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Finding the Best Chinese Sword: The Quest for the Perfect Blade

Written By: David Mickov
Published On: March 30, 2023
Edited by: Juliana Cummings

Chinese blades are some of the world’s most elaborate and well-made swords. Whether it’s the thin, double-edged Jian or the well-known, single-edged curved Dao, Chinese swords are known for their elegance, artistry, and deadly performance.

They are among the most popular swords today and are often seen in movies, fantasy books, and anime. This is because they come in a wide range of styles, from thin and light to very broad. Each sword was made for its own specific purpose, so finding the best Chinese sword might be fairly difficult. 

In this article, we’ll discuss what makes these swords so special and review some of the best swords used in Chinese warfare and combat tactics. We’ll also figure out the best Chinese swords in history and offer our opinion about the ultimate Chinese swords.

Our Opinion: Best Chinese Sword – Jian

We think the Jian is the best Chinese sword, and there’s a good reason. This elegant and sophisticated sword is the first Chinese sword ever made with the Longquan. It has been a sign of martial skill and cultural sophistication for over 2,000 years and is used only by elite sword users.

Jian Sword 1
The best Chinese Sword because of its versatility and adaptability is the Jian – Credits: Brian Laliberte

One of the best things about the Jian is its versatility and adaptability can be used in many ways. With a straight, double-edged blade that can be anywhere from a few to several feet long, it can be used for a wide range of fighting styles. It is also fairly light, which makes it easy to move quickly and precisely, and its 4 to 8-inch blade can pack quite a punch. This makes it a great weapon for offense and defense, thrusting and slashing.

It is easy to carry around on the sheath and can be quickly removed. It is an exceptional one-handed sword thanks to its center of balance being near the guard so that it can be used with a shield and still strike quickly and accurately. It can be used on horseback, but the Dao sabers are much better for it.

In addition to being useful in everyday life throughout history, the Jian has a lot of cultural meaning. It is also closely linked to the moral and ethical ideas of Confucius and other Chinese philosophers. The Jian is the most popular among Kung Fu and Wushu martial artists, scholars, and collectors because of its connection to intellectual pursuits and refinement.

The beautiful Jian is also considered the best Chinese sword because of how well it is made. Symbolic designs and writings are often carved into the hilt, the guard, and the blade. Because of this high level of craftsmanship, the Jian has become a cultural icon, and the best Chinese sword made.

Best for Slashing

Best for Slashing
The many types of Dao curved sabres that are superb for slashing or slicing attacks – Credits: Hanbon Forge

The Dao sabers were the best slashing swords ever made in the Chinese arsenal. Straight models appeared first, but manufacturers began producing curved models as the demand for cavalry increased. One feature that all Dao sabers share is a single, exceptionally sharpened edge designed for slashing and cutting.

The Dao rapidly replaced Jian swords as the main secondary weapon of Chinese soldiers since it was both effective and required nothing in the way of training or skill. The Tang Dao, Chang Dao, and Liuyeang Dao are just a few of the most effective.

Their shape and construction allow their strike to extend across their wonderfully designed blade, potentially inflicting deep puncture wounds. While all the Dao makes great slashing weapons, the Piandao is the best for slicing attacks.

Best for Cutting Power

Dadao Sword 1
The extremely powerful Dadao cutters that could use the recurved tip for piercing armor – Credits: Chinese Swords

The DaDao is the best Chinese sword for cutting because it has the strongest and most devastating cutting power. Even though this blade is fairly new in history, it was made to cut through flesh easily since there wasn’t much armor used when it was manufactured. 

It has a very wide blade that is curved in a way that gives it slicing and cutting power all the way along its length and makes it easy to cut off body parts of a person like butter. Some Dadaos are small, but most are used with both hands, which makes them even more dangerous.

Aside from the Chinese executioner sword, other swords good at cutting are the Zhanmaodao, especially if they are straight.

Best for Cavalry

A slightly curver Yanmaodao Sword
A slightly curved Yanmaodao sword – Credits: Wiki Media

Curved Dao blades are the best Chinese swords to use while on horseback. Some good examples are the Yanmaodao and the Yanlingdao, which were heavily influenced by the Turko-Mongol saber due to the many attacks in the north of China.

Because of how they are curved and made, Dao sabers are best for mounted attacks. Single-edged means that they are exceptionally sharpened only on one side. They are capable of powerful slashing attacks, but the most important thing is that they won’t get stuck on armor or shields when slashing.

Best Anti-Cavalry

Best for Anti Cavalry
The Chinese Zhanmaodao is known as the Horse Cutter – Credits: LK Chen

When the Han Dynasty came to a close, and especially during the Tang Dynasty, horseback attacks became commonplace. The necessity for formidable blades capable of slaying mounted foes arose at that time.

The Zhanmaodao, or the Horse Cutting Saber, is a superb anti-cavalry blade. Initially, these blades were straight and single-edged, but larger and more curved variants evolved as time progressed. When used with both hands, they are powerful enough to break through a horse’s legs or neck and even through light armor.

Best for Armor

Best for Armor
A Tang Dynasty soldier with heavy armor – Credits: Tao Bao

Some people think Japanese swords are best for unarmored opponents and Chinese swords are best for armored opponents. However, both types of swords aren’t good against armor because they are not made for it.

Chinese armor from the 14th century wasn’t as shielding as European armor during the time, but it was strong and could very well take a hit from a blade. However, a lot of armor was often poorly crafted, with large openings or slits that left soldiers vulnerable to thrusts from a Jian straight blade or a quick slashing strike from a Dao sword.

Even though it wasn’t part of China’s history during its golden age, we think the Dadao is the best weapon against armor, especially when used to strike with its recurved tip on the spine. It can easily dent a helmet, which could lead to skull fractures.

Best Two-Handed

The many versatile options that the Miaodao two-handed saber offers – Credits: CGTN

The best two-handed Chinese sword, which is also a relatively new type of blade, is the Miaodao. It has a large enough handle to be utilized as a powerful slashing weapon while also being able to extend it with one hand for a thrust that could pierce through light armor. Its shape and design are like the Katana because it is based on other blades.

The other type is the Changdao, another extremely large, powerful two-handed Chinese sword. The Changdao is only effective in some scenarios, but mostly based on the Chinese Katana called Wodao. The Wodao is a Chinese blade that looks like a Japanese samurai sword because it was influenced and followed a pattern by the Wokou, Japanese pirates on the Chinese coast.

Best Dual-Wielded

Dual Wielded Niuweidao
A representation of how a Niuweidao can be carried and used as a dual-wielded sword – Credits: Historical Arms & Armor

Throughout Chinese history, dual wielding has been most common among the militia and police. Notwithstanding the Butterfly Sword‘s current dominance as the most popular dual-wielding sword in the world, we must conclude that the dual-wielded Niuweidao is superior in every way.

It has a broad tip and a single curved edge, making it ideal for slashing and slicing. The guard must be divided in half to fit in one sheath. Despite its appearance, this dual-wielding weapon is an intimidating tool that can scare off many enemies.

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