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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Chinese mace, truncheon, sai, iron whips etc. Reply to topic
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Eric S




Location: new orleans
Joined: 22 Nov 2009
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PostPosted: Wed 29 Oct, 2014 6:53 pm    Post subject: Chinese mace, truncheon, sai, iron whips etc.         Reply with quote

While discussing the origin of a sai recently I realized that there were just not enough available images of antique sai. Without representitive images that have a known origin it is hard to make a definite determination on any weapon other than guessing.

I decided to put together a Pinterest gallery with as many examples of Chinese iron bar weapons as I could find, this includes maces, sai, whips, etc. I have tried to weed out replicas as much as possible and I have tried to only include weapons that I know originally came from China or are easily identifiabe as being Chinese based on very close similarity to known examples.

Hopefully this gallery will be of use to anyone with an interest in these types of weapons. While researching this subject I came across only a handful of sai that were known to originate outside of China, these came from the Indonesian area, I have yet to find even one documented antique Okinawan sai.

One thing that is readily apparent is that the Chinese really liked the four sided profile, this creates a very sharp edge, the Indonesian examples I have seen either were round or eight sided, the Japanese jutte is also very rarely four sided.

http://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/chines...whips-etc/



Last edited by Eric S on Wed 29 Oct, 2014 10:26 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Luke Adams




Location: NYC
Joined: 10 May 2014

Posts: 57

PostPosted: Wed 29 Oct, 2014 7:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very interesting stuff. I think the Chinese whip or truncheon deserves a lot more research. I've only been able to find a few historical sources outlining its techniques (http://www.chineselongsword.com/whip.shtml).
"God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them."
- German proverb
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,454

PostPosted: Wed 29 Oct, 2014 11:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i always enjoy chinese weapons, and indian ones, because they can be so outlandish...
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Oct, 2014 4:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Chinese mace, truncheon, sai, iron whips etc.         Reply with quote

Eric S wrote:
One thing that is readily apparent is that the Chinese really liked the four sided profile, this creates a very sharp edge, the Indonesian examples I have seen either were round or eight sided, the Japanese jutte is also very rarely four sided.


The Chinese used both orientations of the four-sided profile, with a corner forming the intended striking surface (usual on 4-sided jian maces and cha (sai)), and with a flat face forming the intended striking surface (usual on the "iron ruler")

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
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PostPosted: Tue 23 Dec, 2014 5:59 pm    Post subject: Chinese mace, truncheon, sai, iron whips etc.         Reply with quote

The Chinese truncheon looks more like a sword to me but it's more likely used to break sword blades.

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Dec, 2014 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This kind of mace/truncheon (jian, 鐧) is often called a "swordbreaker". As to whether it would break swords, the combat-usable one-handed ones are usually between 1 and 2kg, and two-handed swords of 2+ kg aren't super-swordbreakers. So why would these be much better? Of course, the user won't fear damaging his/her own edge, and can happily smack it into the opponent's sword harder than they might be willing to risk if they were using a sword.
"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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John Hardy




Location: Saskatoon SK Canada
Joined: 31 May 2014
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PostPosted: Thu 25 Dec, 2014 1:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I found this very interesting. I have occasionally eyed the Cold Steel Chinese Swordbreaker over the years, without ever buying either it or the polypro 'trainer'.

I had always thought that it was probably a development from some kind of 'bar mace', with the flanges simplified. But looking at these, I see the hollow-ground 'swordbreaker' is actually possibly more sophisticated variant of the four-sided truncheon, with the edges hollow ground to give a sharper striking edge.

Incidentally, some of the 'tests' on the Cold Steel video of its version show the swordbreaker being used to strike the blades of various kinds of swords locked in a vice - and the breaker does do a rather thorough job of bending most of them into spaghetti noodles (even though none of them break). While that test is mainly intended to show how 'tough' the CS swordbreaker is and is obviously wildly inaccurate in demonstrating how it would actually be used in combat -- it does appear to me to show that a Chinese 'swordbreaker' or truncheon (and probably, for that matter, one of the bigger Japanese jutte) could be used not so much to break an opposing sword as to bend it - especially if hit while the blade was 'pinned' between the sword wielder's hand and something like the edge of a shield.

In addition, if a user deliberately struck at a sword edge (because the sword wielder was too far out of range to make an attack on their body), the truncheon could potentially chip it rather badly - and thereby create a possible weak spot that might cause blade failure later on in the battle. Meanwhile, of course, the user of the breaker or truncheon doesn't really need to worry about equivalent damage on his own weapon -- because it doesn't have much of an edge to chip and also because it looks like most of them were made either of iron or else of mild steel tempered for toughness but not much hardness.

However, where I imagine these truncheons would really shine would be as close-quarters weapons used for binds and joint locks, as well as for 'half-swording' style thrusts and with the usual mace-style strikes of opportunity thrown in without concern for edge alignment.
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 25 Dec, 2014 3:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An old manual for the two-handed version: http://www.chineselongsword.com/whip.shtml
Used much like a longsword.

There is a risk to attacking an opponent's sword: it gives the opponent a free hit at you. Just move the sword to avoid the "swordbreaker", and cut at the same time. Don't need to worry about being hit, since the swordbreaker is targeting your sword, and not you.

("Swordbreaker" is AFAIK only a Western term for the weapon.)

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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X Zhang





Joined: 07 Aug 2011

Posts: 40

PostPosted: Thu 25 Dec, 2014 7:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

well……you know, “jian3” (锏 the third tone,not “jian4” 剑 the fourth tone) is a broad category of weapons.

A thousand years ago, jian3 just was a big metal stick which can be used as a secondary weapon for equip heavy infantrys

but 500 years ago, jian3 usually can be regarded as a small sword which strengthened by bludgeoning .......so......


it is more akin to the original
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Tyler Jordan





Joined: 15 Mar 2004

Posts: 97

PostPosted: Thu 25 Dec, 2014 4:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to wonder if said 'swordbreakers' were more useful in China's bronze age, where one could likely quite trivially bend a bronze blade or at least make it nearly unuseable after a few strikes.
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X Zhang





Joined: 07 Aug 2011

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PostPosted: Thu 25 Dec, 2014 7:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tyler Jordan wrote:
I have to wonder if said 'swordbreakers' were more useful in China's bronze age, where one could likely quite trivially bend a bronze blade or at least make it nearly unuseable after a few strikes.


but it was usually made of brass or steel. And the two materials did not exist in bronze age.
jian3 probably first appeared in the later stage of the Northern Dynasties

Ps: Northern Dynasties, 386~581 AD
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X Zhang





Joined: 07 Aug 2011

Posts: 40

PostPosted: Thu 25 Dec, 2014 7:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote











Those are all basically the antiques after Ming dynasty
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