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Secret Spear of Shaolin

Jen Stabs


Shaolin Qiang FaThe 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 Battle

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 Yang’s 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 fighting force.

Monk Records His Techniques

Hong ZhuanThe 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 Spear Method.
The book is arranged in four short chapters;

1. Eight Mother Spear Method
2. Six Subtleties
3. Five Essentials
4. Three Wonders

He concludes his book with a final description of each chapter.

Eight 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

Mid-Four Level Spear Maneuver

New Book on Effective Training Methods calls it ‘four-level barbarian surrendering pose.’

It is the king of spear and first of all maneuvers. Every move comes from it, its changes are limitless.

If you stab high, I immediately capture.

You stab low, I immediately lift or row.

You stab to my left, I immediately intercept.

You stab to my right, I immediately capture.

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.' "Feng" sealing "Bi" closing

Sealing

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 knuckle).

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' spear.

A Short Description of Sealing and Closing

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).

Stabbing Tiger's Mouth

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 with...

... a quick stab to Megan's hand.

The above description is the application of sealing. Sealing is the opposite of closing.

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

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