The Henan Battle Array of Shielded Soldiers
The battle array of shielded soldiers is a kind of ancient fighting art practiced only in north China. Dating back several hundred years to the Ming Dynasty, the battle array is kept alive nowhere else than Shilipu Village of Shahe city in China’s Hebei Province, where it's called "rattan shield array".
In the Shang Dynasty, when battles were frequent among northern tribes, someone invented the rattan shield for self protection in offense and defense. During the wars in later dynasties, the shield became part of the rattan array deployed to attack or defend against the enemy, thanks to the revolutionizing efforts of many military commanders.
During the battle, soldiers hold the rattan shield in the left hand and a dagger in the right hand, courageously jumping and rolling ahead to their enemies before brandishing the dagger to kill them. When attacked by a large number of enemy troops, the soldiers form a dense array by holding up the rattan shield to cover themselves, restraining the arrows and horses of the enemy troops.
In an actual combat, the rattan shield array can be arranged in countless ways, with the number of soldiers in the array expanded to tens of thousands if needed. In a pair exercise or fighting skill performance, the rattan shield array may be carried out to the accompaniment of drum music.
For over 300 years, the rattan shield array has played a special role in defending against enemies and enriching the cultural life of local people. It symbolizes the splendid culture and long history of the Chinese nation. In addition, the array is of practical significance in terms of studying ancient humanistic society, military affairs, war craft and strategies etc.