The spear (枪, qiāng/choeng) is considered in China as the queen of long weapons. Possibly it is the oldest military weapon in China, and was originally used as a cavalry weapon. Formerly the infantry used a spear that could reach more than five meters in length, thus being able to face adversaries at a long distance. At present, spears are shorter, measuring about two meters.
The spear is composed of three elements: the wooden shaft, the metal tip (with double edge), and a horsehair tassel at the end of the pole, which in war fulfilled the function of causing enemies’ blood to drip through it to the ground and not run down the shaft, thus preventing it from slipping from the hands of its carrier. There are different types of spear depending on the shape of the tip: the classic, the snake tongue, etc.
A frame from the TV series Three Kingdoms (Sān Guó 三國, 2010). Zhāng Fēi 張飛, one of the heroes of the story, fights using a snake-head spear.
The spear is a weapon whose handling requires advanced training, being necessary to have previously mastered the techniques of staff and some edge-weapons such as saber or straight sword. It is a fairly light weapon for which one does not need much physical strength but great speed, agility and precision.
In China, the spear is considered to be the king of long weapons.
Although in current martial arts, "flowery" movements of spear abound, its greater martial effectiveness is achieved by nailing the tip. The movements have to be fast and precise, fluid and smooth like those of a snake. Like any other long weapon, when faced with a short weapon, the spear is useless at close range. Therefore, the opponent should not be allowed to get too close. To this effect, the most effective techniques are short and quick thrusts. Long thrusts, especially one-handed thrusts, have one major drawback: if the target is missed, it takes too long to bring the spear back to the guard position, time that the opponent will use to approach us and reach us or, in any case, turn our long weapon useless.
Another characteristic technique of the spear consists in rotating the tip in small circles to wrap and deflect the attacks of enemy weapons. This is undoubtedly one of the most difficult techniques to master, and requires a lot of time of specific training in order to develop the necessary precision. The circles should be as small as the size of a fist.
Spear training differs from staff training in that it develops basic skills in a different order. While the staff first develops the power and then successively passes to the technique, the precision and the speed, the spear must first develop the technique, and continue with the precision, the speed and, finally, the power. In addition, the training of the spear teaches practitioners to focus their attention, develop calm and relax the body.
There are different forms of spear in the Choy Li Fut system, and almost all include very spectacular flowery but not martially effective movements. Keep in mind that these movements are a way to train control over the weapon, so that it can become an extension of the body. Therefore, in order to improve the martial technique, in addition to the forms, technical exercises focused on precision must be trained, which usually involve short and barely perceptible movements.
In short, the spear is a weapon to which to dedicate many years of training, whose handling implies a good mastery of the gong fu and that is very rewarding, physically and mentally.