Chinese Weaponry, quality issues...

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
14,495
Reaction score
4,033
Location
San Francisco
I would like to hear peoples' experiences and thoughts about the quality of weaponry that is generally available for the Chinese martial arts. What kind of weaponry do you train with? Wushu light? Combat Heavy? something in between? If you are using something of a better quality, where do you get it, and how much does it cost?

Personally, I have been pretty disappointed with the prevalence of low-quality weaponry. Wushu weapons are little more than a toy in my opinion, and lead to development of blindingly fast, but otherwise unrealistic technique.

I always have my eye out for better-quality weapons, specifically swords, broadswords, staffs and spears. I have also begun making and/or customizing and altering existing weapons to make them better.

I know many people use wushu weaponry for the tournaments because of the speed factor, but I feel that heavier stuff is more realistic and provides for better training for a traditional kung-fu person.

What do you all think about this issue?
 

Bob Hubbard

Retired
MT Mentor
Founding Member
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 4, 2001
Messages
47,245
Reaction score
769
Location
Land of the Free
One of the problems is, is that most of the stuff you see is not really intended for use. It's made to look nice, hung on a wall and dusted a few times a year. The Wushu stuff seems to be made more for the solo practitioner, looking to wow a judge with their speed, but isn't made with longevity or durability in mind.

It's been my limited experience that anything under $100 is for the wall, and anything under $50 is something that shouldn't ever contact things harder than soft butter. ;)

I agree with you though, the heavier stuff is more realistic. I have a replica spatha that's got historical weight to it. I stied doing some FMA drills with it, and man, it tired my arm right out. (Mind you, 'm swinging a long sword like a stick, so.....) :D
 

clfsean

Senior Master
MT Mentor
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jun 15, 2004
Messages
3,662
Reaction score
355
Location
Metropolitan Tokyo
I tend to use a spring weight with all of my weapons all of the time. It's not the tinfoil used by wushu players & it's not the ridiculously heavy "combat" weight either. A nice middle of the road weight gets me by with all of my weapons. For sticks, rattan or waxwood suits me fine, although I have a double ended staff made from hickory I've had since the early 90's that is the bomb.

I gave my only "combat" weight weapon to a training partner of mine since he's huge & the sword only cost me $12 in China, so it wasn't a big loss to take.
 

tshadowchaser

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Founding Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 29, 2001
Messages
13,460
Reaction score
731
Location
Athol, Ma. USA
I have to agree with Bob that if you but a lower priced weapon it is realy a decoration not a weapon. Some of these might be good to practice with if no contact with anything stronger than tolit paper is used but one should spend the money to get something much stronger if they want it to last
 
OP
Flying Crane

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
14,495
Reaction score
4,033
Location
San Francisco
clfsean said:
I tend to use a spring weight with all of my weapons all of the time.

A nice middle of the road weight gets me by with all of my weapons.

I gave my only "combat" weight weapon to a training partner of mine since he's huge & the sword only cost me $12 in China, so it wasn't a big loss to take.

arguably, a real combat sword should have some spring to the blade to avoid breaking under heavy use. I have one very good blade, but it was made by a company that makes swords for Western European, medieval swordsmanship. I built a hilt for it that makes it useful for Chinese style practice. This sword is not overly heavy, but does have a good, strong and fairly rigid spring to the blade, and is made from a high-quality steel that is appropriate for swords.

I have a couple other heavy swords that do not have a spring. These were Chinese imports from back in the 1970s or so, before they stopped making the really heavy ones. I think the quality of the steel is pretty good, but they may actually be too heavy to be considered appropriate for true combat. At about 4 pounds the heaviest one makes for a great practice piece, tho!
 

clfsean

Senior Master
MT Mentor
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jun 15, 2004
Messages
3,662
Reaction score
355
Location
Metropolitan Tokyo
Flying Crane said:
arguably, a real combat sword should have some spring to the blade to avoid breaking under heavy use. I have one very good blade, but it was made by a company that makes swords for Western European, medieval swordsmanship. I built a hilt for it that makes it useful for Chinese style practice. This sword is not overly heavy, but does have a good, strong and fairly rigid spring to the blade, and is made from a high-quality steel that is appropriate for swords.

I have a couple other heavy swords that do not have a spring. These were Chinese imports from back in the 1970s or so, before they stopped making the really heavy ones. I think the quality of the steel is pretty good, but they may actually be too heavy to be considered appropriate for true combat. At about 4 pounds the heaviest one makes for a great practice piece, tho!

No argument here, but most people associate combat steel with weighing a ton for the "real deal" as opposed to light to medium weight with superior forging skills & technology, coupled with actual skill with the weapon.
 
OP
Flying Crane

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
14,495
Reaction score
4,033
Location
San Francisco
clfsean said:
No argument here, but most people associate combat steel with weighing a ton for the "real deal" as opposed to light to medium weight with superior forging skills & technology, coupled with actual skill with the weapon.

full agreement here, tho it has taken me a while to come to accept that. I still love the heavys for training, but I'd take the medium one to the battlefield with me...
 

Icewater

Orange Belt
Joined
Oct 16, 2005
Messages
71
Reaction score
2
I would love to know where to get some quality weapons. Staff, broadsword, tai-chi sword, arnis stick, etc...

FYI - I train my staff forms with a steel rod at home. It takes a minute to adjust to the light weight of a solid wood staff, but I can use it forever. Give me a rattan staff and I'll spin it so fast I can't keep up with it. I drop it more times than not... 10 push-ups..., drop... 10 push-ups, repeat...
 
OP
Flying Crane

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
14,495
Reaction score
4,033
Location
San Francisco
Icewater said:
I would love to know where to get some quality weapons. Staff, broadsword, tai-chi sword, arnis stick, etc...

FYI - I train my staff forms with a steel rod at home. It takes a minute to adjust to the light weight of a solid wood staff, but I can use it forever. Give me a rattan staff and I'll spin it so fast I can't keep up with it. I drop it more times than not... 10 push-ups..., drop... 10 push-ups, repeat...

I can get good hefty waxwood staffs for both plain staff and spears here in San Francisco. I can also get heavier grade spearheads that are wayyyyy better than the wushu stuff. I actually buy the components and then put them together, and do some finishing on the staff itself.

I can also get some decent quality broadswords here, and sometimes some decent straight swords. I completely re-build the hilt so that it is solid and properly balanced.

PM me and I can give you some more info.
 

clfsean

Senior Master
MT Mentor
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jun 15, 2004
Messages
3,662
Reaction score
355
Location
Metropolitan Tokyo
Yeah I like Brendan Lai's for that kind of stuff. His waxwood selection tends to be thicker in diameter than some major suppliers use. There were some up in the front the last time I was there that was in the 12 foot plus range.
 
OP
Flying Crane

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
14,495
Reaction score
4,033
Location
San Francisco
clfsean said:
Yeah I like Brendan Lai's for that kind of stuff. His waxwood selection tends to be thicker in diameter than some major suppliers use. There were some up in the front the last time I was there that was in the 12 foot plus range.

yup, that's where I get them from. I was just in there two days ago, but they were sold out. I have a couple friends who wanted one, so I stopped by to see what was available. I did manage to pick a few out a few weeks ago before they all went, guess I should have grabbed a couple more.

I guess you are in the SF area. Who do you train with? I train with Bryant Fong, don't know if you have heard of him...
 

clfsean

Senior Master
MT Mentor
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jun 15, 2004
Messages
3,662
Reaction score
355
Location
Metropolitan Tokyo
Actually I'm in Georgia, but I've been to SF on occasion & tried to make quality use of my time for contacts, people, etc...

I'm familiar with your sifu by name & reputation only which is not a bad thing. ;)
 
OP
Flying Crane

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
14,495
Reaction score
4,033
Location
San Francisco
clfsean said:
Actually I'm in Georgia, but I've been to SF on occasion & tried to make quality use of my time for contacts, people, etc...

I'm familiar with your sifu by name & reputation only which is not a bad thing. ;)

oh yes, we shared a brief PM about bak hok a little while back. I forgot!
 
OP
Flying Crane

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
14,495
Reaction score
4,033
Location
San Francisco
Shaolinwind said:
I have a Sun Moon competition Tai Chi sword that I love and my instructors absolutely raved about. Dragonwell makes fine sword as well.

Or perhaps you'd like old craftsmanship, check this link out.

http://www.antiqueasianweapons.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=aaweapons&Category_Code=A2

I am not familiar with the Sun Moon swords, but I am familiar with some of the Dragonwell. The problem with many swords, including Dragonwell, is that the hilts and often the scabbards are poorly constructed. The blades are often better than the average junk floating around, but if the hilt is garbage, then it doesn't do much good.

The Dragonwell straight swords have a guard and pommel made out of wood, covered with a thin sheet of brass. The Dragonwell broadswords have a guard made of very thin guage brass, and a hollow pommel, also made of very thin brass. If you have one of these swords, take it apart and check it out. You will be shocked. Usually they are held together with a single hex-nut at the end of the tang, unless someone epoxied everything underneath, which is usually done by the middleman/dealer who doesn't want to get sued when the blade comes flying out of the sword and someone gets hurt.

This kind of construction gives no strength to the weapon, and offers no weight to counter-balance the weight of the blade. Since their blades are often heavier than many of the others, this makes for a very point-heavy weapon. The hilt is also often loose, and poorly fitting.

Some of the other swords that have cast guards and hilts do the casting in two pieces, with the pieces then welded together. In my opinion, this often makes for an ugly piece, and they often are still poorly fitted to the blade and the grip.

The scabbards are fitted with light guage brass that is always loose, and again, in my opinion, is rather nasty and ugly. If you remove the brass sheeting, especially at the point or the mouth, you often find that the seam in the wood is splitting away.

What I find frustrating is that these companies get the weapon partly correct, and then screw up the rest. A decent blade is handicapped by a poor hilt. A good sword should have a solid scabbard. It's too bad they can't quite figure that out, and do a better job all the way around.

But then again, most people don't know the difference, and they don't want to pay any real money for something, even if it might be vastly superior in quality. I can walk into Chinatown in San Francisco during my lunch break, and buy a junky Chinese sword for under $30. This is the kind of thing that many people practice with, esp. for Tai Chi and Wushu. Personally, I would rather pay a few hundred dollars for something that I know is solid, well balanced, well fitted, and made with quality materials. I think with a bit of education, perhaps people will start to understand the difference and we may see more weapons available that have a higher quality.
 
OP
Flying Crane

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
14,495
Reaction score
4,033
Location
San Francisco
Just wanted to add a note about education with regards to weaponry. I was training in the park one day, and another instructor was nearby with his students. I would see him regularly in this area of the park, on the weekends.

Some of his students began training with swords (Chinese style). I could see that one of the students had rust on his blade. I could see this from about 70 feet away, where I was doing my own training. It covered about a third of the blade, from what I could see at that distance.

People need to be educated about how to care for their weaponry. It is a simple task to clean and oil the blade after every use. If a sword has a blade made of any decent quality steel, it needs to be cleaned and oiled every time, or it will rust, guaranteed. I could not understand why this particular instructor did not instill this habit in his student.

Personally, I think that failing to take care of your weapon reflects poorly on your overall practice of the martial arts. Take care of your weapons, and you will have a better attitude toward your training.

Just wanted to make that observation, since it came to mind.
 

clfsean

Senior Master
MT Mentor
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jun 15, 2004
Messages
3,662
Reaction score
355
Location
Metropolitan Tokyo
If he's talking about what I think he has, the Sun/Moon swords are the new international competition baldes. Same weights, measures, construction, etc... across the board. There are some at BL's. If you ask Al I'm sure he'll pull them out for you.

They're weighted better than the Lung Quan, not quite as heavy, but aren't the tinfoil sword of modern wushu either. They'd be ok except for the price. That's no good...
 
OP
Flying Crane

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
14,495
Reaction score
4,033
Location
San Francisco
clfsean said:
If he's talking about what I think he has, the Sun/Moon swords are the new international competition baldes. Same weights, measures, construction, etc... across the board. There are some at BL's. If you ask Al I'm sure he'll pull them out for you.

They're weighted better than the Lung Quan, not quite as heavy, but aren't the tinfoil sword of modern wushu either. They'd be ok except for the price. That's no good...

Ah, yes, I think I do know what those are. I think the blade is made of some non-steel alloy, so that they are light (very) and springy, but again these are another example of something that is not a true sword. I don't know what the alloy is, but it is not appropriate for a real sword. Quality steel is still the material of choice for a sword. Even my lightest swords would chop one of those blades into pieces.

When a sword is too light, it is easy to cheat on technique. This develops bad training habits. A sword, even a lighter one, needs to have some heft to it to develop proper technique. I don't believe that everyone needs to be using a superheavy sword, but I do think that you are doing yourself a disservice if you are training with a superlight sword. This is one of my issues that I have with modern wushu, and competition. It all focuses on speed and flash, so the weapons are made to respond to that. This is the genesis of poor quality weaponry.

I do compete once a year or so, and last summer I competed in a tournament in Las Vegas. I use all heavy weaponry, and compete in the traditional division. The judges actually take notice of my weaponry, and I know they respect it. Anyway, I did my Flying Crane Broadsword set, with a heavy lungchuan sword. I screwed up one one technique, where I was supposed to bend over and stab with the sword thru my legs at someone behind me. Instead, I slammed the sword point-first into the floor. It sunk in and stuck. If that sword had been anything but a heavy combat blade, I would have destroyed it right there. Accordian blade.
 

dmax999

Blue Belt
Joined
Feb 4, 2005
Messages
222
Reaction score
5
Dragonwell is know for quality swords, never used or owned one though its just their reputation.

Waxwood is correct for staff and spears.

I have a combat heavy broad sword, and it weighs a lot compared to the lighter ones. One friend of mine was so quick compared to what I could possibly do I was amazed, until I used his sword and found out why.

Tournaments I've been to won't allow wushu weapons. The sword blade has to be able to support the weight of the weapon for it to be legal. There are psuedo-wushu weapons that are just enough heavier then wushu to pass this requirement.
 

Latest Discussions

Top