Mythical stories of a woman named Yim Ving Tsun exist in virtually every Wing Chun family. Books and even movies have popularized the myth that the art originated with her defeat of a local fighter in Fatshan, China.
In Wing Chun, learning the Butterfly Swords is considered to be a highly advanced stage of learning that represents completing the system. Beyond empty hand training in other words. In many cases, only a few students are ever taught the sword level of Wing Chun because it requires advanced comprehension of the nature of the art itself and how the sword is woven into every aspect of the system. Consequently, knowledge of the sword is considered very special, it's positions, angles and structural alignments are key in actual usage.
~~ WING CHUN KUNG FU ~~
A "RESOURCE" for LEARNING ALTERNATIVE BIG KNIFE SKILLS(Bowie Men are you paying attention?)
As much as each style and method claims to be "different" from others of similar ilk there shall also always be undeniable shared similarities. There are only so many moves that a human being can encompass. Once understood, these actions can be found in nearly all methods of blade applications in most (common) violent man to man encounters. Honestly, what style, method or system doesn't do an inward slash or a backhand strike (angles 1 and 2) as part of their general curriculum? Yes, all blade arts incorporate these actions! There you go, it's what we call a "shared similarity"!
So even though we are unique in some ways, in others we are not. Yet, the search for new methods or techniques continues feverishly. It has been thus for countless ages and for many generations of men. As interest in the asian methods of bladework waned in the early to mid nineteen ninties we saw the western arts of the blade begin to flourish again. As the teachers, scholars and warriors re-discovered the european heritage of blade fighting methods they found these methods to be rich resouces of knowledge. Devoid of cross-cultural confusion and chock full of advanced abilities. Just as in this example of "discovering" old things of value, I can assure you that other revelations are yet forthcoming. New revelations from other resources that are yet undiscovered await us.
One of the most common problems for those seeking more knowledge about big blades is their inability to go beyond their self imposed limitations. As true seekers we must learn to accept things and experiment with them for awhile before judging them to be "good or bad" -- only then do we have a chance to fully grasp the entire spectrum of the blade work that is really out there. As a teacher and coach it is my job to provide you seekers with help, resources and guidance to the best of my ability. Sometimes the knowledge I provide in articles like this may make you think about improving your current skill level and give you the bump you need to achieve the next plateau.
As some of you already know, I speak with a great number of people over the course of even just a few months, my life and times have been busy. Many of the big knife enthusiasts have shared their desire to learn all there is know about the big steel. By "big steel" I refer to the Bowie Knife, the Arkansas Toothpick, the short Machete, the Panga, the Kukri and all of the rest of the bigger fighting knives which men of action prefer. Whether it's an old manual of arms from the 1700's or a modern DVD from a contemporary master it seems that men are always seeking that next outlet of knowledge. It's a true and worthy pursuit! Why? Because, that outlet could provide the next critical link in blade fighting skill that might give them an insight or an edge over the opponent. And for many big knife guys the pathways to knowledge are few and far between. Big knife people have often lamented about the lack of material available for them to draw from.
Well after so many years of seeking unusual big blade methods myself what I could I suggest to others to help them
follow their hearts desire to learn this material?
I could sum it up for you dear readers in 3 strange little words:
BAAT-CHAM-DO (Bart Jaam Dao) The deadly eight cut short swords (knives) of Red Boat Wing Chun. Eight is for the eight universal planes of motion. (But, remember that other kung fu styles also work with the Baat Cham Do - Choy li Fut,Hung Gar and Bai Mei) Herein lies a known method of big blade work that has existed for centuries yet hasn't really been tapped by mainstream big blade enthusiasts as a viable resource to further develop their own big blade skill and understanding. It largely remains in the realm of kung fu players - only they seem to speak of it and practice with it. Todays knife men shun the Wing Chun methods of bladework for some reason of which I cannot fathom.
This article is about shedding some further light on the
Dynamic Bart Jaam Dao fighting Blades.
Cold Steel Baat Jam Dao
BAAT JAAM DAO Translated, Bat Jum Dao literally means "Eight Cutting Swords." However, in the Chinese language it means more than that. Bat (sometimes spelled Bot, Baat, Bart or Bard) clearly means Eight (8). Jum (sometimes spelled Jaam, Jarm, Cham, Charm, Chaam, or Chum) refers to any knife or sword wielding action such as cutting, slashing, chopping, thrusting, stabbing, and etc. Dao, (sometimes spelled Do, Dow, Tao or Dou) in this case refers to swordplay, swordset, or sword form. Therefore, translated: Bat Jum Dao as Eight Slashing/Piercing Swords.
Originally, the butterfly sword was very different from the deadly, modern version of the Wing Chun sword we see today. The butterfly sword was originally designed to meet the defense needs of Shaolin monks. In alignment with Buddhist philosophy, the monks designed the weapon for parrying, disarming, and cutting -- not for killing. Many knife men believe the blade catcher idea is solely european in origin. No, it is not unique to europe, many cultures over the years have recognized the usefulness of blade trapping and have made weapons which reflect the concept.
The handle of the sword has a D-guard on the bottom and a bladecatcher on top in the shape of a hook with an open end facing the tip of the sword. (Think of a sai w/ only one tine, like a Jitte) The Shaolin used this guard to trap an opponent’s weapon and swiftly neutralize them. Again, this was consistent with Buddhist beliefs -- to disarm or disable an enemy rather than kill him. Compared to other swords in the kung fu pantheon of edged weaponry the Shaolin Butterfly Sword was considered a small weapon that must face larger weapons. This more compact size (like a Bowie knife in its time) was intentional as the priests wished to conceal the short, stubby "tactical sword" beneath their robes while moving about their community.
They could move about in the public eye without creating an improper image in respect to their sacred teachings. Much later in order to make the blade more suitable to warfare, the revolutionary secret society members sought to make it a more lethal weapon and they succeeded. The twin choppers are a lethal duo of defense in well trained hands!
Bat Jum Dao really came into being in the era of the Red Boat Traveling Opera troupes or the Righteous Red Flower insurgents, (Its the Red Boat Style which I myself trained in (David Harris, Fook Yeung) where the swords merged into the Wing Chun system for real battles against the enemy soldiers. Because of Wing Chun's aggressive forward (versus lateral and retreating) movements, the blades were designed more like daggers (the handles were aligned to the blade tips) to facilitate stabbing actions. Like many aspects of the Red Boat Wing Chun method the Baat Jam Do are used in a slightly more "free" fashion than in the more closed door type of traditional Wing Chun systems. This reflects the Red Boat diversity of skills for which it has become known for. When I first wrote about Red Boat style in the old FULL CONTACT magazine back in the early nineteen ninties few people had even heard of it. Many Wing Chun players cried "foul" at the time and said there was no such art - that was long ago. Now, there are many references to Red Boat Wing Chun that can be easily found throughout the martial arts media.
It is a confusing with so many Bat Jum Daos on the market today to choose a good one. They are really diverse in their looks and costs. Many are clunky, looking like a meat cleaver or a wood chopping tool of some kind. Certainly not fit tools for a sophisticated knife fighter to use or train with. The Bat Jum Dao is a symbol of real Kung Fu achievement. It is the "great knife of life" for the serious Wing Chun fighter. It means "something", just like a Bowie Knife does for others. These big knives are symbols of pride and intrepid individuality. Many Wing Chun schools use the Bat Jum Dao as their logo in some form or another, but few Sifu are truly skilled with it as a combat weapon.
An Old Bart Jam Do
At some point in your training you must seek out the best pair of Bat Jum Daos that your money can buy, yes? Not toys, but real weapons that are fit for combat! Yeah you guessed it, that'd be Lynn Thompson's COLD STEEL bad ass Bart Jam do's - awesome weapons that are priced warrior-right!Here are a few specs for you to mull over on the Cold Steel BJD swords. From the Cold Steel website: "Prior to World War II, the Butterfly Sword was virtually unknown outside of southern China. This changed at the close of the 1940’s, when the Communists took control of mainland China, forcing many Kung Fu masters to flee the oppressive regime and establish new schools elsewhere. Currently, due to the spread of Kung Fu, these once obscure swords have become quite popular. Our battle worthy blades are 15" long and 2 5/8" wide. The handsome slip-proof grip features carefully selected hardwood covered with attractively braided cord. The “D” shaped guard has a long forward quillon,
so it can both deflect and trap various opposing weapons." \
Overall: 20 1/4", Blade: 15", Thick: 1/5",
Weight: 37.1 oz., Steel: 1055 Carbon.
COMING:Watch for Part Two of the Bart Jam Do Special article coming soon.
*In Part two you will learn the secrets of blending the
Bowie & the Bart into a formidable method of defense.
*You shall be given ideas and concepts to
advance your Bowie or Bart skills to the next level.
---- I'll see you all again soon in Part Two (2)
of our Maajak World Bart Jam Do Special !
Some Links to Look Over
If you'd like to possess a Cold Steel Bart Jam Do (Butterfly Swords) set of your own just email me and I'll get some ordered up for you pronto! Your cost on these would be a money saving $225.00 !
Items subject to stock on hand / Back orders possible / Save on multiple orders