From left to right – (1) a two piece kwan dao – the steel handle unscrews and separates to make packing easier; (2) Reclining Crescent style kwan dao; (3) three point-two edge; (4) so-called wushu kwan dao – lighter and shorter with flexible blade; (5) nine-ring pu dao bought from Brendan Lai’s store years ago; (6) eagle kwan dao; (7) Green Dragon style also bought from Brendan Lai’s store years ago; and (8) elephant kwan dao
We are trying to determine the state of the art when it comes to Kwan Daos. If you teach the weapon, practice the weapon or own a weapon and are letting it stand around in a rack, we’d love an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
A. do you teach the weapon? If so, what style?
Over the years we have taught General Chai’s (*) Long Handled Knife from Hung Gar (more properly a pu dao set, we think) and Spring Autumn Big Knife from Northern Shaolin. Currently, we teach the set from Chen Family style Tai Chi Chuan. We have seen a set from Zhaobao style Tai Chi Chuan. We have yet to find any recording or even rumors of anyone teaching a kwan dao set from Yang style Tai Chi Chuan. As far as we know, the weapon is not part of any other Tai Chi Chuan styles.
There are five weapons in the Choy Li Fut arsenal:
Blocking Gate Long Handled Broadsword (Lan Moon Jaai Dai Do) 攔門寨大刀
General Kwan’s Long Handle Broadsword (Kwan Do) 関刀
General Choy’s Long Handle Broadsword (Choy Yeung Do) 蔡陽刀
Nine-Ring Long-Handled Broadsword (Gau Wan Dai Do) 九環大刀
Seven Star Long-Handled Knive (Chat Sing Tiu) 七星銚
I recall seeing a Praying Mantis sifu do a Pu Dao set at least 8 years ago – perhaps even more. But I never could learn his name, or the set’s name.
if anyone teaches something else, we’d love to hear about it
*= this pays homage to a different hero, General Chai Yang of the Han Dynasty
B. how long is the weapon? does it have a metal spike on one tip?
C. how much does the weapon weigh
D. stiff or flexible blade
E. do you do anything like sanding or refinishing the wood or the metal?
F. one piece or two (the metal handle unscrews into two pieces)
G. what sort of bag do you use to transport it?
ax, bagua saber, butterfly wing, flail, Gold coin spade, halberd, horse blocking knife, kwan dao, long pole, long sword, Miao Dao saber, monk's spade, nine point rake, pu dao, spear, sun moon spear, trident, wolf tooth mace
While the painting of the white box is going on I have been thinking about what to use as a liner. Among the candidates are blankets, towels, sheets, cardboard and bubble-wrap. The goals are to minimize dings and dents in the weapons, not add too much more weight, and be quick and cheap to replace.
I may build two similar-sized experimental boxes – one out of PVC and one out of wire mesh. I have not found a cart big enough – 12″ or more higher, 24″ wide and 48″ long.
Next up at some point would be one or two boxes for long weapons – probably one box for weapons 48 to 72 inches long and one box for weapons longer than 72 inches. I have 20 of the former: 11 are staffs plus a bagua big saber, a Miao Dao saber, a flail, a long sword, a spear, a gold coin spade, and three hybrid weapons (butterfly wing, sun moon spear, horse blocking knife). I have 17 of the latter: eight are kwan daos; a nine-point rake, trident, a halberd, a long-handled ax, a pu dao, a wolf tooth mace, a gold coin snake spade, a monk’s spade, and a lau gar long pole.
Another reply from Russell Suthern:
I made the 1st batch as an R & D experiment to test different approaches. Then we had a shield making contest. Everyone made a shield and prizes were awarded for design, functionality etc.
You certainly do need a very precise shape of shield with a quite shallow curvature for rolls, or you do get tangled up in it.
I have never shot an arrow at a rattan shield, but have fired test arrows at a few of our shields. We discovered that straight-on hits were more likely to penetrate, whereas if the shield was angled, they tended to bounce off. Occasionally however, an arrow would pierce what we considered to be a really strong shield quite deeply, so there is an element of chance. I’d never risk firing an arrow at a student holding a shield, unless it was the blunt, padded style arrows they use in battle reconstructions. (We are looking into buying a bunch of these to test.)
I believe the usual style of archery combat was to fire the first volley upwards (clout archery style) so the enemy would be forced to lift their shields up, then fire a volley straight forwards as they would be exposed.
As for long weapons against shields, usually they would have a hook on the blade (you can still see this on Kwandaos, Pu daos, bill hooks and halberds.) This hook would be used to catch the shield and pull it down, so your comrades could then get to the enemy with their own spear or whatever.
We are not too precious about our shields, they were made to be used, after all. For most of my combat gear/weapons I have one good example for display, which never gets used, only admired, then another old beat up (but still much loved!) example, which gets to do all the hard work!
are long weapon versus either short weapon or double short weapons. For example, with pu dao versus saber what we really have is a contest between two saber blades with speed and perhaps a little more precision on the part of the saber and reach and probably slightly more hitting power on the part of the pu dao. There would be the question of whether the juncture where the pu dao blade joins the staff holds up as well. Can the staff of the pu dao successfully block a saber cut? There’s the additional consideration that the lower end of the pu dao can also deliver a strike as well as a block. I have never seen a weapon that we might describe as a double-headed pu dao – a saber blade on each end. It is also possible to enhance the staff section of the pu dao with crescent moon guards or spikes that could not only serve to deflect slashes (presumably aimed at a hand or maybe just the staff/handle itself) but could also be dangerous – we hope for the opponent only – during close encounters. As before, adding the weight for guards and spikes is trading some speed and flexibility for tactical advantages. Hybrid weapons like the horse-blocking knife and the sun-moon swords add the crescent moons, but I have never heard of a pu dao, which would have a longer, heavier blade, with such additions.
When the opponent has double short weapons the tactical situation for the pu dao wielder is not so simple: just bashing aside the enemy blade and lunging in is very likely to encounter enemy blade number 2. This means preference should be given to beating aside the enemy’s right hand blade (for example) NOT outside to the enemy’s right and your left, but rather the other direction.
There’s not much effort put into long weapons blade or head design in terms of seeking to entangle (and presumably wrench away or snap) an enemy blade.