The Chinese Shield And Wolf-Brush
To defeat the invading Japanese pirates who are highly skilled in their swordsmanship, Ming Dynasty General Qi Ji-Guang invented a small unit formation, named as the "Mandarin Duck", which consists of:
Shield & Sword to defend at the front
Wolf-Brush to seize and immobilize the Japanese sword
Spears to rush in for the kill
This formation achieved great success in the battle against the Japanese pirates, and there are different variations which these small units can adapt to as well.
This page is dedicated to the Shield & Sword techniques, and Wolf-Brush techniques, documented in 2 manuals:
紀效新書 (Ji Xiao Xin Shu) by General Qi Ji-guang
武備志 (Wu Bei Zhi) by Mao Yuan-Yi
Techniques from these manuals were then shared with the Koreans, which they were able to practice and successfully defend themselves from the Japanese invasion too. These techniques were later documented inside the Korean manual, Muye Dobo Tongji.
Soldiers From General Qi's Army
The Mandarin Duck Formation
The Shields were made of rattan, making them cheap to manufacture and light-weight. Bladed weapons may even get their edge stuck in the rattan when the Shield is used to block incoming cuts, creating opportunities for the Shield soldier to kill the enemy.
The reason why the "Mandarin Duck Formation" was named as such, was because there was always a pair of each weapon, same as Mandarin Ducks who were always in pairs.
Because the Japanese pirates were former Samurai, and therefore better trained, General Qi had to devise an effective formation so that he can win based on tactics, rather than on the individual's skills.
As you can see on the diagram, the Shields and Wolf-Brushes are used at the front of the formation for defense. Particularly, the Wolf-Brushes will be used to immobilize the enemy's weapons, so that the Spears can be used to kill them.
Shield-bearers carry only a single-handed sword, which has a short reach. Therefore, they need to partner with someone using a longer polearm for a longer reach to kill the enemy. In this way, the short and long weapons can complement each other's strengths and weaknesses.
During the 1590s, Korea faced an invasion from the Japanese Samurai, led by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. At that time, Korea was not well prepared to handle large-scale warfare, but luckily they were finally able to successfully defend themselves with the help of the Ming Dynasty army.
Subsequently, when the Koreans wrote and compiled their martial arts encyclopedia, Muye Dobo Tongji, the same Shield & Wolf-Brush techniques were included inside.
Though the techniques in the Korean Muye Dobo Tongji are exactly the same as the ones originally in General Qi's book, "Ji Xiao Xin Shu", the Koreans added a form so that soldiers or martial artists can link up the various stances together for practice.
The "Mandarin Duck" Formation
General Qi's book, referenced in Muye Dobo Tongji
Bringing The Ancient Manual Back To Life
We added English subtitles to a CCTV documentary on the effectiveness of Mandarin Duck Formation.
There is an excellent documentary by China's CCTV channel on General Qi's Mandarin Duck Formation. The show is in Chinese, so I've translated and added English subtitles. You can watch the program on the left and I hope it can help you to understand better.
In the TV program, they even used a real sharp Japanese sword to cut at a Wolf-Brush, so that you can see what will happen if it were a real fight.
Interestingly, the Wolf-Brush in the TV program also had a lot of sharp metal points attached to its branches, which will probably have effects similar to barbwires if someone got caught in them.
based on the Korean Muye Dobo Tongji
2nd video here is a demonstration of the Wolf-Brush techniques documented in the Korean manual: Muye Dobo Tongji.
The Koreans are putting a lot of effort in reviving the martial arts found in Muye Dobo Tongji. Most of the content are based on Ming Dynasty martial arts manuals, so we can refer to the Korean's demonstrations as a good reference too.
Spreading The Shield & Wolf-Brush Legacy
My vision is to see more martial artists practicing the techniques in ancient Chinese martial arts manuals, so that the art can be passed on for future generation.
The translation for this Shield & Wolf-Brush manual was rather straight-forward and easy to interpret, thus should be easy for readers to understand as well.
But still, the English translation is meant to be as literal as possible, so that the interpretation is open to anyone of any martial arts background. The English translated version of this Shield & Wolf-Brush manual was finally released on October 2011.
Every single line of text is translated individually, so that I'm forced to work on every single word. This prevents me from skipping over difficult words, and helps to ensure that the translation is as precise and complete as possible.
With a nominal price of only USD 12.99, you can download the English translation instantly as a PDF and read it easily at your convenience. Your contribution and support will help us to continue running this website, and further the research of ancient Chinese battlefield arts.
Contents (77 pages, A5-size):
Mandarin Duck Tactical Formations
Rattan Shield Chapter
8 Shield Stances
Shield Demonstration, The Old Method
The Wolf-Brush Sayings
6 Wolf-Brush Stances
Features to help you learn & understand:
Hanyu Pinyin pronunciation for all Chinese text
To help you pronounce the stances' names accurately.
Chinese text side-by-side with the English translation
For your reference to the meaning of every word.