Most Chinese styles also make use of training in the broad arsenal of Chinese weapons for conditioning the body as well as coordination and strategy drills. Weapons training are generally carried out after the student is proficient in the basics, forms and applications training. The basic theory for weapons training is to consider the weapon as an extension of the body. It has the same requirements for footwork and body coordination as the basics. The process of weapon training proceeds with forms, forms with partners and then applications. Most systems have training methods for each of the Eighteen Arms of Kung Fu in addition to specialized instruments specific to the system.
Shaolin Kung Fu Weapons
Saber – Guan Dao
Saber was one most common weapons used for folk martial arts and also in the military. With the development of Shaolin Kung Fu and the demands from the battlefield, the saber became one of the most common used weapons in Shaolin Kung Fu. At the end of the Ming Dynasty, Shaolin sabers were widely used on the battlefield. The head of local army in Dengfeng, Hao Rucheng had studied Quan and saber skills from the Shaolin Temple and performed his amazing feats on the battlefield. Shaolin saber skills consist of a series of movements. The main techniques of saber practice include chopping, cutting, lifting, thrusting, winding, blocking and pushing. Traditionally it has been said that to “maneuver of a single sword stresses the hands”, “maneuver of double swords stresses the feet”, and “maneuver of broadsword stresses the stability of hands”.
Staff – Gun
Staff, the most renowned weapon of Shaolin Kung Fu, is the first weapon used during the early development of Kung Fu practices. Legend has it that Kinnara, who was a fireman in Shaolin Temple, defended the temple against the attack of the Red Scarf army during the late Yuan dynasty using a staff. He was responsible for developing a number of staff techniques. In the Ming Dynasty, the monk soldiers, armed with their staff’s, joined a battle against a pirate invasion along the southeast coast, their victory won them great acclaims. Since the Ming dynasty, staff techniques are inherited in a fixed form of movements. The book ‘Shaolin Staff Technique of Ch’an School’, written by Cheng Chongdou, is a classic of Shaolin staff techniques.
Sword – Dao
Sword is one of the most commonly used weapons by Shaolin monks. During a visit to Shaolin Temple, Wen Fengxiang, a personality in Ming Dynasty, saw 60 monks practicing forms and sword skills. Gongding also depicted the scene in the poem “Sword and dagger-axe shining each other”. This poem suggests that Shaolin sword skills were developed during this period.
Hammer – cui
Hammer is one of the ancient Shaolin weapons. It can be classified into long and short-handled hammer, chain hammer, or hard and soft hammer. Each has its special characteristics and their uses vary. Long-handled hammer is usually used singly, while short-handled hammer is mostly heavy and often used in combination. Shaolin copper Hammer has a total length of 2.5 chi (a Chinese unit of length, 1 chi=1/3 meter) and is usually applied by the warrior.
Long lance is derived from the cudgel and spear. In ancient times it was about two meters long, with the handle made of wood. At one end of the handle was an egg-shaped hammer, on which were six to eight rows of iron nails, and at the other end was a triagonal drill.
Long lance is one of the Eighteen Arms, mostly used in horse battle in ancient times. It is heavy and complicated in structure and also has many types, thus is often used by people of great strength.
The great variety of weapons were practiced by Shaolin monks and they are referred to as The Eighteen Weapons. Besides the staff, saber and sword, there is the three-strand fork, spade, nine-section whip and three-section stick, amongst others.