Thread: Hudiedao
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Old 23rd July 2009, 03:27 AM   #14
KuKulzA28
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Great input Jim! I would agree that their popularity is great, but I feel as if that's more to do with Wung Chun's popularity after Bruce Lee came on the scene, rather than they being popular in general. (Also, the quality of a lot of the unbalanced and stainless steel dao is questionable, as is the training of many Kung Fu schools, so I wouldn't be concerned about being jumped by a hu-die-dao wielding Wing Chun master). Dual weaponry has always been harder to manage than single, and as such would be the minority. No doubt other Chinese pirates, highwaymen, and fighters would use long-knives/shortswords but I doubt very many used the paired Hu-die-dao, as it is also a tradition that only the most trusted amongst the Southern Chinese martial arts were taught it. Then again, being skilled in fighting was a lot more prevalent then than now, and every village's leading Shifu/Sifu was likely to have quite a following, even if many of them are just local farmers looking to improve themselves and the village militia when they weren't out planting or harvesting. Still though, martial arts were generally not highly regarded, being the tool of the trade for bodyguards (protectors of the rich), thugs (harassers of the poor), and soldiers (rape & pillage & destruction).

I think the same can be said about other less "popular" weapons. The da-dao may have existed in many local variants as a sort of machete, But the Da-dao we know today as the weapon wasn't very common in official imperial armies. Similar weapons we used bu these were often the two-handed sabers of the Palace Guard or the Miao Dao of the Iron troops and northern arquebusiers.... not exactly the da-dao we know of, though certainly a DA dao (BIG blade). Others like the hook swords and wind and fire wheels would have been rarer still. On top of all this, consider that the Emperor rarely wanted his subjects armed... often very few Chinese had a weapon - the closest thing they had was their rice-knife or a walking stick. The fact that mercenary/bodyguard companies were very prosperous in the Ching dynasty reveals that crime was rampant and the countryside dangerous. Not only did the bodyguards have to be good hand-to-hand combatants, they had to be skilled in geography, language, and be able to smoothly deal with bandits when the bandit-groups were too large. They also had "secret" weapons on them aside from their spear or sword, often a small cudgel, dagger, revolver, or 1911 hey martial artists aren't stupid, and they get every edge they can get... except those who use chi-blasts and can catch bullets...

I sense I am beginning to go off-topic...

I wonder what exactly gave South China Sea pirates such a terrible reputation. Was it their relatively modernized navies of war junks? Their terrorizing of trade? Their superior knowledge of the waters? Or was it their actual fighting prowess? Was it how many guns and cannons they had bristling on their ships, or the prowess of their crews - who might be armed with anything from dao to butterfly swords to spears to arquebus...
Would these pirates be well-trained or just a motley crew of everything from an armed person, to a great fighter? Koxinga's forces were well-trained, but he was also more than just a local pirate-king...
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