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.
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:
- 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
- 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