Dao thrusts

This Forum is a place for students of swordsmanship to ask advice from moderators Paul Champagne & Scott M. Rodell on how to practice test cutting in a manner consistent with how swords were historically used in combat. Readers use this Forum at their own risk.

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Linda Heenan
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Dao thrusts

Post by Linda Heenan » Mon May 25, 2009 11:13 pm

While practising the Yangshi taiji Dao form today, I took some of the thrusts from the form and aimed them into targets. The object was to compare the thrusting ability of a luiyedao with that of a jian, while using historically accurate movements. I was surprised at the result. Having never considered the dao a thrusting sword, I've only practised cuts that use the edge, until today.

the result is that a luiyedao penetrates a target extremely well. With the edge upward, I'd rate it almost as good as a jian. With the cutting edge downward, the angle for best penetration can be a little awkward but you certainly wouldn't want to get in the way of one in a battle. It works quite nicely, particulary on a slightly upward diagonal. Another thrust - the one combined with a kick, in the form - Zhao, I think, is difficult to control. The body movement makes it tricky to hit a precision target and with my early level of training in this weapon, the tip wobbles as I kick. I did not try blade horizontal thrusts, as there are none in the form.

So, edge up thrusts are excellent, edge down thrusts are still very good, and kicking thrusts are difficult to aim. But it could never be said that this style of dao is only for edge cutting. It has a powerful thrust ability.
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xingyi24
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Re: Dao thrusts

Post by xingyi24 » Wed May 27, 2009 8:42 am

To build the forum on general chinese swordsmanship, the xingyi system has thrusts and cuts from zuandao (drilling sabre) and paodao (crushing/cannon sabre) useing a horizontal thrust from a twisting motion, and they can complete across the body with the edge 45 degrees angled up, but can stop horizontal. Sometimes the movement is not easily attributed to one element or the other from the form, but the two are linked together on the destructive elemental cycle so the theory shows relation.

Like the jian, the dao thrust is able to try to target between the ribs, but it also has the added effect of slicing with the curve of the blade. Imagine taking a fish knife and placing the edge against a fish with the point just off the body. Then push. The blade does all the work and the edge of your sword has the advantage of the strong rapid twist of the waist to slice on the way in, and feed the same cut on the way out. While it's true that this is not the best tactic for an armored opponent, being better to stab through, it keeps the blade more fluid for follow up. It also kind of dispells a little bit of the weapon's hacker image. If the action is performed on the sword arm side, it also facilitates gaining field position, when laid in as such and using the sword as a push bar, with the hand across the spine, enabling also for a knee stomp, foot pin, or shin rake.

Additionally, the basic xingyi beng dao, regularly begins with a thrust, edge to the ground, before, as I was told by Mr. Rodell, the same snapping motion back to guard the shoulder that tai chi calls beng, and then snaps back forward in what he called a pi, so it's three motions in one name by tai chi standards, but it begins with a stout stab. There may be a fourth, considering the stab is sometimes meant to go under an opponent's blade to raise it clear for the follow up snap/pi.

(I love this weapon... :D )

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J HepworthYoung
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Re: Dao thrusts

Post by J HepworthYoung » Sat May 30, 2009 4:48 pm

In my experience the common mostly western consensus about what swords are for cutting and what swords are for thrusting is utter nonsense. A good example of this is the roman gladius and there are still many sources of bad information out there claiming that the gladius is a thrusting sword and not good for cutting.

I am glad to see that open minds are changed when the evidence is in hand.

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Linda Heenan
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Re: Dao thrusts

Post by Linda Heenan » Sat May 30, 2009 5:39 pm

Yes :) it's the old story we've all heard so often that you can't believe everything you read. It's good to hold opinions lightly and test things out for yourself. I saw something recently that illustrates the point 8) . If anyone says you can't thrust with a dao, ask them if they would mind demonstrating that. "Would you please just stand there and I'll poke one at you to see if that's true." There will be no takers for that offer because common sense tells us a sharp point will penetrate, no matter what the reputation of the sword might be. A dao is better at cutting but it can thrust. A jian needs a more exact edge angle than a dao to cut well, but it can cut.
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xingyi24
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Re: Dao thrusts

Post by xingyi24 » Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:15 am

Additionally, we've been talking largely about the willow leaf saber. I don't want to start a chicken or the egg arguement here, but one look at the goose quill saber seems to indicate that someone was looking to do just that. Their style had a dao thrust, and they wanted make a dao that is good at thrusting. Not to say the willow leaf wasn't doing the job, but his style may have liked the poking aspect of swords.

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