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Weapons have always featured strongly in Shaolin kung fu training and are one of the most popular parts of our syllabus – even in the modern era.

Training starts with simple basics such as how to stand, grip the weapon etc. and extends to cover simple and advanced moves, strategies, tactics, target areas etc.

Our weapon training is not just ‘show style’. We teach the genuine art of weapon use for combat. Unlike in many other cultures, the Shaolin weapons were still used for war very recently, such as by the Chinese army in WWII and by kung fu groups as recently as the 1970s.

We begin by teaching the staff (pole), tan tow (single knife, also known as Chinese broadsword) and cane.  Through the teaching of these three basic weapons, we cover essential basics such as stance, stability and body posture.


Benefits of Shaolin weapon training include the following:

  • Weapon training teaches us to extend our concentration and our energy (chi) beyond our bodies into the weapon. 

  • The training works like a sort of weight training: performing with weapons, especially heavy weapons, strengthens our muscle and tendons and conditions us to exert more power.

  • Many techniques are complex and intricate and develop our co-ordination: this is particularly true of the double weapons.

  • Heavy weapons require a great degree of stability and balance so as to be able to wield them with speed, power and accuracy. This provides excellent stability training.

  • Advanced practitioners train to project Shaolin springy power (‘Geng’ in Chinese) through their weapon. The emission of ‘geng’ is considered to be one of the highest skills in Shaolin kung fu: to be able to transmit geng to the hand or foot fluidly and effectively shows a high level of achievement. To be able to project it right to the end of a weapon is a very high skill and means that the practitioner can very easily bring their ‘geng’ to their hands feet for freehand techniques.

  • Fixed sparring with weapons develops timing, distancing, and observation. It also conditions us to having weapons swung at us at high speed from all angles; to react rationally against an attack with a weapon requires that we do not panic, but this takes practice

  • A broad range of genuine weapons skills means that we understand how to defend against weapons generally, including improvised weapons, and that we can use more or less any weapon that we pick up

  • Weapon training is fun and motivates us to work harder

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