Dao Broadsword

Discussion in 'Kung Fu' started by BklynJames, Jul 15, 2016.

  1. BklynJames

    BklynJames Kung Fu New Jack

    Question, what makes a broadsword traditional? I know that with Japanese Katanas its about how its made and the metal used. The fittings are all secondary. Is this the same with chinese Dao Broadswords? Does anyone have any information or access to it? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,
  2. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    Designs vary by period and region. This website has a basic overview of different types of dao


    Not included in the article are some types of southern Chinese dao/do which are shown in this article and include the "Red boat style" or "Wing Chun Style" of hu die dao (two in one swords). I would argue that they're a different type of weapon altogether, even the longer ones, but they're still classified as dao/do.

  3. BklynJames

    BklynJames Kung Fu New Jack

    Thank you for the information.
  4. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    I don't know, I'd say that in standard grip they are very much dao in the same way that a cutlass is a sabre.
  5. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    Well that's exactly what they are by comparison, especially the "red boat" or "wing chun style" hu die shuang dao (two in one butterfly sabres) which were used aboard naval vessels.
  6. The Iron Fist

    The Iron Fist Banned Banned

    If what you mean by "what makes them traditional" is materials, then modern dao are usually created using soft and more malleable metals (e.g. aluminum or spring steel). Antique dao weapons are made from much sturdier materials (from early bronze swords, to latter day solid steel ones), and so they're typically heavier. The dao used in many kung fu schools and competitions are very lightweight. Quite frankly many of them would not survive the first minute of a real sword fight (there are some steel/aluminum ones I've used that are kind of in the middle). The Wushu dao are more like stage props, they aren't really knives or swords at all (as in they would never stop a real blade).

    If you're looking to purchase an 'authentic' dao, built to traditional specifications, then it'll come down to quality of the metallurgy, as with any sword of that kind, you'll want to get it from a smith who is an expert in Chinese swords (and these can run into the many hundreds or thousands of dollars, as with any well constructed, authentic weaponry). You can find "mid-range" dao online for several hundred dollars, if you're not willing to splurge on exceptional craftsmanship.

    Technically a dao 刀 is what you would call a slashing/chopping weapon, differentiated from other types of swords, since the hanzi means 'knife', as opposed to the Chinese word for sword 劍 (jian) which implies more of a thrusting/stabbing weapon, like a rapier. Obviously this is a semantic point, as a dao of large enough size such as the Dai Dao (Great Knife) is most definitely a 'sword' by non-Chinese definitions. Still, the name of the Wu Dip Dao found in both Wing Chun and Hung gar is really "Buttery Knives" (not to be confused with the Balisong), as opposed to "Butterfly Swords".
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2016
  7. BklynJames

    BklynJames Kung Fu New Jack

    My question was basically to get a discussion going and wasn't very specific. But the information being posted by all is exactly what I was looking for. The different levels of sword, for training and for cutting. The first weapon I will be using in Hung ga, even thou it won't be for awhile will be the broadsword. So just doing some research before I jump into it. Will definitely be looking to purchase a training sword and possibly one of very good cutting quality. Im use to the pricing of the japanese katana since that was my first sword. So I'm use to out of this world pricing.
  8. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

  9. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    The round grip battle sword is suitable for cutting, Skallagrim has a couple of videos showing it. A little short for my tastes though (but then I am a foot taller than the average Qing dynasty male)
  10. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    For forms practice the polypropylene ones are actually better than the majority of metal ones.
  11. huoxingyang

    huoxingyang Valued Member

    Random pet hate: people calling them "broadswords". No particular reason, I just think "sabre" is a much better word for what they are (and more consistent with terminology used to describe similar weapons from other parts of the world).

    I'm inclined to disagree here. A dao 刀 simply put, is a single-edged weapon (ignoring stuff like false edges) as opposed to a jian 劍/剑 which is a double-edged sword. You can stab pretty well with a dao and you can slash/chop pretty well with a jian.
  12. The Iron Fist

    The Iron Fist Banned Banned

    I know what you mean. It's a broadsword only in the modern colloquial sense, the dao has a very wide flat (and wider in some parts that others). But saber is accurate too. I typically call it a saber more often than broadsword, in fact I can't remember every really calling it a broadsword, or hearing instructors call it that. That's something I only see on vendor websites, et cetera.

    True and the dao fighting styles include stabbing (and I believe jian forms include slashing, but I don't have any jian training). A semantic point, like I said. They're clearly all adaptable, bladed weapons, the hanzi really just describes the style of blade.

    Kanji for katana? Same as the dao 刀. It pokes, it slices, it dices, it makes Julienne fries :D
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  13. huoxingyang

    huoxingyang Valued Member

    By "the dao" you mean "some dao" or more specifically, the "Oxtail dao" (牛尾刀 niúwěidāo) which has somehow become the ubiquitous kung fu sabre of choice. Historically, and certainly when it comes to military patterns, Chinese sabres came in a variety of shapes, all called "dao", not so many really being "broad".

    Because 刀 tends to refer to single-edged blades, like katanas. ;)
  14. Subitai

    Subitai Valued Member

    Hey BklynJames, I've been reading on some of your posts that you've been studying HG...:) welcome to the club.

    I can't offer much with respect to how the weapons are made.

    I can only offer some other info for your journey:

    1) the word Broadsword" as I was taught is a Misnomer...it's more accurate to say Single edged Knife.

    2) Also, this is something I wrote a few years back on another forum:

    Re: Daan Do Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:06 pm
    Postby Subitai »
    I talked about this before in the thread: Question about seminars

    Excerpt: In our broadsword set for example: Pek Gwa Darn Do. Chop, hang, single knife. or better " Neck Chop, hanging cut (disembowel), Single Edged Knife".
    These moves are a very important basic in kung fu.... Known as "the Wrap" The main attack of this weapon is to CHOP 1st, stabbs are secondary in importance. That is the fundamental nature of this weapon.

    I remember having to do it for 3months...endlessly before I could learn the set. But after all that, it was easy to learn.

    I was taught that broadsword may have existed all over but that it was More heavily used by the North and therefore primarily thought of as a Northern Weapon. Like so many others it was added into HG as part of evolution.

    I can't stand seeing people use really WIMPY FLiMSY Broadswords....especially the ones doing WUSHU on ESPN sports tv for example.

    Talk to any average person / martial artist after they watch this type of performance and they always have a POOR VIEW of this weapon.

    To the contrary, the Broadsword man was one of the bravest or at least can be considered Macho. I was taught that the Broadsword Militia in Chinese army was usually part of the 1st wave of an attack and therefore became the "Cannon or Arrow Fodder". If you follow me.

    Broadsword is not Wimpy at all, If a person really understands the BASIC WRAP SKiLL as a foundation, they will see that it's actually very usefull up close.

    Most forms from the Northern Styles also have interesting moves that seem to be overextended or for reaching out long range. This is because the Broadsword man also had to face the KING of Battlefield weapons ... the Spear. So many forms from North also have whole sections or repeats that deal with a longer weapon like a spear.

    Years ago, I learned both the HG Single edged knife version and the more Northern Version P.G. darn do... that we do. We also have the Soldiers Sabre Set from LTW. My northern version comes from Yim Shang Mo of Bak Sil Lum. But I gave back the Southern HG version as it was Not Complete IMO and it was too Hung Gar'ized if you folllow my meaning.

    Broadsword is one of the most usefull for modern day because you can Still use a Stick or any suitably long enough item similar in nature for usage. Thats why it's usually the 2nd weapon I teach after Monkey pole.

    I don't like 2 man choreographed sets. (Gave those back) Instead, we have lots of sparring drills for broadsword. When I'm done teaching, I can usually full on attack my students with a long stick and they can defend themselves pretty easy.

    Fencing and Sabre classes will also expand a persons understanding of this weapon through study.

  15. BklynJames

    BklynJames Kung Fu New Jack

    Thank you for the write up. I have not started the broadsword training yet. But wanted to do some research on it before I do. My original training was on the Japanese Katana and it will be a little weird for me to go from a double handed sword to a single. Also starting my second form so it wont be long before they hand me a sword. Really looking forward to it thou. As for the HG, I'm really liking it. Its very different from what I'm use to. The curriculum and theory is huge to say the least.
  16. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    For the hung gar forms I strongly recommend never using a live blade. The forms are not acrobatic but their are a lot of combined stepping, with off hand traps and pushes and or sword spins / slices.

    There is a lot going on and it is rely easy to hit yourself.

    with the doa sizing / length is important. This may vary with the form that you practice. for example we practice a plum blossom Doa. The length of the doa should reach from the center of the Breast bone to the crease in the palm of the outstretched arm. Other forms may use a different length Doa.

    Weight may also vary I have handled antique Doa's and some of them can be surprisingly light, Lighter than the cheap alloy / aluminum Doas. Others are heavy and caperble of real blunt force damage.

    A Doa should aways be ridged - unlike a keam a Doa should never flibble. The less said about wushu doas the better.
  17. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

  18. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    Correction - should always be rigid

    Should never flibble as heard on video.

    Last edited: Oct 31, 2016
  19. BklynJames

    BklynJames Kung Fu New Jack

    Tom, I agree with not handling a live blade. We start with the wooden/aluminum ones. Watching a few of the other students I understand what your talking about about the moves. Very different from Iaido, or aiki sword techniques. But I wouldnt mind buying an aluminum one prior to starting the form. Still need to do a little more research on it thou.
  20. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    Personally I would steer away from anything metal. I hear good things about polypropylene. Also it is not practical to practice inside at home with a broadsword.

    I practice down the park fairly often but only use a wooden Dao as I dont want passersby to see something that could be confused with the real thing.

    You might find a polypropylene one that doesn't look like the real thing.

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