Secret Spear of Shaolin
The fame of the Shaolin Temple’s martial skill have been
passed down for 1500 years. But that fighting fame
came at a terrible price. The skills of Shaolin and
Chinese martial arts were developed through war and
revolution and the skills of Shaolin weapons passed
through the life and death experiences of thousands. It
is sobering to keep in mind the history of these techniques.
The end of the Ming
Dynasty (1368-1644) was a period of terrible upheaval.
The circumstances of the time resulted in the testing
and refinement of martial
techniques. The Warrior Monk Hong Zhuan of the Ming
Dynasty recorded the methods of Shaolin spear in a short
hand written manual. His writings are a
fascinating insight into the closely guarded methods trained
at the Shaolin temple of that era.
The Warrior Monks
In 1639 the Minister of War, Yang
Sichang, was put in charge of pacifying Henan and the surrounding regions. Yang supplemented his army with
warrior monks of the Shaolin temple.
By the summer of 1640 a large rebel army had broken through
defensive line and pushed him out of the province. At
the start of 1641, before Yang's army had a chance to
recover, a severe famine hit the Henan area and
rebel leaders found an excess of willing recruits for
their armies. Within the first three months of that year
Yang’s army faced overwhelming defeat and he
lost control of key cities of Henan to the rebels. Yang Sichang
committed suicide. It was also the end of the Shaolin
Monk Records His Techniques
The writings of Warrior Monk Hong Zhuan
are the only known recordings of Shaolin's spear method
of the Ming Dynasty. Hong Zhuan’s manual is called The Spring Dream Hall
The book is arranged in four short chapters;
Mother Spear Method
2. Six Subtleties
3. Five Essentials
4. Three Wonders
He concludes his book with a final
description of each chapter.
mothers are the root.
Six subtleties are the application
Five Essentials are the changes
The Three wonders are the cleverness
‘The mother’ or the root of the training is
based on a short two person drill of eight
interconnected techniques. Masters of spear believe that
skill is attained through the practice of innumerable repetitions
of Eight Mother Spear Method. To begin the training one
must be versed in Mid-Four Level Spear Maneuver.
It is said that spear is considered the
king of weapons and within spear techniques the Mid-Four
Level Spear Maneuver is the king of spear. The Eight
Mother Spear Method starts its explanation from the
Mid-Four Level Spear Maneuver. What follows is a
description of Mid-Four Level Spear Maneuver as recorded
by Hong Zhuan's student Chen Zengyou.
Mid-Four Level Spear Maneuver
calls it ‘four-level barbarian surrendering pose.’
New Book on Effective Training Methods
It is the king of spear and first of all
maneuvers. Every move comes from it, its changes are
stab high, I immediately capture.
You stab low, I immediately lift or
You stab to my left, I immediately
You stab to my right, I immediately
The changes and transformations
always come from it. Your spear attacks, my spear seals.
|The First of Eight Mothers
is called 'sealing' it is the most essential of
defensive techniques. It is followed by
its opposite called 'closing.'
I stand in 'Mid-Four Level.' He stabs inside my
circle. I open my door slightly and induce him to
stab fully. My forward wrist moves forward to cover,
my rear wrist moves back and turns up, my spear tip
is about six inches from his front hand. Use force
and seal open his spear and immediately stab him at
tiger's mouth (between thumb and index finger
My rear foot must apply force while the spear
shaft stays rooted to my body and the tip doesn't
leave the center. Pay attention to your inner circle
to guard against your opponent using 'stringing'
A Short Description of Sealing and
Jen and Megan face off in Mid-Four Level posture.
Megan stabs inside Jen's circle (on Jen's right) with
the intent of hitting Jen's thumb (shown below).
Jen seals. That means that she circles her spear on
top of Megan's spear (shown). Quick as a flash she
forces Megan's spear down (not shown) and follows
... a quick stab to Megan's hand.
The above description is the application of sealing.
Sealing is the opposite of closing.
Megan stabs outside of Jen's circle which means the
spear comes to the left of Jen's lead hand.
Here you can clearly see Megan's spear is to Jen's left
side. This is called outside the circle.
Jen circles her spear to perform closing which will be
quickly followed by a stab.
Masters such as Hong Zhuan thought of their martial art
as an aid to approaching the shore of enlightenment.
Though the application of the techniques is fierce and
deadly, the training was essential for the survival of
the monks living through those troubled times. For those
monks who relied on martial training for their survival
it is fitting that they would turn their method into an
aid toward spiritual development.
This is the greatest legacy of martial arts left
to us by the ancient generation