top of page

Martial Arts From Ancient Manuals

Masters from hundreds of years ago in China wrote martial arts manuals to pass on their knowledge and skills. This website was created to share these manuals with all martial artists, so that we can pass on the legacy.

Access 9 historical Chinese martial arts manuals:

  • Long Saber (known as Dandao or Miaodao)

  • Long Spear

  • Crossbow (construction blueprint and shooting)

  • Shaolin Staff

  • Chinese War Sword (WWII weapon Dadao)

  • and others

Gain access to our library to download all for FREE.

English Translated
Ancient Chinese Martial Arts Manuals

Check out below our collection of ancient manuals that have been translated & interpreted in English.


單刀法選 Dandao aka Miao Dao, The Chinese Long-Saber Ancient Manual

Written by 程宗猷 (Cheng Zong You) in 1621, during the Ming Dynasty, when the Japanese pirates fought with the Ming soldiers. He was taught by 刘雲峰 (Liu Yun Feng), who learnt swordsmanship directly from the Japanese.

This long saber resembles closely to the Japanese Nodachi, which is a longer version of the Katana.

Learn More >>

武備志 • 劍 Jian - Chinese Long Straight Sword Ancient Martial Arts Manual
《武備志 • 劍》
Long Straight Sword

Extracted from a 400-years-old manual called 武備志 (Wu Bei Zhi) by Mao Yuan-Yi. The Jian Straight Sword techniques contained in it is believed to have been exported from China to Korea, then back to China again.


Consisting of 24 stances, it teaches the combat use of a 2-handed long double-edged straight sword.

Learn More >>

實用大刀術 Shiyong Dadao Shu - Chinese WWII Big Saber Sword Manual
Chinese WWII Sword

The Dadao 大刀 Chinese War Sword was made famous by the 29th Army of the Chinese Nationalist Army fighting against the Japanese during the 1930s.


They fought for 7 days & nights at Xifengkou, killing 3000 enemies. Out of 500 elite soldiers of the 大刀隊 (Dadao Dui) "Big-Saber Contingent", only 20 survived.

Learn More >>


King of the Battlefield

長鎗法選 Chang Qiang Fa Xuan - Ming Dynasty Ancient Spear Martial Arts Manual

Written 400-years ago by 程宗猷 (Cheng Zong You), the same author for the Long Saber manual. ​


This manual not only describes the combat usage of each stance, but also talks about principles and partnered drills.

Learn More >>

劍經 Jian Jing - Ming Dynasty Advanced Martial Arts Manual by Yu Da-you
Jian Jing
Sword Treatise

俞大猷 (Yu Da-You) is a famous Ming-Dynasty General. He studied martial arts in Shaolin Temple, and later wrote and compiled 正氣堂集 (Zheng Qi Tang Ji), "Compilation of Vital Energy". In his book, is a section called 劍經 (Jian Jing), "Sword Treatise".

Learn More >>

少林棍法闡宗 Shaolin Gunfa Canzong - Ming Dynasty Shaolin Staff Manual by Cheng Zongyou
Shaolin Gunfa Canzong
Shaolin Staff

Written by 程宗猷 (Cheng Zong You) as well, but in 1616. This predates the Long Saber and Long Spear manuals. 


This is an extensive in-depth Staff manual with 3 volumes, that will benefit both the beginner & advanced martial artists.

Learn More >>


Short Weapons

1 Inch Shorter,

1 Inch More Dangerous

紀效新書 牌與狼筅 - Ming Dynasty Shield & Wolf-Brush Manual from Ji Xiao Xin Shu

To defeat the mighty Japanese army's invasion, General Qi invented the "Mandarin-Duck Formation".

Shields and Wolf-Brush are positioned at the front as defense, so that the Spearmen can attack.

Learn More >>

武備要略 鞭 - Ming Dynasty Whip / Truncheon Manual from Wu Bei Yao Lue
《鞭 • 𨰝》
Bian • Jian
Whip / Truncheon

Also written by 程子頤 (Cheng Ziyi), the Whip or Truncheon is a short bludgeoning weapon. It can be used to break bones or even blades!

The stances and fighting techniques are similar compared to a sword.

Learn More >>

紀效新書 拳經捷要 - Ming Dynasty Fist Manual from Ji Xiao Xin Shu
Quan Jing Jie Yao
Essentials of the Fist

These 32 Fist stances provide a medieval soldier with the foundation for combat, both unarmed and with weapons.


It is also said that Taiji traces its roots to this manual.

Learn More >>


1 Inch Longer, 1 Inch Stronger

武備要略 偃月大刀 - Ming Dynasty Whip / Truncheon Manual from Wu Bei Yao Lue
Yan Yue Da Dao 
Crescent Saber

Commonly referred to as 偃月刀 (Yan Yue Dao), or 關刀 (Guan Dao), this is a long bladed polearm as famously wielded by General Guan Yu depicted in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This comes with a Horseback Crescent Saber chapter based on the Korean manual, Muye Dobo Tongji.

Learn More >>

武備要略 戟 • 長柄斧 - Ming Dynasty Halberd & Axe Manual from Wu Bei Yao Lue
《戟 • 長柄斧》
Ji • Chang Bing Fu
Halberd & Long Shaft Axe

The Halberd and Long Shaft Axe are 2 very iconic Chinese polearms. Its fighting methods are found in an ancient manual titled 武備要略 (wu bei yao lue), written in 1781.

The author is 程子頤 (Cheng Ziyi), nephew of Cheng Zongyou (author of the Long Saber, Spear, Shaolin Staff, Crossbow manuals).

Learn More >>

峨嵋槍法 - Emei Spear Ancient Martial Arts Manual
E'mei Qiang Fa
Emei Spear

This is one of the manuals which has no pictures at all. It is recommended for intermediate and above practitioners, because it's all about concepts and application.

If you're looking for something more advanced, this is a Spear manual that could be worthwhile.

Learn More >>




Muye Dobo Tongji

Written in 1790 by the Koreans, based on Ming Dynasty manuals

Learn More >>

長槍 - Korean Muye Dobo Tongji Long Spear

From the 1st scroll of the Korean manual "Muye Dobo Tongji" is a chapter on 長槍 (Chn: Chang Qiang, Krn: Jang Chang), Long-Spear.


The stances in the manual can be traced to the Chinese Yang Style Pear-Flower Spear.

Learn More >>

雙手刀 - Korean Muye Dobo Tongji Double-Hand Saber
Ssang Su Do
Double-Hand Saber

雙手刀 (Chn: Shuang Shou Dao, Krn: Ssang Su Do) is an exceptionally long saber which is held with 2 hands.


The stances here are based on Ming Dynasty General Qi Ji-Guang's book, 紀效新書 (Ji Xiao Xin Shu).

Learn More >>

提督劎 - Korean Muye Dobo Tongji Commander Sword
Jedok Geom
Commander Sword

提督劎 (Chn: Tidu-Jian, Krn: Jedok Geom) is the swordsmanship of 李如松 Li Ru-Song, a Ming Dynasty Commander of Korean descent.


When Ming Dynasty sent troops to help defend Korea, he participated and fought against the Japanese.

Learn More >>



Antique Samurai Manuals

Buki Nihyaku Zu 武器皕圖 - 200 Diagrams of Samurai Weapons

Written in 1848, this antique book contains 200 diagrams of 450 various weapons, tools, armour etc..

Available are a 1:1 replica of this antique book, and an English translation printed book distributed by in the US.

Learn More >>

Gunyou Senkou Zukai 軍容撰功図解 - Samurai Strategy & Military Formations Manual
Gunyou Senkou Zukai
Samurai Military Formations

Written in 1708, this is a rare full color book on Samurai procedures, encampment, troops formation, strategy to attack enemy castle etc...

Available are a 1:1 replica of the antique manual, and also an eBook containing its English translation.

Learn More >>

Yoshiie Ason Yoroi Chakuyou Zu 義家朝臣鎧着用図 - Guide To Wearing Samurai Armour
Yoshiie Ason Yoroi Chakuyou Zu
Guide To Wearing Armour

Written in 1848, this is a full color antique publication on how to put on a full combat-ready Samurai armour. It starts from inner-wear, all the way till carrying a sword & bow.

Contribute any amount you wish, to download the scans of this book.

Learn More >>


About This Website is a research project of ancient Chinese martial arts manuals, supported by the people from Historical Combat Association (Singapore). Our goal is to preserve and spread the rich ancient wisdoms to the future generation.
     Launched in July 2010, the first manual we worked on was "Dan Dao Fa Xuan", a Chinese swordsmanship manual, written and drawn by 程宗猷 (Cheng Zong You) during the Ming Dynasty, when the Japanese pirates fought with the Ming soldiers. He was taught by 刘雲峰 (Liu Yun Feng), who learnt Japanese swordsmanship (Kenjutsu) directly from the Japanese.

     As support from everyone grew, we branched out into various weapons such as Spears, Shield etc... We really appreciate the support given by you. We hope this website can bring these ancient wisdoms to everyone, allow martial arts practitioners to learn the roots of their arts, and increase appreciation of martial arts and its history.
     This project was started by Jack Chen, President of the Historical Combat Association (Singapore), in memory of his grandparents. He also runs combat Archery Tag games to spread medieval battlefield history in a fun & engaging way.
Please contact us using the form below, or at:
Featured in Hong Kong newspapers
on 31st July 2012

Thanks! Message sent.

bottom of page