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eighteen traditional Shaolin weapon


Historically, there are eighteen traditional Shaolin weapons. These eighteen stem from the original four used by Shaolin martial artists: the staff, the broadsword, the straight sword and spear.


Although there are a lot of stories about the "18 Weapons of Shaolin," a person has to take into account the Temple’s Buddhist origins when understanding the role weapons practice plays in Shaolin training. The best way to understand a weapon or to defend against it is to master the weapon itself. The best way to learn how to disarm someone using a particular weapon without harming them, is to master the weapon itself.


In our modern era, fire power has eliminated the use of these traditional weapons as a realistic means of self-defense. Today, Shaolin weapons training is done with light weapons that are not "live"(meaning they are not sharpened to inflict harm on anyone). The various weapons are used as training tools. For ex. the staff helps to develop balance on both sides of the body, while practicing the straight sword encourages the student to work on flow and subtlety of movement. Adding a weapon as an extension of the body also places a greater demand on the body, adds a different dimension to moving with agility, develops more physical stamina and a defined and lean physique.


After the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 CE), the variety of Shaolin weapons gradually increased to over 120. Today, the most popular of these being performed and practiced are the staff, spear, straight sword, broadsword, monk’s spade, cane, chain whip, three-section staff, rope dart and the king of them all, the kwan dao.


The Shaolin student will pick up a weapon relatively soon in the course of their training, not so much as a means for practical self-defense, but as a training tool to comprehend physical concepts one needs to effectively 1) work the body for health and 2) to defend oneself.


We also can’t forget one other aspect of Shaolin weapons training – IT’S FUN!! 🙂


The eighteen traditional Shaolin weapons are listed here:

1) Shaolin Fork
2) Tri-Point Double Edge Sword
3) Staff
4) Shaolin Iron Pen
5) Shaolin Hand Dart
6) Straight Sword
7) Sickles
8) Da Mo Cane
9) Flying Dart
10) Monk’s Spade
11) Broadsword
12) Shaolin Thorn
13) Spear
14) Axe
15) Kwan Dao (ZhuiHun Sword)
16) Nine Section Whip
17) Pu Dao
18) Iron Flute