10 March, 2024

Jian and Dao Sword Identification

Hi Kids. We began our class this week with sword identification:

Jian Sword - straight blade, double edged, flat sided hilt, oval handle.

Dao Sword - curved blade, but sometimes only curved at the tip; one sharpened edge; round, protruding hilt.

We talked about edge geometry and some of you made an attempt to identify the grind using a magnifying glass. I think this is difficult enough not to be sure. So as part of our sword identification, I've asked antique sword restoration expert, Philip Tom the same question I asked you. Let's see if we were correct.

Answer From Philip Tom

Emily is spot on, the antique jian does have an appleseed (also called a "clamshell" edge profile), it's typical of the older pieces. Recent testing (slo-mo blade on blade contact) of various parrying moves by one of Laoshi's Canadian colleagues indicates that the clamshell is stronger than the flat grind when it comes to resisting impact or contact with very hard surfaces such as other blades. What this edge geometry does is make the edge slightly more obtuse without blunting it unduly. The added thickness gives it more durability. (you can see the concept at work when you compare the edge of a butcher's cleaver with that of a chef's knife or a straight razor). I'm not as familiar with the Huanuo saber edges, it's been awhile since I've handled one but in general, I am aware that this company's products tend to be flat-ground. Their jian definitely are.

Click here if you want to know more about parts of a sword.


Sword identification Chinese jian and dao

Sword identification question: Which one is the dao?

Four Corners Drill

Practise spiralling down on the tight side (the side of your sword arm), and spiralling up on the other (easy) side. See if you can turn your waist (body from shoulders to hips), out of the way of a thrust without moving your feet. If you can do that, moving the feet only needs to happen when the thrust is closer to the middle of your body.

  1. Mo deflection to the non sword arm shoulder
  2. Hanging deflection to the sword arm shoulder
  3. Spinning deflections to the lower thrusts.
  4. Ya deflection to a midline thrust

Basic Cuts

Mo - Cut a U shape to deflect a higher strike. Use it to deflect while stepping in with a thrust of your own, sliding up the other blade. Don't practise this on people who aren't wearing masks. You might hit their teeth.

Ya - Can be used with the flat of the blade to knock the other blade to the ground. If you put a hand to the blade (half-swording), make sure the lenght of your hand lies flat along the length of the balde so no fingers get cut.

Sink lower by stretching out a leg and squatting father than leaning forward. If you lean forward you shorten the distance and the other guy can reach your head.

Question: Think of a cut you could easily use after you have controlled a strike with Ya.

For those Learning Miao Dao

Think about sword identification again. What does a miao dao look like? How is it different from a katana?

For Those Learning Section 6 Jian Form

  • Make sure your dou cuts go no higher or lower than 45 degrees.
  • Watch your get-away room. Don't step the back foot into the front one.
  • Cut the daisies goes to the rear diagonal, which you have turned into.
  • The lunge into that dou cut has the front knee bent and the back leg stretched out with the knee almost touching the ground.


Practise deflecting a low thrust while turning the waist and stepping a foot behind the other one. Step forward into a Pi cut aimed at the sword arm. When he withdraws, make up the extra room with a one legged thrust.

Coming to the Seminars in April?

All of you and all who have been in our classes in the past can come to the Kid's Swordsmanship Seminar on April 21. Fundraising is paying your way and you will get another chance to help with selling Easter chocolates in March. The chocolates arrive at my place this Friday so you can get some at Sword next week

Kids wanting to learn Emptyhand Taijiquan (Tai Chi), are welcome to be at the Seminar with Scott Rodell on the weekend of 17-18 April. Registration information is here. This is free for kids who are or have been in our classes. Fundraising covers your costs. This is good for those of you who have already done some emptyhand training or form with me, or for older ones willing to work hard. All your learning to focus will be needed. Parents who want to attend are most welcome but will have to pay.

Ask your sword identification and other Questions Here this week. I'll make a special page for Kids Questions and Answers and put it up soon.

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