Zheng Wu Tang's Miaodao

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Scott M. Rodell
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Zheng Wu Tang's Miaodao

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Jun 15, 2006 7:50 am

Zheng Wu Tang Miaodao

http://www.zhengwutang.com/chinese/dao/miaodao/dao.htm

List Price: $1250 (model tested, models with other blades are also available)

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



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Solo Basic Cuts & Form Practice Test- Zheng Wu Tang's Miaodao handles well in comparison with antique blades in general. Its balance & weigh are what contemporary practitioners of miaodao suggest it should be & it has a solid but lively feeling in the hand. However, it should be noted that this saber type was quite rare in China. Although I have handled nearly 3000 antique Chinese swords, I have yet to encounter an antique miaodao, though I have handled other types of Chinese two-handed swords. There were quite a few types of two-handed sabers & also two handed straight swords in use during the late Ming through the end of the Qing period. Unfortunately, those that I have encountered were of different blade forms than the miaodao, therefore a side-by-side comparison between Zheng Wu Tang's Miaodao & an antique one can not be provided.



I am often asked how modern Chinese blades compare with the antique. In every case, I would say that the old blades have qualities that moderns smiths have yet to fully realize, particularly in the resiliency of the blades. Having said that, I would say that this sword is beginning to come close.



Structural Integrity Test- Before I began testing this miaodao, I tested the edge hardness. I found the edge to have a Rockwell hardness between 50 and 55 HCR. Knowing this to be a prefect range of hardness for the edge, I selected a dead tree to test the blade on. As usual, I began with firm but soft blows, slowly building to full power cuts, & I do mean full power cuts. This miaodao easily stood up to the test. After numerous cuts into the hard dead wood, the edge showed no signs of damage, in fact even after cutting a fair number of bamboo stalks, it was hard to see any marks or scratches on the blade.



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Hard Cutting Test- Two-handed swords are designed to deliver powerful cuts. So I looked for the toughest bamboo on hand locally to further test this sword on. I selecting old growth stalks that had been blown over & partially dried. These stalks were all 2" (5 cm.) in diameter & a bit tougher than the bamboo I'd used in previous tests. I had no problem at all slicing diagonally thru 3.5" (9 cm.) of these stalks using short energy movements like pi. Naturally Zheng Wu Tang's miaodao preformed even better when I employed more powerful cut such as either xia kan (diagonal downward) cuts or liao (sliding upwards) cuts.



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Historical Design Authenticity- As mentioned above, we do not have a period miaodao with which to compare this one this, however, we can examine the style of the fittings & compare those with typically QIng dynasty sword furniture. The general shape of the fittings is classic cloud design that was popular during the Qing. The designs on the surface of the fittings themselves are likewise decorated with hand engraved designs of foliage & flowers that are essentially identical to engravings encountered on many antique Chinese swords, Zheng Wu Tang got the furniture decoration just right.



Rating- In short, Zheng Wu Tang's miaodao is quite a good sword for the money whether one is looking for a well balanced sword for training, a sword for cutting practice or a decorative piece for the wall.



What I'd Like to See- More attention to detail. As I opened the box containing this sword for the first time, I was taken by the handsome weapon inside. As I lightly brushed off the bits of foam packing material clinging to the hilt with my hand, the pommel flew off. Many sword manufactures are attaching fittings these days with adhesive instead of in the traditional manner with a small brad. While I'd prefer to see fittings attached in the traditional fashion, I try to be open minded & understand adhesive could do the job just as well, and honestly, most people will probably never notice. But when it comes to a hand made sword, if makes good sense to check everything before shipping it out. I would not say one shouldn't buy this sword because the pommel came off, it was easy enough to reaffix, just that after all this work has gone into making a beautiful sword, please don't skimp at the last minute.



I would also like to see the fittings made of a more substantial, thicker brass. The work put into the blade deserves it, as does that quality of the engraving on the fittings themselves.



Lastly, Zheng Wu Tang attaches the grips to its blades via wood pins that pass through the grip. These do the job perfectly well. And this is how swords grips were pinned on Chinese Swords during the Tang dynasty. Yet, this is a Qing period type sword, so I would prefer to the tang come through the pommel & be peened over as was the standard during this period with a metal tube pin through the grip.

Scott M. Rodell
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Re: Zheng Wu Tang's Miaodao

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Jun 26, 2007 11:01 am

Scott M. Rodell wrote:Zheng Wu Tang Miaodao...
What I'd Like to See-... the fittings made of a more substantial, thicker brass. The work put into the blade deserves it, as does that quality of the engraving on the fittings themselves...
Well it looks like some one was listening... I just received today, two Miaodao from Zheng Wu Sword & Knife Co. & the fittings are much improved...

I can also report that recently I cutting a fair amount of old growth & dry bamboo with the first miaodao sent for product testing & have yet to dent or chip the edge, I haven't even scratched it.

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