Shaolin Weapons Curriculum
Northern Shaolin contains a comprehensive program of traditional Chinese weapons training. There are three main categories. Short weapons, long weapons, and paired weapons. The short weapons include Dragon Phoenix Sword, and Eight Directions Saber, and Double Daggers. Long weapons include Earth Dragon Staff, Rising Block Spear, Plum Blossom Spear, and Spring Autumn Halberd Kwan Dao. The paired weapons include Plum Blossom Double Straight Swords, Northern Shaolin Hook Swords, and Northern Shaolin Ground Rolling Double Sabers.
This is an extensive and demanding curriculum that takes a considerable amount of time and commitment to complete (it is also lots of fun). Each of these forms is an authentic and traditional style that was designed and used for self-defense on the battlefield. In addition to being quite practical, these forms are also beautiful and offer excellent exercise. The Chinese martial arts do have forms that are more intricate or flowery, or are designed to have a greater health benefit than these. However, for a style that is both beautiful and useful, these forms are exceptional. Each form is long (between 60 and 100+ movements), and includes a wide variety of both weapons techniques and lively footwork. Although most people will find it impractical to learn all of these forms, even learning one form will provide many benefits.
Benefits of Training Authentic Traditional Weapon Forms
In addition to being lots of fun to practice, there are several other reasons to practice traditional weapons. Although once practical and essential for national and personal defense, ancient weapons are now practical for neither. You cannot carry any of them on street with you, with the possible exception of the staff (a little unwieldy if you have a bag of groceries or briefcase), and they are of little use against guns.
However, training with traditional weapons has many benefits for the martial artist. In general, they increase a persons awareness of their body and the space around their body. Weapons force you to increase the size of the area upon which you are concentrating. They assist one in extending their Qi outside the body and developing sensitivity and correct alignment of the whole body. Weapons practice also often strengthens, stretches, and tones specific areas of the body.