Martial Arts Weapons
Chinese martial arts contain a vast number of different weapons, some of which are hundreds of years old. The most famous are the '18 Weapons' of Chinese Wushu. They range from short weapons such as the straight sword, sabre and butterfly knives, and long weapons such as the spear and staff. There are also many 'soft' weapons such as the chain whip and rope darts. There are also several double weapons, such as the double swords and double spears.
Single straight sword - Jian
A double-edged straight sword considered one of the four main weapons along with the staff, spear and sabre. A normal jian has a hilt or guard to protect the fingers, a pommel (sometimes with tassel attached), and different parts of the blade have different martial functions: for example, the tip (jianfeng) is used for stabbing or slashing, and the middle section (zhongren) for cleaving and slicing. The jian is used in many martial arts including Tai Chi Chuan and modern Wushu.
Broadsword/sabre - Dao
A single-edged sword used for slashing and chopping. The construction of the broadsword is similar to the jian, although the dao is generally larger. The dao is used in many martial arts, and some, like Bagua, feature much larger versions than normal. The dao is also a feature of modern Wushu.
Staff - Gun
A long weapon normally made out of wax wood, which is strong yet flexible. The gun is thicker at one end and thinner at the other. Modern guns can be purchased with metal and rubber parts. The gun is one of the four major weapons of Chinese martial arts and is a part of many training syllabi including modern Wushu and Tai Chi. The monks of the Shaolin Temple are closely associated with the gun.
Spear - Qiang
A long weapon, typically made from wax wood, with a horse-hair tassel behind a leaf-shaped blade. Battlefield qiangs ranged from 7 feet to 13 feet long. In martial arts today the qiang is normally around 7 foot long. Many martial arts feature spear training as part of their curriculum and some, such as Hsingi, credit spear work as their foundation.
A traditional battlefield weapon consisting of a long wooden or metal pole with a heavy blade at one end and a spike at the other. The blade is normally deeply curved and so useful for long-range sweeping cuts and slashes. Many martial arts include the guan dao as part of their curriculum.
Halberd - Ji
A long weapon similar to the spear, with a flexible body and a small crescent blade attached to the top. Traditionally a battlefield weapon, it is still incorporated into many modern martial arts.
Three section staff - Sanjiegun
A flail weapon made of three lengths of wood or metal, usually around the size of the wielder's forearm, connected by metal rings or rope. The sanjiegun is normally made of red maple or Chinese white oak, various hardwoods, rattan, bamboo or aluminium. The nature of the staff means it can be used as a long- or short-range weapon, with each section often acting independently to strike, block, choke, stab, sweep or whip.
Rope dart - Sheng Biao
A flexible weapon, the rope dart consists of a long rope with a metal dart at the end. The dart can be thrown from a distance and pulled back using the rope. Various techniques are possible including twining, binding, piercing, hitting and choking.
Chain whip - Jiujie Bian
A weapon that consists of several metal rods, joined end to end by rings to form a chain. There is a generally a handle at one end and a metal dart at the other, used for slashing or piercing an opponent. Very similar to the rope dart in its practice methods and execution, the jiujie bian can be used for blocking, striking, hooking, tripping, or choking. The chain whip is usually made up of nine links, although it comes in several variations including the qijiebian (seven-section whip) and the samjitbin (three-section whip).
Monk's Spade - Yueya Chan
Sometimes called a Shaolin spade, this distinctive weapon is made up of a long pole with a flat, spade-like weapon on one end and a small crescent blade on the other for counter-balance.
Emei Daggers - Emeici
A traditional weapon consisting of metal rods with a spike at the end, and a ring through which a finger can be inserted. They are also a part of modern Wushu, and are used in open palm techniques.
Butterfly Swords - Baat Jaam Do
These are short single-edged weapons originally from the South of China and normally used in pairs. The blade of each sword is generally the length of a forearm, and the top half is sharpened for cutting. The lower half is left blunt for blocking. There is also a small cross-guard for protecting the hands.
The Butterfly Swords are a major feature of the Wing Chun style, and also appear in the training syllabus of Hung Ga.
Using twin weapons at the same time is also a major feature of Chinese martial arts. Found in both traditional arts and modern Wushu, practitioners wield a weapon in each hand, allowing for greatly increased defensive and offensive capabilities. Notable double weapons include the Butterfly Swords, the Hook Swords (shuanggou), a large pair of swords with substantial hilt-guards that can be hooked together and used as one, and the Deer Horn knives of Bagua (lujiao dao). A Deer Horn knife is made up of two short crescent blades crossing one another. Holding one in each hand a practitioner therefore has four blades with which to attack and defend at the same time. They were traditionally used against longer weapons because of their speed and accessibility in confrontations.
Chinese Martial Arts in Brief
(History / Styles / Training / Morality / Philosophy / Qi/chi)
Other Styles of Chinese Martial Arts
Tai Chi Quan (Taiji Quan)
Traditional Kung Fu
Wudang Martial Arts
Shaolin Kung Fu