Why learn to use real martial weapons?
If 6 Dragons Kung Fu strictly refuses violence (read for example The 6DKF’s diagram about the use of violence), why a practitioner should learn to use real martial weapons?
The reply is to reach the excellence of the practice.
In any kind of martial practice (for an expert), the goal is to gain the most effective possible skills; if, for example, a sword is not sharpened:
- It does not allow cutting exercises
- It is less aerodynamic and then slower
- It is not dangerous and then concentration is lower
- It does not describe how much harm could be caused to others
- It is not possible to understand the dynamics related to the approach with a sharp weapon
In a few words: the preparation is incomplete.
Probably for a non-practitioner, it can be difficult to understand but it’s a bit like doing weightlifting but with polystyrene weights, it just makes no sense.
In all cases, study, comprehension and knowledge widen the horizons of the human mind, it is ignorance, rejection and improvisation to be dangerous.
Tools, techniques and martial arts do not have bad attitudes by themselves, it’s only the people involved that can make them good or bad. It is for this reason that, to an excellent physical training, must correspond an equally valid mental preparation (read Who is Master Kongling?).
A note by Master Kongling – Once they asked me why I have this liking for weapons of Shaolin, Ninjutsu, etc. in their real version (swords, spears, darts, chains, etc.) and above all against whom I intend to use them. My answer was: they are historical evidence of man’genius, a mirror at the same time of its limits and its excellence. Apart from that, I never thought of using such deadly instruments against chiccexy and certainly, even if I had the opportunity, I would not resort to them, even in the presence of criminals (as long as they do not directly and inevitably threaten my life or that of others, read Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method).
How to learn to use real weapons
Having made the necessary premises, let’s see what is the (general) path of study of martial weapons in 6DKF:
- We start with a totally unharmful object that simulates the weapon
- We pass to a training version of the weapon
- We finally arrive to use the real version of the weapon
Let’s see the steps in detail:
- Introduction and safety – Study of the characteristics of the weapon and the most common misuse that lead to self-harm (how not to make it fall, the catch, the guard, the most common mistakes, the dangerous parts, etc.)
- Free approach – A first free approach with a totally harmless object that simulates the weapon (free slow movements without any kind of instruction, read A 6DKF for each one)
- Damage experience – Simulation (at minimum power and without damaging the body) of what could it mean to hit someone (or ourselves) with the actual weapon (no tips, no blades)
- Study of the basic interactions – Study the most practical movements (basic attack and defense) with the weapon simulated (without targets and with slow strokes)
- Study of good and bad dynamics – Study of quality movements / trajectories (and recognizing of the worst ones) to increase the effectiveness in terms of spaces and times (without targets, at medium speed)
- Reach a motionless big target – Exercises that connect the simulated weapon, a motionless big target and movements designed to start to get speed and power (but at a low speed, read Basic tools: the pole)
- Reach a big motionless medium target – Exercises that connect the simulated weapon, a moving target (medium size) and movements designed to get speed and power (medium speed)
- Study of the advanced interactions – Study of advanced blows (in terms of attack and defense) with the simulated weapon (with medium target and shots at medium speed)
- Basic dexterity – Exercises of “dexterity” with the simulated weapon at medium speed (only those really useful in terms of combat or in terms of education / optimization of the body, no choreographies)
- Address a mobile middle target – Exercises that connect the simulated weapon, a moving target, advanced techniques and movements designed to get speed and power (medium speed, medium target, read Basic tools: the Hanging Speedball)
- Advanced dexterity – Exercises of “dexterity” with the simulated weapon at high speed (proportionally to the skill level of the practitioner with obstacles, disturbing elements, etc.)
- Advanced application – Exercises that connect the simulated weapon, a moving target, advanced techniques and movements designed to get speed and power (maximum speed)
- Free expression – Reached a good mastering of the weapon we pass to the free personal use of the simulated weapon (read Basic tools: the cloth)
- Quality check 1 – If we are not able to perform all the steps without coarse / dangerous errors we must return to step 1
- Conditioning 1 – If the training version of the weapon has different characteristics in relation to the simulated one (size, weight, elasticity, etc.) we must train our body (without it) to obtain the same performance level (read for example The “T” weight: an exercise to master weapons)
- Transition to the training weapon – To proceed, we must repeat all the previous steps but this time, using the training version of the weapon (every weapon is very dangerous and proceed in haste is extremely dangerous)
- Expert level techniques – Study and (simulated) exercises of the most complex and lethal techniques
- Quality check 2 – If we are not able to perform all the steps without any error we must return to step 1 (but using the current type of weapon)
- Transition to the real weapon – To proceed, we must possess the Soft Touch skill (read for example A pencil dexterity exercise for the use of knife) and repeat all the previous steps but this time, using the real version of the weapon
At the end of the path, the practitioner (if he has followed all the steps and all the exercises) should have acquired full control of the weapon and should be able to use a lot of its variants with a certain level of effectiveness.
How to face weapon training
Some important details about the learning path of martial weapons:
- Safety rules – Following this method and the general safety rules (read Dojo (guan): rules, respect and etiquette) the risk of damages decreases drastically
- A gradual evolution – It should be emphasized that while following these cautions and these steps, we always start from the less dangerous weapon and gradually reach the more complex ones
- Learning times – Each weapon (the nunchaku, the knife, etc.) has specific learning times (as well as the practitioners), only when we are more than certain that we have reached a necessary skill level can we move on to the next step
- Practice – Each step should be naturally accompanied by extensive practical exercises with partners and error correction posture; never allow more than 10 days to pass without training the weapons
- A 360° workout – It’s important to stress that the learning of each weapon is not done separately but simultaneously with the others and with freehands combat (this way, learning is more rapid, effective and personnel)
A note by Master Kongling – It is interesting to remember that in the temple of Shaolin it was customary to say “1000 days for free body combat and 10000 for the sword” (the monks naturally trained every day for the whole day); this should give us the measure of the time necessary to achieve real excellence (even for a single weapon).
A few (important) tips and thoughts:
- The possession, use and transportation of real weapons are subject to the law of the country in which we are located, before committing crimes, let us inform ourselves
- Sparring (with ample protections), as for the freehand fighting (read You can call yourself a 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s practitioner if…) is recommended but optional (in no cases, it can be performed with real weapons)
- To cross real weapons is allowed only in controlled exhibitions between high-level, trained, expert practitioners that know what they are doing and that, together, have already prepared precompiled sequences (free flow is not allowed)
- If simulated weapons are totally harmless, the same thing cannot be said for the training ones, so let’s be extremely careful
- Every time we use a new weapon or the other’s one, even if similar to the one we are prepared in, absolute caution is required (we do not know how it will react to our way of moving, the quality of the build, its real dynamics, etc.)
- Let’s never train with a weapon if we are not more than certain to be 100% of our physical and mental presence (spatial intelligence, fatigue, etc., read also Safe training: the 3 errors rule)
In the next article of this series, we will deepen the preparation for every single weapon.
- At the base of each weapon: the short stick – The tool that we choose to start training weapons
- Improper weapons in a real situation – How an improvised weapon can help us manage a self-defense situation
- A special thanks goes to jkdgeonew who, with a free donation, requested the updating of this article (read Learn Kung Fu online: request a specific article)
Reply in the comments and share your experience:
- Which weapon would you like to learn to use?
Author: Master Kongling
Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.