The Chinese broadsword is a single-edged blade and features different shapes and sizes, they feature a wider blade than the Chinese saber and were favorite weapons by different Chinese troops.
Chinese swords undeniably have a long history just like China and blades such as the bronze swords have been traced back to as early as the Shang dynasty; and at some point during the middle of the third century BC, long swords made of bronze have then started appearing yet later swords were eventually made out of wrought steel or iron.
Chinese swords, when described, commonly featured a length of about seventy to a hundred centimeters although there were much longer swords found during the period. From the third to the sixth century AD in Japan, these Chinese iron swords were also utilized but eventually replaced by Korean and their own native blades by the middle portion of the Heian period.
In China, the Dao is considered as one of the four main weapons in the country, and this goes along with the staff, the spear, as well as the sword. The broadsword is referred to as “The Courage of all Troops” or Master of all the Weapons.
The weapons are also considered to be single-edged Chinese swords and were primarily utilized for chopping and slashing. One of its most common types is called the Chinese saber but if the blades are wider, then these can also be referred to as the Chinese broadsword.
The broadsword is among the most popular and common pieces that have been produced in China, and these have appeared in numerous legends and history of the country.
Additionally, the Chinese broadsword has also been present for centuries, already surviving as one of the few weapons that are favored greatly by martial arts practitioners all over the world. When it comes to Kung Fu, Dan Dao is mostly utilized for training in this art and it is commonly translated to the word broadsword.
Generally, the weapon features a curved, single-edged blade with a handguard that usually appears with an oval-shaped cup; it also has a concave side that faces towards the blade while its handle has a sort of downward cant, its oblong-shaped pommel also features a sash tassel. Moreover, the Chinese broadsword comes in different lengths and sizes.
General Features of the Chinese Broadsword
While the Chinese broadswords have greatly evolved and developed throughout the centuries, most of the single-handed broadswords during the Ming and later dynasties, as well as the contemporary Chinese weapons that have been based on them appear to have a couple of similar characteristics.
The Chinese broadsword blades are single-edged as well as slightly arched, and few inches of the back edge are fully sharpened as well. Having a moderate arch on the blade allows the weapon to be adequately effective for thrusting moves which make it a good piece for battle.
The hilts are often canted, curving to the opposite direction as the weapon’s blade; this greatly improves handling when it comes to forms like thrusts or cuts.
Another common feature is that the cord is usually wrapped over the wooden handle while the hilts of the broadsword may be pierced just like with the Jian Sword. This is necessary for the additional lanyards but contemporary swords that are utilized for performances usually have scarves or tassels instead.
Its guards are commonly disc-shaped and feature a cup shape to prevent elements such as rainwater from flowing into the sheath, it also aids in preventing blood from dripping down the handle which makes it challenging to grip especially during heavy battles.
There are times when the guards appear as thin metal pieces with an S-curve that protects the wielder’s knuckles; very rarely does these weapon feature guards that are just like that of the Jian.
Usually, the Chinese Broadsword is over one and a half inches in width so because of this, broadswords are mostly utilized by the Southern and Northern stylists. Furthermore, there were also numerous types of broadswords that were categorized in this group and to name a few, these are the following:
- The Lieu Yeh Dao or the Willow Leaf Sword
- Pok Dao or Executioner’s Sword
- The Guai Taou Dao or Ghost-head Sword
- The Da Kan Dao or the large chopping knife
The earliest use of the Chinese broadsword dates all the way back to the Shang Dynasty during the Bronze Age in China, and these were more known as the Zhibeidao which are straight-backed knives.
As the name states, these were slightly curved pieces with single-edges and it later evolved and was made from steel or iron instead of bronze; this was the time of the Warring States where knowledge on metallurgy developed and became more advanced for controlling the weapon’s carbon content.
Originally, the Chinese broadswords were not really common as a military weapon compared to the Jian which is known as a double-edged and straight blade from the country; however, the broadsword eventually became a notable cavalry weapon during the Han period because of its durability and excellence as a chopping piece, plus it was also easy to use and learn for adequate use on the battlefield.
Right after the weapon was issued to the infantry, it eventually replaced the Jian and became the standard-issue weapon of the Chinese troops. Later in the Han dynasty, the Dao transformed and developed into having rounded grips and pommels that were ring-shaped; these ranged from eighty-five to a hundred and fourteen centimeters when it comes to its length.
The weapons were also utilized together with rectangular shields that worked to protect the wielder when on the battlefield.
By the end of the period of the Three Kingdoms, the single-edged weapon had almost completely replaced the Jian, but eventually, the Jian Sword became one of the most efficient weapons for self-defense that has been utilized by the aristocrats and worn as a part of their court dresses.
Some blades that were produced during the Qing dynasty continued to live through history and even had descendants that were utilized in the military during the twentieth century; the Chinese War Sword or the Dadao were also utilized by a couple of Chinese militia groups against the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese Battle; the Miaodao which is also considered as a descendant of the Changdao was used for battle.
The weapons were highly necessary for planned ambushes on enemy troops since the Chinese military and other resistance groups commonly had a shortage of equipment such as firearms.