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Thread: comparison of various dao

  1. #1

    comparison of various Nuiweidao (Ox Tail Sabers)

    Hey Everyone,

    I have decided to take a few pictures of some dao (is this word singular and plural?) and ofer a few comparisons. Allow me some time to provide the detailed explanations for each picture that I want to share. In the meantime, I hope these carry your fancy (minus the poor quality images--I do not have a digital camera--and poor lighting).


    Finally, I am able to get back to the forum. Last night, the Internet would not allow me access to the forum for some reason. Anyway, I do apologize for the photo quality; it really does the swords (or, more accurately, the training implements and swords) an injustice.

    O.K. Here are the details:

    1) This is the Lungchuan dao I bought from a long time ago. This was my first impression of a Chinese weapon that I believed was a real representation of their weaponry. It is basically a chunk of steel with hollow fittings. It is also the longest sword that company offers--32". The scabard is nice with a dragon carved into one side and Chinese characters into the other. The fittings there are also cheap though.

    2) A real example of a nuiweidao from , this sword is much different from the mass-produced types (look below for a comparisons). I think it may be from the Qing Dynasty (Scott, can you help me here?). It has a 29 1/2" blade. Of almost all the swords I have, I am awed with the balance and, er, handling of this dao. The balance is just right; while some swords have all the weight in the blade or too much in the handle (as in an example I have not shown here), this one feels very comfortable and easy enough to manipulate as one would a European smallsword (tossing, flipping, etc.) If I choose, I can cut with it too. But I see myself as being a temporary possessor of this great weapon, and, as a result, I would rather keep it as it is instead of risking its destruction with a bad cut, an accident, or another unforeseen act of the natural world. The scabbard is difficult to make out, but it's paint is coming off. There is also a break in it at the end, so the tip of the blade sticks out ever so slightly.

    3) The Cold Steel nuiweidao (won in an eBay auction) is a sword that looks good from afar and receives less-than-great remarks up close. In terms of usage, it is weighted more toward the blade, and it shows when downward cuts are employed. The fittings are solid, but the piece under the guard moves around and can be a source of distraction and irritation while practicing, especially if I am trying to hear the whoosh of a good cut. The scabbard restricts how fast the sword can be withdrawn; however, over the time I have had it, I find that being able to understand the intricacies of each particular scabbard can compensate for this. Therefore, with time, one can learn how to quickly draw the sword from such a scabbard.

    4) The Paul Chen nuiweidao (won in an eBay auction) is, I think, pleasing to the eye, especially the scabbard. It is a pretty plain sword with solid fittings (although I can't tell if this is true with the pommel). It is the shortest and lightest of those pictured here, and therein lies its weakness (as I see it): it is too light. The sword can be withdrawn rather quickly from its scabbard. This particular sword and the Cold Steel version have served me against the barbarous trees in my backyard on several occasions (and are still in one piece). As with every sword one handles, one must become well-aquainted with each of them to learn how to effectively use each one. In my opinion, the diference between each one of these swords (minus the antique and custom version) is night and day.

    5) This is a standard nuiweidao that can be found in any martial art catalogue or store. I won't go into a lot of detail here because I just wanted to use it as another comparison point. It is light and fine for practice if one's wrist is in pain (as I can testify to). Being at least twice as heavy as a wushu dao, this is the lightest dao one should rely on. I think it is also fine to free play with.

    6)This is the scabbard of the custom nuiweidao I had made for me by a custom smith (whose name I will reveal if I get his o.k.). Now, I am quite serious when it comes to taking care of this custom damascus dao. The reason it is not pictured with the scabbard is because it was wrapped up at the time. This is the dao that ties with the antique from Scott's company. It is an awesome sword with a balance that may be better than the one from Seven Stars Trading. Made for two-handed use, the balance is slightly heavy toward the blade (and I mean ever so slightly), but I find no problem whatsoever using it with one hand. More details are below. The sword and scabbard specifically have no decorative fittings (I requested this to cut down on cost), but both are solid as well. I forget what he used to make the fittings, but they are very strong. This is the heaviest scabbard here but does not seem at all weighted toward any one end.

    By the way, Scott, there is sharkskin inside the scabbard. My smith friend says that scabbards had sharkskin inside (for what I forgot). Have you encounterd this or heard of it?

    Doug M
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    Last edited by Doug Mullane; 11-21-2003 at 12:00 PM.

  2. #2

    exposed blades

    Here are the blades.
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  3. #3
    Dammit man, write faster. I'm getting impatient. :P

  4. #4

    RE: Ox Tail Dao Photos

    You might like to rename this thread comparison of Nuiweidao (Ox Tail Sabers). The examples pictured are all of a type carried by civilians during the later half of the 19th c. This ype of sword never saw service with the Chinese military of the Qing period.
    Scott M. Rodell
    I train at:
    I work at:

  5. #5

    another picture

    Here is a little better picture of the first one.
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    Last edited by Doug Mullane; 11-21-2003 at 10:36 AM.

  6. #6

    a better picture of the blades?

    I hope these are better...

    What I wanted from this picture was an overall, visual comparison of all of these examples. These types are often tossed around here on the forum, and I thought it would be a good idea to have them all in one place at one time in one picture. If I can provide a better picture in the future, I will do so.

    Although a little difficult to tell from the quality of the image, note the slight difference in overall composition of the dao represented here.

    And if you are wondering about the plastic wrap under the custom dao, I must admit an extremely no-nonsense attitude when it comes to keeping this dao clean.

    Doug M
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    Last edited by Doug Mullane; 11-21-2003 at 11:23 AM.

  7. #7


    One thing I would like to note here is the difference in guard shape. Each one is different, depending on the maker, and each is decorated differently. For the most part, the cup shape (my terms will be less than accurate) is the most popular. However, there are some differences...

    1) Lungchuan: The fittings are thin and light. The guard will basically protect my hand from the rain if it ever decides to ruin my parade.

    2) antique: This is the more unusual of the bunch as the shape of the cup is less angular and more circular. From a first impression, it almost seems like a reversed fencing foil guard. I take it that this was, perhaps, easier and quicker to make than an angled cup-shaped guard. But, maybe, Scott, Philip, or someone else has a better reason for its odd shape. The material seems very solid and heavier than what is on the mass market now.

    3) Cold Steel: The fittings are solid with what seems like floral motifs. When I take the sword out of the scabbard, the guard scratches from being snugly in place (there are marks from this on the inside the cup guard).

    4) Paul Chen: Again, solid fittings here. They shine more than the Cold Steel ones. It has only recently began to develop ever-so-slight movement in the guard.

    5) custom dao: I requested this type of guard because I was tired of the cup design and wanted something that would be a little more plain and simple. I also find it more pleasing for some reason I can't recall right now...

    Doug M
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  8. #8

    the other side...

    Here is another angle shot of the guards.
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  9. #9


    Note the different shapes of the pommels and their other features:

    1) Lungchuan: Again, it is a cheap fitting that any decent martial artist could break off with a strong twist. I have had to tighten the end quite a few times because it was moving around. This is also worrisome becaue the tang is threaded to the end of the pommel. I have thought about having a local artist who works with silver make me some better fittings. However, that might mess up the balance even more. Given the blade-heavy balance on this example, though, that may be an improvement.

    2) antique: I don't know if the tang is threaded to the pommel end, but there is a bump of some sort on the end with could be for an effective strike. It is firmly attached to the handle and is made of strong material (iron?).

    3) Cold Steel: The end is solid and, I believe, the tang is threaded to the end. However, the pommel is shaped to allow one's hands to fit around it, which I find quite nice in terms of techniques. I have always believed in holding the pommel end with whatever weapon of choice(or, more closely, being able to hold a weapon by its pommel end). This allows that opportunity (or invites it) and gives the user some interesting range of techniques.

    4) Paul Chen: I can't tell if the pommel is solid; it has the feel and sound (by that, I mean I tap it with my nails and get the same feel) of the Lungchuan pommel. Regardless, the handle is small enough where I would not want to use both hands unless absolutely necessary. Besides, if someone has to use both hands on this sword, it had better be for life or death; it is very light for even one hand.

    5) custom: I don't know if it is clear, but the pommel here has a notch at the pinkie-finger side for a better grip. Unlike the others, this pommel is not connected to the tang. My friend wanted to make this sword very reliable: if the pommel (for whatever reason) breaks, he wanted me to be able to continue using it. He also has the belief that one should be able to hold the weapon by the pommel end if necessary. The pommel is definitely solid. Although I made it quite clear that I did not want a sash at the end (we both think it is ridiculous to think that thousands of Chinese would go into battle with the minset that a scarf would legitimately distract an enemy), he put a short tassel at the end, which is, I think, an interesting touch. I surely will not try to distract anyone with it.

    Doug M
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  10. #10


    This image shows the diferences in the handles: most are curved, and two are straight. Although I don't have much to comment on this point, I do want to address the topic of straight vesus curved handles for Chinese dao. (This should probably be a new thread question.) I wonder if there were any rules or governing regulations regarding handle design. I find both effective. Still, the most annoying design to me is the wood dao, and the most effective is, believe it or not, the custom dao. It looks much thicker, but it is the most comfortable.

    Note the beautiful pattern in the wood on the custom dao!

    Doug M
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    Last edited by Doug Mullane; 11-21-2003 at 11:20 AM.

  11. #11

    Lungchuan and antique nuiweidao caomparison

    I did not have a lot of time to take pictures for comparison, but I wanted to show the differences between some fullers. Fullers are functional yet aesthetic, and that concept can be captured here. One can see the difference between the mass-produced blade and the hand-crafted one. One is clearly the mark of speedy making, the other a representation of craft. The Lungchuan tool, for some reason, gives the impression of having fullers, but it is little more than a slight representation on the surface of the blade. Make no mistake: nothing is evenly distributed on this blade. The fullers on the old dao certainly play a role in how it operates: they are deep and certainly put there by hand.

    Doug M
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  12. #12

    Paul Chen and custom damascus nuiweidao comparison

    Here is an example of night and day: the Paul Chen sword is nicely formed with nice fullers that contribute to its overall usage, but it just pales in comparison to the hand-made, beautifully patterned damascus blade. To appreciate this more, one needs to understand that this custom sword was made all by hand--no machines, no power hammer, no pre-made steel. The maker did all of this from scratch. Paul Chen may purport to make damascus swords, but this example just swipes the floor with anything mass-produced.

    Apologies about the plastic wrap...

    Doug M
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  13. #13

    damascus pattern

    Here is what I hope is a better picture of the pool-and-eye pattern of the custom nuiweidao. Still, I am not doing right to the sword. I will try to post better pictures at a later time.

    Doug M
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  14. #14

    one more of the group

    Here is one more picture of the examples provided. I hope this is an interesting thread and benefits everyone both for martial and aesthetic purposes.

    Doug M
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  15. #15
    I think your just a really big person who likes really big swords. The PC sabre is heavy enough and just the right length for the average chinese person.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Land below the wind

    Thumbs up

    That was great! Would also be great to see a similar comparison for Jians. Thanks Doug.

  17. #17

    WHEW...they're positive...

    Thanks, John. The only thing preventing me doing a jian comparison is cost: I don't have ample money on hand where I feel comfortable buying a lot of jian. I have considered myself more of a dao person--it kinda goes with my pesonality: fire. I plan on buying various jian in the future (from Seven Stars Trading too) and, maybe, another mass-market one, but I can't right now.

    I can post some pictures of a two-handed Lungchuan jian and a Kris Cutlery Gim if you would like...

    Doug M

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Land below the wind

    Thanks pal.

    Jians: Doug, post only if it's not of any inconvenience. I wanted a couple of good authentic jians too but still have yet to make that maiden buy and as you've surmised they ain't cheap and I cannot afford any mistake nor making a wrong choice for something I like to keep for a lifetime. Hence I like to look at more specimens without the influence of any dealers or product pushers..

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Macungie, Pennsylvania


    The GT1101's pommel is in fact hollow, for whatever it's worth.

    I do love that antique. As beautiful as some of these modern custom swords can be, antiques always just have their own "feel" unmatched by modern weapons. Phew.
    Praemonitus, praemunitus.


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