Monk's spade

A monk's spade (Traditional Chinese: 月牙鏟; Simplified Chinese: 月牙铲; pinyin: yuèyáchǎn; literally "Moon Tooth Spade"; also, Traditional Chinese: 禪仗; Simplified Chinese: 禅仗; pinyin: chánzhàng; literally, "Zen Staff". Romanized Japanese: getsugasan, Hiragana: げつがさん), also called a Shaolin Spade, is a Chinese pole weapon consisting of a long pole with a flat spade-like blade on one end and a smaller crescent shaped blade on the other. Neither blade was designed to be sharpened. In old China, Buddhist monks often carried spades (shovels) with them when travelling. This served two purposes: if they came upon a corpse on the road, they could properly bury it with Buddhist rites, and the large implement could serve as a weapon for defence against bandits. The crescent was designed as defense against small to medium-sized predators such as wild dogs and leopards. The way it is used is to hold the animal at bay by positioning the crescent at the animal's neck and pushing it away if needed. Over time, they were stylised into the monk's spade weapon.

Popular culture

It is most famous for being the weapon of Sha Wujing, the "Sand Monk" from the 16th-century classic Chinese shenmo novel Journey to the West, as well as that of Lu Zhishen in Water Margin, but the weapon is also historically associated with the Shaolin monks and features in the martial arts wushu, gongfu, and Shaolin kung fu. It has been widely used in kung fu cinema (notably by Lau Kar-Fai in The 36th Chamber of Shaolin), and is used by the Shaolin priest in the online game Dragon Fist II and by Abbot Song in Jade Empire.

The character Sha Gojyo in the Japanese manga and anime series Saiyuki wields a modified form of this weapon with great skill and dexterity.

The monk's spade (under the name "Shaolin spade") was listed in Max Brooks' Zombie Survival Guide as a highly effective hand-to-hand anti-zombie weapon, as it can decapitate a rotting corpse with ease and its length allows users to engage opponents both from a distance and with both sides of the spade.

In the movie Big Trouble in Little China, many guests at Lo Pan's wedding are seen carrying the weapon.

In the duel between Shulien (Michelle Yeoh) and Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi) in the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Shulien picks up a Monk's Spade, intending to use it, but gives up due to its unwieldy weight, and chooses instead a number of other weapons to use.


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