You will find information on the unusual and often mis-understood, mis-represented Red Eagle Spear. Although Wushu Practitioners often find some essence of the Red Eagle Spear it is just the beginning. Have a look what it means to be a Red Eagle Spear Warrior and why this Chinese Spear is so much different than most other spears!
This page is dedicated to the King of all Chinese Weapons, history, detail and the full Shaolin Red Eagle Training Curriculum including Techniques, Routines and Form. A special focus is made to present the uniqueness of this Spear in the family of Spears both Chinese and from all over the world.
This page is also a training Materials page for the Shaolin Kung Fu and traditional Chinese Weaponry Academy students who use this material for their training and advancement. It is possible for a middle to high level martial art practitioner to become full qualified on the use of this weapon using the materials on this page.
As one of the oldest Weapons in the world. It is just a Sharp Pointed Stick yet the Chinese rightly call i the King of All Weapons. But there are many spear types and for many purposes. As simple as the Spear is, this simplicity lends it self to adaptability and a versatility only exceeded by Swords. Amongst all the different Spears the Shaolin Red Eagle Spear is the Eagle, the Bird of Pray the King of it's kind, if handled by a master wielder!
Compared to most weapons, the Red Eagle Spear is light with a long reach. Its techniques are few and simple but very efficient and effective. The Spear is all about full body coordination and the mastery of the point thrust techniques, using skill and precision not power and strength. Some Chinese Martial Art Classics stated that "a Spear that moves in a constant rapid-fire pace can never be defeated." Another uniqueness of the Red Eagle Spear is that the shaft is not straight and is a bit lumpy. This means when the Spear is being thrust forward it is not a smooth direct line but a bumpy and blurry. This adds to it's effectiveness when used correctly!
The Shaolin Red Eagle Spear is considered the quickest and most agile of all Spears. Made of a white wax wood (Baila Wood), that only grows in Northern China, it is used for its flexibility and whipping quality. The wood is such a good base for the Spear Head that all/most Chinese Wushu schools have chosen it as the preferred training Spear over all other Spear types! The Spear's butt, or end, is thick and can have metal shodding like a staff, but this is unusual. The tip of the Spear is made of steel and is shaped like a flat arrowhead with two edges. One of the most noticeable characteristics is the Kings Red Beard, also referred to as horsetail tassels, because they were made of horsehair.
Not just ordinary wood but made from a weed wood, classified as pest in some countries. It is a small evergreen tree growing up to 10m (34feet) tall with white flowers that stink. Not a popular plant to have in your garden, because if it's great flexibility and toughness, it is often referred to as a Wax Wood and sometimes know as Bai La Shu. The perfect wood to make a flexible lightning fast base for the Red Eagle Spear. Also, it is of benefit if the Red Eagle Spear Shaft is not straight!
The Beard now featured on so many staffed weapons was once a great uniqueness of the Red Eagle Spear and hence where it received it's name. With the wildly flowing Red Horse Hairs framing the small Eagle Like beak of a Spear Head, the Red Eagle Spear strike was as sudden and unexpected a an Eagle descending on it's prays back and braking the spine. Before you know it, it is over.
And this is one of the main aims of the Red Beard, to hide the actual Spear Tip, distract the opponents eye, stop blood dripping onto the shaft (thus making it slippery and eventually ruining the shaft) and also prevent penetration any further than up to but not further than the Beard. Such a simple item and yet such a colossal advantage for the effective Red Eagle Spear user.
The Red Eagle Spear is very individual and not 'mass' produced. The length of the spear is usually measured to the size of the person using it; around the height plus the spear tip being approximately the with of the palm. The preparation of the wood would also be done by the user as this is a way to learn about that piece of wood, it's flexibility and find any flaws in it before your life would depend on it being flawless. Even now days, traditional martial art schools have the student prepare their own wood for the spear although often the students are not told exactly the what and the how and almost never the why!
The Spear is as ancient as China or the world for that matter. Who may have sharpened the first stick for hunting and who then may have put the sharp end into a fire to strengthen it, and then who may have put the first stone chip as a spear tip would be a futile. Currently we have a lot of archeological data from western and near eastern finds. Yet, the oldest find comes from the cradle of human civilization Africa.
Archeological evidence documents that wooden Spears were used for hunting 400,000 years ago in China. However, wood does not preserve well. Craig Stanford, a primatologists and professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California, has suggested that the discovery of Spear use by chimpanzees probably means that early humans used wooden Spears as well, perhaps five million years ago.
Originally, the first finds of spear, which were of stone as wood could not last this long. Stone points used on spears had been found at sites that date back no more than 300,000 years, and that are associated with Neanderthal's or archaic members of our species. Then finds made in the UK suggest that Homo heidelbergensis could fashion wooden spears. A 500,000 year old horse shoulder blade from Boxgrove, UK, has a semicircular hole in it that suggests it was pierced by a spear. "But the hole's bevelled edges and circular shape are not suggestive of a stone-tipped weapon," says Jayne Wilkins at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada.
Archaeologists have found the oldest evidence yet of stone tipped spears in South Africa which predates current thinking by 200,000 years. It suggests that our shared ancestor Homo heidelbergensis pioneered the Spear and usage not as previously thought the Neandertals or Homo sapiens. Since Homo heidelbergensis started walking into the fossil record roughly 600,000 years ago, during the middle Pleistocene, it doesn't complicate things to associate this innovation in technology with them – both modern humans and Neandertals were using hefted tools, so it's not a stretch to associate their creation with the common ancestor.
Spear manufacture and use is also practiced by the Pan troglodytes versus subspecies of the Common Chimpanzee. This is the only known example of animals besides humans crafting and using deadly Weapons. Chimpanzees near Kédougou, Senegal were observed to create Spears by breaking straight limbs off of trees, stripping them of their bark and side branches, and sharpening one end with their teeth. They then used the Weapons to hunt galagos sleeping in hollows.
It is thus not surprising that the Spear is it considered to be the oldest military Weapon in China. The Spear in China was probably originally developed as a horse soldier's Weapon and also against Horse Soldiers. Before 400 BC, foot soldiers used either a nine foot Spear or an eighteen foot Spear. These Spears combined a thrusting point with a hooking or slicing blade possibly being the precursor to a Ge.
Throughout the years, there has been many versions of the spear. The design of the spear normally depended on the dynasty it was in. It was said that in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1280 AD) that General Yue Fei added a hook, which was sharp on both edges, to the head of the Spear. This gave him an advantage because he could also cut off the legs of horses. Generals even added the metal taper on both ends to increase the Weapons killing potential. It could also hook onto a Shield and rip it away from the holder. Below are just some examples of Spears and Polearms thought to have developed in China over the past two millennia.
The originality and uniqueness of the Red Eagle Spear is due to the use of the Waxwood. It is a mall to large deciduous tree, 10 to 13 m (35' to 45') tall (in 30 years), often with a gnarled trunk, bark gray to whitish-gray with vertical cracks; stem exudes a milky poisonous juice (possibly originally used to coat the spear tip). One of the species of this wood bear a fruit that in some areas is called Eagle Claw. The wood is close-grained, suitable for carving and for furniture making and incense. originally the Red Eagle Spear was black, colored by a black dye by boiling leaves in alum water.
Complementing this is a relatively small flat shortish spear tip (pictured right of the 4 tips) is a Red Horse Hair tassel normally called the Red Beard. The Spear is meant to be used more like a Snake Striking rather than a lance, this the Red Eagle Spear warrior uses rapid movement and the fluttering of the Red beard to confuse and distract, flicking the spear in an out, penetrating no further than the flat head is long. Seeking vital areas and gaps in the amour, the Red Eagle Spear is a precision tool. Speed, accuracy and timing are more important than power, reach and penetration, which for the most is the usual speciality of a Spear Wielder.
From the some 54 recorded Virtues there are 11 that are specific to the Spear Warrior, that make the Ideal Red Eagle Spear Warrior as opposed to a Spear Soldier or even just a Spear User. These are;
1 Patience is always the number one skill of a Warrior, hunter and strategist. patience allows the proper use of timing, the recognition of Best Opportunity and the knowledge of when to change the strategy. Patience also to endure delay, trouble, pain or hardship without being put off by the consequences.
2 Determination is the will to Persevere and Overcome, but it is not obsession. Determination is the ability to do what needs to be done but not at the cost of self destruction or fellow warriors lives. Wise determination is balanced with Risk Management.
3 Focus is the ability to pay attention to the task at hand without loosing your awareness of the surroundings and environment. The ability to totally focus on the battle, opponent(S) at hand but without loosing a clear vision of the surroundings and other dangerous.
4 Peace of mind, free of emotion and devoid of the need to harm or kill. A Killer has to kill, a Soldier is put into a position where they have no choice but to Kill (or be Killed) but a warrior always has the choice and will always try and choose Peace!
5 Simplicity not of the idiot but the simplicity of the Master; knowing the essence and the simplest way of using this skill. In Mandarin Chinese there are 3 types of Simplicity, Easy Simplicity, Natural Simplicity and Plain Simplicity. Well it is Easy Simplicity because the Warrior has spent many, many hours making it so; it is Natural Simplicity because the Warrior makes it seem so and it is Plain Simplicity because it is without adornment, just what is needed.
6 Flexibility of Body, Mind and Spirit. The ability to adapt to the circumstances and make the best of it; the ability to bend with the force like a tree in a storm, the ability to change to suit what is needed; the total flexibility of wood, where it bends back to what was, mostly.
7 Bravery is not the ability of no feeling fear, it is the ability to feel fear and still do what needs to be done. Bravery is the ability to use fear as needed and not be driven by it.
8 Devotion to the Style, Art and Task. Whatever the Warrior has committed to, it is a Devoted more than just loyalty, steadfastness, constancy and commitment; it is all of those but without being blind to the facts and the real world.
9 Reliability of Action, Word thought & Spirit. You wort is your word, your oath, your promis. If your words can not be trusted you can not be trusted and thus you are unreliable.
There is really no tactic that a warrior will not or can not use from the some 100 or so possible. yet we need to start somewhere and define the bare minimum the foundation of a Spear Warrior as opposed, say a Tiger Sword Wielder.
1 Surprise - is the ultimate Tactic, Strategy and the Warriors main tool. There is no advantage like the advantage of surprise. There are many strategies to achieve and a good Red Eagle Spear Warrior or any Warrior for that matter will have a few such ready for when needed.
2 AccuracyWith a Spear close enough is NOT good enough. Especially the Red Eagle Spear is very much designed for Accurate and precise targeting and work.
3 PositioningPosition, position, position. Very often it is the difference between victory and defeat. Where surprise is the no1 way of winning, not-being-there is the no1 way of not loosing.
5 Endurance as in Perseverance, to go that one step further, to continue where others would have given up. When all seems lost, that one final move, attack or even escape. Endurance is the key to 2nd chances.
6 Speed & Timing is at the core of the Red Eagle Spear. But not the speed of an arrow but the speed of an Eagle who costs far above it's pray lazily and waits for the right moment, the opportune time, the opening and then it uses speed; not before and not after.
7 Observation as in the point 6, the ability to see without seeming to look; the ability to spot the flaws, the opening, the opportunities and when necessary, the escape. He who Observers is rarely Surprised.
8 Strategy is key. Although the best strategy is Surprise and the last Strategy is Run, there is a lot in between. A red Eagle Spear Warrior will have a number of Strategies choosing not to use their best each time as this creates reliance and predictability.
9 Retreat is the key to success as there is no success without failure. If you do not have a contingency for failure you can not develop the skills to success. these two are Yin and Yang and balance each other, without the one there is no other.
Where as the above has been information about the Shaolin Red Eagle Spear, understanding and such, what comes next is the actual learning to use the Red Eagle Spear. This can be dangerous so we feel obliged to make you aware of a number of matter in relation to Safety, Shaolin Principles and how to get the best from the materials we provide. WE STRONGLY recommend that you read all of the following and agree to follow all the rules and guides. 50 years of teaching and training martial arts and weaponry has taught me that the only short cut is to the hospital via an ambulance. Shaolin is not a style to be rushed no matter how many Dans or Degrees you have.
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Welcome, i am Sijo Robert Z, the person who developed the Cyber Kung Fu Home Training program. There are a few things i need you to do before you continue any further. Please do read through all the materials relating to your safety and training rules and we feel you will have the most from the information provided here and will have this in the safest way. So enjoy and be safe.
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In addition to the Indemnity, Blue Form, we also speak to our prospective new members and clarify the important points and rules. Please look at the following closely and again, if you disagree with any point either write to us for clarification or go away!
Safety first and Always. If you can hurt or damage yourself or someone else, do not do it!. Shaolin Kung Fu is a way of life and health, not pain and anger.
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Below is a list of the Bare Hand Skills required to safely and correctly learn the use of the Shaolin Red Eagle Spear. The first test is a fairly standard test mostly equal to the 1st Level of Shaolin Kung Fu training sans the Punches. Ideally though you would want to be 2nd Level or even a 3rd Level Martial Artist to commence the Trident-Axe training. That said, check you skills against the requirements in the 1st Test just below. To be Shaolin Accredited you need to complete all 9 tests. These need not be done all at the same time but each test needs to be done at the one time without interruptions to the test or the recording.
|Overview & Info||Always First||Required Bare Hand Curriculum||Emei Shan Breathing Set|
Just above, as part of the Prerequisites you will see the tile '5 Stepping Methods'. As the Eagle is very much into mobility, please demonstrate your deeper commitment to this by spending more time on the 5 Stepping Methods.
Test 2 - Record yourself performing all the variation of stepping you can glean from the 5 Stepping Methods moving in the 8 directions, Forward, Backward, Sideways and 45 Degrees. Use Stances and the Stepping Methods. As a Red Eagle practitioner you only need to use high stances, ie Guard, Eagle, Crane and Unicorn.
Patience can be trained as most anything else. You need 15 minutes for this test. Each of the 5 postures need to be held for 3 minutes in total without moving except in the middle to change directions. So that you have your hands in the right position, we show you where to hold the Spear when performing these exercises. This assumes that the spear is as tall as you plus the spear tip and no more!
|Safety Stance (2)||2 - Guardian Stance (1+2)||3 - High Guard Stance (1+2)||4 - Warrior Stance (1+2)||5 - Thrusting Stance (1+3)|
As a Cardinal rule, always carry your Spear Vertically, on the 1st Holding Position, straight up nestled in the crook of your Shoulder. If you want to increase your chances for ruining your and somebody else's life, ignore this; for surely you will injure someone, poke their eye out or some-such. This is the key position for carrying a spear when not in action or in a Guard. VERY IMPORTANT TO GET INTO THIS HABIT!!
This is the ideal posture for Left/Right Wiping as your Spear is on the one side of the body, ready to 'wipe' across any single attack! The Spear in such a position that when seen from the side or the front, it is just outside the contours of the body. This necessitates an attack directly at you allowing to simply just wipe the spear in front of your whole body like a windscreen wiper, except keeping it vertical.
Shaolin Kung Fu Guard Stance is a fundamental position in both Bare Hand and Weaponry Kung Fu. Your front hand is in front of your chin in direct line with the chin of your opponent, elbow bent at 90 degrees and close to the ribs. Back hand, fist is usually next to the elbow of the front hand in direct line between your solar plexus and that of your opponent, except in Weaponry where it is by the top of your hip bone.
Actually this is the Traditional Spear Guard Stance. Very deceptive, you are leaning back on a Cat Stance which gives you a very long reach forward (if you imagine the transition into the next stance!).
Only and only when you are 100% sure that stepping into this low, flat footed posture will end the attack do you use it; else never. You are low, forward stretched and in a very exposed position if your opponent is not at the end of your Spear Tip.
Test 3 - Record yourself on each of the following 5 Stances for 3 minutes each, not moving, twitching or anything other than breathing and changing position after 1½ minutes.
Now, have another closer look at Postures 3, 4 and 5...... This is the No1 Sparring Drill and we will use this for our control and accuracy tests. If you now look at the video to the right....
Test 4a - Record yourself performing this Drill 5 times, left side forward then right side forward
Test 4b - Record yourself performing this Drill 5 times, left side forward then right side forward but aiming at a wall without touching the wall. The spear tip needs to be no further than your palm width from the wall at the end point. Please record this in such a way that your distancing control is visible
Note - Should you touch the wall or be too far away, you need to restart Test 4b again. Left and Right side Control needs to be recorded in one go; but you can record it at a slower speed than you did it in Test 4a!
In the beginning of training, emphasis should be placed on single Thrusting and Stepping. The two key skills of a Spear Warrior. The Spear Warrior must be able to thrust the tip of the Spear quickly and accurately in any direction from any direction and from within any posture. The consummate Spear Warrior should be able to move like a "Snake", weaving and swaying when needed and still when not, not blocking but evading and avoiding.
The Spear is held with the front hand for control and stability. The back hand is used to target and thrust. It has been said that a correctly performed Spear action is "quick as a serpent's tongue and as deadly as a serpents bite"! Besides the basic act of thrusting, there are many different types of offensive Spear techniques and surprise maneuvers that can be utilized by the Spear Warrior.
There are Spear Warriors and Spear Soldiers; the difference being about 10 years!
Much as the name suggest, the Red Eagle Spear is not a Spear of power and force like a Tiger but of speed and accuracy like a Snake. Often striking from below and in-between, the Red Eagle Spear is one of the most beautiful of all Spears, possibly also of most Weapons. The Spear has a number of specific targets yet there is also the one key target, the one you aim for. The others are only used as a distraction if this one target is blocked or the your opponent is prepared against the Spear.
Yet, in training we always aim for the Throat of an opponent, same hight and size as ourselves (when without a real target). When working with partners we always aim at a safer lower target like the Chest, where your partner it less vulnerable incase of accidents. It is important that you understand that first and foremost, when training, especially with Weapons, THAT SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT.
Test 5 - For this you need an item which has a hole in it approximately 2½ times to 3 times the size of your Spear Had at maximum width. This can be a plank of wood with an appropriate hole drilled into it or a wire-hanger bent and shaped and mounted on a wall but what-ever you use please record your spear tip next to the item before you perform the following; Using the No1 Drill from above, penetrate the circle with your Spear Tip 5 times in a row, more than half the spear tip but not beyond the Read beard.
|Drill 1||Drill 2||Drill 3||Drill 4||Drill 5|
This needs to be smooth and quick, as the No1 Drill
270 degree turn and Thrust
540 Degree turn and Thrust
Short System of Stances
Test 6 - Record yourself performing a each of the 5 drills in one recording. Record 4 times each routine, recording twice from the side and twice from the front!
Before Eagles fly they need to learn, slowly and carefully. At the Shaolin Academy there are three levels, 3 steps to be made before you consider that you 'own' the form. And this is natural; have a quick look at the short video below.
So, the first time you submit your form for review is so that we can give you feedback that you are (mostly) doing everything correctly and safely. You are not meant to do the form at speed or strength, flashy and hard, but Tai Chi style, showing us that you know what you are doing and allow yourself and your body to adapt to the movements.
Usually, the feedback we give you is quite extensive, noting the time stamp on your recording and what we suggest you improve. We send this to you and you work on the items we suggested improvement with and when you feel you have fixed these, you send us a 2nd recording. Again, this 2nd recording focuses on the right stances, strikes, angles, postures, directions and the like. If this recording has fixed all the items we suggested in the first evaluation you then receive the go-ahead to start improving both Strength and Speed.
And when you feel you are the Eagle and are doing the form as best as you can, you record yourself for the third time and this time you Present the form to us, not for evaluation but for sign-off. If your form is correct and done well we will authorize you to show this form to others; it is now your form and you will be certified.
There is no additional Grading costs for the 2nd and 3rd evaluation. We do not see this as a money making adventure but as a Shaolin Style Sharing duty. Also, should you wish to teach this style and form, you can start the Advanced Red Eagle Spear training. Same Form but a whole lot more detail in the techniques and postures; some you have already seen. No tricks or such, the form stays the same as it is The Shaolin Red Eagle Form it is just that we need to give you a lot more detail about the 5 Strikes, the 5 Distances, the 5 Direction and so on.
So, why do it this way? Well you can not commit to something you do not know. So, by completing these current 9 tests you should have a fair idea if this is 'Your' weapon or not. If yes, there is more; if not there are others.
Test 7 - Record yourself demonstrating the Red Eagle Spear Form showing the right moves, in the correct direction with adequate control. If need be at Tai Chi speed. We teach techniques and forms and once you have learned these and given your body, mind and spirit time to adapt than you can start working on Speed and Power.
For the theory/knowledge component you need to write an essay of between 1000 and 1500 words, or about 3 to 5 pages. The topic is the the Spear, any Spear. A Spear parable, Spear History from a specific country, a Historical Spear User or Warrior (did you know the Alexander the Great's father started the invincible Spear Soldiers that Alexander used?) or anything of the nature.
Choose something that adds to the interest and information on the Spear Oriental, Western, Native, near East or whatever; and it may be added to this page with you as the Author. But what ever you do make it interesting to read and have good sourcing material (tell us where you sourced your info and data from)!
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This will not make an expert out of you, or a Champion or a Warrior; but it gives you are good grounding that will enable you to specialize, if you wish, in a direction you care to take. Some have chose to enter competitions and have done well in All Styles and Kung Fu Competitions, Internationally and Nationally. Shaolin Academy Members have even been used as action stand-in's in theater, movies, music videos and shows. We even put on a show at the Shaolin Temple in Henan China.
You may choose to want to use the style for Acting, Stage Work, Shows, Street Theater and such but it also applies for everyday life. Recognizing when you are confronted with a Tiger Style personality, you will know what you are up against, be it in the office, at a party, in the street or elsewhere. And the more you immerse yourself in the understanding of your Tiger, you will find that you are able to manage it within yourself better, both to restrain it when it will harm and to use it when appropriate. You will also learn the weaknesses of the each animal and relies that, for example, a Tiger can only be defeated by a Greater Tiger or by a mouse (and you need to work this out).
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