This one’s for all you weapon collectors out there, let’s see how many of you guys got the whole Shaolin Kung Fu weapons list.
As you probably already know from the title of this article, today were going to be listing all 18 of the traditional Shaolin Kung Fu weapons.
So that everyone understands how this post is going to be laid out. Firstly I’m going to be listing all of the Shaolin Kung Fu weapons for those that just want to see what the eighteen weapons are. Than I’m going to go over each one in more detail, providing images, videos and some information about that particular shaolin Kung Fu weapon.
I will also like to add that there seems to be a lot of debating on what the actual 18 Shaolin Kung Fu Weapons were. From my research, I’ve come to the conclusion that these were the 18 Shaolin Kung Fu weapons:
- Da Mo Cane, Damo Cane, Bodhidharma Cane
- Qiang Spear, Spear, Qiang,
- Kubaton, Shaolin Iron Pen
- Nine Section Whip
- Shaolin Fork, Tiger Fork, Trident
- Pudao, Podao
- Tri-Point Double Edged Sword
- Shaolin Hand Dart, Shaolin Rope Dart
- Iron Flute
- Monk’s Spade, Crescent Moon Spade
- Kwan Dao, Guandao, Yanyuedao, Reclining Moon Blade
- Staff, Bo Staff, Pole
- Chicken Claw Sickles
- Double Crescent Halberd
- Jian, Straight Sword
- Shuang Axe
- Tiger Hook Sword
If you happen to disagree with my Shaolin Kung Fu Weapons List. Feel free to open a discussion in the comments section on what you believe where the 18 Shaolin Kung Fu weapons.
Shaolin Kung Fu Weapons List
Without further ado, let’s start getting into more detail on every different Shaolin Kung Fu weapon.
1) Da Mo Cane, Damo Cane, Bodhidharma Cane
Our first Shaolin Kung Fu weapon on the list is the Da Mo Cane also known as the Damo Cane or Bodhidharma cane.
Sadly I can’t find any images that I’m legally allowed to show on this blog but you guys can do a quick Bodhidharma Cane google search and easily find out how it looks like. Essentially it looks like a hammer but the wooden stick is much longer and the metal piece is made out of wood. It’s basically a glorified walking stick.
If your interested in learning more about this simple yet deadly weapon. I’m going to link a video of a monk explaining in detail the:
- History of the Bodhidharma Cane
- Techniques one can use with the Damo Cane
- Forms that include the Bodhidharma Cane in the Shaolin Kung Fu curriculum
If your more into reading here’s a great article called ‘Shaolin Kung Fu Cane as taught by Master Shi Deyang‘. That also goes into a lot of detail about the Shaolin Kung Fu weapon, Bodhidharma Cane.
2) Qiang Spear, Spear, Qiang
For our second Shaolin Kung Fu weapon we’re going to be looking at the Qiang Spear, sometimes also referred to as the Shaolin Spear, Qiang or just simply Spear.
This has to be my favourite weapon from the list. I remember in my HEMA gym one of the weapons was the bo staff. No one in class could beat me with it, not even the classes favorite choice of shield and sword. Though I will have to admit that I had previous training with the bo staff, when I used to attend Jiu-Jitsu.
Anyways the Qiang Spear is basically a deadlier version of the bo staff. As it has a pointy leaf like blade at the peak of the staff accompanied by a red horse hair tassel.
The amount of advantages a long ranged sharp weapon like the Qiang Spear has, are endless.
Qiang Spear Longer Range
Longer range than most melee weapons. This makes it extremely hard for shorter weapons to get in there striking range. While still allowing you to fight freely. In war a common tactic was to have someone wielding a giant shield. Than having a spear man behind him attacking opponents in front of the shielder. Due to the long range a Qiang Spear has, this tactic was practical in war.
Qiang Spear Leaf Like Blade
The leaf like blade has great piercing efficiency to damage and penetrate an opponent’s armor. Again in the context of a war, unless you can penetrate an opponent’s armor he’s not really going to take any damage.
Qiang Spear Red Horse Hair
The red horse hair serves multiple capabilities such as:
- Blurring the opponent’s vision dus making it harder for them to dodge or grab the Qiang Spear.
- Serves as a blood absorber, so that blood spilled on the blade doesn’t slide down near the spearman’s grip causing the Qiang Spear to become slippery.
- It was also used as a way to indicate someone’s social status.
Anyways let’s move on to the next Shaolin Kung Fu weapon but before we jump into that. I’m going to be showing you guys a video of the Shaolin kung fu 13 spear. For those that are interested in this weapon I do recommend watching it. It covers some more information on the Qiang Spear and shows you 13 spear forms Shaolin Kung Fu monks implement in there weapon training.
3) Kubaton, Shaolin Iron Pen
The 3rd Shaolin Kung Fu weapon we’re going to be talking about is the Shaolin Iron Pen, more commonly known nowadays as Kubaton.
This has to be one of the most practical self defence weapon one can easily carry on himself. Due to this, it’s also a very dangerous weapon in the wrong hands as it can easily be obtained by anyone.
There aren’t many laws around Kubaton and Kubaton manufacturers disguised these weapons as:
- Kubaton keychain
- Kubaton pen
This makes it hard for anyone that is unaware of kubatons to realize that a treat might be more than they anticipated.
Back in the shaolin days it had a similar concept as today, due to it’s small size one could hide it anywhere serving as a hidden knife one could use to surprise his foe.
That’s why it’s always good to be alert and focused, you could pick up on these shady things before it’s too late.
Before we continue to the next Shaolin Kung Fu weapon. I’m going to show you a video about Kubaton, where the instructor shows us some good Kubaton techniques one could easily use in a real life situation were self defence is our only hope.
4) Nine Section Whip
The 4th weapon on Shaolin Kung Fu weapons list is the Nine Section Whip.
This is one of those weapons that I would personally give to an unarmed foe. Wielding a Nine Section Whip untrained, will most likely result in the user suffering more damage than causing damage to there foe. Heck I’m still kinda scared of nunchucks, let alone this piece of monstrosity.
The Nine Section Whip is basically a metal hilt attached to 9 metal pieces (3 inches each) that are each separated by 3 metal ring links. Sounds insane doesn’t it mind you they call this a soft weapon, what a totally misleading weapon category.
The Nine Section Whip was more of a secondary Shaolin Kung Fu weapon than a primary one. The reason for this was that the Nine Section Whip could be easily stored due to its flexibility. Therefore if something happened to the primary weapon one could easily take out the Nine Section Whip and have a fighting chance.
In the hands of a master this weapon is truly frightening, probably more insane than Kalaripayattu’s Urumi.
Here’s a video of the Nine Section Whip in all it’s glory.
5) Shaolin Fork, Tiger Fork, Trident
The 5th Shaolin Kung Fu weapon is the Shaolin Fork also known as the Tiger Fork or Trident.
This Shaolin Kung Fu weapon is very similar to the Qiang Spear, as in there both:
- Long ranged pole weapons
- Have a pointy blade at the tip of the staff to pierce
- Got the red horse hair tassel
The only difference these weapons have are the design of the blade. While the Qiang Spear has a leaf like blade the Shaolin Fork has a fork like blade.
This obviously makes the Shaolin Fork slower than the Qiang Spear due to the increased amount of steel in the metal piece. The advantages the Shaolin Fork has over the Qiang Spear are:
- Heavier therefore strikes land a harder blow due to the increased mass
- Easier to land a hit due to the wider range the blade has
- Can be used to disarm a foes weapon
If I were to choose between these two Shaolin Kung Fu weapons I’d take the Qiang Spear. I believe that speed would be more valuable in a kill or die situation.
6) Pudao, Podao
For our 6th Kung Fu Weapon, we’re going to be looking at another long ranged staff pole weapon the Pudao also sometimes called Podao.
Legend says that Master’s of the Pudao used to slice the legs of a foe’s horse in battle. Now that’s some brutal anime over exaggeration if you know what I mean. That’s why in those times, it was known as the Horse Cutter Sword.
The design of the Pudao is similar to the other two Shaolin Kung Fu long ranged stuff weapons as in, it has a stuff with a blade attached to it. The blade of the Pudao, unlike the former stuff weapons we discussed isn’t used to pierce but to slice (Though it could still pierce but less effective than the former). In fact the blade is more similar to that of a broadsword than the Shaolin Fork or Qiang Spear. The Pudao also doesn’t typically have the red horse hair tassel, as it would not make sense for the Pudao.
As we already said the Pudao isn’t a piercing weapon but a slicing weapon. That’s why the red horse hair tassel wouldn’t really help the Pudao. The Red horse hair tassel works because with a piercing weapon your consistently trusting, with small movements. This makes the red horse hair tassel dance around this slight movement and distract/blurs the foe’s vision. With the Pudao the techniques require bigger movement therefore the Red horse hair tassel wouldn’t provide any of these benefits.
Here’s a short 1 minute video of the Pudao in action.
Pudao Vs Shaolin Fork
Not really related to this posts topic but I found this video interesting and I think you guys would also enjoy it. It’s a video of 2 guys sparring one wielding the Shaolin Fork and the other wielding the Pudao. It’s nice to see weapons being used to spar, instead of just forms and conditioning drills. I wish more people made videos like this.
7) Tri-Point Double Edged Sword
The Tri-Point Double Edged Sword quite an exotic looking Shaolin Kung Fu weapon. Never seen one live to be honest. It kinda looks like someone combined the Pudao with the Shaolin Fork to create the Tri-Point Double Edged Sword.
This is also a long ranged staff weapon with a blade attached at the tip of the staff. The blade is designed to have 2 cutting edges unlike the Pudao which only has 1 side sharp. It also has three piercing parts though unlike the Shaolin Fork the piercing parts are placed, one in the middle and the other two 90 degrees apart from the middle.
This weapon wasn’t really used for military, it was more of a training kind of weapon. The sharp piercing hook like design on the side is mainly used to control or disarm a foe’s weapon.
The 8th Kung Fu weapon on the list is the famous Broadsword, the weapon that everyone’s heard off yet it somehow gets mistaken with pretty much any other sword.
The broadswords is a short double edged sword held in one hand, with a beautifully designed hilt to protect the users hand. The hilt is somewhat similar to that of a rapier.
Unlike a rapier though which is used to trust and pierce, the Broadsword is used for slashing.
The main advantages of using a Broadsword are:
- Lightweight weapon, thereby being able to strike faster and last longer.
- Has a great hilt guard.
- A free hand than can be used to wield another weapon.
9) Shaolin Hand Dart, Shaolin Rope Dart
The ninth Shaolin Kung Fu weapon we’re going to be deliberating on, is none other than the Shaolin Rope Dart. This weapon is considered as a hidden soft weapon by the Shaolin Kung Fu teachings. This is one of those weapons that I really want to buy and start practicing with.
The design of the Shaolin Rope Dart is quite simple, heck you can probably do it yourself. It’s basically a metal ring you can put on your finger, tied with a string of strong rope usually 3 to 5 meters attached to a metal dart. Scratch that, don’t do it yourself not worth having the metal dart flying off from a poorly tightened knot. You can buy a Shaolin Rope Dart for like 30.00$ on amazon, thought they costed like over 100$ to be honest.
It was mainly used as a surprise attack, hence why it’s called a hidden weapon. The shaolin monk would hide it in his sleeve than boom, when his foe least expect it the blade is shot from the monks hand.
10) Iron Flute
For the 10th Shaolin Kung Fu weapon we’re going to be looking at a rather artistic weapon, The Iron Flute.
As the name of this Shaolin Kung Fu weapon suggests, it’s an iron flute. I find this so ironic, I mean it’s probably one of the most artistic weapon designed in those times. Yet it has the simplest name ever and there’s so much potential. What do you think if we called it the Harmony Sword? That’s a fitting name for an artistic weapon but anyways let’s get back on track.
Excluding the music feature from the Iron Flute and taking it from a strict self defence weapon perspective. The Iron Flute is as simple as a weapon can get. It’s pretty much a piece of metal you can use to hit with. Against a sword, your pretty much defenseless.
That’s not the point of the Iron Flute though, nobody’s going to war with an Iron Flute you know. The point of it was, that while the monks are peacefully meditating. They have a weapon to quickly buy time and get there real weapons out.
11) Monk’s Spade, Crescent Moon Spade
The 11th Shaolin Kung Fu weapon we’re going to be expanding on is, the Monk’s Spade. Like the name suggests, it was a special spade monks used instead of the regular spade.
The monk’s spade falls in the category of a long range pole weapon. It’s basically a staff attached with a blade on each side of the pole. The upper part’s blade resembles that of a flat spade, while on the back end of the pole the blade resembles that of a crescent moon.
The Crescent Moon Spade wasn’t really a weapon to fight of other humans, but rather to defend against wildlife. With the crescent moon blade the monk could place it around an animal’s neck making it painful for the animal to advance in his attack. While leaving him free to escape. The front end of the Monk’s Spade, was used well to do spade things basically. They were also used for burials, As a way to show respect for there fellow fallen comrades.
Here’s a video of a monk showing one of the Crescent Moon Spade’s forms.
12) Kwan Dao, Guandao, Yanyuedao
For our 12th Shaolin Kung Fu weapon, We’re going to be looking at the exalted Guandao also referred to as Kwan Dao, Yanyuedao and Reclining Moon Blade. Not to be confused with a very similar looking weapon the Pudao. Pudao was the 6th Shaolin Kung Fu weapon that we discussed.
The design of the Guandao as we already stated is very much alike the Pudao. The Guandao consists of a pole, A large blade at the tip of the pole similar to that of the Pudao.
Though unlike the Pudao the unsharpened part of the Guandao blade sometimes contains irregularities which is used to hook and disarm foe’s. The Guandao also has a spike on the bottom part of the pole.
In recent times they also started adding the red horse hair tassel to the Guandao. I don’t really get why, the red horse hair tassel doesn’t obstruct any view with a slashing weapon. It’s probably just there to make the weapon look more elegant.
The Guandao also falls under one of the long ranged pole weapons used by the Shaolin Kung Fu monks.
13) Staff, Bo Staff, Pole
For the 13th Shaolin Kung Fu weapon it’s none other than the simple yet timeless Bo Staff weapon. My favourite weapon of all the Shaolin Kung Fu weapons.
It’s design is well, a pole or staff and that’s it. When I was young I used to steal my mother’s broom untie the fluffy thing and start practicing.
This is a pretty fun weapon you can start learning easily. It’s also quite safe-ish, all you need is to buy a hema mask if you don’t already own one and you’re good to go.
The Bo Staff is also considered a long ranged staff weapon by the Shaolin Kung Fu community. The Bo Staff wasn’t used for war, as it’s quite weak compared to the other Shaolin Kung Fu. Though it had it’s place in training for beginner Shaolin Monks.
Here’s a really cool video of Jake Mace showing us some cool spinning techniques for the bo staff.
14) Chicken Claw Sickles
The 14th Shaolin Kung Fu weapon we’re going to be seeing next is the called the Chicken Claw Sickles. The Chicken Claw Sickles is a one handed weapon that sort of resembles the hook sword.
The design of this weapon is basically, a small metal pole the size of a regular one handed sword. A pointy spear like blade on top and two hooking blades similar to a chickens claws. It also sometimes has a hand guard to protect the user’s hand from a sliding attack.
The Chicken Claw Sickle is usually paired with another weapon on the other hand. This gives the Chicken Claw Sickle opportunity for a lot creativity. As one can create a lot of different combinations depending on what the other weapon happens to be.
Here’s a beautiful Chicken Claw Sickle form, performed by Hu Zhengsheng.
15) Double Crescent Halberd
The 15th Shaolin Kung Fu weapon we’re going to look at is the magnificent Double Crescent Halberd. Very beautiful and dangerous weapon.
The Double Crescent Halberd is a long ranged pole weapon, with a spear like tip and a crescent like moon on both sides. In recent times they also sometimes add the red horse hair tassel.
The Double Crescent Halberd has many uses in battle. It can pierce with the spear like tip, slash and hook with the crescent like blade and catch other weapons due to holes between the two crescent moon blades.
I’ve never actually wielded this weapon before but it looks really fun to train with.
16) Jian, Straight Sword
The 16th weapon from the Shaolin Kung Fu weapons list, that we’re going to be looking at is the Jian also known as the Straight Sword.
Don’t think I really need to explain what this sword is. It’s pretty much the most basic of swords, that even someone totally oblivious of the Shaolin Kung Fu weapons knows how it looks like.
The Jian is a singled handed double edged straight sword. It has a guard like most swords do, in order to protect your hand from a sliding attack. It also has that red horse hair tassel like most Shaolin Kung Fu weapons have, attached to the bottom of the Jian’s handle.
Though the Jian looks like a weapon that might no be scalable in terms of skill, it is in fact a hard weapon to truly master. Most Shaolin Kung Fu Monks take over 30 years to achieve their masters in the way of the Jian.
Like all single handed weapons, the Jian can be combined with other one handed weapons. Dus creating a lot of diverse techniques, tactics, forms etc.
17) Shuang Axe
The 17th Shaolin Kung Fu weapon we’re going to be looking at is, the Shuang Axe.
The design of the Shuang Axe, is quite similar to a regular one handed battle axe. It consists of a wooden handle, an axe shaped blade surmounted by a spear tip and a metal tip at the bottom of the handle.
The Shuang Axe isn’t really my thing, I don’t really care much for one handed axes in general to be honest. Sure a single handed axe is lighter than a single handed sword though the offblance caused by the axe’s blade makes it so hard to maneuver.
The only reason I’d pick the Shuang Axe over the Jian would be, if my opponent was heavily armored. This is because the Jian would probably not damage the armor much, while the Shuang Axe even though slower and harder to maneuver packs quite a punch.
18) Tiger Hook Swords
The 18th Shaolin Kung Fu weapon we’re going to be looking at is the Tiger Hook Swords. The Tiger Hook Swords are quite an interesting and tactful weapon I’d like to get my hands on as well. What’s interesting about them is that martial artists seem to like combining the Tiger Hook Sword with another Tiger Hook Sword on the other arm. This is because there are a lot of techniques one can use while wielding 2 Tiger Hook Swords.
The design of the Tiger Hook Sword is similar-ish to that of a normal 1 handed sword. Though the blade is bend inwards to form a hook one can use to control the other persons weapon. There’s also a dagger like blade at the bottom of the Tiger Hook Sword. The guard of the Tiger Hook Sword looks like the Shaolin Kung Fu Crescent like design they have on a lot of there weapons.
Though I’ve never used this weapon before, I think it can be quite an interesting sword against my usual favourite the bo staff. That hook could really block and hold a bo staff attack while giving you the chance to grab hold of their staff and pass there ‘safe zone’.
Concluding The Traditional 18 Shaolin Kung Fu Weapons List
I hope you learned something from this traditional Shaolin Kung Fu weapon list. Do you agree with the weapons I listed, feel free to argue with me in the comments section if you think there should have been another shaolin weapon listed.