The horse bench resembles the saw horse utilized by carpenters except the top consists of a flat board which varies from 6" to 8" in width. This allows the bench to be used as a seat or resting place, as well as a small shelf. The horse bench is usually about 2' tall and from 48" to 60" long. Horse benches were used in homes where economics didn't allow for costlier furniture. It is a very utilitarian piece with few frills.
In ancient China the horse bench became a weapon. It was used by farmers and other rustics as a handy weapon for defense as well as offense. In ancient times spears and swords were usually wielded by professional soldiers or warriors. Rural folk used whatever was at hand, such as their hoes, rakes, and even the lowly horse bench. There are techniques for using the horse bench to thrust, parry, and sweep. Some recommend the horse bench, which can weigh from 15-20 pounds, as a means to build both strength and endurance.
Use of the horse bench as a weapon is part of a martial arts legacy which utilizes literally everything as a potential weapon. A pencil can be as effective as a dagger in the hands of one trained in its usage. Jackie Chan, in the movie The Big Brawl (1980), utilizes a chair in a practice fight sequence. The techniques he uses are also those used to fight with the horse bench.
Today, the horse bench can still be found. It can be in its original simple form or a more fanciful creation used as home decor. The original horse bench was made of wood, but composites now exist using metal, wood, and other materials to create the desired effect.