A little bit about Chinese Swords

I got an email from somebody (Frank) who is a big fan of the medieval period. And he has some knowledge of Chinese weapons. He has shared some of this with us. So here is an article about Chinese swords and chinese halberds. Oh and my thanks go to Frank for sharing some of his knowledge with us.

Here is what Frank has to say about Chinese swords:

Mostly we categorize "Dao" and "Sword" to be two different weapons in Chinese, and "Dao" means the one with unequal width of blades while "Sword" means the one with equal width of blades and symmetrical by the central line. "Swords" are pretty similar to normal medieval combat swords used with one hand but they have very little hilt just for beauty. (Because in Chinese sword combat techniques people never use hilt.) Also, just like other civilizations did, we sculpt decorations all over the sword but mostly they're cloud patterns, bat patterns and Chinese dragons.

Also for the Chinese Halberds, we mostly use crescent-shaped blades at the two sides of the spear.

From Will: I have a drawing here to show you several types of Chinese swords and I have included a Chinese Halberd.

The Chinese "Dao" - this is typically a single edged sword with a broad blade. Typically it has a bit of a curve to it. It is often still used in martial arts like Wushu. It is a bit of a generic term that covers that ground.

The Chinese Sword - Typically it is a straight sword and edged on both sides. And, as Frank says, they tend not to have a prominent hilt because hilt use isn't part of the Chinese sword fighting art.

The Butterfly Sword - shorter swords, typically they were about forearm length and were often hidden right in the sleeves. Often used in pairs. They have a broad blade and are sharp on one edge.

The Dadao - Often known as the chinese broadsword. THis is a longer sword, with a blade as long as three feet in length. Typically a hand and a half or a two handed sword. It is very similar to the European Falcion.

The Chinese Halberd - Called a Ji. It is a traditional weapon still used today in modern martial arts. There were varations in this halberd but you can see that it offers multiple points of attack including spearing from either end. And slashing on both sides. Sometimes it was single bladed and the crescent blades could also be used to hook and pull an opponent, particularly off a horse.

More about the Butterfly Sword from Frank:

And I can tell you something about that "Butterfly Sword"~ That's related to one of the Chinese Kungfus called "Wing Chun" in English. It's a kind of Kungfu that is quite different from others: its moves are typically small in scale (no large swings of arms and shoulders, etc.) and it was designed to use on combats on boats and ships. (Also in the legend it said that the first people who mastered Wing Chun was a woman and because of its small-scale-moves, it was treated as a Kungfu specially designed for women.But actually it's nothing to do with "only women") Because of the limited space on boats and ships, it's better to use smaller weapons than longer weapons so the "butterfly sword" (should be called as "Butterfly Dao":) but nevermind ~) was a perfect weapon for using on boats. The core of combact techniques of this weapon was somewhat similar to Tomahawk fightings: because usually Butterfly swords are shorter than other weapons, you need to block your opponent's attacks with one weapon in your one hand and then use the weapon in your other hand to slash your opponent. It's prefectly designed as the extention of people's forarms rather than a brutal killing weapon and lots of its feathers fit this: broad and wide blades were designed for blocking others' weapons, short in lengths were designed for portability and secrecy, usually dual wielded was for the complement for its small sizes.

BladesUSA Js-118 Tai Chi Sword 39-Inch Overall

This is the Spring Steel Jian Tai Chi Kung Fu Martial Arts Sword. The blade of the sword has been constructed from Spring Steel with a shallow ridge. Engraved into the wood of the scabbard is a dragon and the ball of wisdom.



Standard Chinese Broadsword


  • Stylishly crafted of die-cast aluminum, this broadsword measures 32" long over all.
  • Shipped unsharpened, the blade features an etched blood groove in the 26" long blade.
  • Scabbard not included.
  • Nylon wrapped handle has red and green sashes that flow with movement.


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