THREE-SECTIONAL SOFT WHIP AND THIRTEEN-TECHNIQUE SPEAR
If there is any kungfu weapon that a practitioner cannot learn from a book or a video, it is the soft whip (软鞭). Other weapons, like a spear, a sabre, a trident and a halberd can be learned even by beginners from books or videos, albeit badly or wrongly. It is because if an uninitiated person attempts to learn a soft whip without a competent teacher, he will certainly hit himself with the soft whip.
A particular difficult technique even when learning from a competent teacher is how to retrieve a Three-Sectional Soft Whip. When not in use, the three sections of the soft whip are neatly folded together in one piece, and held in one hand. When in use, the three sections are released. Both the releasing and retrieving are done with one hand, not both hands.
If the releasing of the soft whip is not correctly performed, the soft whip would slip off from the hand. If the retrieving is not correctly performed, the different sections of the soft whip will hit the practitioner himself, or they will not fold neatly into one piece. Indeed, when I retrieved a Three-Sectional Soft Whip elegantly during a public demonstration at the University of Science in Penang, I overheard an initiated spectator telling his friends that I was a real master by just watching how I retrieved the soft whip.
Another unique feature of the soft whip is that, unlike in all other weapons, in the soft whip there is no static, individual patterns. All the patterns must be performed in one flow. A practitioner of the soft whip cannot stop at any pattern unless he has retrieved it in his hand in one piece.
Before teaching me the Three-Sectional Soft Whip, my sisook, Shen Pooi, taught me the Thirteen-Technique Spear.
“This is preliminary to give you a taste of classical kungfu weapon before going on to the sophisticated, exotic soft whip,” he said.
It was called the Thirteen-Technique Spear (十三枪) because there were thirteen main techniques of the spear. Many years earlier in Uncle Righteousness’ school, I “stole” a spear set called Cross-Road Throat-Locking Spear (十字锁喉枪). “Stealing” a set in kungfu terminology means secretly learning while someone is performing it. The Cross-Road Throat-Locking Spear is “hard”, whereas the Thirteen-Technique Spear is “soft”.
The Thirteen-Technique Spear is a famous but exclusive spear set. I do not know its lineage. In Choe Family Wing Choon, there is a secretive staff set called the Thirteen-Technique Spear, though a staff and not a spear is used in the performance. Many of the techniques and skills of this Wing Choon staff set are similar to the spear set my sisook taught me. This spear set could be a prototype of the staff set.
My sisook was very impressed with my progress and performance of the spear set and the soft whip set.
“Are you interested to learn the Golden Legume Round Hammer too?” My sisook asked.
“Of course, if sisook thinks I am worthy to learn it,” I replied.
The round hammers are in pairs. They are very big and heavy, being made of iron. Just one strike of a round hammer could kill a person. The set is called Golden Legume Round Hammer because the round hammers look like legumes or melons and are golden in colour.
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