kungfu weapons

Guan Dao or Guan's Big Knife

Shaolin Kungfu has an amazing range of weapons, much more than other martial arts. In my young days, I spent a lot of time practicing and studying kungfu weapons. I knew more than 20 weapon sets.

I was quite good at weapons. Indeed I felt more confident defeating other masters in weapon combat than in unarmed combat. Hence, I am keen to pass on the legacy of kungfu weapons to our school.

The traditional term, “Eighteen Types of Weapons” was frequently used in kungfu classics. Actually there were more than 18 types of weapons, and each type of weapon had a few variations.

These 18 types of weapons were listed differently at different times. During the Song and Yuan Dynasties (10th to 14th centuries), the 18 types of weapons were listed as follows

  1. Mao (lance)
  2. Chui (mace)
  3. Gong (bow, shooting one arrow at one time)
  4. Nu (mechanized bow, shooting many arrows at one time)
  5. Chong (pipe-like weapons to shoot out darts)
  6. Bian (straight whip)
  7. Chan (spade)
  8. Jian (sword)
  9. Jian (rod)
  10. Zhua (claw)
  11. Fu (hand-axe)
  12. Yue (battle-axe)
  13. Ge (long sickle)
  14. Ji (crescent-moon spear)
  15. Pai (shield)
  16. Bang (cudgel)
  17. Qiang (spear)
  18. Pa (rake)
During the Ming Dynasty (14th to 17th centuries), the 18 types of weapons were as follows:
  1. Gong (bow)
  2. Nu (mechanized bow)
  3. Qiang (spear)
  4. Dao (scimitar)
  5. Jian (sword)
  6. Mao (lance)
  7. Dun (shield)
  8. Fu (hand-axe)
  9. Yue (battle-axe)
  10. Ji (crescent-moon spear)
  11. Bian (straight whip)
  12. Jian (rod)
  13. Gso (pole)
  14. Shu (long weapon with wavy blade)
  15. Cha (fork)
  16. Pa (rake)
  17. Mian-sheng (roped weapon)
  18. Bai-da (empty hand combat)
From the Qing Dynasty (17th to 20th centuries) onwards, the 18 types of weapons were like what we have today as follows:
  1. Jiang (spear)
  2. Ji (crescent-moon spear)
  3. Gun (staff)
  4. Yue (battle-axe)
  5. Da-pa (big trident)
  6. Da-dao (halberd)
  7. Chan (spade)
  8. Mao (lance)
  9. Sheng-biao (roped spear)
  10. Dao (scimitar)
  11. Jian (sword)
  12. Fu (hand-axe)
  13. Guo (hook-sword)
  14. Jian (rod)
  15. Bian (soft-whip)
  16. Guai (clutch)
  17. Chui (round hammer)
  18. Bi-shou (dagger)
Weapons are also classified as long and short, heavy and light, single and double.

In the modern list of 18 types of weapons above, the first nine weapons are long, and the remaining nine are short. Battle-axe, big-trident, halberd, spade, hand-axe, rod and round-hammer are heavy weapons, whereas spear, crescent-moon spear, staff, lance, roped spear, scimitar, sword, hook-sword, soft-whip. clutch and dagger are light weapons.

Spear, crescent-moon spear, staff, battle-axe, halberd, spade, lance, roped spear, scimitar, sword, and soft-whip are single weapons, i.e. only one of the weapons is used. Hand-axe, hook-sword, rod, clutch, round hammer and dagger are double weapons, i.e. two of the weapons are used, one in each hand.

Besides these regular weapons, there were also extraordinary weapons and secret weapons. Extraordinary weapons were tailor-made to suit the special needs or whims and fancies of particular users, like antler -hooks and wolf-teeth cudgel. Secret weapons included darts, sharp coins for throwing, knives hidden in boots and protective gear hidden underneath clothing.

kungfu weapons

Crescent-moon spear



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