yue fei dao project

Sword typology and Edge Weapons forms of the Chinese Empire and related cultures with an emphasis on their relationship to Swordsmanship.

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Qing period Yue Fei Dao

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:12 pm

4007.YueFeiDao.JPG
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We just had a Yue Fei Dao pass thru our hands at Seven Stars, thought it might be interesting to see for comparison...
33" blade, 65 1/2”" overall

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Qing period Yue Fei Dao, Blade Close-up

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:13 pm

Blade of the above Yue Fei Dao
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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by omni » Thu Nov 12, 2009 6:25 pm

Hi Scott,

thanks for posting the pics.
Were the original owners/dealers quite conscious of its identity as a Yue Fei Dao, rather than just another kind of DaDao?

The length is roughly the same as mine. Interesting to see one with a curved tip.
Are you aware of any particular martial arts traditions that use this weapon?

With a curved blade the Yue Fei Dao is beginning to resemble some versions of Zhan Ma Dao:
http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=ale ... m57GV15-k0

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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:42 pm

omni wrote:... original owners/dealers quite conscious of its identity as a Yue Fei Dao, rather than just another kind of DaDao?..
Yes, he was... the term dadao is the most generic. The Yuefei dao was designed to be a weapon halfway between a sword & a polearm with a roughly 1:1 blade to grip ratio. Dadao of later design are usually longer then Yuefei Dao with shorter blades and longer poles or are overall shorter weapons, where the blade is longer than the grip, but all of these could be collectively called dadao.

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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by Peter Dekker » Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:23 am

Also, the same weapons may go by different names in different times. The 1759 regulations of the Huangchao Liqi Tushi lists a huyadao or "Tiger Tooth Dao" as having a 1:1 blade ratio. This may well have been similar to the earlier "Yue Fei Dao" but Yue Fei was a sworn enemy of the Jin dynasty Jurchen, the ancestors of the Manchus who ruled the Qing dynasty in 1644-1911. It is conceivable that they changed this weapon's name in the early dynasty because it was found inappropriate at the time. Later though, the cult of Yue Fei was brought to life again by no less than the Manchu Qianlong emperor himself, probably because the Manchu conquest was long over and Yue Fei's story fitted his ideal of patriotism.

What hints to stuff being left out is that descriptions of other weapons in the same book that share features with earlier Chinese weapons often start with a short description of classical texts that mention these predecessors. The reason was that it was always important to legitimize the current rule by pointing out its similarities and bonds with other Chinese dynasties in any type of publication. While the huyadao concept did not come out of the blue, the regulations do not mention a Song dynasty predecessor of any kind in this case.

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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by omni » Sun Dec 06, 2009 7:10 pm

That's interesting, Peter.
I did some searching for 虎牙刀 images, but could not find much at all.
The closest 'modern' equivalent I have found is labeled a zhanmadao.
Perhaps this more descriptive/functional label survived because of the confusion in terminology?

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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by Peter Dekker » Mon Dec 07, 2009 6:05 pm

You don't find many of these old terms on the net, unfortunately. They only appear in period texts.

The zhanmadao is a rather different weapon, it is more like an oversized saber with a relatively narrow curved blade and does not have a 1:1 blade-handle ratio. Zhanmadao appear to emerge during the Ming and were used up to the late Qing.

On different terms for the same weapon, it could be that they co-existed as well but one was official and the other said something about the originator. Perhaps a bit like AK-47 and "Kalashnikov". We see something similar with the yanyuedao that is often referred to as "Guandao". With over 200 temples dedicated to Guan Yu in Beijing alone in the late Qing, it is hard to deny the popularity of this deity in daily Beijingnese life. So perhaps the term "Guandao" was actually used by Qing troops, but the government rather stuck with the more descriptive term yanyuedao "reclining moon blade" which is why this is the only name we find confirmed in texts.

-Peter
Knowing is not enough, we must apply.
Willing is not enough, we must do.


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http://www.mandarinmansion.com
Antique Chinese Arms & Functional reproductions

http://www.manchuarchery.org
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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by omni » Mon Dec 07, 2009 8:26 pm

I've seen the Zhanmadao that look like big sabres, but I've also seen swords with a near 1:1 ration, labeled (perhaps incorrectly) a zhanmadao, as in the video I posted earlier.
Here's another one with the same type of sword: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMYuU-ar-MU

I remember someone asking me what the difference was between an AK-47 and a Kalashnikov :D

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Yue Fei Dao vs. Zhanmadao

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:31 am

omni wrote:... Zhanmadao that look like big sabers... also seen swords with a near 1:1 ration, labeled (perhaps incorrectly) a zhanmadao, as in the video I posted earlier.
... another... with the same type of sword...
The great variety of terms for 2 handed sabers/polearms can be quite confusing... as Peter pointed out above, the Zhanmadao has a longer blade than grip & thus is a true 2 handed saber, the weapon in the video you posted could be called a Yuefei Dao, but not a Zhanmadao, the techniques employed by these weapons is different.

This is a photo of a 18th c., Qianlong era Zhanmadao -
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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by omni » Wed Dec 09, 2009 6:43 pm

The terms are confusing, but I'm also confused about your basis for defining the terms.
For example, as a simple observer, if I see a two handed saber labeled 'Zhanmadao', and then I see a short polearm also labeled 'Zhanmadao', I would just accept that 'zhanmadao' can refer to different things, and perhaps speculate that the label is based on the perceived function of the weapon.

Whereas, you are essentially saying that they have mislabeled the short polearm, and that it should be called something else.
I don't have a problem with that, but in terms of historical method, I'm not sure what you are taking as the authoritative standard...ie. how do you know which one is labeled correctly?
From reading this forum in the past, my impression is that you're taking the official military/government records as the authoritative standard (am I right? or are you going with the oldest reference?).
I never really thought about it in terms of correct and incorrect use of terms....hence my confusion :)
So I guess in terms of historical method, I'm giving equal weight to the folk and government use of terms...without inquiring as to which is more authoritative, or which came first.

But if we accept the historical document as authoritative, then the use of the term 'zhanmadao' in those videos is really a misappropriation of the term.
I notice that both of those videos I posted are Northern Mantis; it would be an interesting line of inquiry for someone within that style to find out the origin of that weapon.
I mean: have they simply appropriated the term 'zhanmadao' for this non-regulation weapon? Or have they started originally with the regulation zhanmadao, and made alterations to the nature of the weapon itself?

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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:05 am

omni wrote:... confused about your basis for defining the terms.
... you are essentially saying that they have mislabeled the short polearm, and that it should be called something else.
.... how do you know which one is labeled correctly?
You'll note above that Peter Dekker has often sighted the Huangchia Liqi Tushi, an 18th c. Book of regulations. We used names in primary period sources as the standard names, these have been, quite understandably, confused for a variety if reasons.

omni wrote:... my impression is that you're taking the official military/government records as the authoritative standard (am I right? or are you going with the oldest reference?).
We tend to use Qing era government references, as the vast majority of the material we are looking at is from the last 200 years. It should be noted that names sometimes change with time.
omni wrote:... never really thought about it in terms of correct and incorrect use of terms....hence my confusion
Understandable, but standardization is important or there will be even more confusion, imagine an example where one person is describing the use of a Changadao, based on the text Qi Jiguang left & another is describing the use of a polearm, but both are calling the weapon they are using as a Zhanmadao...
omni wrote:... in terms of historical method, I'm giving equal weight to the folk and government use of terms...without inquiring as to which is more authoritative, or which came first.
The problem you'll run in there is that the "folk" terms will vary even within today's martial arts community, so the simplest think to do to eliminate confusion is to use the term in the period text. We can be sure of those terms, where as we have zero evidence of when other terms were use.

An example of a popular term that has yet to be found in any period text is Miaodao. I believe that is a modern term, which, if so, beg the question, just what is a miaodao. Is it anything a practitioner wants it to be today? Well, certainly new arms can be developed & were, but if people are inventing new arms, name & probably techniques, then such arms can not be part of historical Chinese swordsmanship.
omni wrote:... we accept the historical document as authoritative, then the use of the term 'zhanmadao' in those videos is really a misappropriation of the term...
It is, but in fairness, we can't expect every martial artist, or person of Chinese decent, to be an expert in Qing arms & armor, it is a specialize area of study.

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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by Peter Dekker » Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:07 pm

Hi,

I fully agree with the above. Oral information spread today is highly distorted because of a number of factors, like hearsay being altered generation after generation without checking the facts. The most important factor though may be the severe reforms of Chinese martial arts during Mao's age, and the subsequent deliberate altering of myths of origin in order to fit the modern, more pacifist views. Suddenly, martial arts become a monk's thing and a path to enlightenment. Full-contact fighting became illegal, and with it the opportunity to really test one's skill and adapt to real-life situations. Students are now often mislead into thinking they are practicing a warrior art, but without full-contact verification of the techniques, their effectiveness remains doubtful at best.

When looking through some accounts of warriors becoming monks after years of service, martial arts are never mentioned on their curriculum. This surprises many but when we look at today, would a traumatized war veteran today want to incorporate shooting practice, hand-grenade throwing and close quarters bajonet techniques in his new found pacifist lifestyle? Probably not. After all, they didn't turn monk because they liked war. Also very few monks were confirmed to practice martial arts and even the role of Shaolin among martial arts is highly exaggerated. They were mostly notable for the fact that they were monks and could fight, which was a rarity, but generals visiting the temple were often not impressed about what they saw.

So with so much inaccurate information commonly taken for fact, there was a need to rebuild knowledge on this subject from the ground up. The best way to start is to see what the Chinese thought of it themselves, in their time. And for that, we arrive at period texts written by military experts of the day. By comparing the texts with antique arms of the same period, as well as period artwork we get a much better idea of what was going on than if we would take into account the large body of lore surrounding this subject.

(For some excellent research on the historical development of martial arts, and excellent myth debunking using period texts, be sure to check Stanley Henning's work. Many of his articles can be found here: http://www.seinenkai.com/articles/henning/index.html)

As Scott points out above, arms research is a separate discipline. I'm a mediocre swordsman at best, and although doing ok for European standards I don't stand a chance against the Mongolian and Korean archers I compete with each year. But both are means for me to understand the antique weapons that fascinate me. To turn it around, those archers ask people like me about the histories of their tradition. They realize that being good at one thing, doesn't mean they know it all. Unfortunately, in the Chinese martial arts community mastering of techniques is often mistaken for also being an expert on its martial history.

Back to the zhanmadao,
I re-read the passage of the 1759 Huangchao Liqi Tushi describing this weapon and apparently it first appeared in the "Ocean of Jade" written by scholar Wang Yinglin who lived in 1223 - 1296. That means he lived in the late Song and lived through the wars with the Jurchen and the destruction of the Song by the invading Mongolians that established the Yuan dynasty. In this light it is not surprising that the zhanmadao emerged, as both Jurchen and Mongols had mainly mounted armies fighting bodies of mainly Chinese infantry. This first zhanmadao is described as being 3 chi long and having a ring pommel, converted to today's standards that's about a meter long. The Qing version of the mid. Qing regulations is considerably larger, perhaps being made possible by advancements in metallurgy. This is 4 chi 8 cun, being equivalent to about 144 cm when using a commonly accepted conversion. It then appears in other texts like the Qinding Junqi Zeli up until the early 19th century but no further description or measurements are given. The overall shape in the woodblocks as well as the text is "like a peidao, but bigger".

Various other long two-handed sabers are listed in the text: changren dadao, which contrary to the name also looks like an oversized peidao, shuangshou daidao, beidao, and wodao. A weapon with an appearance similar to what we could consider a dadao today is called a kuanren piandao or "boat stern blade slicing saber" in this period. I think the later term dadao is a general term under which a number of similar weapons would fall.

(I have reason to believe the common conversion should be altered slightly for arms, but that's another story. In any case, the difference is not very much.)

-Peter
Knowing is not enough, we must apply.
Willing is not enough, we must do.


-Bruce Lee

http://www.mandarinmansion.com
Antique Chinese Arms & Functional reproductions

http://www.manchuarchery.org
Fe Doro - Manchu Archery

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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by omni » Sat Dec 12, 2009 7:06 pm

Hi Scott and Peter,

The distinction you make between historian and practitioner is very helpful, and makes a lot of sense.
They really are quite separate fields of study.

I had mistakenly assumed that the folk names should be discarded in favour of the historically accurate ones. :)

Thank you both for elaborating.

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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by armand1 » Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:06 am

How many months do the sword needs to be sharpened?

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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by Nik » Fri Jun 25, 2010 12:16 pm

Why should it take months to sharpen a blade when the industry does it in minutes on their tools ? Give it a couple of days if you do it by hand and to an ultimate degree (using various sands etc.) and you're more than sufficient, and in industrial production, that is a huge stretch. Grinding and mirror polish takes 12-15 minutes on a modern military saber (if you do it in batches, otherwise the change of belts takes an hour or two additionally), if you do it carefully you have 2-3 times of that on a sword. Only esoteric polishes using fine powders take more than that. Basically, you can spend any time you like then, but the question is if anyone would notice a difference after a certain amount of repetitions. And the second question is if anyone is willing to pay the appropriate amount of money then, if occupying a craftsman who possibly runs his own business for "months" on a single blade. A western craftsman would charge you anywhere between 400 and 1000 euro a day. If "months" translates to at least two, you arrive at 16000 euro minimum for that "polish". Good luck with finding someone who buys this. Basically, if someone claims that his $200 China-made Japanese swords have these weeks and months of polishing with "traditional methods", he is lying blatantly into your face.

Oh, or do you mean AFTER how many months it needs to be RE-sharpened ? That depends on the wear only.

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