This article needs attention from an expert in China or Military history. (February 2009)
The miaodao (苗刀) is a Chinese two-handed dao or saber of the Republican Era, with a narrow blade, long hilt, and an overall length of 1.2 metres (47 in) or more. The name means "sprout saber", presumably referring to a likeness between the weapon and a newly sprouted plant. An early reference, in Jin Yiming’s Single Defense-Saber, makes a connection between the miaodao and the Qing-era wodao, as well as mentioning both single and two-handed versions of the ‘’miaodao’’, suggesting that the name originally described the shape only, without any connotations of size. While the miaodao is a recent weapon, the name has come to be applied to a variety of earlier Chinese long sabers, such as the zhanmadao and changdao. Along with the dadao, miaodao were used by some Chinese troops during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
While the miaodao is rarely practiced in modern Chinese martial arts, some schools of piguaquan and tongbeiquan (in the Guo Changsheng lineage) and xingyiquan train with the weapon. The miaodao is also often mistakenly claimed to have been one of the weapons taught at the Central Military Academy in Nanjing; the weapon in question was actually a European-style officer's saber, though some later schools may have based miaodao techniques on this form.
The "miao" of miaodao should not be confused with the Miao ethnic group, who are not associated with this weapon.
A sword is a bladed melee weapon intended for cutting or thrusting that is longer than a knife or dagger, consisting of a long blade attached to a hilt. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographic region under consideration. The blade can be straight or curved. Thrusting swords have a pointed tip on the blade, and tend to be straighter; slashing swords have a sharpened cutting edge on one or both sides of the blade, and are more likely to be curved. Many swords are designed for both thrusting and slashing.
The jian is a double-edged straight sword used during the last 2,500 years in China. The first Chinese sources that mention the jian date to the 7th century BCE, during the Spring and Autumn period; one of the earliest specimens being the Sword of Goujian. Historical one-handed versions have blades varying from 45 to 80 centimeters in length. The weight of an average sword of 70-centimetre (28-inch) blade-length would be in a range of approximately 700 to 900 grams. There are also larger two-handed versions used for training by many styles of Chinese martial arts.
Dao are single-edged Chinese swords, primarily used for slashing and chopping. The most common form is also known as the Chinese sabre, although those with wider blades are sometimes referred to as Chinese broadswords. In China, the dao is considered one of the four traditional weapons, along with the gun, qiang (spear), and the jian, called in this group “The General of Weapons".
Zanbatō (斬馬刀) is an especially large, single-edged sword dating to the Heian period of historical Japan. The name zanbatō translates to "horse-slaying sword" or "horse-chopping saber". Original examples came from Song Dynasty China and were employed by anti-cavalry infantry in the same manner.
An ōdachi (大太刀) or nodachi was a type of traditionally made Japanese sword used by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The Chinese equivalent of this type of sword in terms of weight and length is the miao dao, and the Western battlefield equivalent is the longsword or claymore.
The English language terminology used in the classification of swords is imprecise and has varied widely over time. There is no historical dictionary for the universal names, classification or terminology of swords; A sword was simply a double edged knife.
The zhanmadao was a single-bladed anti-cavalry Chinese sword. It originated during the Han Dynasty and was especially common in Song China (960–1279).
A guandao is a type of Chinese pole weapon that is used in some forms of Chinese martial arts. In Chinese, it is properly called a yanyuedao, the name under which it always appears in texts from the Song to Qing dynasties such as the Wujing Zongyao and Huangchao Liqi Tushi. It is comparable to the Japanese naginata and the European fauchard or glaive and consists of a heavy blade with a spike at the back and sometimes also a notch at the spike's upper base that can catch an opponent's weapon. In addition there are often irregular serrations that lead the back edge of the blade to the spike. The blade is mounted atop a 1.5 m to 1.8 m (5–6 foot) long wooden or metal pole with a pointed metal counter weight used to balance the heavy blade and for striking on the opposite end.
The wodao is a Chinese sword from the Ming Dynasty. It is typically long and slender, but heavy, with a curved back and sharp blade. It bears a strong resemblance to the Tang sword, zhanmadao, Tachi or Odachi in form. Extant examples show a handle approximately 25.5 cm long, with a gently curved blade 80 cm long.
The changdao was a two-handed, single-edged Chinese sword. The term changdao has been translated as "long saber," "saber-staff," or "long-handled saber." During the Ming dynasty, changdao was often used as a general term for two handed swords. In recent discussions, the term miaodao is sometimes used to describe similar swords. Tang dynasty sources describe the changdao as being identical to the modao, but the modao may have been a double edged weapon unlike the changdao.
The hook sword, twin hooks, fu tao, hu tou gou or shuang gou is a Chinese weapon traditionally associated with northern styles of Chinese martial arts and Wushu weapons routines, but now often practiced by southern styles as well.
Chicken sickles are a number of Chinese bladed weapons similar to the Hook sword and the Okinawan Kama. They can be used as a single or double weapon. It is considered the special weapon of the Xinyi Liuhe style.
The Yanmaodao is a type of dao used as a standard military weapon during the Ming Dynasty and middle Qing Dynasty (1368–1800). The blade is straight until the curve begins around the center of percussion along the last 1/4 or so of the blade approaching the tip. The center of percussion is the point on the blade with the least vibration on hard contact, the spot on the blade that transmits the most power to the target in a hard chop. This allows for thrusting attacks and overall handling similar to that of the jian, while still preserving much of the dao's strengths in cutting and slashing. This type of sword seems to have lost its popularity with military and martial arts practitioners alike by the end of the 18th century.
The liuyedao or willow-leaf saber is a type of dao that was commonly used as a military sidearm for both cavalry and infantry during the Ming and Qing dynasties. A descendant of the earlier Mongol saber the liuyedao remained the most popular type of single handed sabre during the Ming Dynasty, replacing the role of the military role of the Jian. Many schools of Chinese martial arts originally trained with this weapon.
Various martial arts have been attributed to or associated with Zhou Tong, the archery teacher of Song Dynasty general, Yue Fei. This is because assorted wuxia novels and folk legends portray him as being either a Shaolin monk or a lay disciple of Shaolin. Some of these skills range from mastery of the bow, double swords and Chinese spear to that of Wudang hard qigong, Chuojiao boxing and even magical X-ray eyes. However, the oldest historical record that mentions his name only says he taught archery to Yue Fei. Nothing is ever said about him knowing or teaching a specific style of Chinese martial arts.
Historically, all Chinese swords are classified into two types, jian and dao. Jians are double-edged straight swords while daos are single-edged, and mostly curved from the Song dynasty forward. The jian has been translated at times as a long sword, and the dao a saber or a knife. Bronze jians appeared during the mid-third century BC and switched to wrought iron and steel during the late Warring States period. Other than specialized weapons like the Divided Dao, Chinese swords are usually 70–110 cm (28–43 in) in length, although longer swords have been found on occasion. Outside of China, Chinese swords were also used in Japan from the third to the sixth century AD, but were replaced with Korean and native Japanese swords by the middle Heian era.
The Niuweidao was a type of Chinese saber (dao) of the late Qing Dynasty period. A heavy bladed weapon with a characteristic flaring tip, it was primarily a civilian weapon, as Imperial troops were never issued it.
Chinese swordsmanship encompasses a variety of sword fighting styles native to China. No Chinese system teaches swordsmanship exclusively, but many eclectic schools of Chinese martial arts include instruction for using one or two-handed versions of the single-edged sword (dao) and the double-edged sword (jian).
A katana is a Japanese sword characterized by a curved, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard and long grip to accommodate two hands. Following tachi, it was used by samurai in feudal Japan and worn with the blade facing upward. Also, since the Muromachi period, many old tachi were cut from the root and shortened, and the blade at the root was crushed and converted into katana. The official term for katana in Japan is uchigatana (打刀) and the term katana (刀) often refers to single-edged swords from around the world.
These swords were used by the Turkic nomads of the Eurasian steppes primarily between the 9th and 14th centuries. One of the earliest recorded sabres of this type was recovered from an Avar grave in Romania dating to the mid 7th century. Although minor variations occur in size and hilt, they are common enough in design across 5 centuries that individual blades are difficult to date when discovered without other context.