most any weapon will have some aspect of the Staff within it, even thrown knives but not say Thrown Stars.
Broad/Curved Sword - also know as the Marshal of all Weapons as it is the most popular of all cold weapons (non explosive) weapon types used in ware fare as in Martial conflicts.
Spear also referred to as the King of all Weapons as it is a very difficult weapon to over come and army's who had a trained spear force usually were very successful.
Straight Sword titled also as the Lord of all Weapons as it is the one requiring the most skill to learn to be efficient but than also is the most lethal both in one on one and army type wars.
NOTE - Play the video to the right for a Video Intro into Shaolin Academy Weaponry→
The Shaolin Gun/Cudgel owes its reputation to its use as a tool for many purposes. It is a Walking Staff, Load Carrying one your shoulder, for two buckets of water (we take the availability of tap water for granted nowadays; earlier all water needed to be carried from a well or stream), pole for a lean too or tent, fishing rod, barrier, lever and of course defensive weapon. But it was actually an oversized ladle that made convinced the Shaolin to adopt the Staff as a layman's traveling tool.
Many peasant rebels throughout Chinese history including the Red Turbans of the late Sui Dynasty advocated "plundering from the rich to give to the poor." Even though Shaolin was 'off the beaten track' it was still an attractive target for such armies to plunder for food, shelter and whet-ever-else they could get. In the early history of Shaolin, a peasant army appeared before the Shaolin temple (Ssu) gate with the view of 'liberating' any goods and food available. Most of the temples monks were away training, tending fields, helping and such and only Jin Na Luo, a monk who tended the stove and mid-day cooking was there. At this time, Shaolin Monks did not train any form of weaponry, yet seeing the danger, he grabbed his over large wooden ladle (spoon) and laid it about him with such fearlessness and vigour that the Red Turbans scattered and were delayed until more monks arrived. This was a learning that the Shaolin would not ignore and decided an all Shaolin Monks would be trained in the Iron Wood Staff. 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.
The Broad Sword, aka, Saber, Scimitar, Cutlass, Dao is possibly one of the most popular of all Cold (non explosive) Weapons around the world and for good reason. One of the most well know Curved Sword styles is the Japanese Katana. Curved Swords, also know as Scimitars, Sabers, Cutlass are chopping, slicing and cutting weapons which are best against multiple opponents and as mallee weapons
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, for a practitioner to learn the three aspects of the unique Broad Sword! As with other curved swords, it was great at slicing and cutting. With the addition of the larger top part of the Sword, the 'broad' blade, it could also be used like an axe, chopping down on an opponent with sufficient force to stun and damage. The shape of a superior Broad Sword though can also be used as a thrusting weapon having a straight line from hilt through to the tip (The Sword and Handle were curved in such a way that a straight line could be drawn from Handle to tip on the metal).
A very versatile weapon that came in several variations including the Two Handed Broad Sword, Long Handled Broad Sword and Head Chopping, 9 ring broad Sword, to name a few. At the Shaolin Academy we focus on the Elegant and Powerful Tigers Tooth broad Sword Style!
The Chinese call the Spear, the King of ALL Weapons and there is a lot of truth to that. Almost every culture has used a spear in some form or another, often for hunting but also for fishing and warfare. It is speculated that spears have been in used for almost 5 million years with evidence of spear usage dating back 300,00 years.
Australian Aborignals call their spears Woomera and throw it with the help of an Atlatl. The Chinese Spear is predominantly not made for throwing (to precious) but for stabbing and jabbing. The Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy practices a rare form of Spear called the Red Eagle Spear. But there are many spears, the short one handed long bladed from such cultures as the Mesopotamian, Egyptian and even African Massai. Or the overlong spear of the Greeks used in infantry formations called phalanx. Cavalry spears that morphed in to Jousting lances or the Chinese Dragon Spear which could be 4 meters long and used from the ramparts of a fort.
The Shaolin Red Eagle Spear is about the length of the person who is wielding it, using a tapering flax (baila) wood staff with a small head and red horse hairs (also called Red Beard). It is a quick moving thrusting weapons (emulating and Eagle striking at vulnerable points but not getting caught in a fight) with almost no blocking movements and very few round striking techniques. The flexible baila staff allows the spear to be used much like a whip. Together with the Red Beard disguising the spear tips movement, the lightning quick thrusts are almost impossible to follow. It is said to be impossible to defend against a Red Eagle Spear when wielded by a proficient user.
Possibly, the most difficult weapon to learn to use correctly, the Chinese Straight Sword is most similar to the Rapier, Epee and Foil. Also know as the Jian, the Chinese Straight Sword has a history believed to start some 4½ thousand years ago.
The Jian is a double edged weapon although only the tip and the first two-fifths to half of the blade is sharp. The bottom part of the blade, used for blocking is blunt and somewhat thicker. The length of the Jian can vary from a short 35/40cm (11-13 inches) up to a two handed version of of a meter plus (40 inches). Traditionally, a Straight Sword would be crafted to match the users need and ability. The teacher or master who tutored the Straight Sword practitioner would, when the person is ready know what length would be best and often as a graduation 'gift'/'acknowledgement' would have such a sword made. Crafting straight Swords is expensive and quite often the best masters were could only be afforded by nobles and rich persons and thus gained the reputation of being the Lords Weapon or Lord of All Weapons.
Although more people died at the end of the French Straight Sword than did at the end of a Katana, the Straight Sword had the reputation of being a dulling rather than a soldiers weapon. Requiring far more finesse and precision than say Broad Swords, it was often much easier to train soldiers on the Broad Sword and leave the Gentleman's Blade for people who had the time and financial resources to train withy a master and obtain a good quality blade.
And it needed to be a good quality, slim, light blade. Straight Swords are quick weapons, requiring speed and precision not force and stamina. Straight Sword duels can be over in seconds (except in the movies) unlike Broad Sword fights that can last minutes.
If you would like more information about the Weapon Types in groups, we have 5 pages dedicated to these Blunt, Sharp, Flexible/Hidden, Thrown and Tools. Some very interesting reading there and also listing on a great verity of Weapons in each category. Else below are the Weaponry Forms we have been able to record thus far. Your choice!
Weapons that hit, bludgeon, hammer and do impact damage. Fundamentally these fall under two functional segments, Hammer like and stick like; and of course those that are a bit of this and a bit of that. Especially the hammer like have some unusual forms now used by kings and queens as symbols of power!
Long Swords, Straight Sword, Curved Swords, two handed Swords, Inverted Swords, Sword Breakers, Long Handled Swords, Kwan Dao, Spears, Tridents, Axes and a host of weapons that all have one thing in common. They have at least one Sharp edge for either Chopping or Slicing, Cutting and Dicing.
If you are strong enough you can throw a horse so most any object can be used as a thrown weapon. But on this page we focus on those usual and unusual that have been used as projectile weapons including Sling Shot, Blow Pipe and Bolo! Many require a great skill to use them but than that is good, especially for the thrown weapons; if you miss you don't want to make it too easy for them to be thrown/Shot back at you!
The weapons of Lords, Assassins and Warriors. Usual and unusual from the common whip to the 9 Section Staff, Ninja Stars, Rope Claws, meteor Hammer and more. These weapons have been know to be more used as hidden than as open weapons. Some are even difficult to understand how they are used.
As mentioned, most anything can be a weapon, from an ashtray to a Credit Card. This Group recognizes this and looks at the two aspects, Tools and Every-Day-items. Items that have historically been used in some form or way as a weapon but not made it into the weapon styles above by way of redesign or main streaming. This includes the 5 Shaolin 'Tool', Staff, Lantern, Spade, Cane and Sash.
If you are more interested in the specific Weaponry Forms, just below is everything we have recorded at this time. Feel free to browse through!
|Long Weapon Styles|
|Short Weapon Styles|
|Unique Weapon Styles|
|Show & Student Demonstration Forms|
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