Beginning in Red Sash, students will begin to learn weapon forms and techniques. Praying Mantis - Long Fist incorporates 14 different weapons, taught across 5 different ranks. To read about the indiviual weapons taught at each level, please see the following pages:
The following paragraphs are excerpts from a book by Dr. Yang Jwing Ming, Ancient Chinese Weapons: A Martial Artist's Guide.
A country as vast as China encompasses many types of terrain. Whereas deserts and high plateaus cover the northern territory, mountain ranges dominate the west. The southeast coast and central zones, favored by the Chinese for thousands of years, are lush and warm with many lakes, ponds and rivers. These geographic distinctions produced significant differences in the evolution of local cultures. Physical traits, as well as ethnic traditions, varied from area to area. Such differences caused variations in the weapons that developed. For example, the Northern Chinese tend to be taller and more powerful than their southern brethren. Martial Artist from the north utilized longer and heavier weapons. On the contrary the Southern Chinese, being shorter and generally weaker, would adopt shorter and lighter weapons appropriate for their stature. As an example, the long rod normally carried by the southern martial artist was at least half a foot shorter then that of their northern counterpart.
Distinctions existed also between the people of the west and southeast. Because of the mountains in the west, the local people specialized in hunting with a trident. Naturally, they often used the same weapon when fighting. Also, poisonous animals such as snakes, spiders and centipedes were common in the western mountains. After thousands of years of experience, people learned how to deal with these poisons. This special knowledge made western martial artists expert in utilizing poison on their weapons to kill an enemy more easily. The southeast, unlike the west, was a great agricultural plain. People used the hoe and harrow for cultivation. As a result, hoe and harrow fighting techniques developed. With time, communications and transportation improved throughout China. As weapons spread around the country, local distinctions were lost and martial styles and techniques became a national mixture.
Generally speaking, a well trained martial artist would carry at least three different weapons. He would have a primary weapon such as a sword, saber, staff or spear, with which he was most proficient. Usually this weapon was obvious to his enemy and had the most power and killing potential. A secondary weapon would be hidden on his body, perhaps a whip or an iron chain in his belt or a pair of daggers in his boots, which could be used in the event that his main weapon was lost during battle. For use at very long distances or in a surprise attack in a close battle, he would use dart weapons. Some of these easily hidden weapons (e.g., darts or throwing knives) were thrown by hand, others (e.g., sleeve arrows) were projected from a spring equipped tube. In choosing his weapons, a martial artist must consider three factors. First, what weapon suits his physical stature? If he is tall and strong, he would take advantage of a long, heavy weapon such as a large saber or halberd, which may weigh over 50 pounds. These weapons have more killing potential because of their length and are more difficult to block because of their great weight.
To read more, please see Ancient Chinese Weapons: A Martial Artist's Guide. by Dr. Yang Jwing Ming. You can order it online or at your local bookstore.