Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The King of Chinese Weapons

In Chinese Martial Arts, the spear is considered the King of Weapons. There's a lot more to a spear than pointing it somewhere and pushing.

Because of the length, extreme precision is a demand. If you are a fraction of an inch off in your stance, the business end could be off by a foot when it matters. Also, the spear teaches you to project your energy at some distance away from your body.

At the online magazine Jade Dragon, is a very good article on the Chinese spear. I've posted an excerpt below. Click here to read the whole article. The article is accompanied by pictures of different spear heads that are very interesting as well. Please take a look.

The Chinese Spear:
The King of Chinese Weapons

"When you use the spear you must judge where you are going to hit and focus your eyes on the target. Focus your eyes on your opponent's head, torso, or foot. When the spear is thrust, you should coordinate the weapon with your mind, hands, and feet. Your spear should shoot like a dragon rising from the sea. The motion must be able to surround the opponent body. With that action, you will be able to hit him."

The spear (ch'iang/qiang) is as ancient as China. Not only is it considered to be the oldest military weapon in China, the spear was originally developed as a horse soldier's weapon. Before 400 B.C., foot soldiers used either a nine foot spear or an eighteen foot spear. These spears combined a thrusting point with a hooking or slicing blade.

As a footnote, there are other types of spears-snake-head pattern spear, single hook spear (hooking fish spear), and double hook spear (hooking fish spear). (This particular topic will be discussed in a later article on Chinese weaponry.)

Unlike the spear that is used in other parts of the world, the Chinese spear was never meant to be thrown. Instead, a specialized set of techniques was developed that strongly resembled the single-headed staff techniques. Staffs of various lengths derived spillover value from some of the spear tactics, although they have complete systems of their own.


In ancient China, many advanced martial artists/warriors knew that this pointed implement under the usage of a proficient spear player was usually both lethal and formidable.

Two of the top spear proponents were the famous General Yueh Fei and the first Woman Warrior-Fa Mu Lan. Both warriors were considered invincible due to their proficiency of the spear in combat. (Stories have it that General Yueh Fei developed the Xing Yi mind-shaping boxing system based on his proficiency with the spear and other martial art systems.)

It has been rumored that during the "Water Margin" period of ancient China some of "Leung Mountains" heroes of the "Water Margin" fame were proficient spear players. The best spear player of that group was a "Leopard Head" Lin Chung whose finishing move was the "Returning Horse Spear Thrust." This movement was a reverse body, retreating tactic that lures the pursuing attacker into a state of frenzy. Then the spear player would abruptly stop and deploy an overturning body spear thrust at his opponent. When executed correctly, the spear rarely misses its target.

Yang Cheng Fu of the Yang Family Tai Chi fame always carried a short single-head spear for protection. It served the dual training function of a straight sword and a short staff.

Under the guise of warfare, the British in the mid-nineteenth century concluded that the Chinese spear was far superior to their bayonets. Currently, the weapon is smaller and its uses are compressed into about thirty different methods.

1 comment:

Compass360 Consulting Group said...

A high end spear's implementer view: The spear player starts as a field general riding on a horse, and then he combats like a vanguard warrior from the ground level. ...

An example of that can be found in WLE video version of the Six Harmonies Spear (Liu Hop Qiang) set.

Hint: It is not on Youtube.

If one has properly studied Xingyi, one can see the technical connection between the XY concepts and good spear play.