By Peter A. Sutters Jr.
Sifu (master) Michael Parrella caught his first look at antique Chinese weapons while attending a trade show in Florida in 1989, although the price of such weapons were a bit out of his range.”We only hoped to smell them at that point,” said Parrella from his school, Master Parrella's Kung-Fu Center in Glen Oaks Shopping Center on Union turnpike.Parrella said as his training in kung-fu and the weapons involved in the fighting style progressed, he made a few connections with dealers in China through his teacher, Grandmaster Chan Tai-San, a world-renowned martial arts teacher. Parrella said his suppliers are different than many of the other weapons dealers who come from China. He said his dealers sell exclusively authentic antiques whereas others often sell reproductions passed off as the real thing.”If you look on eBay, there are hundreds of weapons for sale,” said Parrella. He added that many of the weapons for sale on the Internet are not listed as reproductions and can be difficult to distinguish from the real thing. “Some manufacturers leave the swords on the roofs of buildings so the acid rain gives them the appearance of being old,” said Parrella.He maintained the weapons for sale are considered non-lethal because age and use have dulled the blades.Parrella said it was a natural progression to move from buying the weapons for his personal collection to selling them out of his school. “I thought this would be a great market to get into,” said Parrella. “There are only a few people on the Internet selling these.” Donning the walls of his school are some of the weapons for sale on his newly established Web site, www.antiqueasianweapons.com, as well as out of his training center. Broadswords, spears, cannons, and flexible weapons are just a few of the items from the Ming (1368-1644) and Quing (1644-1911) Dynasties that have been shipped from China to be sold to martial arts lovers and antique collectors across the globe. “Yesterday we got an order from Sweden that I was surprised about,” said Parrella as a new shipment arrived at the school from China.One of Parrella's assistants opened the package and placed a nine-shot cannon on his desk and his eyes lit up as he took hold of the heavy iron weapon.”This is not your everyday item,” said Parrella. Judging from the other weapons Parrella has on display, everyday items would be few and far between. Among the more sinister weapons were two iron rods with handles at one end and claws at the other end. Parrella referred to the weapon as simply the iron claw. “You would pretty much use it to claw the hell out of your opponent,” said Parrella, as he held one in each hand in a mock demonstration. Parrella said the weapons he offers for sale can be used in martial arts training, although with some of the more expensive items, someone may opt to buy a reproduction and use the real item for display only. Prices range from around $100 for newer weapons and up to $10,000 for older, more intricately designed swords. Reach reporter Peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 173.