Chinese War Sword
The Big Saber Of World War II
This manual was written in 1933. The Chinese War Sword 大刀 (Dadao) was made famous by the 29th Army of the Chinese Nationalist Army fighting against the Japanese invaders during the World War II period. The 29th Army fought and held their position for 7 days and 7 nights at Xifengkou, killing 3000 enemies. However, in the 500 elite soldiers of the 大刀隊 (Dadao Dui) "Big-Saber Contingent", only 20 survived
The Dadao is almost the same length as a Japanese Katana, but it has a much broader blade. Simply because of its size, it is durable and able to withstand harsh combat conditions, even though it did not go through a rigorous sword forging process like the Katana. High durability and ease of manufacturing made the Dadao a widespread weapon of choice.
Due to its broad size, the Dadao is heavy and delivers a mean swing. Legend has it that it's so effective that heads could be cut off easily with ease, and the Japanese Imperial Army had to invent a metal collar to prevent themselves from getting beheaded in the battlefield.
On 9th March 1933, 金恩忠 (Jin En-Zhong) was assigned to the Northwest Army's "Dadao Contingent". On June 1933, he published 實用大刀術 (Shiyong Dadao Shu) "Practical Dadao Techniques".
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The WWII Dadao Soldier
The Dadao War Sword is a symbol of martial valor, exemplified by the bravery of the Chinese WWII soldier who fought with swords against the technologically superior Japanese forces. The Dadao soldier made up for his inferior fighting equipment, with his fighting spirit and martial skills.
Today, the Dadao is an inspiration to all martial artists, not only in terms of fighting techniques, but also in having the right values and dedicating one's life to a worthy cause.
On the right is an old photo of Dadao soldiers. You can see the Dadao War Sword slung on the left of their backs, and rifles on the right. Bicycles were a cheap and effective means for transporting ground troops across long distances. Even the Imperial Japanese Army used bicycles.
In order to wield the Big-Saber, one needs to be of a certain fitness level. The harsh training and strict selection of the Chinese Northwest Army ensured that.
According to 兰玉田 (Lan Yu-Tian) who witnessed the battle at 喜峰口 (Xifengkou) fought by the Dadao soldiers led by 赵登禹 (Zhao Deng-Yu), he said that, “These folks were of very high fitness level, and were always training with the Dadao. With a short rustle, they could climb up the ledge of a room. When the villagers climbed the 老婆山, “Wives’ Mountain”, they had to take a rest in between. However, these guys can climb up the entire mountain without making any noise, thus the Japanese soldiers were caught off-guard. After killing a dozen Japanese soldiers, they threw their bodies down the mountain and made their way off with the rifles and ammunition.”
Such a thick and heavy Saber needs to be wielded by soldiers of such calibre, in order for it to be effective.
An interesting photo that I found at Kung Fu Tea, is a Dadao picked up by a Japanese soldier. If you notice closely, the spine of the blade is made like a saw.
This suggests that the Dadao can also be used as a tool, perhaps for cutting wood, in addition to being a weapon. Or perhaps someone took an existing saw, forged it to become a Dadao, and had the good sense to retain the saw teeth.
Because the Dadao was used in more recent times, so it's easier to find antique Dadao, as compared to other weapons. Below are some photos of antique Dadao contributed by friends of ChineseLongsword.com.
Swords & bicycles against bullets and bombs.
Dadao captured by Japanese soldier.
Picture from www.chinesemartialstudies.com
Notice the tip has chipped off.
Contributed by Rodney Bennett
Bunch of Antique Sabers, Dadao in the middle. Notice the tip is chipped off too.
Too much thrusting in WWII?
Contributed by Peter Dekker from www.MandarinMansion.com
Below are more photos of Chinese Dadao soldiers.
Bringing The Ancient Manual Back To Life
Video demonstration of the Dadao Chinese War Sword
techniques as documented in the manual.
Most of the Dadao videos found on YouTube are solo practice forms, like what you'd normally see in Wushu. So we decided to make a video that is specifically based on what's written in this Dadao manual, pitting against an opponent who will actually thrust with a rifle.
The "rifle" that we used is actually a thick piece of PVC pipe, heated at the trigger area to create a curve. Then we glued on metal strips along the entire length for increased stability & weight. Foam was subsequently glued onto the butt-stock area to beef it up, before we duct-taped the whole thing completely.
This may be a good way to create a mock rifle that you can use when practicing the Dadao techniques.
The 2nd video we made was to apply the Chinese Long Saber techniques with the Dadao. Although it predates the Dadao by more than 300 years, but the principles behind the techniques remained the same.
The Chinese Long Saber manual documented techniques in fighting against the Spear. We simply replaced Spear with Rifle, and Long Saber with Dadao.
This video was created to show that, if you can understand the principles behind the techniques, you can easily tweak and apply to any weapon appropriately.
Applying the Chinese Long Saber techniques
to this Dadao War Sword.
Spreading The Dadao Legacy
As a martial arts manual that was written in more recent times, the instructions inside is more direct and straightforward, compared to other ancient manuals which are written in a more poetic manner.
My vision is to see more martial artists practicing the techniques in ancient Chinese martial arts manuals, so that the art can be passed on for future generation.
The manual was translated as literally as possible, so that the interpretation is open to anyone of any martial arts background. The English translated version of this Dadao manual was released on December 2011.
Every single line of text is translated individually, so that I'm forced to work on every single word. This prevents me from skipping over difficult words, and helps to ensure that the translation is as precise and complete as possible.
With a nominal price of only USD 12.99, you can download the English translation instantly as a PDF and read it easily at your convenience. Your contribution and support will help us to continue running this website, and further the research of ancient Chinese battlefield arts.
Contents (152 pages, A5 size):
Introduction to the Dadao
12 Techniques of the Dadao
Each technique is broken down and explained in 3 parts:
Quick-Reference Sheet - for you to practice the form easily.
Features to help you learn & understand:
Hanyu Pinyin pronunciation for all Chinese text
To help you pronounce the stances' names accurately.
Chinese text side-by-side with the English translation
For your reference to the meaning of every word.