As any club that teaches the traditional Chinese martial arts should do, here at WCA we offer the opportunity to train with a variety of weapons.
It’s interesting to see the reaction of new students when they first entertain the notion of weapons training. Broadly speaking they seem to fall into three camps, as far as I can tell.
First of all there is the, “Oh no, that sounds slightly unnerving, that’s definitely not for me” camp. Then there’s the, “Weapons!? Great!! Bring it on!” group of students and thirdly, perched nicely in the middle are those who look slightly bemused and think, “Why would I wan to train with traditional weapons?”
Weapons training is entirely optional at WCA and I’d never dream of coercing a student into any form of training that they didn’t feel comfortable with and I can understand that wielding a weapon may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
However, for those who are curious to give it a try or to instantly fully embrace the notion of weapons training, there are a great many benefits to be had and they are a great addition to your training arsenal.
I’ll start with the most important reason. Weapons training is great fun! If you’re into that sort of thing, learning moves and techniques as well as taking part in sparring/partnered work with swords and staffs etc, is lots of fun and adds a whole new element to your training.
As practitioners of traditional martial arts, I believe we have a duty to keep the arts alive. These beautiful weapons forms were often created hundreds of years ago and passed down from generation to generation. We are a link in this chain, which is sadly a weakening chain as the traditional martial arts continue to be ignored and often die out. It’s up to us to ensure that these forms find their way to the generations to come so that they can benefit as we continue to do so.
Once a student has got to a certain level with their ‘open-hand’ forms, putting a weapon of some variety into their hand is a fantastic way to keep their skills improving. Weapons forms add skills and complexity as well as help to further improve and practitioner’s strength, flexibility and overall conditioning. From an instructor’s viewpoint, it’s like taking a student back to beginners level and building them from the ground up once again. Basic mistakes are magnified when trying to control a weapon as well as your own body!
Traditional martial artists should take the time to educate themselves about their art. This is especially true for White Crane students – it’s not known as the scholar’s art for nothing! Adding weapons and learning about them, the principles behind them, the history they are a part of and the regions they come from adds a further depth of knowledge into the knowledge base of a martial artist. It’s not enough to simply ‘do’, you need to educate yourself around the subject as well.
At the end of the day, all other benefits aside, the traditional martial arts are all about self defence. Now not by any stretch of the imagination I am not saying that people should carry around swords and spears to protect themselves. However, if your in an unlikely and unlucky situation where you are being attacked and you have absolutely no other option, you need to defend yourself or those of your loved ones and there is a stick or something else available, you may be able to deter your attacker or attackers if you show you know how to wield such an implement.
So there you have a few reasons why training with weapons may be an option for you. Whether you want to improve skills, delve further into the history and traditions or just get a bit fitter and stronger, they’re a very good option to add to your training.
As I said earlier in the blog. At WCA we have a whole host of weapons to train with. Tai Chi students will tend to veer towards the softer style weapons such as the cane, fan and Chinese straight sword (then progressing to the double fan and double sword forms). Those who prefer the heavier, more Kung Fu related weapons will go for the staff, spear, trident, da dao (big sword), broadsword as well as a variety of others that are available.
However, weapons are more of a category of their own to explore, rather than being ‘Tai Chi related’ or ‘Kung Fu related’. It’s really up to the student, under the guidance of their instructor, which weapons they explore.
For those who are interested in learning more, there is the spear course in Haywards Heath coming up later this year where you’ll get the chance to learn what is known as the ‘King of Weapons’.