This unusual staff, with a main chopping blade and a secondary slashing crescent, has found a recent resurgence of fame in movies like Crouching Tiger: Hidden Dragon and video games such as Dragon Fist II. Once a favored weapon of high adepts of the Shaolin, the origins of the monk’s spade go back even further, to the earliest conscriptions of Chinese peasants to fill the ranks of ancient armies.
Now of interest to Kung Fu students looking for authentic but unusual styles, this version is true to the ancient form and built with blades of heavy combat quality steel. Beginners would find it both awkward and dangerous except in a lighter wushu quality version. Any collectors out there would obviously be more interested in the real thing.
Chinese peasant warriors often trained with the tools to which they were accustomed and were considered excellent soldiers because of their strength and fundamental skills. Weapons sometimes evolved from familiar tools like rakes and shovels. The Shaolin adapted similar tools for self defense in their travels and strove to be non lethal in their encounters. From time to time their opponents might injure themselves so seriously when attacking these monks, so the story of this weapon goes, that the second function of the Monk’s Spade came into play. Shaolin were bound by their faith to bury the dead with proper rites. It’s a bit rough on the cutting edge, but the Monk’s Spade will dig a deep hole.