Huanuo's Round Grip Battle Dao

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Scott M. Rodell
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Huanuo's Round Grip Battle Dao

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Dec 20, 2005 10:31 am

Please read the Testing Criteria before reading the review.



Sword Tested: Huanuo's Round Grip Battle Dao

http://www.huanuosword.com/e/asp/englis ... asp?id=397

List Price: $450

Company Website: http://www.huanuosword.com/



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Before reporting the results of this test a few words of introduction are appropriate. This is my second test of a Huanuo sword. The reason for testing a second Huanuo dao so soon after the test of their Gold Round Dao is that, that sword did not fair well in test cutting. The steel of the Gold Round Dao I tested was much too soft for cutting & the blade cross section was ground in a wedge shape that was not thick enough right behind the edge to support it. Huanuo felt that this Dao was a bad sword & not representitive of their work & requested I test another sword. I was happy to oblige them, & so I put Huanuo's Round Grip Battle Dao to the test.



Before I began test cutting with the Round Grip Battle Dao, I tested the hardness of the blade, which is between 55 & 60 HRC. The Gold Round Dao was only a HRC of 40. I also tested the sharpness of each blade by slicing the edge of a piece of paper, both are quite sharp & cut paper fairly easily. These are not the sharpest edges I've encountered, but certainly more than sharp enough for test cutting.



Solo Basic Cuts & Form Practice Test- Out of the box I noticed this Dao was slightly heavier than the Gold Round Dao. At 1 lb. 15 1/4 oz (895 g.), it was just one oz. heavier than the Gold Round Dao, but at 29 1/4 inches (74.5 cm.), this little bit of weight is noticeable, but negligible for an experienced swordman. Overall, it handles as does Qing period examples. It is not a light lively blade, but a blade well balanced for cutting, though not at all clumsy. It should also be noted that a dao of this length & weight is at the largest end of the variations of length & weight for a long dao.



Structural Integrity Test- This dao stood up well to this test, & I did put it to the test. As usual, I began with light blows, but was able to move on to more powerful cuts quickly. Employing liao, pi, kan, gua, hua, & even ci cuts, to the same standing dead pine tree that I tested the Gold Round Dao on, I easily sank the blade up to half its width into the tree. I repeatedly used cuts that would have easily passed thru 3 or 4 inches of live bamboo & the blade was not significantly damaged. The edge did roll over very slightly in a few places. However, when this dao is re-polished & the cutting edge starts at a slightly wider point, I expect the edge will be solid enough not to roll at all. As for the hilt, it likewise remained tight & the grip wrap did not pull loose. The photos below are of a full power pi cut & the edge after the structural testing.



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Hard Cutting Test- Starting with a few nice short energy pi cuts and moving along through hua, kan & lastly liao cuts, this dao was a pleasure to work with. It passed right through 4 inches of bamboo without a care. It even cut nicely through "slack" bamboo stalks that were hanging free by their branches after having been sliced in two. In short, it did the job it was designed for without any problems.



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Historical Design Authenticity- As with the previously tested Gold Round Dao, this sword could be said to be typical of Qing era dao in weight, length & balance. The only real strike against it, from a design point of view, is the bare wood scabbard. All sword scabbards were covered in either leather, usually pig skin, or ray skin, or in the case of some jian, were lacquer with painted designs, unless they were of exotic hard wood. However, in fairness, this is Huanuo's striped down model & at the price it is offered, one should be happy enough with a sword that performs well. As noted in the Gold Round Dao review, the fittings do follow the classic Dragon Well style, but are a bit more flamboyant than period examples.



Rating- Testing this sword leaves me with little question that Huanuo can produce a good product at a reasonable price. My only reservation is the vast difference in the quality of the two blades I tested, the difference in the soundness of the hilts & other production quality problems. For example, the fittings of these swords are glued in place, not tacked on, as on period examples. I'm not so much of a purist that I find this a problem. However, I don't want to see the adhesive & I can. Glue is clearly visible where the chape of the Round Grip Battle Dao is attached on the scabbard. Simply put, it appears Huanuo needs to pay more attention to quality control. This should be an easy task for Huanuo to tackle.



What I'd Like to See- Just a little more attention to detail & a quality check before any product leaves their shop. Overall, I expect we'll see good things coming from Huanuo.

Scott M. Rodell
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More What I'd Like To See

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Mon Apr 03, 2006 4:00 pm

Since I preformed the above test, I've been using this dao in my cutting practice. It has held up well. The only concern is that the retaining nut at the tang end tends to come lose rather quickly when cutting hard targets, such as bamboo. This is more an annoyance than a real problem, since it can be easy tighten with a pair of plyers, but it is something I'd like to see Huanuo change.

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Video of Dao Cutting

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Sep 26, 2006 12:04 pm

I've continued to use this dao for my personal shi zhan (test cutting) practice, including some fairly demanding cutting, such as cutting down dead trees. Here's short video clip of a shan (fanning) cut I pulled out of a presentation of cutting with jian & dao we put together at GRTC.



http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 4233613867

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Fittings Copied

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Mar 30, 2007 6:32 pm

I'm in Beijing at the moment, on my way to Shanghai & found in the market here a good assortment of "antique" dao & jian mounted with Huanuo fittings. Obviously the fakers got a bit lazy in these cases, they dis-mounted Huanuo swords & used their fittings to make molds & case fittings for thier "antiques."

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