(reproduced from https://shaolin.org/general/legends-of-southern-shaolin/legends40.html)
Secret weapons, picture taken from the internet
The monk, Cheong Mong, laughed aloud. “If you have such an ambition, how can I not teach you?
“Secret weapons are meant to supplement the inadequacy of ones kungfu. When one is engaged in combat with an opponent, it is not always that he will win. Thus, there is no harm to learn another skill to protect himself, just like natural breathing.
“Using secret weapons,” Cheong Mong continued, “is based on the understanding that ‘clear spear can be handled, but secret arrow is difficult to avoid’ (i.e. it is easy to handle open weapons, but difficult to handle secret weapons’). Superficially, it is mean and cruel to use secret weapons. They are not used by gentlemen who prefer clear and open combat. But when secret weapons are used properly, they are convenient in moving forward or backward, attacking or defending. Secret weapons are like open sabres and swords. They depend on the user, whether he uses the weapons properly.”
Luk Ah Choy asked, “What are the different types of secret weapons, and how are they used?”
Cheng Mong gently slapped on Luk Ah Choy’s shoulders. “You need not hurry. Listen to what I’ll tell you.
“There are many types of secret weapons. It is difficult to describe them one by one. But those frequently used are flying darts, little arrows in sleeves, flying stones, flying knives, iron grasshoppers, comet round hammers, and iron drakes and ducks.
“Flying darts are the most common. In martial circles, there is hardly anyone who does not know flying darts. The difference is whether his art is deep or shallow.
“There are three sharp points in flying darts. The length of a flying dart is about four inches, and weighs about four taels.”
(A Chinese inch was longer than a British inch. A tael was about 40 grams or more than 1 British onze.)
“Those who use flying darts,” Cheong Mong continued, “usually tie their tails with some red cloth, called dart dress, to cut through the air. When darts are sent out, they surely hit opponents within a hundred steps. Some exponents use yin-hand to fly out their darts, some use yang-hand. It often depends on the situation.”
(In kungfu, the back of the palm is referred to as yin-hand, and the open palm as yang-hand. Interestingly, yin and yang are reverse in Chinese medical terminology. In Chinese medicine, the back of the palm is referred to as yang, and the open palm as yin.)
Cheong Mong continued to say, “Little arrows in sleeves are often used by people who travel at night. They are more deadly than flying darts because they are shot out by a machine. Their force is tremendous, and their use convenient.
“The shooting machine is a cylinder made from iron, with a diameter of less than an inch. In front there is a small opening, used for storing arrows. At the tip is installed something resembling the wings of a butterfly. A spring, the length similar to that of the cylinder, is placed inside the tube. The cylinder with arrows inside is hidden in sleeves. By moving his arm in a certain way, an arrow can be shot out.
“Flying stones are the cheapest. There is no need to spend money buying them. There is also no need for extra work. Ideally, the stones are pointed in front and bigger at the back. The length is about three inches and each weighs about four to six liangs (or taels, and each tael was about 40 grams). Its use is similar to that of flying darts. The targets are an opponent’s mid-point between the eye brows, the temples and the eyes.
“Flying knives are small knives the shape of willow leaves. The length of a flying knife including its handle is about seven inches. Where the handle and the blade meet, there are a few rounds of lines. Its weight is about six liangs (or taels). The knives are covered with a sheath made of shark skin. When using, the exponent holds the handle of the knife, and send it flying out aiming at an opponent’s body. Those who are expert in throwing flying knives, can hit their target within fifty steps.”
The more Cheong Mong spoke, the more involved he became. He then explained the special points and uses of iron grasshoppers and comet round hammers.
Then he handled his iron drakes and ducks, and said, “These iron drakes and ducks are the most subtle amongst secret weapons. They are simple to be made, easy to be carried about, and their application is smooth-handed (i.e. straight-forward). Basically they are a pair of iron pills, one bigger than the other, and both iron pills weigh less than half a katy.”
(One katy was 500 grams. In the past, one katy was divided into 16 liangs or taels, but in China today, one katy is divided into 10 taels.)
Cheong Mong continued, “When using the iron drakes and ducks, it is usual to use the yin-hand, so that an opponent may not notice it. When used against a formidable opponent, although the iron drakes and ducks would not take his life, they would prevent him from pressing in further.
“I’ve explained a lot about secret weapons. When one is in martial circles, it is not necessary to train all of them. Otherwise, it is not only inconvenient to carry so many different types of secret weapons, he may not have the time and energy to train them.
“Thus, kungfu disciples must know about secret weapons, but they should not spend too much time on them. If a person chooses one or two secret weapons that are concurrent with his character, it is enough to be used for life.
“Now in the martial circles, the most frequently used secret weapons are flying darts, flying stones and little arrows in sleeves. Flying knives and comet round hammers may be met sometimes. Iron grasshoppers are like unicorn’s horn and phoenix’ feather (i.e. very rare). Hence amongst those who wander about in lakes and streams (i.e. martial artists), if they can train in more than three types of secret weapons, and are capable of hundred hits without a single miss, they are regarded as experts.
“Speaking there and speaking here (i.e. of all that I have spoken), there is only one phrase. Using secret weapons focuses on essence, and not on many. If there are many, but no essence, his kungfu is zero.”
Luk Ah Choy heard until his heart feel itchy (i.e. he became curious and interested). He asked, “How can one attains the level of essence?”
Cheong Mong answered, “There are many doors (i.e. many methods). It is not telling just one or two (i.e. briefly) and explain clearly. But there is actually no secret. The focus is on smart practice, so that force can be developed at the elbow and wrist. Accumulated over a long time, practice generates the marvelous, and the marvelous generates spirit. Left and right meet the source (everything will work well as planned), there will be nothing that the techniques do not arrive according to intention. I have practiced this way for more than twenty years.
“Although I may not have attained its true essence, today you have seen my secrets, and this is due to good karma (i.e. cause and effect). Henceforth, we shall train and study together.”
Luk Ah Choy could not have thought Cheong Mong was such comfortable and fast (i.e. quick and ready). He was happy beyond expectation. Quickly he knelt down to thank Cheong Mong. Henceforth, everyday he followed Cheong Mong and learned iron drakes and ducks. Because he had practiced kungfu for ten and more years, his nature of comprehension was very high, and after a few months his kungfu had gone beyond people’s intention and progress.
Wong Kiew Kit
14th January 2018, Sungai Petani