Both of these items are a relatively small weapon which can legitimately be hidden within one’s clothes to be drawn forth, health easily concealed practically Anywhere in the loose-fitting, stomach traditional clothing of China ( in the sleeves, anemia etc).
They are a simple, common shape, not too difficult to retreive from a carrier or even within the clothes to be used & retired, quickly hidden away again without attracting much attention when necessary.
These tools also offered to the highly skilled martial artist yet another unique venue – the battlefield became a testing ground for Qi Gong & Accu-Point theory. These weapons are used to strike ‘vital points’ either on the jing luo energy meridians, nerve or blood passageways. By attacking specific points on the body to cause blockages along – or even completly severing – the Jing Luo or Meridians/Pathways of the body along which the body’s energy flowed, a martial artist of such phenomenal knowledge & ability would find victory through an economy of both strife & time itself.
They can both be used for applying qin na techniques, and have just enough gusto to deflect a light weapon such as the Jian, but beyond that they are just a bit too short and light for anything like a baton, Dao, etc.
Although the general design and handling of these two different weapons are similar, they are definitely not the same. Let’s get the Pens out of the way first.

The Judges Pens
Just as the name implies, this weapon is modelled after a calligraphy brush, or pen in today’s vernacular. They’re made of a hard metal for penetrating power, roughly 12-14″ in length.
ErMei Needles
These are long cylinders in the shape of long ‘needles’ with a sharpened point on each end. A ring is affixe to the center – NOT to spin them – so that the practitioner may use open hand strikes and Not have the weapon fall from their grasp. I think that from a fighting perspective this is a very simple, yet Extremely effective method of weapons retention. I can engage the opponent’s weapon, redirect or control, and then use various open palm strikes while having the ability to instantly employ the weapon again. The versatility added to one’s fighting repertoir by this extremely simple device Can Not ever be Exhausted.

SIDE NOTE: Outside of the generic “Bagua Needles” the other written versions of the Chinese phoenetics that I’m familiar with are Emei, O-Mei, & Ehr Mei, although most of these names deal specificially with the family of martial arts indigenous to a specific mountain region of China. A Most Excellent article about this school of martial practice was written in the September 2000 issue of Kung Fu Magazine and can be found online here