The zhanmadao is a sabre with a single long broad blade, and a long handle suitable for two-handed use. It was used as an anti-cavalry weapon, dating from Emperor Cheng of Han, made to slice through horse's legs. This is mentioned in the "Wu Jing Zong Yao" a Song Military Manual from 1072. It featured prominently against the Jin armies in campaigns between 1129 and 1141.
Surviving examples include a sword that might resemble a nagamaki in construction; it had a wrapped handle 37 centimetres long making it easy to grip with two hands. The blade was 114 centimetres long and very straight with a slight curve in the last half.
The sword may have been the inspiration for the Japanese Zanbatō as both are written with the same characters, and have been said to have been used for killing the horse and rider in one swing.
In the Western world, swords of an equivalent size such as the Zweihänder may have been used to batter into formations of pikemen or to cut out the front legs of a galloping horse, although the historical accuracy of this information is also a matter of debate.