In our style of Bagua there are many different types of weapons. The sword, sabre, spear, hooks, deer antlers, staff, double sticks, Guans blade, two sided spear, etc. All of the weapons have there advantages for different situations, as well as different variations. I have seen many masters that carry "special" weapons around to practice, compete, or just show how bad ass they are. My master has always told me, "Real kung fu is all about your weapon." Initially I thought I understood the meaning, but after training for a long time with the various weapons I have deepened my understanding of what the weapon's purpose is.
Of course in the times of war these weapons had many places of more obvious use. Choosing your weapons was a matter of deciding what type of strategy that you want to use kill. Disarming, penetrating armor, distance, surprise, or whatever was your most effective tool was the deciding factor. This is actually one of the more surface level understandings that I originally had about weapons. Through training I have been able to see more significant effects in my techniques barehanded directly related to my weapons training. When I train the staff my stance strengthens, the deer antlers give me better footwork, the sabre increases my trapping power, the spear gives me more snatching and palm power, Guan's blade increases internal power and endurance, and on and on. Therefore if someone favors using sword techniques, it is probably true that it helps them master another unarmed attack. This makes me especially curious about those masters with the"special" weapons.
The first stage of learning a weapon is much like ourselves when we are first born. Useless. Without training or direction we lack purpose. In a sense when we begin to master a weapon we begin to identify and master ourselves. Or maybe its better to say that the weapon is just a reflection of your personality. The hardest part of course is first getting past yourself so that you can begin to learn. I know everyone has picked up a pair of nunchucks and swung them around until BANG. Then their little dreams of being a teenage mutant ninja turtle were crushed. No pain no gain, no guts no glory, whatever doesn't kill you...blah blah blah. Do whatever you need to get back up and do it till its done.
In any case I strongly suggest that you become acquainted with a weapon from any of the arts. To master a weapon is just the same as taming a tiger. Something that may have been dangerous can turn into your protection.