Gehao Zhang 2016

From Red Spear to bayonet drill: a media archaeology on marital arts weapon in China


The spear has been one of the martial arts weapon with a history from remotest antiquity and the widest impact on almost all cultures. In Chinese martial arts, it has been considered “the king of all weapons”. It is also one of the marital arts weapons to keep its popularity among secrete societies and through the communist revolutionary during 20th century.

This research based on some remaining fragments of historical evidence to provide a media archaeology on the intertexture of the application of spears and bayonets from early modern military drill until the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s training. The paper will discuss the interaction between the materiality of martial arts weapons and body techniques in the shadow of the invented revolutionary tradition of bayonet fighting techniques in the Chinese PLA as well as the ideological naming of the red-tasseled spear.


Gehao Zhang, assistant professor in Macau University of Science and Technology. He got his PhD in Loughborough University with an ethnography on British Tai Chi Practitioners, his recent research includes martial arts studies, media archaeology, digital anthropology and qualitative data analysis.