About Hidden weapons 中国武侠-暗器

The Hidden weapons(暗器ànqì) refer to those that are used to attack enemies unexpectedly. They are featured by the small size, agility(someone who is agile can move quickly and easily) and excellent concealment(concealmentis the state of being hidden or the act of hiding something). The “hidden dagger” used by Zhuan Zhu to assassinate King Liao of the Wu State and the dagger used by Jin Ke to assassinate Emperor Qin Shihuang are the famous cases of application of hidden weapons in ancient China.

After the Qin Dynasty, the hidden weapons were used more widely. For instance, the hand halberd in the Three Kingdoms Period is fairly formidable. It is said that Dong Zhuo once “pulled out a hand halberd and threw it at Lv Bu”. Fortunately, Lv Bu moved promptly to narrowly avoid it by a finger’s breadth. The hand halberd was very small and short with a pertropal slanting branch on the straight edge of blade and the handle wound with thin thread. It was supposed to be thrown with single hand but with powerful attack.

The Ming and Qing Dynasties were the peak of the development of Chinese martial arts. And the hidden weapons in the Qing Dynasty could be roughly divided into hand-thrown, tool-driven, and so on.

The hand-thrown hidden weapons are of a great variety, including many different types such as the “ruyi (wish-fulfilling) pearl” which is expected to be catapulted with the strength of tightening fingers, the hand-thrown iron olive which is sharp in the two ends and thick in the middle, the popular slungshot, and so on and so forth.

Among the hand-thrown hidden weapons, darts are quite popular and never lose their appeals for generations, including the throwing darts, coin darts etc. The throwing darts, widely used by armed escort in ancient China, are tied to the waist. Apart from this, the coin darts were also quite popular, and were made by polishing the edges of big coins. They are easy to make and could be carried in large quantity to attack the eyes, throats and other parts of the enemy in an elusive way. However, it is quite difficult to practice and control the flying posture of the dart, whose striking distance is limited as well.

Of hand-thrown weapons, the flying knives with various types are quite familiar to us, either with single edge of blade or double edges of blade. They are different from each other in throwing skills and flying postures and among them, the willow-leaf flying knife is the most popular. It looks like a willow leaf in shape with double edges of blade. It is about 20cm in knife-blade with a 4cm-long handle and a little bit thick in the midrib. The two edges of blade are sharp and the knives are often tied to the back of the users, which would be pulled out with hands for use by lowering the waist.

There is a special one among the hand-thrown weapons. It is commonly referred to as Qiankun Hoop and looks like bracelet in shape. Its handle is perfectly round making up the 1/4 of the whole hoop with the rest 3/4 being flat circular arc. All are covered with up to dozens of spines except for hand-hold place.

The sleeve arrow and the back cross-bow are the most popular tool-driven hidden weapons. The sleeve arrow got its name because it is often hidden in the sleeves, including those for single hit and successive strikes. The barrel for sleeve arrow is made of copper or iron with hollow inside. It is about 2.5cm in inside diameter and 26cm long in barrel body with springs inside.

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