Jul 18, 2012

Weapons & Warriors: The Jiujie Bian of the Shaolin

If you thought the idea of beating someone to death with a chain was thought up by some mobster or street gang, you’d be wrong. The Shaolin Monks have been administering chain whippings since before 500 AD. However, the difference between a monk and a thug is a wide gap in training and expertise. The Shaolin don’t just use any chain either. They have specially designed chain whips called the Jiujie Bian.

More commonly referred to as the Nine Section Chain Whip, or Nine Link Chain Whip, the Jiujie Bian is the most dangerous weapon in the Shaolin arsenal to train with and possible one of the most dangerous weapons to learn in the history of Earth. The Shaolin Monks train for many years to master this dangerous device. More people are reported injured while training with the Jiujie Bian than with any other weapon in the world. Many monks still train and practice to this day for showing off their techniques to tourists. There are also other versions of the Jiujie Bian that vary in the number of links from seven to thirteen.

Jiujie Bian is made of a handle with nine steel bars that are linked with three loops of metal between each. The welding and craftsmanship of these weapons has to be well done and perfect. Any flaw in the design could kill the person wielding the chain whip. Eight of the bars end with loops at either side. Then an additional third loop is linked between the bars to give the weapon maximum flexibility. The ninth bar is only looped on one end while the other is sharpened into a spike. The handle of the Jiujie Bian is often wrapped in leather so that the whip does not slip from the wielder’s grasp when his palm sweats.

Learning to use the Jiujie Bian in combat is very dangerous. It is not used like a leather whip. A leather whip is often snapped at an opponent through the flick of the wrist and arm. With a Jiujie Bian, the monk can throw the sharpened point directly at his opponent and then jerk around to begin swinging it. While swinging it, the monks train in using their bodies to adjust the angle of the swinging chain. They wrap it around a body part and then shift to allow it to speed up and unwrap. This is also fun to watch for spectators, but don’t for a second think that it’s just a show trick. A trained Shaolin Monk who constantly wraps his Jiujie Bian is maneuvering for an opportunity to eliminate his opponent.

Defense is another focus in training for the Jiujie Bian. The heavy chain links offer protection in blocking attacks from virtually any kind of weapon imaginable. The flexibility of the chain also allows the monk to disarm, or tangle his opponents without injuring them. Even tangled, the monk can strike with the dart or the handle.

Flags are often tied to one or both ends of the whip. This isn’t just for show or cool sound effects. The flags purpose is to help steady the swinging chain and the noise it makes helps the monk to know where the other end of his whip is without having to watch it as he focuses on his opponent.

This video by Natural Geographic that I found on Youtube shows some excellent techniques. It even has a bit more information about the Jiujie Bian.

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.


  1. Takes 100 days to master a broadsword, 1000 days for a sword, jian, but 25 YEARS for s 9-section whip. So I was told by my sifu.

    1. I won't argue with your sifu on that. It looks really tough and dangerous without a proper instructor.