STING LIKE A BUTTERFLY: Best Wing Chun Swords/Knives 2020

Demonstrating the baat jaam do form, the last formal set in the Wing Chun system. The butterfly swords tie in everything you have learned in Wing Chun; after that, it’s up to you.

The final piece of the Wing Chun system that the student learns are the baat jaam do or Wing Chun butterfly swords.  The name itself, baat jaam do, when translated means “eight directional cuts of the knife” or “8 slashing blades.” In the Wing Chun system, the learning of butterfly swords/knives rounds out and completes formal instruction in the Wing Chun curriculum. 

Given their status as the end of formal Wing Chun training, choosing the right pair of butterfly knives or swords is a decision that, in effect, reflects how far you have come since you began training. Much thought and consideration should be given into choosing which butterfly swords best suit your training needs as well as the direction you would like to take your future in Wing Chun.


How To Choose the Best Wing Chun Swords/Knives For Your Training Needs

When choosing the best Wing Chun butterfly swords for your training and Wing Chun application needs, the following 3 questions must be asked and honestly answered:

  • PURPOSE What are you using these for? Are these butterfly swords to be used for training and application (solo, partner, blade vs. pole and blade vs, blade) or for demonstration purposes only?
  • DURABILITY What material are these swords made from? Butterfly swords are offered in several different materials, from aluminum and PVC plastic to both standard and heavy-grade combat steel.  As a rule, it is not ideal to practice any form of heavy contact or real-time weapon vs. weapon with the combat steel blades; there are several aluminum and PVC options offered that are designed for just that purpose.
  • PRICE/COSTHow much are you willing to invest in a high-end pair of butterfly swords or knives?  As a general rule, having one pair of wooden or PVC training swords and one pair of traditional swords (preferably the heavier the better) are the ideal mix for your gear bag.  As a rule stay away from any form of wushu weaponry; the extra-light, flimsy blades of any modern wushu tend to be little more than toys who make the familiar metal bending noise when used. This is fine for other arts with more emphasis on flash or demonstration / acrobatic purposes (and to be totally fair, wushu athletes never claim them to be “real” weapons) , but for us as practitioners who have adopted Wing Chun as our system of choice and who are first and foremost concerned with gaining combat proficiency & self-defense skill development, this ain’t our bag.  Such “play weaponry” has no place in my training arsenal nor should it in yours. Wing Chun forms are not designed for flash, they’re designed for reinforcement of concept and theory of putting someone out of commission who tries to hurt you.

Why The Butterfly Swords Are So Important To TRUE Wing Chun Training

The butterfly swords in Wing Chun, while also an extension of the hand (the same as the luk dim boon gwun or “six and a half point pole”) are the short-range weapons counterpart of the system.  As stated in my prior post regarding the staff, the Wing Chun weapons forms are not only extension of the hand in Wing Chun; they are used a reinforcement of the basic concepts that the weapons forms and techniques themselves spring from.

What makes the butterfly swords unique is the fact that there are two of them-one for each hand-so of the two weapons systems in Wing Chun the butterfly knives have the most direct empty hand technical correlation.

The focal point of the any Wing Chun technique is the elbow.  When using the Wing Chun swords or knives, the wrist becomes the elbow much the same way the pole extends from the body 9 to 10 feet in order to illustrate the effect of minor shifts in body structure while preserving unity as well as cutting acute angles.  With the blades being a short-range weapon, only adding an extra 1/2 of an arm’s length to your body  makes the distance between you and your opponent much shorter.  This is why the swords are taught after the pole and all empty-hand techniques-because now the stakes are raised!

The fact that the swords were historically butcher blades-quite literally cleavers used by meat cutters to dispatch and separate the meat from the bone of each day’s fresh kill for sale in the marketplaces of southern China-also reflect the unique characteristics that are trained when working the butterfly swords that are not present in the long pole set-that is the idea!  The butterfly swords are designed not only to reinforce short-range technique but also the mental fortitude and strength of continuing the attack in a surgical yet precise and barbaric way. 

This balance of aggression and precision is illustrated perfectly in the following clip of the late Grandmaster Wong Shun Leung.  Note the body unity and certainty of his attacks; nothing is half-heartedly committed-he moves with confidence and fluidity.  It’s obvious that this form is not of the “flashy” variety.  It is a perfect marriage of applied form and function with zero filler or fluff.

In fact, Wing Chun Grandmaster Gary Lam (one of Wong Shun Leung’s top students and a former full-contact tournament champion) has stated that he that he has to limit his butterfly sword practice with partners since tends to make him become a bit too over-aggressive.

Butchers & Bayonets

For being of such a small segment of martial arts weaponry, the Wing Chun butterfly swords seem to have a near-endless variety.  This can be both confusing and frustrating!  Historially, the blades were custom made for the individual; for example, the length of the blade of a Wing Chun butterfly sword was traditionally equal to the length of the user’s forearm.  Today this is no longer practical, however it behooves you to know why there are so many varieties.

Fortunately, two wing Chun stylists, Jeffrey D. Modell, Esq. and Aaron Cantrell, have written a article to serve as an invaluable guide for navigating this confusion.  This is by far the best resource I have ever seen explaining the subtle differences in every piece of a Wing Chun butterfly sword and why they are designed as they are, and you can (and should) read it HERE.

The 2 Main Styles of Wing Chun Swords/Knives

Bells & whistles notwithstanding, there are two main styles of Wing Chun butterfly swords out there, which I will categorize as either “Choppers” or “Stabbers.”  (There is a third category, the Hybrid category, that is a blend of the two but since the Hybrid springs from these two, I will leave it out in this discussion). A solid analogy would be to think of the Chopper-style blades as meat cleavers used by your butcher and Stabbers as a bayonet at the end of one of those old timey Civil War-era rifles (not the modern knife-attached to the rifle style of today’s military) whose main aim was to shish-ka-bob some poor bastard.

A pair of my favorite swords, their Chopper design and high weight (approx. 3.5 lbs each) and combat steel construction really drive the point home that they are actual combat tools-as well as being murder on the wrists and arms for long pole training as well as chain punching.
  • Chopper-style blades have a beveled tip that rounds at the top and gradually tapers down from the top to a more narrow base, the design being ideal for chopping and hacking.  The tip of the Chopper, while sharp and pointed making it more than adewquate for stabbing motions, is less angled and much more designed for slicing & hacking like a machete, with the bulk of the blade’s girth in the upper half-perfect for driving the blade deep through flesh and muscle down to the bone.
  • Stabber-style blades, on the other hand, have a more straight blade with a pronounced point at the tip, perfect for-you guessed it-stabbing.  The tip of these blades are much more angled and the width of the blade stays much more consistent and almost dagger-like.  The tip of the Stabber blades is far more pitched, allowing for deep penetration.

Many Paths Up the Mountain

There is no right or wrong preference and in fact different lineages tend to use or create their own style of butterfly swords, however, given that Wing Chun swords were historically referred to as “Gai Dao” or “punishment blades,” and given the fact that it has been said that Wing Chun sword training promotes a “butcher’s mentality,” I have always used blades of the Chopper-style.

Another one of my well-worn, trusted pairs of Chopper-style butterfly swords from Hong Kong, gifted to me by one of my instructors and close friends. They have served me well for years and will continue to do so til they put me in the ground.

I feel personally that the moves of the Wing Chun baat jaam do form are most accurately expressed and the mental shift this training is designed to produce come about through blades of this style, hence all the swords I will review will be of the Chopper- type design and structure.

However…

In the interest of wanting to be both complete in my presentation of available blades as well as fair and thorough I have included below a link to the most comprehensive collection of Wing Chun butterfly swords of all types, styles and variations.  If you are a knife aficionado or if variety is your thing, click below and go to town.

As an aside, all of my swords measure approx. 13″ long; consequently, all of the swords listed in this review are 13″ in length as well whenever applicable, but each of the swords listed are available in various lengths. If you prefer a longer or a shorter blade length or a different style handle or design, read this entire review and then click the blue link button below for a complete listing of all options.


The Best Wing Chun Butterfly Swords/Knives of 2020

Wing Chun butterfly swords can best be categorized into 2  broad categories: training and performance or combat.  Training blades, made of heavy duty PVC, rubber or aluminum, are designed for contact-based drills such as weapons sparring (pole vs. sword and sword vs. sword).  They do not have the level of detail their real-world counterparts do re: handles, design and the like-they are designed to be abused.  For ease of reading, I will present each category separately.  It is up to you to decide which one best suits your needs.

Training Swords

DRAGON CHOPPER – PLASTIC

The Dragon model features a wide-blade non-bellied chopper with an angled ergonomic handle and dragon on the blade.  Made of polypropylene, these are designed for abuse and longevity.

These are great beater swords.  This tough plastic will hold up for sword vs sword training as well as sword vs poles. You can hit pretty hard with them without messing up the sword. They even hold up well against blunt metal swords.

If you need some beaters for weapon vs weapon training, these training blades are one of your best bets. They are cheap and functional. You can even flip them into reverse grip pretty well.

These swords weigh approx. 1.3lbs per pair, and have a blade length of approx. 13.4″ with a sword length of 19.7 inches-I love these since they very closely resemble my swords which were made in Hong Kong.


FLAGSHIP CHOPPER -PLASTIC

These swords are modeled after the combat steel Flagship Line Chopper 11 inch blades. They make a great training companion to  weapon-grade swords.

These plastic butterfly swords are perfect for practicing your sword form. They are cut out of a single, solid piece of high density plastic, which makes them highly durable and gives them a more realistic weight than many plastic swords. They are sturdy enough to be used for sword against sword or sword against pole training.

I love the 1 piece, no-frills design of these swords.  Their blade length is 11 inches and the sword length itself is 16.5 inches, and the swords weigh between 0.5 and 0.75lbs each, for a combined weight of  between 1 and 1.5 lbs total.  What I love about these swords is the width of the blades-approx. 1/2 inch.  This allows for much more stability and durability in hardcore training and abuse.

If you are looking for a no-frills, workhorse of a pair of swords designed to bang against other swords or long poles, check these out.  1-piece construction and heavy duty durability at a reasonable price.


FLAGSHIP CHOPPER – ALUMINUM

These are the updated version of the tough and light Aluminum training swords. They are great for every aspect of your technique training and drilling-solo forms, technique work, pole vs, sword, sword vs. sword-the works.

These swords were made for training, not for looks.  The polish job is rough and there is generally some pin-head sized pitting on the blades. To polish these out is very labor intensive and would raise the price of the swords, so the manufacturer left them as-is, which I couldn’t care less as long as they get the job done for my training which these do very well.

Instead of paying substantially more for a pair of training swords because twice the time and energy was spent on buffing the blades out or some dumb shit like that, you have something highly functional for your training at the best possible price.

A 13-inch Chopper blade (my admitted favorite style of blade), these are crafted from high-quality aluminum in the full-tang or 1-piece design, which creates unparalleled stability to any knife or sword.  The round knuckle bow &  bellied ergonomic design of the handle helps you hang on to the handle itself easier, and angle of the handle itself is aligned to tip and spine for more powerful chopping and stabbing.

The quillon (crossguard that helps to keep your hand or fingers from moving off of the grip and onto the blade) is designed for both flipping and trapping.  This is a sword can easily and comfortably be flipped and held in a reverse grip that also traps well.
At just over.88 lbs each, for a combined weight of less than 2 lbs, these are also light and can be wielded easily.

Note that since these swords are hand-made, no two swords are perfectly identical. Small variations in the measurements are typical and should be expected.  Also, they come with a free carrying case (that’s a nice little bonus!)


MASTER STABBER – PLASTIC

The Master Stabber model features a thin double-edged stabber with a straight handle. The bottom half of the spine is blunt to allow you to flip into reverse grip without cutting yourself (obviously this sword is not actually sharp, regardless). Made of polypropylene plastic, these will hold up for a long, long time.

These are great beater swords – this tough plastic will hold up for sword vs sword training as well as sword vs poles. You can hit pretty hard with them without messing up the sword. They even hold up well against blunt metal swords.

If you need some beaters for weapon vs weapon training,  these are one of your best bets. They are cheap and functional. You can even flip them into reverse grip pretty well. With an overall length of 18 in and a blade length of 13 in, they fall right in the middle of the size category, so you can seamlessly transfer skills with these blades into a variety of other swords.  At only 1.1 lbs per pair, they are as light as they are durable.


FLAGSHIP STABBER-PLASTIC

These swords are modeled after the  Flagship Line Stabber 11 inch blades. They make a great training companion to the weapon-grade Flagship Stabber swords, which we will discuss further down this list.

These plastic butterfly swords are perfect for practicing your sword form. They are cut out of a single, solid piece of high density plastic, which makes them highly durable and gives them a more realistic weight than many plastic swords. They are sturdy enough to be used for sword against sword or sword against pole training.

At an overall length of 16.5 inches and a blade length of 11 inches, these are a bit shorter than the previous pair listed, which will cultivate a sense of comfort in attacking the opponent’s attack and moving in.  With a weight of approx. 1.5 lbs per pair, the extra weight carries a more true feel in the hands.

What I love the most ab out these is the fact that each blade is approx.  1/2″ thick.  This makes these blades ideal for more rigorous training, whether it be sword vs. sword or sword vs, pole, in addition to standard forms training.


FLAGSHIP STABBER – ALUMINUM

These are the updated Stabber version of the tough and light Aluminum training swords. They are great for every aspect of your technique training and drilling-solo forms, technique work, pole vs, sword, sword vs. sword-the works.

These swords were made for training, not for looks.  The polish job is rough and there is generally some pin-head sized pitting on the blades. To polish these out is very labor intensive and would raise the price of the swords, so the manufacturer left them as-is, which I couldn’t care less as long as they get the job done for my training which these do very well.

Instead of paying substantially more for a pair of training swords because twice the time and energy was spent on buffing the blades out or some dumb shit like that, you have something highly functional for your training at the best possible price.

These swords carry a 13-inch Stabber-style blade, and are crafted from high-quality aluminum in the full-tang or 1-piece design, which creates unparalleled stability to any knife or sword.  The round knuckle bow &  bellied ergonomic design of the handle helps you hang on to the handle itself easier, and angle of the handle itself is aligned to tip and spine for more powerful chopping and stabbing.

The quillon (the crossguard that helps to keep your hand or fingers from moving off of the grip and onto the blade) is designed for both flipping and trapping.  This is a sword can easily and comfortably be flipped and held in a reverse grip that also traps well.
At just over.88 lbs each, for a combined weight of less than 2 lbs, these are also light and can be wielded easily.

Note that since these swords are hand-made, no two swords are perfectly identical. Small variations in the measurements are typical and should be expected.  Also, they come with a free carrying case (that’s a nice little bonus!)


Fighting Swords

FLAGSHIP CHOPPER-COMBAT STEEL

The Flagship Line Wing Chun Butterfly Swords feature better handle materials, a glossy D2 blade, a few new blade lengths, and a few minor tweaks.

These are weapon-grade true-full-tang swords. The blade is made from Austrian D2 tool steel, and the D-Guard from hot-drop forged AISI 304 stainless steel – one of the toughest steels possible to make D-guard from. The D2 blades have a glossy finish – something you only find on $1500+ swords since the hardened D2 steel is very hard to polish to a glossy state.

Each sword in the FLAGSHIP line has similar specifications The following specs are unique to the Flagship Chopper 12:
  • Blade Style: Chopper Blade
  • Blade Length: Approx 12 inches (30.5 cm)
  • Blade Steel: High-Quality Austrian Bohler D2 Tool Steel
  • Blade Grind: Wide Hollow Grind
  • Blade Sharpness: Blunt with 1mm edge.
  • Handle Material: Black Canvas Phenolic (Micarta type material)

If you want the highest quality and craftsmanship in a weapon-grade sword, these are for you.  The materials are top notch and the craftsmanship impeccable.


PREMIUM CHOPPER 13 – COMBAT STEEL (SHARP)

These swords are part of the 2016 Premium Line series. They are upgraded versions of the Premium Line swords from 2012. All of these swords are made in extremely limited quantities and are some of the best sword on the market – full custom quality at only a fraction of the cost.

The Premium line is a well-placed middle ground for price between the training models listed above, and the higher-end Flagship models.  With the Premium line, quality does not have to be sacrificed for price; here top level craftsmanship can be had for a very reasonable price.

Sporting a 13″ Chopper style blade, this model comes pre-sharpened so be very careful! This can be dangerous however I am of the opinion that trainign with real weapons fosters a healthy respect for the purpose and capabilities of a weapon itself, and the fact that nothing makes you focus more than the fear of injury!

As an aside, I love the handles on these blades; they are formed in the 2-in-1 style, allowing you to carry one pair as you would one normal sword.  As you can see in the pictures above of my personal pairs of swords, each have the2-in-1 handles, and I find them to be much more functional, practical and effective for sword work than large and bulky ones.


WONG SHUN LEUNG SERIES- COMBAT STEEL (SHARP)

The late Grandmaster Wong Shun Leung gave a pair of Butterfly Knives to his student, Tommy Y.K. Yuen. At that time the only BJD (baat jaam do) swords suitable for actual use in combat were full custom knives unaffordable by most martial arts practitioners. Most practitioners were forced to train with poorly designed low-quality swords (made by manufacturers with no understanding or love for the art) that were incapable of allowing users to feel how Wing Chun’s techniques actually work.

Sifu Yuen’s student Alvin So, an engineer, agreed to design and source good replicas of the gift-pair suitable for combat but legal in Hong Kong. He commissioned small batches every two or three years for his Kung Fu brothers. The Alvin So knives are no longer available.

These are the current-generation weapons-grade BJD swords tailored for the Wong Shun Leung or WSL lineage (which I proudly am a member of).  The designers of this pair have made something the lineage needs; rather than a pure replica of the Tommy Yuen pair, these are an effort to integrate modern design elements, tactical materials, and construction methods; for example, full-tang (American-style) ergonomic handles of Micarta™-type material, an AISI 304 stainless steel D-Guard and professionally tempered D2 blade steel.

NOTE: These are functional weapons and no representation is made that these blades are lawful in your jurisdiction.

Every knife is handmade and differs slightly: the key measurements for each pair have been provided.

  • Blade Style: Chopper
  • Blade Length: Approx 13 inches from tip to D Guard on the centerline axis.
  • Blade Material: Austrian D2 tool steel
  • Blade Grind: Wide Hollow Grind
  • Blade Sharpness: Edge Martial Arts Sharp. Sharps are for display only, too dangerous for training
  • Blade Thickness: 4.1 mm
  • Total Length: Approx 17 13/16 inches
  • Weight: Sword 1: Approx 2 lbs – about 930 grams each
  • Tang: Full tang
  • Quillion Design: Trapping Only
  • Handle Type: Individual Full Handles.
  • Handle Material: Black Linen Micarta™-type material.
  • Sheath: A two-in-on heavy duty black Nylon sheath.


WONG SHUN LEUNG SERIES- COMBAT STEEL (BLUNT)

The late Grandmaster Wong Shun Leung gave a pair of Butterfly Knives to his student, Tommy Y.K. Yuen. At that time the only BJD (baat jaam do) swords suitable for actual use in combat were full custom knives unaffordable by most martial arts practitioners. Most practitioners were forced to train with poorly designed low-quality swords (made by manufacturers with no understanding or love for the art) that were incapable of allowing users to feel how Wing Chun’s techniques actually work.

Sifu Yuen’s student Alvin So, an engineer, agreed to design and source good replicas of the gift-pair suitable for combat but legal in Hong Kong. He commissioned small batches every two or three years for his Kung Fu brothers. The Alvin So knives are no longer available.

These are the current-generation weapons-grade BJD swords tailored for the Wong Shun Leung or WSL lineage (which I proudly am a member of).  The designers of this pair have made something the lineage needs; rather than a pure replica of the Tommy Yuen pair, these are an effort to integrate modern design elements, tactical materials, and construction methods; for example, full-tang (American-style) ergonomic handles of Micarta™-type material, an AISI 304 stainless steel D-Guard and professionally tempered D2 blade steel.

NOTE: These are functional weapons and no representation is made that these blades are lawful in your jurisdiction.

Every knife is handmade and differs slightly: the key measurements for each pair have been provided.

  • Blade Style: Chopper
  • Blade Length: Approx 13 inches from tip to D Guard on the centerline axis
  • Blade Material: Austrian D2 tool steel
  • Blade Grind: Wide Hollow Grind
  • Blade Sharpness: BLUNTED FOR TRAINING
    Blade Thickness: 4.1 mm
  • Total Length: Approx 17 13/16 inches
  • Weight: Sword 1: Approx 2 lbs – about 930 grams each
  • Tang: Full tang
  • Quillion Design: Trapping Only
  • Handle Type: Individual Full Handles
  • Handle Material: Black Linen Micarta™-type material
  • Sheath: A two-in-on heavy duty black Nylon sheath


FLAGSHIP STABBER 13

The Flagship Line Wing Chun Butterfly Swords feature better handle materials, a glossy D2 blade, a few new blade lengths, and a few minor tweaks.

These are weapon-grade true-full-tang swords. The blade is made from Austrian D2 tool steel, and the D-Guard from hot-drop forged AISI 304 stainless steel – one of the toughest steels possible to make D-guard from. The D2 blades have a glossy finish – something you only find on $1500+ swords since the hardened D2 steel is very hard to polish to a glossy state.

Each sword in the FLAGSHIP line has similar specifications The following specs are unique to the Flagship Stabber 13:
  • Blade Style: Stabber Blade
  • Blade Length: Approx 13 inches (33 cm)
  • Blade Steel: High-Quality Austrian Bohler D2 Tool Steel
  • Blade Grind: Wide Hollow Grind
  • Blade Sharpness: Blunt with 1mm edge.
  • Handle Material: Black Canvas Phenolic (Micarta type material)

If you want the highest quality and craftsmanship in a weapon-grade sword, these are for you.  The materials are top notch and the craftsmanship impeccable.


DOMINATION STABBER 13 (SHARP)

Based on the survey of over 160 Sifus in June 2014, this is the first of a series of swords that top Wing Chun Sifus said they wanted. The Domination line swords are true combat-grade weapons.

They feature full exposed tangs, powerful squared D-Guards, perfect balance, straight handles, flipping and trapping ability, top grade weapon steels, and a variety of blade options.

These swords are combat-weight and not for the weak or timid. If you need a sword to Dominate your foe, then this is the choice for you. Only a limited number of each model will be made.

NOTE:  some handles come wrapped in a black cord to help improve grip, but I feel that this cord should be removed before use – it does not always stay in place. The wrap job is not worthy of this great sword. The handles under the cord are proper wood handles that look good and function very well. If you want to improve grip due to sweaty hands, some grip tape is the best way, or perhaps a small bit of gymnastics or weightlifter’s chalk rubbed into the palms just enough to reduce slippage

Each sword in the DOMINATION line has similar specifications. The following specs are what make the Domination Stabber 13 unique:

  • Blade Style: Stabber Blade
  • Blade Length: Approx 13 inches (33 cm)
  • Blade Steel: High-Quality Austrian Bohler D2 Tool Steel
  • Blade Grind: Lenticular (Convex) Grind (for better edge strength).
  • Blade Sharpness: Sharp
  • Blade Finish: Matte/Satin


Conclusion:  Pebbles, Rice Paper and Branding Irons

Just like Kwai Chang Caine from the old Kung Fu TV show’s training formally culminated in the famous branding scene , the butterfly swords represent the end of formal Wing Chun currciculum. It is now up to you to train smart, train hard and grow with each training session.  Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

In conclusion, think of reaching the baat jaam do blades in your Wing Chun training like the late, great David Carradine’s famous character Kwai Chang Caine, AKA “Grasshopper” from the old Kung Fu TV show finally getting his arms branded.  For those of you unfamiliar with this analogy, let me explain: 

After Caine had walked the rice paper without tearing it and snatched the pebble from Master Kan’s hand, he had reached the formal end of his training and was ready to graduate from the Shaolin Temple.  In order to do so he had to pass one final test: he had to lift a smoldering pot of hot coals with his forearms which branded his arms with the tiger and the dragon.  Once he did this, a trap door opened and he left the temple to go out into the world.

In that same vein, the Wing Chun weapons represent the coming full circle of one’s formal training in Wing Chun.  They not only teach us how to move our body correctly; they reinforce every single lesson, idea, theory, concept and principle we have learned since day one  in our Wing Chun training. 

Completing the baat jaam do butterfly swords/knives figuratively opens the trap door to self-discovery and self-mastery. You now have all of the pieces of the puzzle-it is up to you to put them together using everything you have learned up to that point.  This will now require you to think and train for yourself using all you have learned to that point to begin your real growth and development in becoming your art.

Each of the Wing Chun weapons is placed in the system to reinforce a very specific purpose and address a specific need.  Whereas the primary goal of the long pole is teaching the importance of cutting acute angles and maintaining structure in one’s body to move as a unit, the butterfly swords take those lessons and bisect our body so that rather than have our body work as one unit with both hands on the same weapon, we now give each hand a weapon. We must now in effect have each side running as an independent entity while coordinating each side to work together.

To move fluidly and with purpose while wielding a 3.5 lb. sword in each hand requires strength, endurance and very solid basics. This is why the swords are taught last.

We build on the body unity we have honed through our long pole training but apply it to each side of the body separately while still maintaining our body’s cohesion.  This is why the butterfly swords are taught after the pole, and last in the system. 

Wing Chun’s Bench Press Progression

A great comparison of this progression is found in a fundamental motion of strength training: the bench press. 

  • Chest Press – In order to get the feel of a bench press, if you are a beginner or are new to strength training you will very often start on a chest press machine since it is set up for one plane of motion only: a chest press. For Wing Chun, this is akin to our basics, fundamentals and forms.
  • Barbell Bench Press – After gaining a degree of strength in your muscles, you move to a flat or standard barbell bench press. Now, you have to contend with not only the pressing motion but also a side-to-side tipping of the bar as well as a balancing the weight so it doesn’t drift too far towards your head or down towards your waist. Both hands are on the bar, so the body needs to now stabilize itself and work together-just like the pole set teaches.
  • Dumbbell Bench Press – Once you have developed both familiarity with the basic motions of the chest press (i.e. Wing Chun forms, basics, theory, techniques and concepts) as well have developed enough stabilizer muscles to balance the barbell in all planes of motion on a flat bench (the long pole skills gained) you then proceed to a dumbbell bench press (butterfly swords).

Picking up a pair of dumbbells then takes that barbell and conceptually splits it in half, so that each side has to contend with all of the balance and stability issues of the bench press bar on its’ own.  To go from a freeweight bar with weight plates on each end to a dumbbell in each hand requires much different approach and requires the body to stabilize and adjust in a much different way even though the basic motions are essentially the same for each action the bench press or the dumbbell press-exactly like the butterfly swords build on the prior skills and attributes of both all empty hand techniques as well as the long pole weapon set in order to tie everything together.  

By building on the relationship of reinforcement between the pole and the empty hand you are now in place to apply those lessons bilaterally on each side while moving.

Make sense?

The Swords’ Greatest Contribution To Your Training

Wong Shun Leung training aggressive forward motion with the precision of a surgeon and the mentality of a butcher…the apex of Wing Chun training.

The most noticeable contribution the baat jaam do swords make to your Wing Chun training is the cultivation of the mentality of assertive and aggressive attack to an opponent’s attack, or as stated previously, the “butcher mindset.” 

Let’s not forget that Wing Chun is a close-range fighting style designed for alley fighting and when shit is going to get real, you must be able to move past the fear of taking damage to apply your art and skill set to incapacitate your adversary as quickly as possible. 

When dealing with somebody close-in merely having technique to fall back on is not enough: the mentality and mindset must be correct. And that mindset is simply to be able to attack your opponents attack with surgical precision and butcher like dispassion.  Think of the surgeon and the butcher…

  • The surgeon must push past fear of error and immense pressure to precisely cut at the right time, in the right manner and at the right angle to save the life of whomever he or she is working on.  Back in the old days, the surgeon also had to block out the screams of agony of his patient and do whatever needed to be done in order to successfully perform surgery.  
  • The butcher harbors no ill will towards the meat it cuts; it is a job that simply needs to get done and so the butcher drops his knife swiftly and aggressively in order to separate the meat from the bone in order to provide fresh meat for his family and customers to eat.  Again, back in the old days, the butcher also had to dispassionately dispatch the animals he needed to in order to harvest the meat for his customers and loved ones.  Much like the surgeon, he needed to remove himself from any hesitation in cutting, since that would cause undue suffering on the animals he needed to dispatch.

So too, the Wing Chun blades teach us to seek the quickest path to incapacitate an opponent in the quickest and most aggressive manner possible while also maintaining the precision of well coordinated and placed slashes.  This marriage of barbarism and precision is exactly why the swords are placed at the apex of the Wing Chun system’s curriculum. 

This is why choosing the right set of Wing Chun butterfly swords/knives is so important.

Go back to the top and re-read this entire review again; click on every link, read every article I have included, review your options, make a decision based on YOU and YOUR needs, pick up the perfect pair of butterfly swords for you-and then go train.

 

Train Smart, Stay Safe

Sifu Bobby

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