Weapons training is an integral part of all traditional Chinese martial arts schools. In ancient times, it was necessary to become well versed in all aspects of fighting. Lack of expertise in the use of weapons meant certain defeat in a real confrontation with an antagonist who was skilled in the field.
Traditional Chinese weapons are numerous in design and vary in use. They are divided into four major categories: long, short, flexible, and throwing weapons.
It was common for martial arts experts to receive training and become well versed in four major weapons. These are: the saber, the sword, the staff, and the spear. Many masters chose to specialize in other weapons such as the quandao or three-sectional staff. Others preferred double weapons, like the double sabers or double hooks. Often, physical characteristics as well as mental disposition dictated the type of weapon that would best suit an individual. For example, a tall person might prefer specializing in the use of the spear while a shorter person might prefer specializing in the use of the broadsword (saber).
Today, traditional weapons have lost their original purpose of battlefield use. However, they are quite indispensable in developing certain physical and mental qualities that cannot be easily achieved through empty hands practice alone. Speed, strength, reflexive actions, distance, timing, bravery, and resolve can be greatly enhanced by practicing with traditional weapons. In addition, they give variety and provide added interest in one's training.