1 April 2015

Chang Dao (長刀)


"This (weapon) only became known (to the Chinese) since the incursion of Japanese into China."
— General Qi Ji Guang

Ming Dynasty two-handed sabre Dandao
Cheng Zong You's Dan Dao (left) and Qi Ji Guang's Chang Dao (right). While superficially similar, Qi Ji Guang's Chang Dao has a one chi long bronze collar/secondary grip, which is not found on Chen Zong You's Dan Dao. Images taken from 'Dan Dao Fa Xuan (《單刀法選》)' and 'Muyedobotongji (《무예도보통지》 or 《武藝圖譜通志》)'.
Chang Dao (長刀, long sabre), also known as Dan Dao (單刀, lit. 'Single sabre'), is the Chinese adoption of Japanese ōdachi (大太刀). Although it mirrors the basic design and dimension of ōdachi, the blade shape, hilt design and forging technique of Chang Dao are different from its Japanese counterpart.

Chang Dao was first adopted by famous general Qi Ji Guang (戚繼光) during his campaign to clear out Wokou (倭寇) from South China coasts. He also acquired a catalogue of the Kage-ryū (陰流 or 影流) school with a few illustrated techniques through unknown means, and derived his own fencing system called Xin You Dao Fa (辛酉刀法) from the catalogue. Xin You Dao Fa was thought to be lost forever (only some illustrations survived), although it was later discovered that a (possibly heavily simplified) version of the fencing system was preserved in Korean martial arts manual Muyejebo (《무예제보》 or 《武藝諸譜》) with its name changed to Ssangsudo (쌍수도 or 雙手刀, lit. 'Two-handed sabre').

Qi Ji Guang was not the only person to take interest in ōdachi and develop fencing techniques for Chang Dao. The weapon itself continued to receive modifications throughout Ming and Qing period, while others also developed and refined fencing systems for it. One particular system, the late Ming period Dan Dao Fa Xuan (單刀法選) by Cheng Zong You (程宗猷) as well as its early Qing refinement, Dan Dao Fa Shi Ba Shi (單刀法十八勢) by Wu Shu (吳殳), had profound influence on modern Miao Dao swordsmanship.

Chinese Miao Dao
Extant Ming period Dan Dao still in pristine condition.
Contrary to popular belief, Chang Dao has no direct connection with older forms of Chinese two-handed swords from earlier dynasties. Late Ming period encyclopedia Tian Gong Kai Wu (《天工開物》) also explicitly states that Japanese forging techniques were unknown to the Chinese. This is only natural, as China and Japan developed their ironworking technologies almost completely independent from each other—China transitioned to blast furnace as early as Warring States period, whereas the Japanese stuck to their tatara-buki (たたら吹き) method for much longer.


For those interested in the development of Chang Dao during Qing period, as well as the conception of the modern Miao Dao (苗刀, lit. 'Sprout sabre'), see Chinese long sabers of the Qing dynasty by Peter Dekker from Mandarin Mansion, as well as Old or New? The Miaodao and Invention in Chinese Martial Arts by Kung Fu Tea.


  1. I've often read that General Qi Ji Guang set the length of this weapon at 1.95m. Is that accurate? Regardless of the exact length, these were big swords. How did soldiers wear and draw them? Or did they just carry them, as European troops equipped with large two-handed swords appear to have done.

  2. @Incanur

    Written records read 6 chi 5 cun, or about 208cm, so it is truly massive. However it weighs only two catties eight maces, or about 1.5kg. Such dimension obviously presents a problem, because:

    1. It is way larger than even Japanese ōdachi (most ōdachi intended for field combat are only ~150cm in length)
    2. Way too light for a sword that is supposedly longer than a Zweihänder.
    3. Way too long to be comfortably worn by arquebusiers.
    4. Late Ming Dan Dao Fa Xuan use shorter swords than Qi Ji Guang's Changdao.
    5. Surviving Ming and Qing changdao are shorter yet heavier than the recorded dimensions.

    So someone (I think is Lancelot Chan, which is quite famous in Chinese-speaking HEMA circles) from Hong Kong proposed using Zhou Chi (1 chi = ~22cm) for measuring the sword, which gives a reading of about 150cm, a much more sensible dimension.

    Chinese troops worn these large swords on their waists blade-up (like katana), and used scabbard normally. They would draw the sword normally when speed wasn't an issue. In an emergency, they draw from their comrade's waist.


  3. Interesting! The 1.5kg weight seems too low in any case. 150cm seems correct based on the linked image, assuming the figure on the right is approximately 165cm tall. If so it has a roughly 110cm blade and 40cm handle. That's an awfully big sword to carry at the waist, but it seems doable and not too difficult to draw.

    Are those small crossbows on the figures' backs?

    1. The Yi Sunshin dual changdao are about 1.95m in length, so it's possible that the sword length was as high as indicated. You also have to remember that Japanese swords were paired to Japanese warriors, i.e, the Japanese had a reputation in the period (not true anymore) of being short due to their pescitarian diet.

      As to the weight, there's an easy solution. The Changdao in Qi Jiguang's formations were weapons for arquebusiers. In other words, they were a sidearm and durability was not necessarily an issue. Lightening them to reduce both weight and durability would not pose a problem if the Changdao functioned as a back-up weapon or a tactical weapon for anti-cavalry operations. Remember that in China, as opposed to Japan, bows tended to be much more expensive than swords, while in Japan, the opposite was true.

    2. Or in other words, if the Changdao broke, what's the problem? The supply depot has another dozen of them if you somehow survived the battle. And depending on where the blade snaps, you still have a decent saber.

    3. @Aspirant
      Good day and welcome to my blog.

      It is certainly possible to make a sword that long, but I've yet to see a sword that long and still weighs only 1.95kg. For the record, Yi Sun Shin's swords are 12 pound/5.3kg.

      Also, it was/is not really logical to intentionally manufacture thrown-away crappy weapon unless there was a serious ongoing war (that ate up the equipment stockpile) that necessitate new equipment being rushed into service. Under normal circumstances, even the equipment for rank-and-file are expected to measure up to certain quality standard.

      Crappy equipment also tend to be heavier, not lighter, than finely-crafted equipment.

    4. I'm still trying to make heads or tails out of the Qi Jiguang claim of 1.95m - 1.5 kg.

      The main supporting evidence is one-handed sword techniques, which seems to be impossible with a weapon that's essentially a saber version of a Zweihander.

      I also disagree with the logic behind throwaway weapons; take the Roman Pilum as an example. It was literally a throwaway weapon in that it was a throwing spear, and the weapon was designed to first penetrate, then bend, ruining the shield of the target if they had one.

      With this in mind, could the Qi Jiguang-pattern Changdao be a weapon of a similar type? Seeking an extremely low weapons weight would make sense if the primary weapon of the soldier was an arquebus, and having your bayonet-equivalent break is less of a hassle than if your gun itself broke.

      Tai Chi swords (built to be flexible, i.e, lightweight civilian or performance weapons) come out to roughly 1 pound per 70 cm of blade. Using the same model, you could get 2.1 meters with 3 pounds, matching the Qi Jiguang specs.

      Moreover, given that Qi Jiguang was facing lightly-armored horsemen, the weapon actually breaking would be less of an issue given that it would rarely encounter armor.

    5. @Aspirant
      Javelin/thrown weapon/projectile weapon were a different case, as they are designed to be thrown/shot/launched, and you don't have to worry about weapon failure at the worst possible moment. Even then, people repaired/recycled arrows to the best of their ability.

      (BTW, Pilum designed for bending on impact seems to be a myth - if it bends, then it probably hits something hard and doesn't penetrate. The bending was incidental rather than deliberate)

    6. Not sure if this has been made known yet, but LK Chen has released a Changdao/Miao Dao replica that seems to match the statistics being discussed here i.e. the ~1.5 kg with ~150 cm total length as described by Qi Jiguang, the "Silver Swallow": https://lkchensword.com/silver-swallow-miao-dao
      I don't have that particular replica, but I do have a Changdao/Miao Dao replica from SBG/Ryujin that seems to match closer to the statistics described in Dan Dao Fa Xuan and of remaining antique Changdao/Miao Dao (or at least the examples I could get statistics on from Mandarin Mansion) i.e. it's thicker, slightly heavier than the 1.5 kg, and shorter than the one described by Qi Jiguang.
      One thing I noticed about LK Chen's replica is that the profile is VERY different from the one I have. It's a hollow ground profile with a piped back as opposed to the more thicker, Nihonto/shinogi zukuri-like profile of SBG-Ryujin's replica/antiques and a reviewer of LK's Swallow seems to be under the impression that the Swallow/Qi Jiguang's Changdao was intended to be used in a duel-like scenario vs. spear with little/minimal armor; but I'm a bit confused by that comment since I was under the impression Qi Jiguang's book was a military manual which I think would favor a more utilitarian, shorter, and beefier sword that could deal with abuse and heavy armor. I might be wrong, but aren't swords with a hollow ground + pipe backed profile historically speaking very rare since they tend to be difficult to make well? Could Qi Jiguang's statistics with the pipe-back and hollow ground design be primarily for a personal weapon or something meant for only a select few individuals like personal bodyguards or something while the more common shorter and thicker changdao as described in Dan Dao Fa Xuan was meant for common soldiers like crossbowmen? Correct any interpretations; LK Chen's or mine, if you think any are wrong. I'm a little skeptical that the pipe-back/hollow ground design interpretation is correct since the pictures of the changdao in the manuals from which LK Chen is basing that idea from are unclear and really vague in describing how the blade's profile should be made and I'm not aware of many antique changdao with the pipe-back/hollow ground profile. But then again, that could make sense since the surviving ones could be the "commoner" Changdao vs. the rarer and probably not as easily preservable Qi Jiguang Changdao/OG Silver Swallow.

    7. @JZBai
      As far as Qi Jiguang is concerned, his Changdao was meant to be used as side weapon by his matchlockmen (his army had A LOT of matchlockmen).

      The recorded practice was having the matchlockmen shoot first, then Mandarin Duck Formation move to engage the enemy in close combat, then matchlockmen change weapon and rejoin the fray. Also, it was assumed that the "enemy" in question were steppe riders.

      It was definitely not a duel-like scenario, but the extra length might be required to engage enemy on horseback.

      LK Chen's Silver Swallow Miao Dao seems to be based on Republican or later period weapon, rather than Ming period Dandao/Qi Jiguang's Changdao.

    8. @春秋戰國
      Thanks for clarifying! That actually makes a lot more sense now. I had a hunch the reviewer was wrong about it being used in a duel-like scenario; unless he's referring to the Republican/Late Qing Miao Dao, but he mentions in the video a manual vs. spear which I'm assuming is either Dan Dao Fa Xuan (which shows spear) or Qi Jiguang's material.
      In any case, I do wonder now if the pipe-back + hollow ground design might be a legitimate interpretation of the changdao now. If it's meant to attack steppe riders, then I can see a benefit to a light and long blade that can cut well since horses tend to be unarmored targets that one needs to keep a distance from. It also might make sense vs. wokou/Japanese pirates since it's unlikely that a bunch of pirates would have a lot of well-made armor in their arsenal. With that said though, I'm wondering how common Ming/Qing era changdao with that particular profile are. The pictures in the manuals and of the antique changdao you posted here seem to have a more shobu-zukuri-like profile akin to certain Japanese swords and daggers which actually isn't as good for cutting, but ideal for thrusting into gaps. Reading LK Chen's description of his sword seems to indicate it's a hybrid design with Ming/Qing era proportions, but Republican profile. Do you think it's possible Ming/Qing changdao had that profile too or were they mostly shobu zukuri?

    9. To be fair, Qi Jiguang's manual also seems to assume a spear-wielding opponent. The pipe-back design might actually arose during late Qing or Republican period.

    10. @JZBai
      Just in time, there's a new and well-written article posted by Kung Fu Tea that may answer your question. Very interesting read, and I will need to modify some parts of this blog post soon in light of the new info.


  4. @Incanur

    The picture, which is taken from Dan Dao Fa Xuan (a late Ming manual on Changdao/Dandao swordsmanship, see my martial art page) presents two different version of Dandao:

    (A) The normal version has 3 chi 8 cun blade, 1 chi 2 cun hilt, total 5 chi or 160cm.
    (B) A "crossbowman" version with 2 chi 8 cun blade and 9 cun hilt, total 3 chi 7 cun, or 119cm.

    Since the figures in that picture have crossbows, they probably use the shorter version.

    Yes, those are crossbows. Despite the size, those are fairly powerful crossbows. Check my crossbow post for the "Jue Zhang Nu" or 300+ draw weight crossbow.

  5. Huh. The 119cm version seems completely reasonable (very similar to many European longswords) and not a problem to draw.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Hi again! So I wasn't exactly sure where to post this since I wanted to post this in your "List of surviving Ming period martial arts" post, but it didn't seem to have a comment section. Since the correction I wanted to submit is related to the "Xin You Dao Fa" segment and it had a link to this Changdao article, I just thought to put it here so that hopefully you can get it.
    Anyway, I just wanted to make a correction regarding your statement that the Kage ryu can use the kanji 影流 or 陰流 interchangeably. That is not completely correct; 影流 and 陰流 while they are both pronounced similarly are actually referring to two different but closely related styles of kenjutsu. I looked at a digital copy of the Wu Bei Zhi that I had and the kanji for the Xin You Dao Fa scroll seems to be 影流 (even though admittedly I'm not sure and I've had other people familiar with Chinese look at it besides myself and it's difficult to make out since the handwriting on the scroll is really messy as a lot of these Japanese scrolls are unfortunately. :P It however cannot be the 陰 kanji though since it's used in the same scroll later for a technique named "Yama-kage"/山陰 and it looks different). Anyway, Aizu Kage Ryu/愛洲陰流 which was founded by Aizu Ikosai and would later branch off into a bunch of Shinkage Ryus/新陰流 is not the same as that Kage Ryu/影流 which would branch off into a bunch of Shinkage Ryus/神影流. It's instead the Kage Ryu founded in about 1550 by a Yamamoto Hisaya Masakatsu and seems to specialize in the drawing of longswords (which matches up with the Wu Bei Zhi description and what we seem to know about the Changdao material in general) according to these pages on the topic by someone who is practicing that koryu: http://www.hyoho.com/Nkage1.html https://www.koryubooks.com/library/chyakutake1.html
    With that said though, as someone who formerly practiced Yagyu Shinkage Ryu/柳生新陰流 (an Aizu Kage Ryu derivative), what I find curious is that the Xin You Dao Fa scroll, the living tradition I used to practice and an existing Densho of the Aizu Kage Ryu housed in the Tokyo National Museum (https://webarchives.tnm.jp/imgsearch/show/C0083302) all seem to share some techniques, one of them the aforementioned "Yama-kage"/山陰. I'm wondering if this Kage Ryu/影流/Xin You Dao Fa is a group that somehow split off the mainline Aizu Kage Ryu/愛洲陰流 and retained some of the techniques from the original school even though the page I linked above claims no relation to other Kage Ryus. But even stranger is that one of the Shinkage Ryus/神影流 (i.e. Oishi Shinkage Ryu/大石神影流) that is derived from the Xin You Dao Fa/Kage Ryu/影流 seems to share techniques with the Yagyu Shinkage Ryu/柳生新陰流 I used to practice and claims to be an Aizu Kage Ryu derivative even though it uses the 影 kanji and not the 陰 one typical of Aizu Kage Ryu derivatives according to its Wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oishi_Shinkage-ry%C5%AB_Kenjutsu) ...
    Anyway, hope that was interesting, maybe amusing, and not too confusing and will help improve the accuracy of your page on that topic! :)
    P.S. I wouldn't dig too much deeper into the relationship of the various Kage Ryus and Shinkage Ryus. Koryu lineage legitimacy can be a bit of a minefield... :P

    1. @JZBai
      Yes, the kanji(?) on the catalogue should read as "影流". The writing is in the style of cursive script (it's a specific style, not "messy") so it is very difficult to read.

      The three techniques recorded in the catalogue are Sarutobi 猿飛, Sarumawashi 猿廻 and Yamakage 山陰. These three techniques seem to match with the first three techniques found in the first sroll of 愛洲陰之流目録 written in 1576 (https://webarchives.tnm.jp/imgsearch/show/E0032808). The hentaigana part of Qi Jiguang's catalogue was translated back into Japanese in the 17th and 18th century, and they seem to match the text in Aizu Kage Ryu scroll pretty closely. Thus, given the resemblance and the fact that both srolls were roughly contemporaneous (Xin You Dao Fa was from ~1560), I cannot rule out the connection between the two, hence the "影流 or 陰流" in my blog post/page

  8. Hi again! Just wanted to post an interesting observation I noticed looking at the previous catalogues and also those of the Yagyu Shinkage Ryu's.
    Just like you said previously, the Xin You Dao Fa and the Aizu Kage Ryu Densho do share three techniques: Enpi/Enhi/Sarutobi 猿飛, Enkai/Sarumawashi 猿廻 and Yamakage 山陰. For the first two techniques, you gave the kun'yomi pronunciations, but it seems the living tradition uses the on'yomi/kan-on pronunciations for those techniques, but also strangely use different kanji for them that can produce the same sound. This also seems to be true in Xin You Dao Fa itself with Enkai/Sarumawashi/猿廻 since it actually seems to be 辕回 and not 猿廻 changing the translation from "Ape Return" to "Axle Spin" (P.S. I'm not sure on this, but I looked at my digital copy of the text and it seems more like 辕回 than 猿廻). As for the Shinkage Ryu, here's a video of the Owari branch Yagyu Shinkage Ryu for reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOE7_DkY-fA . As you can see in the Owari branch, Enpi/猿飛 is actually 燕飛 which changes the translation of "Ape Flight" to "Swallow Flight" which makes a bit more sense naturalistically since ape's can't fly unless you count modern humans :P . Also the Edo branch of Yagyu Shinkage Ryu (the one I used to practice) has the kanji for Enkai/猿廻 as 燕廻 which changes it to "Swallow Return" which interestingly enough matches up in meaning to a famous technique perfected by the legendary rival of Miyamoto Musashi, Sasaki Kojiro, called Tsubame Gaeshi (燕返し, "Swallow Reversal / Return"). I'm not aware of any connection between Kage Ryu, Shinkage Ryu, and Kojiro's Gan Ryu, but it's a very strange coincidence that Kojiro has a technique that seems to be similar to other ryus' Ape/Swallow Return techniques in name and that Kojiro apparently was known for fencing with an odachi. It wouldn't be that surprising if they all have some sort of relation since we know that Aizu Kage Ryu did influence a lot of other East Asian longsword styles.
    Anyway, hope that was interesting! :)

  9. Hello GreatMingMilitary,

    Has there been any extensive adaptation and/or modification to adopt Chang dao/Miao dao swordplay to be used for regular-sized waist swords?

    By "waist swords" I mean the dimensions of Korean Hwando, Japanese Katana/daito, or even the liuyedao as well.

    For a reference Xin Yu Dao Fa was extensively adopted by the Koreans, but they instead used the regular waist-sword sized Hwando as opposed to the Chang dao. This was in part because large two handers or polearms never gained all that prominence for them; Joseon military post-Imjin war predominantly became arquebusiers armed with waist swords.

    The Korean adaptation of Xin Yu Dao Fa (용검用劒/평검平劒) made minor changes in some deflecting and cutting techniques, but the overall flow and style of Xin Yu Dao Fa remains the same. But of course some distancing and spacing philosophies may change as well, since regular-sized waist swords behave a bit differently compared to large two handers or pole weapons. 용검用劒/평검平劒 also grips the sword with both hands on the hilt, as opposed to the original Xin Yu Dao Fa which often hand one hand on the enlarged habaki.

    For the Ming or Qing they predominantly seemed to have used large two handers alongside single-handed wasit swords; even the shortest variants of Qing regulation long sabers are 113~120 cm. Some Hwando and Katana/daito could for sure go up to that size without having to become classified as nodachi/Odachi, but they would be at the very upper end of the spectrum in terms of length and size.

    I don't know if I would be convinced if the Chinese never made adaptation (or modification) for their Chang dao/Miao dao swordsmanship to be suitable and used for regular sized waist swords though. Large two handers are advantageous in the field, but may become cumbersome in other situations - let alone the problem of carrying and wearing them in everyday life. Adopting the swordplay to become suitable for regular-sized waist swords may be beneficial, as it makes a compromise or tradeoff between field and indoor/urban usage, as well as its ease in carry and wear.

    Would Dadao styles that emerged throughout the Republican era come closest in terms of adapting/modifying Chang dao/Miao dao swordplay to be suitable for regular-sized waist swords?

    These were the closest that I could find: https://twitter.com/CarlZha/status/1094001822765801472

    Would all these be valid in terms of adapting Chang dao/Miao dao swordplay into regular-waist sword usage?

    P.S.: Would you consider props in the movie Brotherhood of Blades 2 as accurate? There are some interesting saber mountings like the "pommel cap" fittings that are flush with the handles, as well as "fishtail" pommels - both of which are almost absent among Qing sabers. Are these mounting styles that were prominent throughout the Ming?

    1. @Aden YANG
      I don't think there was any adaptation of Changdao/Dandao techniques for regular-sized dao during Ming Dynasty. I am not entire sure about Qing/Republican China, but I don't think they exist either.

      There are principles in weapon fighting that are universal/interchangable, but overall I don't think techniques for two-handed sword are suitable to convert into one-handed weapon. If you are carrying a one-handed waist sabre, you might as well just train with one-handed sabre techniques.

      There are Chinese martial arts that train with both one-handed and two-handed swordsmanship (using different weapons), or have both techniques in the same set of Daofa (even Xin You Dao Fa contains a few one-handed techniques), but I don't think those are specifically adapted from Xin You Dao Fa/Dan Dao Fa Xuan/Miao Dao.

      Brotherhood of Blades 2? Not historically accurate.

    2. Hmmm it's pretty disappointing if the Chinese never really came up with adopting Changdao/Miao dao swordplay for regular-sized waist swords. I was initially inclined to believe that they did to some extent during the Republican era, due to seeing that one picture & videos posted above + all the Dadao sword styles that emerged.

      You certainly have a point in simply going ahead with learning dedicated one-handed sabre techniques if you have a one-handed waist sabre. Katana and Hwando aren't exactly one-handed sabres either, they're more akin to short bastard swords I suppose.

      For Koreans adopting the Xin Yu Dao Fa they actually went ahead and employed multiple military officials and martial arts experts within the government for modifying the swordplay, under the official named 金佐明 they changed bits and pieces of the swordsmanship, presumably because a katana/hwando behaves somewhat differently compared a large two hander.

      So props in Brotherhood of Blades 2 aren't accurate huh.....I really liked the sword mountings in the movie, it's unfortunate that they aren't historically accurate ones. It sucks that the vast majority of Ming-style sabre mounts don't survive except for on paintings, all we have left are minor examples that remained in the early Qing period.

    3. The only instance of a clear modification during Ming period (that I can think of) is someone adapting Shaolin staff techniques to be used with a dao. I think Chen Zongyou (author of Dan Dao Fa Xuan) mentioned that guy in passing, although he considered his own style to be superior (since he was a master in both Shaolin staff and Dandao). I guess Xin You Dao Fa itself also count, since it was a development of Japanese swordsmanship.

      IMO it also boils down to the wealth of existing repository of martial arts. China most likely already have some kind of one handed, two-handed, and hand-and-a-half sword styles, so no matter what kind of weapon you end up with, there's always someone ready to teach you the relevant martial arts for that weapon.

      Thus, there's no need to "reinvent the wheel", so to speak, by modifying a specific style so that it can be used with a different weapon.

      (To be clear, modern Miaodao style do have clear influence from Dan Dao Fa Xuan)

    4. Just to be clear, which dao type was the martial artist referenced by Cheng Zongyou using? Was it an ordinary dao/waist sabre, or a large two handed sword like that of Cheng Zongyou's?

    5. @Aden YANG
      I don't think the records specificy what kind of sword/dao that guy used. The name is Guo Wu (郭五 or 郭武), who was probably a Shaolin monk. He was apparently very famous during Chen Zongyou's time that Chen personally visited him.

      By the way, I just remembered that Chen Ziyi also adapted Chen Zongyou's martial arts (Dan Dao Fa Xuan and Shaolin staff) to all kinds of weapons including two-handed axe, Ji halberd, iron whip and wolf-tooth cudgel. He was Chen Zongyou's nephew so this was probably done with the purpose of promoting the martial arts style of his family.

    6. Regarding adapting changdao to yao dao, I have a bit of a theory looking at traditional kung fu traditions which strangely enough don't have many two handed sword taolu (at least in regards to traditions that come from Jing Wu Men, modern Wushu, Taiji, etc.). There are of course some traditions with Miao Dao and Chang Jian but they seem to be the minority. What's very peculiar to me too is that I'm not aware of many single-handed dao/jian manuals historically attested to in the Ming/Qing dynasties. 春秋戰國 did mention Shi San Dao Fa (十三刀法), in his "List of surviving Ming period martial arts," but that's only one source vs. the multiple for two handed sword/saber. I've noticed a lot of traditional jianshu and sometimes daoshu forms have the sword fingers or offhand touching the wrist of the main sword hand which doesn't make much sense from a martial perspective. Unless you are blocking a very heavy blow from a polearm/staff (which in daoshu you can just put your hand on the back of the blade to brace for impact ala half-swording. In addition, in jianshu, it seems to be the "default" fencing stance when using the jian which doesn't make much sense), why put your off-hand closer to your opponent's sword and provide another target to be potentially sniped at when it's unnecessary to control the weapon which is light enough to be used in one hand? Maybe the offhand put on the wrist seen in modern kung fu/wushu single-handed sword traditions is a vestigial motion/stance to when swords were used in two hands and they are just simply readapting some two handed sword techniques for one-handed swords?

      P.S. to 春秋戰國, if you happen to know any more single handed dao/jian manuals from Ming or Qing dynasty let me know. I want to know how different they are compared to the more modern traditional wushu/kung fu forms.

    7. @JZBai
      My martial arts list is about as complete as it gets - I don't think there's any more to add unless theres some obscure but verificable manuals surface in the future.

  10. Hello (yet) again!
    Just a small question I was thinking about taking a peek at my digital copy of Dandao Faxuan/Geng Yu Sheng Ji. I noticed in my digital copy and on other websites' images of Geng Yu Sheng Ji that there seems to be faded what seems to be either Mongolian or Manchurian text in the background of the images: https://static.wixstatic.com/media/065f0f_e180e4974e3e4a12bf3f0e3f8d2cb6a8~mv2.gif
    Has anyone ever attempted to translate that text to see if it could provide any more insight into the manuals? Or, is it more likely that the text has no relation to what's being discussed in the manuals and is simply just recycled paper that happened to have Mongolian/Manchurian/whatever writing on it?

    1. ???The faded texts are likely written on the backside of the paper, just flip the page to read them.


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