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Wushu 5

Image credit: Ryan Ng/SportSG

Weapons are a major aspect of competitive wushu, with specific event categories for the various types.


The dao, or broadsword, has a single-edged metal blade with a curve along its body, and is typically made from either steel or iron. The kind that is commonly used in wushu competitions is known as a liu ye dao, or willow-leaf broadsword, named for its shape. The dao was historically used by Chinese soldiers during wars.


Like the dao, the nandao, or Southern-style broadsword, has a single-sided blade with a curve along its body. It is used along with nanquan (Southern-style martial arts) techniques, and is somewhat similar to the butterfly swords that are wielded in the popular wing chun school of martial arts. However, the nandao has a longer blade, and is adapted for single-hand usage. Wing chun’s butterfly swords are usually used in pairs instead.


The jian is a double-edged straight sword. It has a hilt at the grip area that helps to shield the user’s hand from an opponent’s blade. Formerly a bronze weapon, the jian is now made of steel. In ancient China, it was also sometimes carved from jade, and some members of the upper classes wore it as an accessory.


Essentially a long wooden stick, the gun, or cudgel, is usually thicker at the base, getting thinner as it goes higher. It is made of strong woods such as wax wood and rattan, and some may even contain rubber or metal parts. However, it remains lightweight and relatively easy to wield compared to heavier weapons.


The nangun, or Southern-style cudgel, is similar to the gun, but wielded using nanquan techniques. It is usually thicker than the gun.


The qiang is a type of spear - a long weapon with a sharp tip and leaf-shaped blade. Many beginners use the qiang as their first weapon. The modern qiang may sometimes feature red tassels near its end. These tassels, traditionally made from horsehair, used to show the high status of troops in ancient China. Moreover, it also aids the user in distracting the opponent from the blade tip, as the tassels fly about in the air. When used in war, the tassels were designed to stop the flow of blood - after the qiang has pierced an opponent - down the blade and into the wooden shaft, damaging it.

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