At what point, or level do Wing Chun practitioners start to use knives and butterfly swords?
Answer: That’s a great question because I love weapons.
The best way you’re going to get the best answer is to ask your sifu.
I’ve found that each school is different. Where I train, we have a specific weapons class that only happens once a week. But, it’s open to all adult students. This is not the norm.
Many schools do not offer any weapons classes at all. Sometimes the students are lucky if the sifu holds a special weapons seminar. In other schools I’ve heard you have to advance quite a bit (perhaps after you reach black belt) before you start learning any weapons like the butterfly swords or dragon pole.
The truth is, learning weapons is like learning a new martial art. It’s that different.
The fighting distances are different, many times the footwork is different, the hand movements are different, and there are different moves which require new muscle memory to be drilled in.
But in general, most schools will want you to have mastered, or least be highly proficient, in your basic unarmed footwork and unarmed techniques before you start learning a whole new world with weapons.
And I think this is practical. If you’re already clumsy without weapons, chances are you’ll be even clumsier with a weapon in your hand.
That being said, I like how my sifu has a dedicated weapons class. He’s mentioned before that higher-level students (after black sash) begin to spend even more time developing the weapons skills to a higher level (I haven’t asked, but I think he means sparring with weapons?!).
In the weapons class, we learn some of the basic butterfly and dragon pole forms, we spend a lot of time with kali/escrima sticks, knife defense, among other things he throws in as surprises and special treats, like nunchucks!
I think it’s been good for me, and a lot of other students, to develop some basic weapons skills, to feel confident using two batons in our hands (kali sticks), have some basic training with knives (just in case), and to start developing that all-important muscle memory.
Learn more about Wing Chun weapons