Saturday, July 10, 2010

Weapons of Yau Kung Mun

Yau Kung Mun, being a traditional Southern Siu Lum system, has a wide variety of weapons sets.

As an example of some of our sets, we have three staff sets teaching three different types of staff - double ended, long and medium lengths. We have single and double broadsword sets, double dagger sets, butterfly knife sets (similar in size to the Wing Chun knife, not the balisong), trident, horse bench, spear and three sectional staff forms.

Some question the utility of training with traditional weapons (who carries a three section staff in their back pocket?). I feel there are many reasons to train with traditional weapons.

One is that the usage of differing weapons builds a fighters attributes - strength, fluidity, stability. Swinging a large heavy weapon such as the Trident or a kwan do (not the lightweight versions ala wu shu) will quickly tell you whether you are rooting in your stances, as well as utilizing all the upper body muscles dynamically.

A second reason is for the retention of historical techniques. Look at the popularity of Renaissance Fairs and re-enactments - this is a way to touch with the past in a fun, healthy way.

A third reason is to learn the principles of the weapons (not just a form or technique) and apply then to common every day items (brooms, tire irons, pens, etc).

Historically, I feel that weapons usage was probably taught first, then empty hand skills (similar to modern day military usage - all learn to shoot firearms as the primary skill, hand to hand is lower on the priority). When Martial Arts became civilianized, the shift occurred to empty hand skills, character development, and weapons usage declined (as well as being outlawed in many countries). Also historically, time was limited for 'fitness' training, and weapons allowed for a way to train fitness and skill that directly related to fighting.

Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.