Weapons have always featured strongly in Shaolin kung fu training and are one of the most popular parts of our syllabus – even in the modern era. You can try your hand with knives, swords, axes, hammers, spears and a variety of unique pole arms. Training starts with simple basics such as how to stand, grip the weapon etc. and extends to cover simple and advanced moves, strategies, tactics, target areas etc.

Our weapon training is not just 'show style'. We teach the genuine art of weapon use for combat. Unlike in many other cultures, the Shaolin weapons were still used for war very recently, such as by the Chinese army in WWII and by kung fu groups as recently as the 1970s. Many of the teachers here at Nam Yang have direct experience with these weapons – this is not something which you will find in many schools.

Shaolin Staff Training

Benefits of Shaolin weapon training include the following:

  • Weapon training teaches us to extend our concentration and our energy (chi) beyond our bodies into the weapon. This means that when we go back to freehand training, it is very easy to get our energy right down to our hands and feet.
  • The training works like a sort of weight training: performing with weapons, especially heavy weapons, strengthens our muscle and tendons and conditions us to exert more power.
  • Many techniques are complex and intricate and develop our co-ordination: this is particularly true of the double weapons.
  • Heavy weapons require a great degree of stability and balance so as to be able to wield them with speed, power and accuracy. This provides excellent stability training.
  • Advanced practitioners train to project Shaolin springy power ('Geng' in Chinese) through their weapon. The emission of 'geng' is considered to be one of the highest skills in Shaolin kung fu: to be able to transmit geng to the hand or foot fluidly and effectively shows a high level of achievement. To be able to project it right to the end of a weapon is a very high skill and means that the practitioner can very easily bring their 'geng' to their hands feet for freehand techniques.
  • Fixed sparring with weapons develops timing, distancing, and observation. It also conditions us to having weapons swung at us at high speed from all angles; to react rationally against an attack with a weapon requires that we do not panic, but this takes practice
  • A broad range of genuine weapons skills means that we understand how to defend against weapons generally, including improvised weapons, and that we can use more or less any weapon that we pick up
  • Weapon training is fun and motivates us to work harder

Weapons Training Progression

We begin by teaching the staff (pole), tan tow (single knife, also known as Chinese broadsword) and cane.  Through the teaching of these three basic weapons, we cover essential basics such as stance, stability and body posture.  Also how to strike and how to cut.   After this, we teach further weapons according to demand and to who is present.  It is also possible to 'speed up' the process by booking private tuition to learn extra weapon techniques outside of the Shaolin Warrior syllabus in which case it is possible to choose which weapons you wish to learn so long as there is an instructor available to teach them.  Before teaching more advanced weapons we do expect to see a reasonable level of competence in the basic weapons first.

We teach the following weapons:

  • Cane
  • Chinese straight sword
  • Double axe
  • Double butterfly knives
  • Double crutch (tonfa)
  • Double daggers
  • Double iron ruler (tee pit)
  • Double short kek
  • Double small trident (sai)
  • Double thumb hook knives
  • Double thunder hammers
  • Double tiger hooks
  • Hook spear
  • Horse cutting knife
  • Kwan tao (General Kwan's knife or Chinese halbard)
  • Monk's crescent
  • Monk's spade
  • Nine ring big knife: long handle
  • Nine ring big knife: short handle
  • Shield and knife
  • Shuang tao (double knife of double Chinese broadsword)
  • Single ended staff
  • Snake head kek
  • Spear
  • Staff (straight pole)
  • Tan tao (single knife or Chinese broadsword)
  • Three section staff
  • Tiger fork
  • Water carrier (peddler's staff)


We also teach the following weapon sparring sets:

  • Double dagger vs freehand
  • Double knife vs three section staff
  • Single / double knife vs spear
  • Single knife vs freehand
  • Stool vs hoe
  • Three section staff vs spear


Shaolin weapon training is great fun and a great workout. To give it a try, book a course of training with us or for more information.

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What our students say about us :

National Geo

The retreat is located – not by chance – in an harmonious place that fills you with its peaceful glow and even a sea dependent, who grew up by the coast and can’t spend one week without longing for the sounds and smell of the ocean (only people raised by the seaside know what I mean), feels completely at peace there! This truly is a life sanctuary that will replenish you with a magical vibration attuned to all living things! There aren’t many places with this vibe. I felt this in the Pacific Islands, especially Rapa Nui and Bora Bora, and both the Pacific and Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat were the only two times in my life when I felt like crying when leaving a place…

(Read more) Natália C. – 3 March 2018


While they suggest staying for a week or more my boyfriend and I were only able to stay for 2 days. They welcomed us in even for this short stay and made us feel just as important as students who were there for months. The training was well rounded, and the instructors were knowledgeable, patient, and all spoke fluent English. Training starts at dawn and is almost all day long which made our two days feel like a week on our body. We felt like we were at a true Kung Fu training camp with bamboo structures, great nutritional food, amazing mountain scenery, and incredible instructors. Everything was better than we expected…

(Read more) Kockununa – 9 February 2018


A most satisfied student here....after learning 'Chi Gong' in UK by authentic Chinese masters I practiced this arts teachings for many years, benefiting in all it has to offer to prepare for Kungfu. What I quickly realised in Nam Yang is that I was doing many incorrect postures causing me pain in the long term. Learning 'Chi Kung' from Master Ian and his team was without question what I needed to truly learn this ancient art. All the team individually helped me fine tune key areas of my life physical, mental and spiritul…

(Read more) Serksta – 1 February 2018


I booked initially for 1 week but extended twice, until I had to return to my country. I never thought i would have such an interesting time. The combination between qi kung, kung fu, strong warm ups, meditations, strechings, weapons, sanda... makes the experience so complete for body, mind and spirit, as they say. It’s a healing place, in any sense, physical or mental. The instructors are one of the most remarkable things of the retreat: since they love the kung fu as a way of life, that feeling is transmitted on the trainings. They are serious with their job, and friendly on the treatment, patient and strict at the same time. The way of teaching is based on explaining the reason why of every movement, so everything makes sense. You find easily the motivation for learning and enjoying, and wanting more…

(Read more) Lara A. – 10 November 2017


Master Iain and his instructors cater for all types of students at differing levels and grades of either internal or external kung fu. I am mid forties and fairly fit yet the retreat in Pai made me feel healthier and rejuvenated in such a small space of time without the usual 'thrashing' or 'beasting' you may have faced in other martial arts / boxing .. why? It was down too the good balance of hard / soft training that was conducted in a mature and intelligent manner - all of which is built on respect for each and every person at the retreat...

(Read more) Chris – 15 February 2018

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