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The wodao (Chinese: 倭刀; literally: "sword/knife of the wo people") is a Chinese sword from the Ming Dynasty. It is typically long and slender, but heavy, with a curved back and sharp blade.[1] It bears a strong resemblance to Tang sword, zhanmadao, Tachi or Odachi in form, extant examples show a handle approximately 25.5 cm long, with a gently curved blade 80 cm long. The Japanese Samurai warriors were also adept with the Wodao.[1]

The Chinese word "Wo" literally means "Japanese", so "Wodao" literally means Japanese sword. It is commonly believed that the term came into usage in China during the Ming Dynasty as the renowned General Qi Ji Guang (戚继光, 1528-1588 AD), led the Chinese military, battled, defeated and drove the Japanese rogue Samurais and ronins out of coastal China. General Qi also wrote a military book named Ji Xiao Xin Shu (纪效新书) which depicted among other things the detailed usage of such weapon and included a Wodao branch in his army alongside branches of other weapons. Another general of the Ming Dynasty Li Cheng Xun (李承勋), in 1588 in his own revised edition of General Qi's Ji Xiao Xin Shu, which shortened the original 18 chapters to 14 chapters, quoted General Qi as saying that the long sword (believed to refer to the Wodao) was introduced into China only since the Japanese rogue Samurais and ronins invasion during the Ming Dynasty.

The Chinese martial art of wielding the Wodao, or the long sword, as depicted in Ji Xiao Xin Shu and other various Chinese military and martial art books of the same and subsequent era, is believed to be a combination of medieval Japanese sword fighting skills, traditional Chinese two handed single edged blade skills such as those in the ancient Han and Tang Dynasty, and other Chinese double handed weapon skills including the stick and the spear. The term Wodao was still in usage in China til Qing Dynasty as evidenced in various Chinese novels at the time.

In 1921, the Chinese military warlord General Cao Kun (曹锟) created in his army a branch specialized in wielding two handed single edged blade and called it the Miao Dao branch. Since then Miao Dao is the name for this form of Chinese two handed single edged blade and the term Wodao is rarely used. The art of wielding the Miao Dao can be traced back to and is based on the lineage of Ji Xiao Xin Shu.


  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.