Chen Style Tai Chi Weapons – The Qiang or Spear
by Max Yan and James Cravens
Chen Style Tai Chi has many weapons that are a part of its curriculum. In the old large frame the weapons are practiced today because they play a role in focusing on part of the goal to create a Tai Chi Body.
The Chen Style Tai Chi Spear is also known as “Pear Flower Spear and White-Ape Staff”. This form is a mixture of applications of the spear and staff.
The early version of the Chen Style Tai Chi Spear form is called “Yang Family 24 Spear Form” or “Pear Flower Spear”. This Yang style is not the Yang Tai Chi Family, rather a woman who lived about 900 years ago who was famous for this 24 movement spear form. The name “pear flower” comes from the idea that the pear flower is many flowers and the braid on the spear when it is used well, will give the opponent an overwhelming feeling that the spear is coming from many places and directions and is difficult to defend against.
In the Ming Dynasty, General Qi Ji Guang gave highest credit to this spear technique system and wrote it down in his book “Ji Xiao Xin Shu” which was famous as a military training program. Chen Wang Ting, the founder of Chen Style Tai Chi was a General during the Ming Dynasty. He used the basic pattern of the 24 spear form, but applied the theory of Tai Chi to the spear movement. Therefore the Chen Style Tai Chi 24 Spear Form has the exact sequence and name to this form.
Today the Chen family has put the 24 spear movements with the staff movements to create the 72 movements of “Pear Flower Spear and White Ape Staff”.
The Spear is used to thrust straight ahead and the Staff is used more in hitting side to side or up and down. Just like other weapons in Chen Style Tai Chi, the spear contains sticky technique.
The Thirteen Techniques of the Spear are:
1. Thrusting (downward)
2. Parry left to right
3. Parry right to left
4. Upward parry
5. Striking side to side
6. Pointing downward strike
7. Pointing upward Strike
8. Striking downward
9. Push away
10. Blocking upward
11. Coiling (sticking) clockwise
12. Coiling (sticking) counter clockwise
13. Thrusting (forward)
Another action or technique that is constantly present in the spear movements is Circling.
This weapon is powerful, deceptive, and unpredictable like thunder, lightening and the Dragon. It is known as the “King of Weapons”.
It is hard to practice this weapon. In China they say, “100 days to practice Broadsword but 1000 days to practice the Spear”. One must be careful of the movement of the hand, eye sight, body movement, stance and step. With a Tai Chi body, one can move so that spear and staff technique can be applied in one weapon. The application of spear and staff can alternate instantly because of the Tai Chi body movement. This ability makes the Chen style Tai Chi Spear form unique form other spear forms.