Definitions: Butterfly Swords or Butterfly Knives?

by Qianen Fu
(Montreal, Qc, Canada)

Butterfly Swords/Butterfly Knives used for training

Butterfly Swords/Butterfly Knives used for training

Hey there =)

I just read about the sword/knife conflict, so I thought, as a linguist, I might clear things up a little bit.

When "Dao" is employed, it's generally used for any cutting class weapon with one cutting edge (i.e. Broadsword is called "Dao", Katana is also called "dao" even though it's as long as any sword), so anything that is primarily used to slash is called Dao.

When we give the picture of butterfly swords, from a Chinese mindset, people would see broadswords, hence the translation "sword", but they'd still call them "dao".

"Jian" means "sword" but it's also an homonym for "pointy", so anything longer than a dagger, that is made to stab with two cutting edges is called "jian".

In Chinese, people often relate homonyms, synonyms and antonyms (we can actually find antonyms pronounced the exact same way, but written completely differently).

So things may become difficult on some level when the only difference is the written characters.

Otherwise, this is a really resourceful website, Thank you! ^^
Comment: That was a great explanation! Thank you for sharing.

And if you're interested in owning a great pair of Butterfly Swords, real and sharp, or plastic for practice, check out this link.

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Nov 06, 2013
Good resource for Chinese Martial Artists
by: Keith Roost

Thank you for posting this clear explanation, it may save me time explaining this to my Tai Chi and Kung Fu students at

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