Zulkigar This theory is supported by the fact a number of other southern Chines martial arts like Choi Lee Fut and Hung Gar etc, also use a pair of dao. We now stock a small selection of high quality Wing Chun butterfly knives. Ip Man only taught a hand full seven of students this form in his entire life. This linguistic issue is one reason for different names. Evidence, suggests the the shorter blades, that are more optimized for slashing evolved at the very end of the 19th Century or start of the 20th Century.
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Bat is the number 8, Cham is to cut or slash and Dao refers to a single edged blade like a knife or sword. This is usually the final form taught to a Wing Chun Student. Yip Man only taught a handful probably seven of students this form in his entire life.
Yip Man is said to have learned the form off of Leung Bik. History of the form Shaolin monk theory There are a number of theories about the origin of the form. The most common theory, but in my opinion least likely theory, is that the form originated with the Shaolin monks. The fable goes, that the monks would keep the knives in their boots and use them to defend themselves.
They were allegedly used so monks could incapacitate not kill their attackers and therefore still uphold their moral integrity. Whilst this is plausible, there are two key problems. One, there is no evidence that any of the Shaolin sets use Wing Chun style Dao in the same way as Wing Chun students do during the Bat Cham Dao form, namely rotating the blade so the spine of the blade runs parallel to the forearm.
Secondly, a pair of large knives would not be a good choice for non lethal combat. A walking stick or plain metal baton would be cheaper and likely safer, non-lethal, self defense option. Developed from Crane and other Kung Fu styles An alternative theory is that the form was developed as an adaptation of other styles of Kung Fu that existed in southern China at the time, possibly Fujan White Crane.
Fujan White Crane does use two Dao and rotates the blades during the form. Therefore, to me, it seems likely that the Wing Chun form was inspired by other Chinese martial arts that existed at the time, but it had the Wing Chun principles of economy of motion, non-commitment and directness applied.
This theory is supported by the fact a number of other southern Chines martial arts like Choi Lee Fut and Hung Gar etc, also use a pair of dao. Although again, they use them differently.
Everyday knives used for Wing Chun Another possible theory is that the form is a way of using Wing Chun to fight with domestic knives, for instance Chinese cooking cleavers which are sometimes used in pairs when cooking. Some people argue, the form can be seen as an extension of the hand techniques, just using a weapon. Whilst this is again a possibility, I feel this is an unlikely theory due to the nature of the form. In the final section of the Bat Cham Dao, the student is required to reverse the grip so the spine of the blade is parallel to the forearm.
This is something that can only be done swiftly mid flow, by using the hooks on the back of the Dao, something which would not be present on a domestic knife of any sort. This last point leads nicely onto the evolution of the weapons themselves. As you have hopefully noticed, I have simply been referring to the weapon as Dao meaning single edged blade in Cantonese , however it goes by a multitude of other names.
I shall explore this terminology before looking at the history of the weapon itself. The knives used in Wing Chun are nothing like the Filipino knives with the blade concealed in the handle. However the term butterfly knives is very common within the Wing Chun community. It was likely coined as a reference to the way people tend to mount the knives when putting them on display. People also refer to Wing Chun Dao as butterfly swords, which is more helpful, but still says very little about the sword.
The Chinese term for this is Wu Dip Dao. The word Dao or sometimes just spelled Do, can describe a tool which in English we have separate names for. For instance, we have the word knife, machete and sword. In Cantonese these can all be called Dao. However you would say Jian if the sword has an edge both sides but Dao if it only has one cutting edge.
In English we can call these two separate thing by one name, sword. This linguistic issue is one reason for different names. Some people call Wing Chun Dao, broadswords. Historically they seem to have been referred to as double swords. Like no 2 A set of mid. Like no 3 A pair of Yip Man style swords. In order to look at when this type of weapon seems to have arrived in history, we must first define what makes this weapon unique and therefore should be counted as separate to its predecessor.
In this instance there are two very unique features to Wing Chun style Dao. Firstly, the hook on the back of the blade that allows the student to reverse the grip quickly. Given that we consider these two features to be what separates Wing Chun style Dao from regular knives and swords, we should next look at early references to these weapons and how they latter evolved.
However there are numerous slashes in the form that cut through 8 angles hence the name of the form. Therefore as the from encourages slashing, it seems reasonable that the early Dao were not created for Wing Chun rather, Wing Chun adapted the weapons that already existed. This idea supports the theory that the form is likely the evolution of an existing style in southern China at the time.
Evidence, suggests the the shorter blades, that are more optimized for slashing evolved at the very end of the 19th Century or start of the 20th Century. This suggested that the Bat Cham Dao forms appearance in Wing Chun is reasonably recent, perhaps only years ago.
The forms structure The form has 8 sections. Many people mistakenly believe this is where the forms name comes from. However the eight actually refers to the number of different angles the blade cuts through whilst performing the techniques in the form. They look very similar however the difference in the handle of the weapon will dramatically reduce the functionality of a Bulls Ear sword compared to a pair Butterfly Knives.
I am never going to use it in the practical sense. Perhaps most importantly it reinforces the underlying Wing Chun principles seen in the other hand forms, for instance economy of motion, deflection etc.
It will also teach the practitioner a new type of stepping that can be used in certain situations. Furthermore as an added bonus learning the Bart Cham Dao will drastically improve wrist strength if trained properly and regularly.
Furthermore because the knives used in the form are not as big as traditional Chinese swords the techniques translate well into improvised weapons you may find in a modern lifestyle. This is because, amongst other things, the stepping in the Bat Cham Dao is not effective without the stepping from the second and third hand forms Chum Kiu and Biu Gee.