The Weapons and Fighting Gear of Ancient China
Chinese weapons can be considered to be the origin or mother of all Asian oriental weapons. The ancient monks of Shaolin learned to use anything as a useful weapon. The most popular Chinese weapon was the staff, considered to be the king of all weapons.
The most popular Shaolin Kung Fu 'tool' was the staff. A long stick that had a variety of uses and purposes. It is a multi-purpose implement that can be used for many things other than self defence. A staff is used as a walking stick, to carry loads on your back, carry and transport two water buckets, as a lever, tent pole, writing implement (in the sand) and many more. This is also the weapon that almost all Chinese martial arts consider to be "The Father of all Weapons". It is also highly effective and recommended for all martial artists to learn.
There were of course many staff types as there are different woods, people and ways of using. But in general most staffed weapons can be but into 5 specific sizes(general lengths - all Shaolin weapon dimensions were measured in 'natural' measurements relating to the user);
Dragon Staff (app 1½ person lengths or 8 to 9 foot)
Shaolin Staff (app 1 person length or 5½ to 6½ foot [also Rat Tail Staff, very flexible, Bai La Wood])
Carry Staff (app ¾ person length)
Cudgel or Walking Stick (app half person length and very stout)
Flute, Ruler (app fore arm to fore arm and hand length)
Virtually any item that comes to hand can be used as an item of defence.
Clubbing or blunt weapons were popular among the Shaolin Monk Kung Fu practitioner for several reasons. Because of their spiritual beliefs they didn't believe in hurting or killing. Although a blunt weapon could hurt, it was difficult to kill someone with a staff or stick. What you would most likely do is subdue the attacker and hurt them. Many of them originated as farm tools and then became more refined and specialised with time.
Flexible weapons were the most difficult to master and the least understood. Few students ever mastered or took the time and discipline necessary to learn a flexible kung fu weapon. When we think about flexible weapons, we think of the 9 ring chain whip, the three sectional staff and many others. These weapons were the complete opposite to the sword and staff. They required a great deal of talent and training to master.
Some weapons of the China were designed to be used from a distance. Distance is preferable as a good defence and for secret attacks. Shaolin monks are normally not in the business of secretly attacking people, so these were rarely used and in very extreme circumstances. These weapons were common amongst vagabonds, assassins and ninjas. They were considered to be weapons of unfavourable reputation. Shaolin Kung Fu and Chinese Martial Arts have 4 basic weapons: The staff, the broadsword, the spear, and the straight sword. These are the 4 basic weapons of Kung Fu and Chinese Martial arts and one that all serious martial artists should master.
- The Staff - The Father of All Weapons
- The Broad Sword - The Marshall of All Weapons
- The Spear - The King of All Weapons
- The Straight Sword - The Gentleman of all Weapons