The Tiger Fork is a variation that has a unique history. It started as a heavy spear for hunting. But with Tigers being prolific in china and generaly willing to eat people, the job of tiger hunter came into existence. The Tiger hunters usually traveled in groups of three. One carried A tiger fork, one carried two short knives, and the third carried a sword and shield. Tigers, as you may know, are very large animals. This is significant in that most other long weapons were made long to compensate for large groups or to take advantage of being on horse back. The Tiger Fork is long to avoid the claws of the tiger. The length was necessary since the hunt tended to begin with the tiger fork guy waving at the tiger. The Tiger would charge for the pounce. People being soft and juicy, He wouldn't evade or expect any problem. The guy with the tiger fork would attempt to place the base of the fork down and recieve the charge. The targets would be the throat or the chest. If the hunter made a mistake at this point, off target or the fork not planted, he would die. The hunter with the sword and shield would then run up and attack the stomach of the tiger with his sword and hopefully the shield would keep the claws away. The third hunter would leap upon the back of the tiger with his daggers and work the arteries and brain stem. If everything went as planned the hunters would live and the tiger would die. If things went wrong the survivor was usually the guy who didn't do his job( meaning he ran away without attacking the tiger). It was also possible for the tiger to win. He would be crippled and dying, but he wouldn't die hungry. The Tiger Fork evolved based on the Tiger hunt. A heavy spear was given a crosspiece. The Tiger tended to survive too much and so side blades or spikes were added. These extra blades gave the weapon the extra damage and holding power needed to hold the tiger. The Tiger hunters tended to be paid very well since a village's survival rested with the hunters efficiency. It was only a matter of time before they had to fight people who wanted their money. The Tiger Fork itself will usually be in a system that traces lineage back through to some guy in a village who was considered the protector. If a Tiger came by, he would have trained the other two. Tiger style will not have this weapon since they feel that the tiger is noble and respected. The tiger fork was used to kill tigers or defend money made killing tigers, they will refuse to use it. Hence it would be a bad idea to walk into a Shantung Black Tiger school with a tiger fork, They would see it as a challenge to the death and react accordingly.
There are variations on this weapon since it was used for other things. There is a northern and southern tiger fork. I am not sure which is which because it changes based on who is speaking and where they think their style comes from.
One is very heavy with a solid or hollow steel shaft and large round steel spikes. The other end has a large heavy point for planting in the ground.
Another variation is lighter with a wood shaft, full tang, and three double edged blades. The other end still has a really big end for recieving a charge.
There is the double Tiger forks which are smaller with the three bladed heads at each end and they are only 2 feet long.
there is another variation that is lighter than the first two with a smaller head. The outside blades are fat and curved outward with the inside blade being short and wide. The entire head is the size of, maybe, two hands with the fingers spread. I am guessing that this variation was for use in areas without Tigers but mostly against other people. It tends to be more popular with women, since it is faster, has more technique, and if someone says "oh, is that the little girls tiger fork?" she can carve him up in front of his friends before he can even lift his weapon. Another mark against the popularity of the "woman's" tiger fork is that it looks like a large salad fork.