Shaolin monks perform demonstrations of their skills that seem almost superhuman. The one that really has me stumped is breaking a sharpened spear by putting the point in their neck, the other end on the floor and then pushing forward until the shaft snaps.

How do they do this? Weak shaft?

Does anybody have any conclusive answers?

Link to the shaolin wheel of life show where they perform the spear breaking trick

  • 3
    I just found this video where alleged Shaolin monk teaches us how to break spears with our necks for SELF DEFENSE purposes which made me keep laughing for good five minutes. I would pay to see how someone in real life street brawl situation tries to self defend by breaking spear with the neck. Darwin Awards guaranteed. youtube.com/watch?v=LmW0F58ngc8
    – user288
    Apr 27, 2011 at 18:36
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    I saw something like this in National Geographic's "The Science of Martial Arts". I didn't like the comment from the "scientist" in the show: "This is something we as scientists can never explain". She didn't even try to explain it.
    – Shathur
    Jan 26, 2012 at 10:01
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    @Shathur: I think the term you are looking for is "the lady with a lab coat" :)
    – nico
    Jul 8, 2014 at 20:11
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because simply asking "how do they do this?" isn't on-topic for this site. Is there any specific (explicit or implicit) claim being made, of which you're skptical?
    – ChrisW
    May 31, 2015 at 20:27
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    I would also point out that Shaolin monks do not claim that breaking a spear with their neck is a magic trick, they claim that it is their training and mastery of chi that allows them to do this. I'm skeptical of people claiming to be able to use mystical powers to perform feats that seem almost superhuman and I would like somebody to provide and explanation if they can. I think you'll find that this makes my question in scope in regards to the first link you supplied.
    – Ardesco
    Jun 3, 2015 at 7:35

1 Answer 1


Pliable Wood + Elongated Shaft = Easily Bendable/Breakable Spear

This video demonstrates step by step on how a Shaolin Monk breaks a spear. Look at how easily the shaft bends as he applies his weight to it. This is misleading as a deadly weapon, because if a spear did this during combat, it would be rendered useless very quickly. Listen closely to the 'hollow' sound of the wood hitting the ground in the video upon breakage. Dense wood, such as that of a real spear, does not sound this way.

It doesn't stop with mere bendable spears.

This video demonstrates a Shaolin Monk bending rebar with his neck as well. One key thing to realize isn't his many years of perfecting his mind and body in a temple - rather his hopping up and down to create a bending point for the rebar.

Penn & Teller: Bullsh!t (Episode 109 / Self-Helpless) actually show quite well the breaking of an arrow, the bending of rebar, and even walking on hot coals - and how the average person can achieve this without needing to practice within a Shaolin Temple.

The word of the day is Buckling.

Buckling is characterized by a sudden sideways failure of a structural member subjected to high compressive stress, where the compressive stress at the point of failure is less than the ultimate compressive stress that the material is capable of withstanding.

Here are some videos of 'regular people' bending rebar with their necks.

Here is a video of a 'regular person' breaking a spear with his neck.

Most telling of all, is this "Qi Gong Master" bending 3 spears at one time (notice how he pushes the tips with his chin into his breast bone.


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