Chain whip

Last updated
An example of a chain whip Chain whip 1.jpg
An example of a chain whip

The chain whip, also known as the soft whip, [1] is a weapon used in some Chinese martial arts, particularly traditional Chinese disciplines, in addition to modern and traditional wushu. It consists of several metal rods, which are joined end-to-end by rings to form a flexible chain. Generally, the whip has a handle at one end and a metal dart, used for slashing or piercing an opponent, at the other. A cloth flag is often attached at or near the dart end of the whip and a second flag may cover the whip's handle. The flag or flags adds visual appeal and produces a rushing sound as the whip swings through the air. The rushing noise also helps the user with identifying the location of the other end, since the weapon moves too fast to be normally noticed by human eyes.



There is no standard on the length of the chain whip. The typical length is also different between north and south China. The chain is shorter in the south which make it more suitable for close quarter fighting. In the north the length could be from the ground to the chin or the ground to the tip of the nose. Weight is heavier for practice and lighter for performance.

The cloth flag could be either rectangular or triangular. Triangular flags look better and move faster but rectangular flags sound better and allow better control.

The number of segments vary. Traditional whips have either seven or nine segments. Modern whips typically have between seven and thirteen sections.

Most whips today are made from stainless steel. With good whips, there is better color and shine to the metal, segments are stylized, holes are precisely centered, the chain rotates smoothly in the swivel built into the handle, there are no sharp corners or edges, and welds are strong. In addition, the handle should be shaped to allow good grip. Leather on the handles is best for endurance, as it absorbs sweat and prevents slippage. The typical construction method for chain whips is to use a steel bolt to thread through small pieces of leather and then use a lathe to round and shape the handle. The tip should be larger than the segments and weight proportional to the handle. Shape and weight distribution should allow the chain to be easily tossed and retrieved into one hand.[ citation needed ]


According to the book Soft Weapons: Nine-Section Whip and Rope Dart, "The nine-section whip, regarded as a 'powerful hidden weapon,' was first used on the battlefield during the Jìn Dynasty (265-420) [sic.]." [2]

According to the book The Chain Whip, this may refer to the hard whip (more akin to a truncheon than a multi-section whip) due to the ambiguity in the Chinese. "Both the hard whip and the soft whip can both be referred to simply as whip (鞭) in Chinese." [1] Different books make wildly differing claims about the history of the Chain Whip.


Demonstration of the chain whip being performed. Chain whip demo.jpg
Demonstration of the chain whip being performed.

The chain whip is heavy but flexible, allowing it to be literally used as a whip to hit, hook and bind an opponent, restrict their movement, and to deflect blows from other weapons. The dart is used for slashing or piercing an opponent. In some cases, the dart might be coated with a poison. Because the whip is flexible, it can be used to strike around obstacles, including an opponent's block. The whip chain can be folded and hidden from view, making it an easy weapon to carry and conceal.

Chain whip forms are often extremely elaborate. In some, the chain whip is thrown in the air and caught, flicked around the neck, or flung around underneath a recumbent performer. One classic technique, used to accelerate a spinning chain whip, involves rapidly wrapping, and unwrapping the length of the chain around various parts of the body, including the legs, neck and elbows. Various twisting or flicking motions cause the chain whip to gain momentum as it unwraps. In practice, wrapping then unwrapping is used to change the direction of the spin in response to the opponent's movement.

Chain whip techniques may be combined with jumping kicks and other acrobatics. [3] Double chain whip forms have been developed, [4] as have forms in which a chain whip is coupled with a broadsword. [5]

For performance the chain whip can be used to perform meteor moves such as one hand or two hand meteor rotors and weaves. [6] At the end of the performance the chain whip segments can be pulled and collected into the hand holding the handle. [7]

As with all weapons that are either chained or tied together, the whip chain is hard to control without practice. In fact, it is harder to control than a traditional rawhide or bull whip because the linked sections provide looser joints while a bull whip is a continuous piece. The chain whip is sometimes considered one of the hardest weapons in martial arts to learn because lapse in the control of body movements in coordination with the position and momentum of the weapon will likely result in the weapon striking the wielder.

Chain whip variations

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Nunchaku</i> Traditional Japanese weapon

The nunchaku, "nunchucks", "chainsticks", or "chuka sticks" in English), is a traditional East-Asian martial arts weapon consisting of two sticks, connected to each other at their ends by a short metal chain or a rope. It is approximately 30 cm (12") (sticks) and 1 inch (rope). A person who has practiced using this weapon is referred to in Japanese as nunchakuka.

<i>Jian</i> Chinese double-edged sword

The jian is a double-edged straight sword used during the last 2,500 years in China. The first Chinese sources that mention the jian date to the 7th century BCE, during the Spring and Autumn period; one of the earliest specimens being the Sword of Goujian. Historical one-handed versions have blades varying from 45 to 80 centimeters in length. The weight of an average sword of 70-centimetre (28-inch) blade-length would be in a range of approximately 700 to 900 grams. There are also larger two-handed versions used for training by many styles of Chinese martial arts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flail (weapon)</span> Weapon consisting of a striking head flexibly attached to a handle

A flail is a weapon consisting of a striking head attached to a handle by a flexible rope, strap, or chain. The chief tactical virtue of the flail was its capacity to strike around a defender's shield or parry. Its chief liability was a lack of precision and the difficulty of using it in close combat, or closely-ranked formations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Whip</span> Tool or weapon used to train animals either by sound or physical pain

A whip is a tool or weapon designed to strike humans or animals to exert control through pain compliance or fear of pain. They can also be used without inflicting pain, for audiovisual cues, such as in equestrianism. They are generally either a firm stick designed for direct contact, or a flexible line requiring a specialized swing. The former is easier and more precise, the latter offers longer reach and greater force. A hunting whip combines a firm stick with a flexible line.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fire performance</span> Performance art using fire skills

Fire performance is a group of performance arts or skills that involve the manipulation of fire. Fire performance typically involves equipment or other objects made with one or more wicks which are designed to sustain a large enough flame to create a visual effect.

<i>Kunai</i> Japanese gardening and masonry tool adapted as a weapon

A kunai is a Japanese tool thought to be originally derived from the masonry trowel. The two widely recognized kinds are the short kunai and the big kunai. Although a basic tool, the kunai, in the hands of a martial arts expert, could be used as a multi-functional weapon. The kunai is commonly associated with the ninja, who in folklore use them to climb walls..

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rope dart</span> Weapon in Chinese martial arts

The rope dart or rope javelin, is one of the flexible weapons in Chinese martial arts. Other weapons in this family include the meteor hammer, flying claws, Fei Tou flying weight, and chain whip.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Okinawan kobudō</span> Weapons systems of Okinawan martial arts

Okinawan Kobudō (沖縄古武道), literally "old martial way of Okinawa", is the weapon systems of Okinawan martial arts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Meteor hammer</span> Flail made of chain and one or two heads

The meteor hammer, often referred to simply as meteor, is an ancient Chinese weapon, consisting at its most basic level of two weights connected by a rope or chain. One of the flexible or "soft" weapons, it is referred to by many different names worldwide, dependent upon region, construction and intended use. Other names in use include dai chui, flying hammer, or dragon's fist. It belongs to the broader classes of flail and chain weapons. There is little evidence that they saw use in actual historical combat.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Urumi</span> Sword with a flexible, whip-like blade

An urumi is a sword with a flexible, whip-like blade, originating in modern-day Kerala in the Indian subcontinent. It is thought to have existed from as early as the Sangam period.

<i>Surujin</i> Japanese throwing weapon

The surujin or suruchin is one of the traditional weapons of Okinawan Kobudo. It comprises a 2–3 m long rope with a weight tied to each end. Historically this weapon is very prevalent and can be found attached to a weapon or used separately. It is a weapon designed for warfare.

A chain weapon is a weapon made of one or more heavy objects attached to a chain, sometimes with a handle. The flail was one of the more common types of chain weapons associated with medieval Europe, although some flails used hinges instead of chains.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eighteen Arms of Wushu</span>

The Eighteen Arms is a list of the eighteen main weapons of Chinese martial arts. The origin of the list is unclear and there have been disputes as to what the eighteen weapons actually are. However, all lists contain at least one or more of the following weapons:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flying claws</span> Weapon in Chinese martial arts

The flying claw, flying talon, or soft talon is used to ensnare a foe and throw him off balance. It originated in China during the Sui dynasty and is one of the flexible or soft weapons in the Chinese martial arts. It features metal hand or claw on the end of a chain or rope. It is in the same family as the meteor hammer, rope dart, and chain whip.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Weapons of pencak silat</span>

Listed here are the weapons of pencak silat. The most common are the machete, staff, kris, sickle, spear, and kerambit. Because Southeast Asian society was traditionally based around agriculture, many of these weapons were originally farming tools.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Meteor (juggling)</span>

A skill toy of Asian origin, the meteor consists of a rope, usually between 5 and 8 feet long, with weights attached to either end. Tricks are performed by swinging, wrapping and throwing the meteor about the body.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Three-section staff</span> Chinese weapon

The three-section staff, three-part staff, triple staff, originally sanjiegun or sansetsukon, three-section whip, originally sanjiebian, is a Chinese flail weapon that consists of three wooden or metal staffs connected by metal rings or rope. The weapon is also known as the coiling dragon staff, originally panlong gun. A more complicated version of the two section staff, the staves can be spun to gather momentum resulting in a powerful strike, or their articulation can be used to strike over or around a shield or other defense.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tekpi</span> Stabbing weapon

The tekpi is a short-handled trident from Southeast Asia. Known as tekpi in Malay, it is called chabang or cabang in Indonesian, siang tépi in Hokkien, and trisul in Thai. More than a weapon, it was also important as a Hindu-Buddhist symbol. It is comparable to the Okinawan Sai.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bian (weapon)</span> Tubular-shaped club or rod weapon designed to inflict blunt damage with whipping motion

The bian or tie bian and gang bian, also known as Chinese whip or hard whip, is a type of tubular-shaped club or rod weapon designed to inflict blunt damage with whipping motion.


  1. 1 2 Kie Brooks. The Chain Whip. Independent Press, 2015 ( ISBN   978-0-955-067228)
  2. Li, Keqin and Li Xingdong. Soft Weapons: Nine-Section Whip and Rope Dart. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1996 ( ISBN   7-119-01883-3)
  3. Shaolin Kung Fu Guy with a whip Chain! on YouTube
  4. Double Chain Whip - John Su - 6 Time World Champ on YouTube
  5. dao jiujiebian on YouTube
  6. Learning to spin the chain whip on YouTube
  7. How to fold a chain whip into one hand on YouTube