Shaolin Weaponry System

Although there are more than 400 different types of ancient Chinese weapons and many usages of each, there are only about 18 standard weapons that you will usually see in any Chinese Martial Art Styles. Sometimes a practitioner will combine two weapons in a form or do a variation involving two of the same weapons. Some instances of forms often seen in competition are: Broadsword, straight sword, spear, staff, Kwan-sword, double-swords, double straight-swords, double hook-swords, double-ended spear, nine-section whip, rope-dart, chained hammer, 3-sectional staff, 2-sectional staff, daggers, double short-staff, etc.

There are four basic kungfu weapons, two short ones and two long ones. All of the other weapons derive from these four. These basic four bear a slight northern accent. Some southern styles emphasize only two basic weapons: the long pole and the butterfly swords. We will, however, honor these basic four, since they are more universal.

Long Weapons

Long weapons are generally taller than the user and require both hands. Most of these are pole arms, and kung fu has hundreds of variations of pole arms alone. Every weird pole arm head has a different Chinese name, some of which are redundant and overlapping.

Short Weapons

Short weapons can be used one handed, like a sword. Generally speaking, these are personal side arms. Many of these when used in pairs are twin weapons, although our twin weapon list is limited to those weapons that are only used as twins. Furthermore, some short weapons have soft versions.

Soft Weapons

Soft weapons, or flexible weapons, have a joint or are attached to a rope. These weapons require great skill, since they are always changing. Many of these can also be hidden weapons, since they are very compact when collapsed.

Twin Weapons

Twin weapons are two mirror-image weapons, one held in each hand. In modern kung Fu, the practice of twin weapons balances out the left hand with the right, since many styles have a predetermined dominance.

Hidden and Flying Weapons

Hidden weapons are a fascinating sub-topic of Chinese weaponry. Used to expand the range of offense beyond close combat, a great number of ingenious hidden weapons were created to surprise the enemy. Small enough to be hidden in a sleeve or robe, and particularly useful in a surprise attack or when you are outnumbered, these are generally small weapons, with the exception of the bows.