This crazy looking pole arm is better known as the Monk’s Spade. Shaolin Monks carried a shovel when they traveled for various reasons, including digging holes for any corpses they might came across, so that they were given proper burial. The flat sharp blade also served as a weapon used in self-defense. The Shaolin Monks are pacifists and will not harm anyone, unless they are attacked. Once threatened however, the Shaolin have proven to be lethal adversaries.
The spade eventually evolved into the pole arm it is now and is one longest lasting weapon arts still practiced in the Shaolin arsenal today. I read somewhere it first appeared over 2,500 years ago. A crescent moon shaped blade was added to the pole opposite of the spade to sharpen both ends, and offer more balance to the cumbersome weapon. The overall length of the Yueya Chan is between six to seven feet and can vary in weight from 10 to 25 pounds, or even more. The width of the flat blade ranged between eight inches to more than a foot.
The United States Military has a similar weapon they carry in the field called an Army Entrenchment Tool (E-Tool). Although it really doesn’t look anything like the Yueya Chan it serves the same purpose. Digging holes and when fighting in close quarters, it has sharpened edges to use for stabbing. That is about all there is in comparison. The Yueya Chan is capable of a lot more and has much further range.
The Yueya Chan is very versatile and in the hands of a well-trained Shaolin Monk, it was the perfect weapon for any situation. The moon blade could be used for hooking, stabbing or disarming. The heavy spade was excellent for stabbing and smashing. The shaft was strong enough to block blows from opponents. Unlike other pole arm style weapons like the Naginata and Halberd, the Yueya Chan was used in similar ways a staff might be swung around in arcs and thrusts.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Weapons and Warriors, click here to view the entire catalog of weapons and cultures. Thank you, see you next week.