Dan Dao Fa Xuan
Chinese Long Saber
單刀法選 (Dan Dao Fa Xuan) is a 400 years old Chinese swordsmanship manual, written in the 1600s during the Ming Dynasty when China was defending herself against the Japanese pirates' invasion. The Japanese pirates were known as 倭寇 (wo kou), which means "dwarf bandits". The Japanese pirates were former Samurais, and very skillful in swordsmanship with their formidable high quality blades.
The author of this manual, Master Cheng Zong You, learnt the fighting techniques of a 1.5 metres long 2-handed saber from his teacher, Liu Yun Feng, who'd previously learnt swordsmanship directly from the Japanese.
Master Cheng was taught the various Long Saber stances & techniques, but no names were given. So he came up with his own names for them, based on their appearance and also his previous background in the Shaolin Staff. When you read Master Cheng's Shaolin Staff manual, you will find similar stances with the similar names.
Diagram of a Long Saber soldier in Dan Dao Fa Xuan manual
The author, Master Cheng Zong You wrote and compiled a martial arts manual called 耕余剩技 (Geng Yu Sheng Ji) "Martial Arts Practiced After Farming Work", which consists of 4 volumes:
《少林棍法闡宗》 Shaolin Staff manual
《長鎗法選》 Long Spear manual
《單刀法選》Long Saber manual (this)
These manuals put together provided a holistic insight to the outfit of the soldiers, who were all armed with Crossbows, then accompanied by either a Long-Spear or a Long-Saber. Engagement begins with the Crossbow, after which the Spearmen and Swordsmen have to work together in combat by complimenting the pros and cons of their weapons with each other.
A typical Long Saber soldier will be outfitted with the following:
Crossbow, sashed at the lower back.
Dagger, Quiver, Arrows and Poison Bottle attached to the right hip. The arrows are dipped in poison to increase its lethality.
Leather Sheath, sashed on the left hip. Instead of using wood or other stiff material, a leather sheath is soft so that the swordsman can move around easily without hindrance.
China's CCTV channel made a documentary on Master Cheng Zong Yu and the manuals that he wrote. Though the dialogue is Chinese, there are English subtitles in the video as well.
Documentary on Master Cheng Zong Yu (with subtitles)
The Ming Dynasty Long Saber Soldier
Bringing The Ancient Manual Back To Life
This Long Saber manual was the very first manual that was worked on when this website first started. Because it's difficult to find a properly constructed wooden Long Saber, so demonstrations of the techniques in the manual were simply done with just a normal long wooden stick!
Then, Graham Cave from Tiger's Den Swords identified with our cause. He kindly sponsored and professionally made a proper wooden Long Saber for us, and we have been using it for all our videos ever since.
Uploaded to YouTube on April 2011, this video demonstrates our interpretation of the techniques written in the manual, with Graham's wooden Long Saber.
Video demonstration of the Dandao / Miao Dao
Long Saber techniques as documented in the manual.
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Spreading The Long Saber Legacy
Because I wanted to spread the art in this ancient Long Saber manual, so I begin the work of translating it into English.
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 translation and interpretation process took about 6 to 7 months, as I consulted other veteran martial artists for their feedback on translating certain terms in the manual.
Nevertheless, the English translation is meant to be as literal as possible, so that the interpretation is open to anyone of any martial arts background. The English translated version of this Long Saber manual was finally released on end 2010.
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 15.99, 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 (104 pages, A5-size):
The Long Saber Sayings
Details of the Long Saber
The 22 Stances of the Long Saber
Long Saber Addendum
The Long Saber Form
The 12 Additional Long Saber Stances
Long Saber Stances Summary
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.
Reviews & Testimonials
"I had the good fortune to read Jack Chen's translation of 'Ancient Art of Chinese Long Saber'. It is outstanding. I really enjoyed it and respect Mr. Chen's work in making these historical manuals available in English. Mr. Chen's translation is interesting both from a technical standpoint (I practice Iaido and found much of interest in the book) and from a historical standpoint. I recommend his book highly."
~ Brian Kennedy, Author of Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals: A Historical Survey
DVD Video Learning
Chinese Long Saber DVD Part 1
(25 mins long)
Launch on January 2013, the first part of the Chinese Long-Saber DVD shows and interprets the first 11 stances of the manual. You may download it instantly upon purchase. The file size is 345 MB.
Each stance has its original text recited in Mandarin, accompanied by its English translation. Then described in detail and demonstrated.
Please enjoy the 2 free previews below.
Preview #1 - The Dandao "Bury-Head" Stance
Preview #2 - The Dandao "Low-Watch" Stance
(85 mins long + Free manual)
Part 2 was a behemoth project launched on Feb 2017, so much so that we had to remove certain footage to reduce the file-size from over 5000 MB to under 4700 MB, in order to fit into a DVD! This DVD covers Stance #12 to #22.
You also get to receive a free replica of the ancient Dandao manual, which is not for sale anywhere else.
Too massive to describe here, for the full list of content, please visit: www.ChineseLongsword.com/dvd2.
Preview #1 - The Dandao "Flying Dagger" Stance
Preview #2 - The Dandao "Right Knee" Stance
To help aspiring swordsmen to learn the techniques of the Long Saber, I've humbly created DVDs to share my interpretation of this ancient manual, based on my own martial arts experience.
As I'm a person who believes in practicality, everything I demonstrate in my DVDs have been put through full contact and full speed weapon sparring with a live uncooperative opponent, to make sure that the techniques do actually work.
Each technique is explained, not only by how it works, but also the finer details on how you would execute it with proper body and movement mechanics.