Wing Chun Butterfly Swords

The staff is the forerunner of all weapons; the spear is for fighting multiple opponents and the principles of the broadsword are the foundation of all sharp edged weapons. - Classical Works of Ancient Chinese Weapons

There were two types of broadsword - one was used by mounted men and the other by soldiers on foot. Belonging to the first category are: Ma Dao - saber; Tai Cham Dao - big chopper; and Green Dragon Shading the Moon Dao, or Kwan Dao - broadsword.

The other types are: Goosefeather broadsword; Big Ring broadsword; Hand broadsword; and Butterfly Sword, etc.

As a matter of fact there are no less than 40 kinds of broadsword. However the butterfly swords are the most effective of all.

The Saber
The ma dao (saber) was the weapon of the cavalry men. It was used in China since the Spring and Autumn Warring Period (722-484 B.C.) and the Warring State Period (403-222 B.C.). The weapon, used by the famous general of the Warring State Period, Lien Po, was precisely a big bronze saber. His subordinates also used this kind of weapon. Later the saber was subjected to improvement and refinement. By the time of the Three Kingdoms (A.D. 225-265) the saber had been greatly improved in its making along with the refinement in its techniques. The famous general in the period of the Three Kingdoms, Ma Teng, when serving as a military governor of the Kan Su Province, formed a cavalry of strong and courageous men who were skillful with the use of sabers. His cavalry defeated many times the invaders from the tribes in the western region, and rendered distinguished service to his country. In the admiration of General Ma Teng, all the nomad tribes in the region took up the weapon and improved it until it became a characteristic weapon of their own cavalries. The legend of this weapon spread to the West where the saber-rattling cavalries of Genghis Khan fought their way to as far as Europe. On the other hand, the Japanese brought the saber back to their home islands where it was passed down from generation to generation to become the weapon of the Japanese samurai.

The saber is similar to the samurai sword of Japan in shape, only the hilt of the former is longer to suit the need of the mounted soldier. When the Manchurians invaded China in A.D. 1644, their main weapon was their dragoons well-versed in saber techniques. But toward the late part of the Ching Dynasty (A.D. 1644-1911), the saber was generally replaced by firearms.

The Big Chopper
Tai jarm dao (big chopper) was also a weapon used by the mounted soldiers, especially by tall, strong military commanders. The original weapon was nine feet long, of which one third was the long, wide and thick blade. The weapon was very heavy because of the thick blade. Its long handle was made of hardwood or rod iron, and therefore its weight varied considerably.

The characteristic uses of the big chopper are chopping, blocking, sweeping, slashing and jabbing. Because of its wide blade, the weapon can be used to shield attacks with arrows and stones, a feature that makes it very useful in charging. Famous generals of ancient times, like Lien Po of the Warring State Period, and Wong Chun and Choy Yan of the Three Kingdom Period, were well-known for their skill in the use of the big chopper.

The Green Dragon Shading the Moon Broadsword
The green dragon shading the moon broadsword is a weapon created by Kwan Gung, the most famous general of the Three Kingdom Period (A.D. 225-265). It is similar to the big chopper in appearance, but actually is greatly different. The green dragon shading the moon broadsword has a long but narrow blade, at the tip of which is a hook. On the back of the blade are small knives projecting like the teeth of a saw. Therefore the weapon is also known as the "cold bright saw." This broadsword can also be used not only for chopping, blocking, sweeping and slashing but also naturally thrusting, back sawing and reverse jabbing which is a typical strike of a spear. The weapon is very difficult to handle because of its heavy weight, therefore unless endowed with the unusual gift of power and strength one can hardly manage the weapon.

Kwan Gung, the originator of this weapon, was a genius of martial arts. Armed with the green dragon shading the moon broadsword, he jabbed Yen Leng, chopped Man Chou and killed Wong Hung at such a lightning speed that the goblet of wine poured for him before the engagement was still warm when he returned from the battle. There has never been anybody who could compare with Kwan Gung's feat of forcing his way through five passes, killing six commanders of the garrisons. Kwan Gung headed the list of the five Tiger Generals of the Three Kingdoms Period because of his fearless powers and virtue. Out of admiration for Kwan Gung they called the green dragon shading the moon broadsword "kwan dao" for short.

In the early Sung Dynasty (A.D. 960-1128) a great general called Yang Yip in charge of the defense of the northern borders was also highly acclaimed for his skill with the kwan dao. His encounters with the famous General of the Liao State, Jemu Holi, was recorded in many historical works. Jemu, who was in command of an army attempting to invade China, had never met a rival in his many battles. His axe, denoted by its 110 pounds in weight, was called "hill chopping axe." Confident of his kung fu, Yang Yip was not to be deterred. He wielded a kwan dao to meet the enemy commander. Jemu brought down his axe with all his might toward Yang Yip's forehead. Yang raised his kwan dao to block the onslaught. Having neutralized the attack, Yang thrust his kwan dao toward Jemu's chest. In a panic the enemy commander pressed down his axe against Yang's kwan dao. Yang pulled back his kwan dao along the enemy's axe handle. Jemu roared in agony and lost hold of his weapon. In pulling back his kwan dao, Yang cut off the enemy's four fingers with the hook at the tip of the kwan dao. When Yang thrust forward the second time, he toppled Jemu from the horse and killed him. All the soldiers of the Liao army were amazed by Yang Yip's unusual powers and took flight. The heroic name of Yang's family spread far and wide after the battle.

The Hand Broadsword
Most ancient Chinese martial artists fought on foot, therefore the hand broadsword, dai dao, was the most suited to their need for a weapon. Dai dao has a long and narrow blade whose length varies according to the stature of its user. When the user holds the hilt of a dai dao in his hand at waist level and points the blade vertically upward, the tip of the blade should be at the height of his eyebrows. That is the standard length of the dai dao. Its weight also varies according to the strength of its user, thus the weapon is tailored to meet the individual needs of each warrior, and therefore it is easy to handle. The dai dao can be used for slashing, lunging, chopping, stabbing, blocking and close-quarter fighting. An ancient saying of the dai dao, "A dai dao is like a tiger - it sees red the moment is strikes." It can also mean that once a dao is drawn from its scabbard, a life and death struggle must ensue.

There have been many expert users of dai dao in China. The most popular figure was Mo Chong, a hero of the Sung Dynasty (A.D. 900-1279) who pummelled a fierce tiger to death with his bare fists. The "blood-splashing-dao techniques" created by Mo Chong are still exercised by Yee Long Moon up to now. A story in the ancient Chinese saga "Water Margin" vividly describes Mo Chong's superb skills in the use of the dai dao:

When Mo Chong surrendered himself to the government after killing his sister-in-law and her adulterer to avenge their poisoning of his brother, he was banished to Meng-chou Prefecture. Shih Yen, son of the official there, was very kind to Mo Chong. When the latter learned that Shih Yen was robbed of his entire chain of restaurants by Chiang Chung, a local bully and kung fu expert, Mo Chong, in a rage, set off for the restaurant to settle accounts with Chiang Chung. With his bare fists Mo Chong defeated Chiang Chung, who was a giant, and his numerous followers, and restored the restaurants to their rightful owner. But Chiang Chung was unreconciled to his defeat. He bribed Prefect Chang of the district to arrest Mo Chong and banish him to a farther place. When Mo Chong, in a pillory, was led to an uninhabited mountain, he found himself waylaid by Chiang Chung's henchmen who joined with the escorts in an attempt to murder him. Mo Chong used his miraculous strength to break out of the pillory. He kicked the two escorts into the valley and subdued the henchmen. After learning of the conspiracy he snatched one of the henchmen's dai dao and sneaked back into Prefect Chang's residence. He found Chiang Chung and Prefect Chang drinking happily in celebration of his murder. When they saw Mo Chong suddenly appear, they all drew their swords and summoned dozens of guards to protect them. Mo Chong, with his dai dao, like the fish in the water, felled a dozen guards in no time, and expelled the rest. Then he made straight for Chiang Chung and the official who were also experts in kung fu. Nevertheless, Mo Chong, with his superior skill, fell on them like a tiger and killed them all.

This was indeed a mastery of dai dao technique.

Goosefeather Broadsword
The goosefeather broadsword is also known as golden back broadsword with rings. It is very thick in its back and its blade is big and wide. Five to nine rings are attached to its back, the number varying according to the length of the blade. When being wielded, the rings collide with the back of the blade to emit a series of ringing sounds which resemble the calls of a flock of wild geese in flight. At the same time, the shape of the blade is like half of a goosefeather, therefore, it was called the goosefeather broadsword.

Pai Tai-Kuan, a swordsman of the Ching Dynasty (A.D. 1644-1911) was a great master of this weapon. Pai Tai-Kuan once single-handedly broke into four stockades and killed seven ringleaders in the Chin Mountains, which brought him fame all over China. Martial artists described the marvels of Pai Tai-Kuan's broadsword techniques: "The sound of his goosefeather broadsword startles even the toughest enemy. When the broadsword ceases ringing, the enemy's head is already on the ground." It shows how powerful Pai Tai-Kuan's broadsword was.

The Butterfly Sword
The butterfly sword is a weapon used primarily by martial artists of southern China. The blade length of the weapon is equal to the fist and the forearm, and a guard is fixed to its hilt to protect the hand. The special length of the blade is designed to allow for better maneuvering. For instance, if the blade is longer than the length of the fist and the arm, it could not be able to be rotated inside the arms. However, the shape of the butterfly sword and the way of its use differs in northern China. With the northern Chinese butterfly sword, the footwork of the user in kicking is stressed; but the butterfly swords in southern China are used chiefly in close-quarter fighting because of their short length, with emphasis placed on precision and the coordination of both swords at the same time. One modern adept of hung gar style, Wong Fei Hung, was especially noted for his skill with this weapon.

Wing Chun Eight Slash Butterfly Swords
Wing Chun eight slash butterfly swords are also called Wing Chun bart jarm dao. The name bart jarm dao was derived from the initial intention of the originator who designed the striking technique mainly aiming for the wrist, elbow, knee and ankle. The purpose was to main the opponent rather than to kill since the wing chun bart jarm dao was originated from the Shaolin temple and used by the monks and nuns of the temple in their travels. They frequently carried sums of money donated by their worshippers. Often they would be met by bandits who intended to rob them. The monks were prepared for this, and they were equipped with butterfly swords hidden in the side of their boots. When they were confronted by the bandits, they would pull out the swords to defend themselves. Since their religion did not allow them to slaughter anyone, their initial target was to maim their opponents on the wrists, knees and ankles.

In the Ching Dynasty (A.D. 1644-1911), China was ruled by the Manchu invaders. It was a time when 90 percent of the Chinese, the Hons, were ruled by the ten percent minority, the Manchus.

When all weapons were outlawed by the Manchu Government, the Manchus gained full control of China. They enforced many unjust laws on the Hons. For instance, all the female Hon infants were made to bind their feet so that when they grew up they would be restricted in their movement and they would have to be dependent upon their parents or their husband. They restricted the work opportunity of the Hons. The Hons were unable to hold office in the government higher than a certain level. They placed heavy tax burdens on the country so that they could have complete economic control of the Hon people. Kung Fu training was also banned for the Hon people.

However, the Manchu Government adopted the Hon culture. They respected the Shaolin Temple as a Buddhist sanctuary. The Hons began training a revolutionary army in the art of kung fu, using the Shaolin temple as the secret training place. In the traditional Shaolin system it would take 15 to 20 years to train a kung fu master. The need to develop a new and more effective style of kung fu became critical when some of the existing kung fu masters surrendered to work for the Manchu Government. Five of the Shaolin grandmasters planned to develop a new form, one which would have a shorter training time and would be more effective than all the other systems developed before. The five teachers met to discuss the merits of each of their particular systems of kung fu and chose the most efficient training method from each system. They developed the principle and the training program of wing chun that would take only five years to master. They called this system Wing Chun, its name meaning "hope for the future." However, before this new system could be put into practice, the Shaolin temple was raided and burned by the Manchus. Ng Mui, a nun, was the only survivor of the original group of five. She passed her knowledge onto a young orphan girl whom she named Wing Chun.

Along with the development of the wing chun system, the butterfly sword (bart jarm dao), was chosen as the only weapon in the wing chun system because the length of the bart jarm dao made it easy to conceal. It could be used as a extension of the arms, and they were the most deadly and effective weapons of all. This was because the bart jarm dao system emphasized the training of coordinating the two swords, the training of the eyes, wrist and footwork. The principle was based on the fact that every defense was accompanied by a counter attack, and every attack was accompanied by a trapping, parrying or immobilizing move of the other sword. Plus, it was designed to use the ingenuity of the wing chun footwork to its fullest extent, making it the champion of all weapons.

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