Historically, there are eighteen traditional Shaolin weapons

They stem from the original four used by Shaolin martial artists: the staff, the broadsword, the straight sword and spear.

Buddhists With Weapons? 

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.

Weapons Training Today

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”(not sharpened to inflict harm). The weapons are used as training tools.  The staff helps to develop balance on both sides of the body.  The straight sword encourages the student to work on flow and subtlety of movement. A weapon is an extension of the person and places a greater demand on the body. It 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.

When Do You Start? 

The Shaolin student will pick up a weapon relatively soon in the course of their training, usually in the 2nd year, not so much as a means for practical self-defense, but to develop some of the skills listed above.

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

The 18 Traditional Shaolin Weapons

  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