If you are looking for a Chinese Dao sword for martial arts that also looks good, and can cut like the originals - there really aren't all that many good options available.
Hanwei make a couple of really good value for money Chinese Dao Swords, but they are simplified to be able to bring them to market at the around the $200 price point. And there are some really nice high end Chinese Dao Swords that fulfill every requirement and then some - but the problem is most are over $1000..
So what is the Chinese enthusiast to do?
Dynasty Forge seems to have the answer - with a couple of Chinese Dao swords that combine the best elements of form and function - but do they really do what they claim on the box?
Let's have a closer look and find out..
Review by SBG member foxmartial arts
You know that feeling of love at first sight, where you see a sword, and know right away that you absolutely, positively, must, and will have that blade in your hand? You save up for the sword, and look forward to the time it will be yours. Well, that's not how picking this sword up went for me, but I am quite glad I did eventually take this one home.
After spending the better part of a week deciding which Jian I was going
to purchase to celebrate my return from an excursion with the military,
I stumbled across the Liuyedao here at Kult of Athena. I had previously
passed over the black handled version of this sword, but the new blue
wrapping caught my eye, and by the time I was on a plane home, this
sword was waiting for me in my garage.
The liuyedao, or "willow leaf saber" sword was used during the Ming and Qing dynasty, both as a cavalry and infantry saber. To quote Kult of Athena on the matter, "One of the two popular military swords of the Ming and much of the Qing Dynasties, the Liuyedao had a more gently curved blade and handle then its brother Yanmaodao. An excellent chop-and-slice sword, the Liuyedao has its origins from Chinese contact with the Turko-Mongol sabers their border foes wielded."
Getting my hands on the sword, the first thing that I noticed was how
comfortable the handle was, and how balanced the sword felt. Though you
can get two hands on it if you desire, this handy little saber is a one
handed sword through and through. The brass furniture is smooth and
attractive, the sheath has a nice finish and grain, and the folded steel
blade has a visible pattern without standing out too much. The polish
is excellent, and everything feels tight.
Blade Length: 27" from the collar to the point
Handle Length: 5" of smooth blue cord
Overall Length: 36" from tang screw to point
Point of Balance: Roughly 5" out from the guard
Weight: 1lb and 14 oz makes for a nice, light sword
The blade is folded 1060, 1080, and 1095 carbon steel, according to Dynasty Forge. The blade is about 26" long from the collar, and has some mild taper on it. The sword flexes more like a katana than an oxtail broadsword, which is to say it really doesn't flex much at all.
blade ends in a wide tip, with almost a clip point. The sword has a wide
fuller running until about the last 8 inches of the blade. Despite
having a folded pattern, the blade is still polished to the point you
can easily see reflections, though not quite HD quality like my yanmodao
sword. I will admit, though I like the blade collar, it catches a lot
of dirt and other debris, and can be a pain to clean.
This sword has a phenomenal edge. I had to play with the light to get a picture of the tiny secondary bevel. The sword cuts excellently. and holds the edge well. After going through milk jugs, aluminum cans, trees, brush, and soda bottles, the edge is still paper shaving sharp. This video of the paper test is after the test cutting.
The handle is a simple rayskin slabs over wood, wrapped in blue cord.
The handle is quite comfortable, and the shape allows for excellent edge
alignment. However, the cord is steadily sliding down the more I use
the sword, and the spacer ring between the guard and handle is lose, and
has a noticeable wiggle.
The guard does exactly what it is supposed to do; protects your hand,
and look nice while doing it. The brass is smooth polished, which is a
nice change from some of the sharper edged guards that have bit my
fingers. The guard has a nice pattern carved into it, and overall is
excellent, aesthetically and functionally. The hand is protected, but no
movement is impeded.
The pommel of the sword is more carved brass, with a thin pommel nut. I highly suggest using padding if you attempt to unscrew the nut, as it marks easily. The pommel is nice and solid, versus the hollow and easily dented versions I've seen on some other Qing style sabers.
The wooden scabbard is nice and sturdy, while still being light. The reddish color of the wood goes excellently with the blue wrapping, brass, and red belt strap. The sheath has brass ornamentation at both the mouth and the foot, and holds the sword tightly.
My sheath has some white residue on one side of the foot ornament, most likely an epoxy of some sort.
The sword handles great. Well balanced, with a guard that protects the
hand while allowing a full range of motion, this sword has cut through
anything I've put in front of it. Going through forms feels great,
thanks to a comfy handle. My one complaint is in regards to said comfy
handle, where the cord is not quite as tight as it could be.
I tested the blade out against a couple of different targets. Milk jugs,
aluminum cans, trees, nothing stops this blade. See the videos below
for the blade in action.
Currently, Kult of Athena is selling these for a hair under $470, and I've seen them run out of stock quite a few times. I assure you, they run out of them for a good reason. These are excellent swords, aesthetic and performance wise. The wrap could be tighter, but that is fixable. If you are interested in a Liuyedao, this model will not disappoint you.
I hope this review of this Chinese Dao Sword has been helpful. To return to Chinese Swords from Best Mid Priced Chinese Dao Sword, click here