Butterfly Sword

Butterfly Sword

This Butterfly Sword appears as a single-edged weapon or short dao; it was from the southern portion of China though it is also being used in the North. Butterfly Swords are various types of sabers with only a single edge that is sharpened.

Its blade is much wider compared to the regular double-edged long sword and it also has a specialized D-guard. With its wider blade and single edge, the weapon is firmly categorized as a Dao.

Appearance of the Butterfly Sword

Butterfly Swords are commonly used in pairs a pair of blades will usually be carried next to each other in the same scabbard to appear just like a single weapon. The Butterfly Sword features a little crossguard that works to protect the wielder’s hand; it is somewhat similar to the sai that can also be utilized to hook or block an enemy’s weapon.

In other versions of the weapon, the crossguard is enlarged to provide the second handhold; when being held in this position, the weapons can readily be manipulated in a way that is related to a pair of tonfa. These may also be utilized as brass knuckles during non-lethal weapon applications.

The blade of the Butterfly Sword roughly measures as long as a person’s forearm, thus, allowing this to be easily concealed inside loose boots or sleeves; it also allows for excellent mobility when rotating and spinning in a close-range battle.

Generally, the Butterfly Sword is only honed partially along its edge and this is evident in numerous pieces that have been acquired from the Qing dynasty. At midpoint below, the blade is left blunt so the weapon can be utilized to deliver non-lethal blows while simultaneously blocking without harming its sharpened edge.

The Chinese Butterfly Swords were basically commissioned and created specifically for individual martial arts experts and these were not mass-produced, which means that the set of every sword has a difference; however, the average blade of the Butterfly Sword today measures around 11.5 inches with a 6-inch handle.

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Use of the Chinese Butterfly Swords

Butterfly Swords are utilized in numerous Chinese martial arts, specifically Hung Ga, Choy Li Fut, and Wing Chun. For Wing Chun, one of the most notable characteristics of the Butterfly Sword during combat is that its principles are the foundation of all other weapons.

Based on theories, any weapon that can be wielded by a Wing Chun practitioner should follow the basic laws of motion as the Butterfly Swords. This is possible since using the Butterfly Sword is an extension of empty-handed fighting.

The design and style of the Butterfly Sword which includes the blade length, the quillon shape, and the blade profile are greatly specific to each martial arts style and precise lineage. There are some lineages that capture the enemy’s blade or staff right between its spine and quillon.

Some schools prefer a hybrid design for the quillon that is also adequate for trapping and flipping. Some of the Chinese Butterfly Swords also featured an extended and narrow blade that was excellent for stabbing.

There was also a dangerous stabbing blade that featured a sharpened swage and it was called the Red Boat knives; the weapon was utilized by the Chinese revolutionaries but the modern practitioners of Wing Chun preferred a blade profile that had a much wider belly to emphasize its slashing and chopping abilities.

The lore of Wing Chun attributes this to the eagerness of Monks to disable instead of killing; the knives basically feature a quarter-cycle styled tip that is excellent for slashing as well as chopping, and not something made specifically for stabbing.

Butterfly swords
Image Source: Octesh / CC BY-SA

The adequate length of this weapon’s blade is the mix of the individual and the lineage; for Hung Gar stylists, its length should just be a couple of inches past one’s elbow once the knife is held in a reversed grip.

The Wing Chun schools that utilize methods that twirl the weapon inside one’s arm require a length that is based on the gap between the interior of its bicep; for other Wing Chun schools, they often measure outside the bicep.

Butterfly Swords are considered by numerous Chinese martial artists as one of the weapons that feature the most versatility and balance out of all the Chinese weapons; also, the sword has a lot of capabilities and advantages.

Advantage of the Chinese Butterfly Swords

Butterfly swords are commonly flat ground unlike the Nihonto or Japanese swords which are hollow ground; this means that the weapon’s blade becomes much thinner the closer it reaches the edge.

Flat ground means that the thickness of the weapon’s blade is consistent all throughout the blade’s cutting edge; this only means that the Butterfly Swords are less prone to chipping or cracking unlike other types of weapons.

With these swords, one will notice that the blades are just sharpened halfway because the blade’s bottom half is supposedly utilized for blocking various strikes coming from the enemy. The unsharpened part of the Butterfly Sword also makes the weapon less prone to acquiring breakages or cracks along the edge.

Lastly, these swords also feature a handguard that surrounds and conceals the wielder’s entire hand which provides much more protection; this is one of the characteristics that the Japanese nihonto do not have.

butterfly sword

Butterfly Swords in Popular Culture

Kano is known as a mercenary and veteran fighter from the series called Mortal Kombat and he heavily relies on utilizing his dual Butterfly Swords during combat; although this is the case, his weapons are still referred to as Butterfly Knives.

In the movie called 36th Chamber of the Shaolin, Master Lee Wu Yen makes use of the Butterfly Swords to counter the attacks of the three-sectioned staff invented by San Te.

Butterfly Swords for Sale

For those who plan to buy Butterfly Sword, this can be found in some online weapon shops that offer Chinese swords for sale.

The Chinese Butterfly Sword is available either as a decorative piece that can be included in your growing collection of traditional Chinese weapons, and also can be ordered with fully functional blades that are excellent for target and training.