Monk’s spade

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A monk’s spade (Traditional Chinese: ???; Simplified Chinese: ???; pinyin: yuèyáchan; literally “Moon-Tooth Spade”, Romanized Japanese: getsugasan, Hiragana: ?????), 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. 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 self-defense against bandits. Over time, they were stylised into the monk’s spade weapon.

It is most famous for being the weapon of Sha Wujing, the “Sand Monk” from the 16th-Century classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, as well as 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 Monk Zeng in Jade Empire.

Lu Zhishen, in the classical Chinese novel Water Margin

The character Sha Gojyo in the Japanese anime Saiyuki wields this weapon with great skill and dexterity.

In the 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon while the characters Shu-Lien and Jen are battling in the Shaolin Temple, Shu-lien loses her weapon and is told to retrieve a new one. She displays mastery of various weapons throughout the battle, but when she grabs the monk’s spade she is overtaken by its weight and drops it, storming back to retrieve a new weapon.

The monk’s spade (under the name “Shaolin spade”) was listed in Max Brooks’s The 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 at a distance. It would be good for this purpose because you could attack the zombie from 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.