The wodao (Chinese: 倭刀; lit. 'Japanese (wo people) sword') is a Chinese sword from the Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty. It is typically long and slender, but heavy, with a curved back and sharp blade.[1] It bears a strong resemblance to the Tang sword, zhanmadao, Tachi or Odachi in form. Extant examples show a handle approximately 25.5 cm (10.0 in) long, with a gently curved blade 80 cm (31 in) long.

The Chinese word "wo" literally means "Japanese", so "wodao" literally means "Japanese sword". The term "wodao" sometimes refers to Japanese swords,[1] but it mainly refers to similar swords developed in China with Japanese swords used as reference. Chinese wodao was developed based on the Japanese sword used by the wokou pirates, a mixed group of Japanese and Chinese who repeatedly looted in the Chinese coast.[2][3] Qi Jiguang (1528-1588 AD), a general of the Ming Dynasty, studied wokou's tactics and Japanese swords to repel wokou pirates. General Qi also wrote a military book named Jixiao Xinshu which depicted, among other things, the detailed usage of the wodao. He also included a wodao branch in his army alongside branches of other weapons. Another Ming general Li Chengxun (李承勋), in his own revised edition of Jixiao Xinshu of 1588, quoted General Qi as saying that the long sword (believed to be referring to the ōdachi and tachi) was introduced into China during the wokou invasion of the Ming dynasty.

The Chinese martial art of wielding the wodao is believed to be a combination of medieval Japanese sword fighting styles and traditional Chinese techniques regarding the use of two-handed weapons. The term wodao was still in usage in China until the Qing dynasty as evidenced in various Chinese novels at the time.

In 1921, the Chinese warlord Cao Kun created a branch in his army that specialized in wielding two-handed single edged blades and called it the Miaodao branch. Since then, Miaodao became the name for this form of Chinese two-handed single edged blade and the term wodao is now rarely used. The art of wielding the Miaodao can be traced back to the lineage of Jixiao Xinshu.

See also


  1. ^ a b Wang, Guangxi (9 March 2012). Chinese Kung Fu. Cambridge University Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-521-18664-3. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  2. ^ Koichi Shinoda. (1 May 1992). Chinese Weapons and Armor. Shinkigensha. ISBN 9784883172115
  3. ^ Rekishi Gunzo. (2 July 2011) The Complete Work on Strategic and Tactical Weapons. From Ancient China to Modern China. Gakken. ISBN 9784056063448