Historical Chinese fighting knives

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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Kenneth, H.
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Historical Chinese fighting knives

Post by Kenneth, H. » Wed Jan 16, 2008 1:03 am

Hello.

I posted a thread on a couple of antique Chinese fighting-knives a while back.. Estimated to about 100 years old age.
Image
viewtopic.php?t=526&highlight=knives

Now, are there any earlier examples of such knives that go further back than the last 100 years?
I have only seen three sets of antique knives like these. One set was almost identical to the ones in the picture above, and was posted on SFI a couple of years back. There was also posted another two knives that was quite similar, only with a straight edge instead of a leaf-shaped blade like on the other pair and this one.

Now, you see allot of typical fighting knives (wushu stuff) in catalogs and in online stores, but are these correct in any way whatsoever?
Image
Do they actually represent a similar shape and geometry as actual antique knives, or are they simply fantasy-replica made just to function as a prop for an actual knife during wushu-dancing and jumping around?

The ring pommel is a fairly old addition on single and double edged arms, to my experience mostly seen on Tang and Han dynasty weaponry, and of course our very much beloved Da Dao. How did this migrate to these knives?

Best regards, Kenneth A.H.
Zheng Wu Knife & Sword Company.
High quality custom blades by Master sword-smith Zhou Zheng Wu of China.

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Re: Historical Chinese fighting knives

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Wed Jan 16, 2008 11:24 am

Kenneth, H. wrote:... you see a lot of typical fighting knives... in catalogs and in online stores, but are these correct in any way whatsoever?...
It is interesting that while we can find 1,000's of period Chinese swords to study, it is difficult to find many examples of knives. I assume this is because while there isn't much call for the daily use of swords in the era of the gun, knives remained useful & simply were worn away. In any case, here is one example of an antique Chinese knife* -

Image

So the modern replicas do appear accurate.

*Originally posted in the thread:
Jian & Throwing Knife in the Chinese Swordsmanship Forum
(viewtopic.php?t=179)

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Peter Dekker
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Fighting knives

Post by Peter Dekker » Wed Jan 16, 2008 11:34 am

Hi Kenneth,

Unfortunately the pool of knives I've seen so far is too small to draw any definite conclusions from but I can tell you what I've seen so far:

The set you present here is one I've also seen a couple of times, usually they were single and not double though. Construction-wise, I would be tempted to attribute them to a minority of the Western part of China.

I've also seen two types of what appear to be Chinese throwing knives, one of them is posted above by Scott Rodell and I've put the other (below) in the following thread: viewtopic.php?t=594

Image

Lastly, the type you mention with the straight blade sounds much like a type of knife that was issued to the Vanguard under the Qing army. They had a point that was pointy enough fur thrusting but was otherwise just a bigger version of the knife carried all over Central Asia on one scabbard with two chopsticks, so I think it was mainly used as a utility knife. It is stated in regulations to be 38.4cm long overall, the Beijing military museum has a few on display.

Ring pommels
Their function is quite a mystery to me. They appear on a number of weapons over an extremely long time-span, including Spring and Autumn period bronze knives to Sui and Tang zhibeidao, to late Qing polearms. Some say that their initial function was to hang a small knife on their belt, but when thinking about it, who would want a sharp piece of metal dangling down from their belt just like that? Perhaps they did once serve a function (to attach a tassel?) and were later simply used and re-used out of pure tradition. At the moment I have a pole-arm hanging on my wall, blade down. Who knows, perhaps this is how they liked to store these in the arms depots that many town defenses had in their rampart towers.

-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

Kenneth, H.
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Re: Historical Chinese fighting knives

Post by Kenneth, H. » Wed Jan 16, 2008 12:13 pm

Scott M. Rodell wrote:
Kenneth, H. wrote:... you see a lot of typical fighting knives... in catalogs and in online stores, but are these correct in any way whatsoever?...
It is interesting that while we can find 1,000's of period Chinese swords to study, it is difficult to find many examples of knives. I assume this is because while there isn't much call for the daily use of swords in the era of the gun, knives remained useful & simply were worn away. In any case, here is one example of an antique Chinese knife* -

Image

So the modern replicas do appear accurate.

*Originally posted in the thread:
Jian & Throwing Knife in the Chinese Swordsmanship Forum
(viewtopic.php?t=179)
Thank you very much! :)

Is that a one-piece forged knife? Sure looks like it.
Do you have any clue to the age of the knife?

How far back was knives like this used?

Best regards, Kenneth A.H.
Zheng Wu Knife & Sword Company.
High quality custom blades by Master sword-smith Zhou Zheng Wu of China.

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Peter Dekker
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Re: Historical Chinese fighting knives

Post by Peter Dekker » Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:59 pm

I found this one on display at deshengmen, the Southeastern corner tower of the old walls surrounding the inner city. It was attributed to the Boxer Rebellion, among a number of rather crude civilian items and some arrows.

Image
Kenneth, H. wrote:How far back was knives like this used?
I am not so familiar with the very early dynasties but I have pictures of a number of bronze Warring States knives of very similar construction. Some were straight, others curved forward and yet others curved backwards. Tips varies from pointy, to round and oblique. What they all had in common was that they were single edged, as opposed to the knife presented by Scott Rodell and the example at deshengmen.

Below I post what appear to be a number of those Qing Vanguard knives from the Beijing Military Museum.

Image

(Note: A number of Vanguard soldiers was in every company of the Qing army. They were typically summoned for a campaign from the different divisions to form one larger Vanguard division to go ahead of the main body of the army when necessary. Interestingly, different looking knives were described for the left and right Vanguard divisions but the size and shapes were essentially the same.)

-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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BrandonK
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Re: Historical Chinese fighting knives

Post by BrandonK » Fri Feb 04, 2011 7:59 am

Kenneth, H. wrote:Hello.

I posted a thread on a couple of antique Chinese fighting-knives a while back.. Estimated to about 100 years old age.
Image
viewtopic.php?t=526&highlight=knives

Now, are there any earlier examples of such knives that go further back than the last 100 years?
I have only seen three sets of antique knives like these. One set was almost identical to the ones in the picture above, and was posted on SFI a couple of years back. There was also posted another two knives that was quite similar, only with a straight edge instead of a leaf-shaped blade like on the other pair and this one.

Now, you see allot of typical fighting knives (wushu stuff) in catalogs and in online stores, but are these correct in any way whatsoever?
Image
Do they actually represent a similar shape and geometry as actual antique knives, or are they simply fantasy-replica made just to function as a prop for an actual knife during wushu-dancing and jumping around?

The ring pommel is a fairly old addition on single and double edged arms, to my experience mostly seen on Tang and Han dynasty weaponry, and of course our very much beloved Da Dao. How did this migrate to these knives?

Best regards, Kenneth A.H.
You own this knives? woah great!!! where did you get this?
"Whether the throwing knife falls on the melon or the melon on the knife, the melon suffers”

Scott M. Rodell
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Re: Historical Chinese fighting knives

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Feb 04, 2011 8:39 am

Here's an interesting video on the use of the Ring Dagger:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZYi7y_lPk8

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