Today the emphasis in martial arts training is usually put on bare-handed skills and techniques, as well as practical self-defense against common weapons like the knife, gun, baseball bat, baton etc.
Anyone who is concerned about reality-based self protection should follow the first rule: Get armed! It was the same in the past in China, be it in the army, or local militia: major emphasis was put on weapon training.
As good quality weapons (spears, sabers) were hard to get, or prohibited for daily carry for the common people, the combat arsenal of many styles included also the skills with various improvised weapons – tools like farmer’s hoe, shovel, rake, boat shaft, or other daily instruments like an umbrella, fan, smoking pipe, cymbals or chopsticks.
The Chinese inns, tearooms, restaurants and gambling dens were equipped with tables, stools and benches, as today’s bars and pubs with chairs. In case of the fight, one of the immediately available improvised weapon was a wooden bench.
Our “Dragon Head Wooden Bench“ (Lung Tau Baan Dang) has a typical Southern Chinese structure. Most of the techniques, combinations and whole sections are repeated and practiced left and right, forward and backward.
All four legs as well as the body of the bench are used for attack and defense – hitting, poking, catching the opponent’s weapon etc., sometimes in conjunction with low line leg kicks. There are even some more acrobatic techniques like front roll and cartwheel in the set.
Because of the weight of the bench, the regular practice of the set is an excellent strength training exercise, developing the generation of the power form the legs, strong core and grip, useful especially for our throwing techniques.
There was a very popular sparring set – „Halberd vs. Wooden Bench“ (Daai Dou Deui Baan Dang) – in various southern styles as well, however nowdays it is seldom seen and practiced.
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