Liuyedao Sword: The Curved Sword that Replaced the Straight Sword
What’s in this article?
The Liuyedao is a traditional Chinese sword, also called the Willow Leaf Saber. This sword replaced the role of the Jian and was heavily used in both the Chinese infantry and cavalry.
In this article, we will talk about the Liuyedao sword and its most recognizable characteristics. We will explain how it was used in the past and how it is best used today. Then we will look at its history, terminology, and the best Liuyedao swords for owning.
Characteristics of the Liuyedao Sword
The Liuyedao has a distinct look, and its characteristics make it a very versatile weapon. This military sidearm Dao sword looks very elegant and is most commonly used as a one-handed sword.
The blade of the Liuyedao is not very long. It is one-edged, meaning it can slash only from one side. The edge at the tip of the sword is very sharp, and because of the curve, it can be used as a deadly striking tool. The point of balance is under the guard.
This blade may have a spherical pipe or back edge, sometimes even two, making the sword very light, much more practical and easier to use. The Liuyedao’s blade is made of steel or sometimes iron. The total blade length is 27 to 29 inches / 70 to 75 cm.
One type of Liuyedao sword has a blade with prominent ridges (qi) on both sides and a cross-section that looks like a Japanese katana.
The Liuyedao sword has the same circular guard as many other Chinese Dao swords. This design is taken directly from the Japanese style of crafting to make it faster. The guard isn’t very big but can protect the user’s hands and fingers.
The tunkou can be noticed on the Liuyedao’s guard. This is the decorated collar added to the neck of the sword (right on top of the guard). It doesn’t add anything in terms of performance but is just an accessory for show.
The handle of the Liuyedao sword can be made out of polished wood, but it is usually wrapped to offer a much better grip. The handle length is about 7.8 inches / 20 cm long, and it is mostly used for one-handed slashes. However, it can also be used two-handed if held underneath the pommel.
The pommel and the top of the handle usually have fittings and decorations with some traditional Chinese symbols like dragons, tigers, clouds, etc.
Since it is a military sidearm for the cavalry, the Liuyedao is often inside its scabbard. This accounts for the many fittings, especially at the beginning of the scabbard, which can consist of any type of Chinese symbol and include possible engravings from the creator.
The material is usually made of wood which can be wrapped with ray skin. It is made very light so that the user can carry it around daily.
Length and Size
The overall length of the Liuyedao sword is 37 to 39 inches / 0.9 to 1 meter. So it isn’t as long as the other types of Chinese swords but just long enough to be used one-handed with sufficient precision and speed.
The total weight of this sword is 2 to 3 lbs / 0.9 to 1.3kg. This light sword is a little heavier than the Chinese Jian sword, which the Liuyedao eventually replaced. Its light weight enables users to do many strikes in various positions.
The Liuyedao sword has a curvature that extends most of its length. It is a saber and is shaped with the same curvature as the saber Dao sword. This curved blade is capable of deadly slashing strikes while thrusting and stabbing with the edge.
The original handle of the Liuyedao was straight. Around the 18-19th century, the sword started to have a more downward-positioned handle. This is also what the modern Liuyedao handle looks like today.
How to Use the Liuyedao Sword
The Liuyedao sword is best used when held in one hand. It is a very light sword with a slightly curved handle and a firm grip. It is mostly used as a slashing weapon, but its razor-sharp edge is also excellent as a thrusting tool.
Both foot soldiers and horse riders used this sword. It is a versatile weapon because it is not too long. Most armed forces wore the Liuyedao in a sheath on their back or waist and used it to cut and slash in a fight.
Martial Arts & LARP
Liuyedao is often used in traditional Chinese martial arts, as well as in real-world fights. Some Chinese martial arts schools teach using the Liuyedao as a traditional Chinese weapon so that students can train with it. It is one of the starting weapons in any type of Chinese martial arts school.
It is an excellent sword for cosplay and is often used in Chinese LARP matches.
Is it a Good Beginners Sword
The Liuyedao is the first sword used for training newcomers in Chinese martial arts. It is one of the best swords for beginners.
It is light and not very long, and the curvature enables you to have a much better grip when holding it. However, we recommend starting off using a wooden prop Liuyedao, before trying out the sword. This way, you can prevent possible injury.
Best Liuyedao Swords Available Online
When looking for a Liuyedao available online, pay attention to the curve, length, and weight of the sword. If they do not correspond to one of the abovementioned characteristics, you might inadvertently be looking at a different type of Chinese sword.
Best Overall – Dynasty Forged Liuyedao
This Dynasty Forged Willow Leaf Saber, or Liueyedao, has a sharp blade that consists of three high-carbon steel blades folded into one. The 1095, 1080, and 1060 high-carbon sheets of steel make a pattern on the blade that looks like the grain of wood.
The sword’s curved blade and grip make it a natural cutting and slashing weapon. The long, inclined slope from the spine to the edge allows the blade to transition from a thick spine to an uninterrupted edge with little resistance. It is also sharpened and battle-ready.
It is 36.3 inches / 1.2 meters long and weighs 2 lbs / 950 grams.
Best Budget – Short Chinese Liuyedao
This Liuyedao has a blade of high-carbon steel that has been folded during the forging process to create many layers of steel. This gives the blade a pattern that looks like flowing water.
The guard and fittings are made of cast metal and are richly decorated with the symbol of the Imperial Dragon. The handle is made of wood, and the scabbard is also made of wood and cast metal to match. It is sharpened and battle-ready.
It has an overall length of 26 inches / 0.7 meters and weighs around 1.1 pounds / 750 grams.
Best Premium – Iron Tiger Noble Liuyedao
This Liuyedao was made in Longquan, which was and is one of the most important places for making Chinese swords. The blade is made of 1045 and 1065 high-carbon steel folded into 6,600 layers.
The dragons on the scabbard are made of wood and have four claws, which is a sign of nobility. Only the Emperor had five claws. That is why it can be very pricey.
It is made of the best steel and has a more polished finish showing off the layers. It is also battle-ready. The fittings are of hand-made brass, and the scabbard and grip are stained wood.
It has an overall length of 35.5 inches / 95 cm and weighs 1.8 lbs / 870 grams.
History of the Liuyedao Sword
The Liuyedao originated during the Ming and Qing dynasties of China when curved blades were increasingly used, mainly because of the cavalry. The Liuyedao was slowly but steadily replacing the Jian, the typical double-edged Chinese sword.
During the last decades of the Chinese empire, this kind of weapon was very common for military officers. The Liuyedao looks very similar to western military swords from the same period – slightly curved and not very long so that the cavalry could use it.
Some say that general Qi Juguang created this sword. He is well-known for his battles against the Wohau (pirates on the east coast of China) and the Mongol invaders.
This sword demonstrates how the outside world in the Middle Ages influenced China. The curved blade is based on Islamic and Mongol saber designs, and the round guard is a copy of the Japanese katana.
Terminology of the Liuyedao
The Liuyedao directly translates to mean Willow Leaf Sabre. This is because the sword has a slight curve while the handle is either straight or slightly curved.
The Liuyedao sword is also sometimes called by the modern term Miaodao, which means “sprout saber” because the shape of the blade looks like a sprout. Today, this name is confusing because most curved Chinese swords are called Miaodao, which is incorrect.
The Liuyedao is the Chinese sword that set a new era for swords in China since it replaced the Jian. Its new curve and characteristic began to show more and more within China, and in time, became the most common traits for a sword.