want a broadsword - any recommendations?

Discussion in 'Kung Fu' started by NUKKY, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. NUKKY

    NUKKY Valued Member

    as title really.
    am after a broadsword for training but the choice seems cheap blunt one or better quality sharp one.
    as it will be for learning i want a blunt one but would like one that was well made and nicely balanced.
    any ideas?
  2. Banditshaw

    Banditshaw El Bandido

    This is the one I have and I love it. It's sharpened. So if you have kids running around be careful. :)

    The weight and balance is very nice and feels precise when executing techniques.


    I ordered it from them in the states obviously. You might have to find someone in the UK if you were to buy it.
  3. tonglonglengjai

    tonglonglengjai Valued Member

    I would get a spring steal sword for regular forms practice (lung Chuan) available from Wushu Direct, shaolin way or Gwan Gung. For partner work i would get a wooden sword. For personal collection Paul Chen swords are highly thought of.

  4. Banditshaw

    Banditshaw El Bandido

    Yeah I heard the Paul Chen stuff is solid.
  5. NUKKY

    NUKKY Valued Member

    was looking at the hanwei , but they are live blades.guess i could get one and dull the edge a bit.
  6. Banditshaw

    Banditshaw El Bandido

    A friend of mine did the same in blunting it.
  7. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    I know this is an old thread, but I will comment anyways.

    The typical Chinese Broadsword (dao) that is available to the public is poorly constructed with junk hilts. The Modern Wushu stuff is often made of a very light and flexible blade that would never stand up to actual combat use, and what may be more important, a hilt that can fly apart in use. I saw that happen years ago at a Masters demonstration after a kung fu tournament. The fellow stepped onto the demonstration area with his dao, snapped it out on the first move and the sword exploded into pieces. The very light blade floated Off in one direction, the guard flew off in another, the pommel dropped to the floor and the fellow was left holding the grip. This can be dangerous to anyone standing nearby, not to mention makes the dao entirely nonfunctional. People often fail to consider the quality of the hilt. They fall in love with a blade, obsess over the quality of the steel, etc., but don’t think much about the quality and robustness of the hilt and whether or not it properly balances the blade.

    The heavier “combat grade” items made by Lung Chuan can have acceptable blades, but still typically sport a lousy hilt. The guard is made of sheet brass with no actual protective strength or toughness, the pommel is made of a hollow-form sheet brass, also with no actual strength nor weight to balance the blade, and the grip is poorly shaped. The three pieces are jammed onto the tang, fitting poorly A hollow-form pommel will not have the proper weighting, and neither will it function as a smashing hammer when in close combat where the blade cannot be brought to bear

    I’ve not yet seen a commercially produced dao that impressed me. Even the Hanwei models, which are usually better than most, have a guard and pommel that are shaped from a sheet brass, the pommel still being hollow. They are more robust than most, but still not what they ought to be.

    That is just the way it is.

    Personally, I rebuild my own swords. If the blade is acceptable, I build an entirely new hilt and often a scabbard as well. It’s just what needs to be done, because quality items can be impossible to find.
    axelb likes this.
  8. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    I used to have one of the wushu dao (nandao). They certainly are constructed poorly, considering how much they are "thrown" around, I would expect them to be better quality.
  9. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately these things have become little more than a stage prop in most cases. They are not real weapons and they are not meant to be.

    I’m attaching photos of a dao and scabbard that I recently rebuilt for a friend. The blade is a heavy Lung Chuan, the woodwork on the hilt and scabbard are curly grain maple finished with linseed oil, the guard is 5/16 inch steel plate, the pommel is solid steel, and the metal fittings on the scabbard are cast bronze. It is a heavy piece and is unforgiving in practice.

    A huge objection that I have to the light Wushu pieces is that they allow you to cheat in your technique. You can easily “muscle” the movement. A heavier piece will not allow you to get away with that and forces you to properly engage the body in your technique, or you simply become exhausted and cannot continue. This is one of the benefits of practicing with realistic weapons, it translates into your empty-hand practice as a lesson in full body engagement. So even though the weapon itself is obsolete by modern standards, the practice has value in other ways.

    Attached Files:

    David Silver, Grond and axelb like this.
  10. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    Hollow pommels are not historically inaccurate for late Qing/early republican dao (or indeed various European swords)
    The cost vs quality issue with Chinese words is one of the reasons I've mostly gone over to nylon
  11. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    What are your sources for that info?

    Many of the dao available have a pommel and guard made from paper-thin brass. There is no strength at all to that, they would never hold up to any kind of actual use. What I do in rebuilding them makes them into a vastly improved weapon.

    In dismantling some of these for a rebuild, I have seen some with a more robust, yet still hollow, pommel. They are still garbage. Typically cast in two pieces and welded together into an ugly item with a seam. I suppose that is done for easier mass-production, being hollow makes them easier to fit onto a wider variety of tang shapes and sizes, as every blade made is far from uniform.

    European sabers and cutlasses typically do not have a pommel. This weights the piece toward the tip which side in slashing and cutting.

    Other European weapons similar to a saber do have a real pommel, but I do not recall the name of those types.

    I’ve not heard of hollow pommels. It rather defeats the purpose of what they are.
  12. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    The type of European sword I was thinking of is called a falchion. Albion is a sword maker in the United States, they have a good example available here: The Vassal Falchion

    This is overall similar to a Chinese dao, and also sports a solid steel pommel.
  13. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    Good video here
    "Typically cast in two pieces and welded together into an ugly item with a seam. " as you see in this video this is exactly the method used on the late Qing example shown
    And another video showing the type of pommel seen on the Albion Vassal
    A lot of modern replicas are over engineered to meet what we would currently consider marks of high quality in knife making. Many historical swords didn't have solid pommels, full tangs or blades that were anywhere near as robust as you currently see
    Flying Crane and ned like this.
  14. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    Remember by the mid Republican period ring pommels had become the dominant form for Dao which obviously are hollow by their nature.
    Flying Crane likes this.
  15. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    Interesting videos, both of them.

    I’ve been rebuilding swords for probably 15 years or so, although it’s been a hobbie and not my profession so I’ve had times when I’ve done none for several years. I estimate that I’ve done over 40 or 50 and I’ve definitely struggled with the weight and balance issue.

    What he says in the second video is interesting, about people wanting a sword to handle a certain way and wanting it to balance in a certain way, without thought for how it needs to be used. I have had people feel strongly that a jian needs to balance at just above the hilt. While I don’t like that balance myself, I’ve tried to build swords to make that happen, and unless the tang is quite long it is impossible without the pommel being very heavy. One jian I recently built has a fairly light blade, and when I cut the pommel from the dowel stock and fitted it to the tang, it weighed about a pound before I began shaping it down. Even at that weight it didn’t bring the balance quite to that point. If I had kept it that heavy it would have been a very awkward piece indeed.

    I’ve rebuilt some swords with overly heavy blades which I recognize are too heavy but I view them as good for training and not for battle. I’ve experimented with very heavy pommels to balance the heavy blade and it does indeed result in an overly heavy weapon that can handle strangely.

    These videos are very interesting to me and I thank you for sharing them. I think his point is well made regarding the hollow or semi-hollow pommels, that they are made from iron or steel, and they would still have some weight and strength. In contrast as I have pointed out, many of these dao coming out of China, including Lung Chuan, have brass guards and pommels made from paper-thin sheet. This is clearly the pendulum swinging too far in the opposite direction.

    These videos give me something to consider as I rebuild swords. I’ve got a few that I built years ago, and I’ve been planning to rebuild them again and this give me some food for thought. I remain a proponent of a solid pommel being the ideal, but it may require the hilt dimensions to be altered so that the pommel does not end up too large. This could be adjusted through a longer grip, resulting in a shorter pommel that still flairs enough to be a grip-stop, for example.
  16. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    Brass is more dense than iron and steel, so the material isn't relevant. If they're too thin then I suppose that's an issue but then the question is how thin is too thin? The brass on the disc guard (and therefore one assumes the pommel) of the Hanwei ox tail dao doesn't seem especially thin in pictures.
    People want it there because it allows them to whip it around very quickly when they're doing forms and look impressive This used to be a real problem with wushu competitions as people would use very light blades and fill the hilt and pommel with lead, whish prompted the IWUF to standardise weapons.. It is completely useless for using it as intended as a weapon, 3-4 inches is much more suitable.
  17. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    Brass is somewhat more dense than iron and steel, it is an alloy of mostly copper, with zinc. It is strong, but not nearly so strong as steel, and it is softer than steel. What I am describing in these paper-thin guards and pommels is something that you can fold/crush with your hands. If a real sword or axe or other weapon came down on such a guard, the guard would be sheared away or crushed or completely bent back, without protecting the hand. Another drawback of brass is that the zinc will gradually disappear from the brass if it gets wet (I cannot remember the term for what happens)

    I only recently began working with steel. Until now I rebuilt swords with cast bronze, using an artist bronze alloyed with mostly copper and some silicone. It probably isn’t as tough as the original bronze of the Bronze Age, which was an alloy of copper and tin. Tin creates toxic fumes when it is melted, so silicone bronze is an alternative favored by artists and hobbyists, who aren’t working at the foundry level. The original bronze of the Bronze Age was approaching the performance of iron, by the time it was perfected. It is a tough, durable metal that was used for blades and weapons and all kinds of metal implements. Also, the silicon or tin in bronze does not have the problem that zinc has in brass, when it gets wet.

    Steel of course, was still a vast improvement on bronze, in terms of its toughness, hardness, and durability, as well as being less dense. So a steel blade when compared to a bronze blade for example, could be lighter ad thinner while still being stronger and tougher and more durable, and can be hardened much better than bronze or brass so it holds an edge much better, as well as being able to flex and spring back to true rather than simply bend and set. Of course steel rusts when it gets wet. Everything has a tradeoff.

    Not everyone I’ve talked to who wanted the balance at the hilt were modern Wushu people, nor were interested in competition. Some are very traditional.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2020
  18. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    You don't have to be interested in competition to want a sword that's easy to do forms with and makes you look and feel good.
  19. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    These aren’t those people. It what does it matter?
  20. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    It only matters in that there is little traditional about having the POB directly in front of the guard. Historical examples typically have a POB in the 3-6 inch range and having it that close to the hand dramatically reduces the effectiveness of most Jian techniques. People do it because it improves tip control for forms practice and support it with a flawed mythology of the Jian as a weapon.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2020

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