I have always found Chinese weapons quite interesting. Unlike most of their Japanese counter parts, whose forms seemed to more or less always follow function, Chinese blades always seem, to me at least, to possess a level of aesthetic that supersedes it’s function. Or is highly influenced by it.
You can see this difference in their martial arts. Just compare the fluidity and nature based motion of five animal style Chinese Kung-Fu, to, for instance, the direct, and purely functional approach of Japanese Shotokan Karate. Granted, each of these styles tend to gravitate towards one another in directness/fluidity and vice versa as you progress in skill, but where they each start from is still worlds apart. The difference in their perspective weapon designs are no different.
A typical example is the Black Ronin Ninja Ring I posted about a while back. While it was referred to as a “Ninja” weapon, the design was hardly Japanese in nature, but rather had a lot more in common with the Chinese Deer Horn knife, or Sun and Moon Ring. You will also notice how even the names of many Chinese weapons are based on things that occur in nature.
You can almost always see the influence of this mindset in the design of their weapons. Whereas, in contrast, with little more than a quick glance, you can see exactly where the design of a Japanese Katana, came from, and I can almost certainly guarantee you that neither Bambi, the man in the moon, the sun, or any beasty of any type had anything to do with it.
But today, I thought I’d post about a specific Chinese weapon that I have always found intriguing, primarily because it seems, on the surface, a very wacky design, however it is at the same time, quite a versatile weapon. Almost a Swiss army knife of swords. In trademark Chinese weapon kind of way. I speak of none other than the Chinese Hook Sword, aka the Tiger Hook Sword, aka the Heaven and Sun Moon Sword:
Chinese Hook Sword Set - Black (Red Cord Grips)
Nobody really seems to be sure where or when the Chinese hook sword was first made and used. Very little information exists about it, and what little that does seems to be fairly recent, in comparison to many other Chinese sword designs. But what we do know was that it was designed to be used in quite a bit different fashion from any other sword of the day.
This sword incorporates many different design features, many of which I thought were rather clever. Take the hilt for instance. Instead of a pommel cap, like every other sword, the Chinese hook sword has… another point! In fact some traditional designs actually put a full fledged double edged knife/dagger down there. This is not a sword you want to get butt stroked with. 🙂
And then there’s the guard. No square or round guard here, rather, there is a full finger guard, consisting of two steel standoffs at the top and bottom of the cord wrapped grip, at the end of which there is… You guessed it! A half moon blade. Yep. A crescent moon shaped edge sits on the outside of the finger guard. Sporting two points and a blade in between, this is, again, a sword you reeeeaaaallly don’t want to get punched in the face with.
From the hilt up, we have the standard, single edged, straight sword affair, all up until we get to the point. Which, for reasons I will explain a bit later, someone thought would be cool to force into a swift a u-turn. For this reason, the point pulls a 180, and curves back down towards the hilt. With a fancy little outward pointing curlicue at the end.
“What’s this?” You cry “No point?” No, my friends, sadly it has no real point. But that is besides the point. (Yes, yes, my point puns are getting old, I know. But if I can’t make the occasional (read: to death) point puns, what’s the point? 😀 ) The point here 🙂 is that this weapon was designed for a much different purpose than thrusting.
This sword was designed for flexibility of use, and it’s point was sacrificed in order to allow it to be used in a way that a straight sword can’t. Specifically, this sword was designed to allow better hooking (obviously) opponent weapon and limb trapping, and… Surprise, surprise, reach extension!! Yes, you read right. *Reach* extension.
OK so here’s the thing. The traditional practitioners of the hook sword generally used them in pairs. And they did so for very good reason. They actually practiced using them with one sword hooked to the end of the other sword, and swing it around like a flail! In fact, they still do. Using them this way extends the wielders reach to roughly 5 ft.
Except, as you can imagine, with a point on the pommel, and a crescent blade guard, this flail has got at least three nasty points and at least one blade. All swinging around at speeds that are wickedly fast, and itching to leave a mark somewhere.That’s not to say they aren’t evil enough by themselves.
Each hook sword has a blade with an edge that is sharpened from just above the hilt, until just before the hook, much like a regular sword, and, of course, that little curlicue at the end of the hook is also sharpened, (and very pointy!) so that it is still a potent sword in it’s own right.
So, to recap. Blade on the pommel, blade and points on the grip/guard, blade on the blade… 🙂 a hook, blade on the front of the hook, aaaaaaand a point. Seems to me like they got almost all of the important points covered… 😀
Twin Chinese Hook Swords – Black – [True Swords]