Dan Dao Fa Xuan, Historical Martial Arts, Translations

Dan Dao Fa Xuan: Part 3

Here is the last portion of Dan Dao Fa Xuan. These sections layout a set or routine to be practiced. As stated before, Cheng Zongyou revolutionized this text by including direct, non poetic descriptions of the movements. This continues in this section and provides one of the first clear, strep by step instructions of a martial art routines in the record.

You may find the previous sections and some background on these pages:

Part one with Background: https://tplafightingwords.com/2020/08/19/dan-dao-fa-xuan-part-one/

Part 2: https://tplafightingwords.com/2020/10/16/dan-dao-fa-xuan-part-2/

The text is read right to left. The pages are presented in their original order. Facing pages are detailed below right side first and left side second.




The preceding techniques, will manifest everywhere as you approach the opponent in real combat. If a routine is practiced without the essence of the weapon, when you  enter, retreat, leap, hop, and turn they will not be effective. Although it is said: “manifest the practical”, there is fear of the enemy, for this reason the routines of saber in the diagrams, contain several stances that prepare one for combat, the following 12 diagrams are for practitioners reference. One who wants to practice must use a long and heavy saber, so that when one faces the enemy with a saber and a cross bow on the belt, it will be quick, light and sharp. However, the entire set is challenging to complete when using a heavy dao if one is weak. He who understands the long and short strength, will separate it in to 2 sections, or 3 sections, do not settle on one pattern to practice. 


“Collected Single Dao One Road [set]”


Face North, stand south.


“Feet side by side saber on the belt”, turn the body right, 


“coming out saber, press down saber”, throw out and pull back the saber,


“hold down the tiger stance”, enter with the left foot,


 “Exit Cave stance, Single Lift stance”, one circle with the saber, receive, push and sting stance, one stab, pull put the sword once, retreat with the right leg,

〔腰砍勢 〕,懸左足,

“Waist Chop stance”, lift the left foot,


“Left Single stance”, stir once, chop diagonally, lift the right leg,


“Right Single stance”, step in with the right foot,


“Receive, push, sting saber”, stance, pull back once, retreat with the right foot,

〔低看勢 〕,退左步,迎轉身,

“”Low Watch Stance”, retreat one step and turn around,


“Back Chop Stance”,steal a step with the left foot, stir once, chop once,


“Receive, push, sting, saber”, perform 2 stabs and pro 5 flowers around your head as you turn to the left,


“Left Single swing”, use the 5 flowers about the head to turn right, 

〔右單擺 〕,攪一刀、砍一刀,

“Right Single Swing”, Stir once, chop once,


“Receive. push and stab”, three stabs turn East,


“Upper Bow Stance”, one “flower” strike, step in with the left foot,


“Low Plant”, Stir once, advance with the right foot, chop once, turn five flowers,

〔單提刀勢 〕,左手櫓外鎗,進右步,

“Single Lift”, rows to the outside of the spear, enter with the right foot,


“Single stab”, enter with the right foot, chop 5 flowers,


“Carry on the Shoulder”, the left hand moves inside the spear, chop once, steal a step with the left foot,


“Slanting Slice”, end with “Face North, Attack South”, 5 flowers while turning around, begin with “Face North Attack South”, 

〔抝步勢 〕,偷右步,挽一刀,

“Crossed Step”, steal a step with the right foot, draw back once,


“Low Watch”, enter with the right,


“Upper Bow”, “Birch’ cut once, Lunge “scissors” step forward, chop once, this is called “rushing forward with a leap.” end with “Face North Attack South”. turn around.

〔上弓勢 〕,花挐一刀,偷左步,

“Upper Bow”, flowers drag once, steal a step with the left,

〔回砍勢、斜削勢〕,攪一刀, 右跳砍一刀,樺一刀,左跳砍一刀,浪裏三跳推起,

“Turning chop, Slanting Slice”,  stir once, leap with the right foot and chop once, “birch” cut once, leap with the left and chop once, Three Wave leap and push,

〔朝天刀勢 〕,懸左足,攪一刀,斜砍一刀,

“Face the Sky”, suspend the left leg, stir once, slanting chop, 


“Outer Watch”, enter with the left step,

〔左定膝勢、左提撩勢〕,架起一刀,翻身,進右步, 刺一刀,北望南用終。南望北用起,五花迎轉,砍一刀。

“Brace the Left Knee”, “Left Lift and Carry”, Stand up the sword, flip the body, enter with the right, stab once, end with “Face North , Attack South”. Begin “Face North Attack South”, turn around with 5 flowers, chop once.

〔外看勢 〕,迎推刺一刀,剪步。

“Outer Watch”, receive and push step, scissor step. 


“Back Chop”, “Face North , Attack South” ends, stir once, 5 flowers receive and turn to chop once, begin “Face North , Attack South”.


“Outer Watch” enter with the left foot.

〔左提撩勢 〕,進右步,

“Left Lift and Carry”, enter with the right foot. 


“Right Lift and Carry”, the body follows as you turn 5 fowlers left, “right Lift and Carry” enter and retreat stance, enter with the right foot. 


“Right Lift and Carry”, turn and destroy, repeatedly chop and hack, this is called “lifting stop”, end in “Face North , Attack South”. receive and turn,

〔收刀入鞘勢 〕。北望南用大終。

 “Sheath the Sword”, end in “Face North , Attack South”. 



“Saber on the Belt”

Stand with both feet together, but with the right knee sightly bent, the left knee straight, this is called “Male and Female Leg”. Left hand on the scabbard, right hand on the handle; left shoulder points forward, take a small hop, advance with the left foot from the right, again turn the body to the left, enter with the right foot, draw the sword. 


右手陽掌持靶,出刀於右,斜橫刀尖在左,示胸腹大空向敵。彼鎗劄入,略偷左腳移於後,用刀靶㧎下鎗,隨加左手共持刀靶,則刀尖斜橫右邊,以右肩向敵。彼鎗又劄入,即起拏砍一刀, 如成外看勢;彼鎗又劄入,斜進右腳,用刀背勾開鎗,即進左腳砍殺。又一著如前出刀之勢,彼鎗劄入,亦如前移步,將刀靶㧎下鎗 ,大偷左腳,右轉身,進右步,背砍一刀。

“Draw the Saber”

Right hand holds the sword palm up (reverse grip), draw the sword out to the right, make a diagonal cut across to the left, show your body to the enemy and opening toward them. the spear thrusts in, steal a step with the left foot and change from behind, use the handle to press down the spear, follow the movement and bring the left hand on to the handle, bring the sword tip diagonally across to the right side. He thrusts again, quickly stand up and take a chop, similar to “Outer Watch Stance”; he thrusts again with the spear, diagonal step in with the right foot, with the back of the saber, hook and open the spear, quickly step in with the left foot and try to land a killing blow. Another variation of the “Draw the Saber” stance, when the spear thrusts in, shift forward like before, use the handle to press down the spear, steal a big step with the left foot, turn the body right, advance with the right step, “back” chop. 



“Press Down Saber”

The right hand holds the sword in “yin hand”(reverse grip), crouch and lower the body into a low stance. Theft arm is extended straight out behind, the tip is angled up, as to trow the sword in the air. 



“Toss and Catch the Saber”

Press down with the saber, edge down, throw the sword up, wait for the sword to fall, catch the sword in true grip with the right hand, but do not allow it to turn while in the air, but catch it with the edge forward, as is the proper method. 



“Subdue the Tiger Pose”

Cath the saber with the right hand, quickly assume this posture. Again advance in one step, assess the situation and assume either “Enter the cave” or “Bury Head” stances. From here it is easy to chop with a killing blow. 



“Back Chop Posture”

If you are standing in “Outer Watch” stance and they thrust in with the spear,  push the saber to the right, and open the spear and advance quickly with the left foot. Steal a step with the right foot, turn the body to the left, press the saber and cut across. 



“Low Plant”

Assume the “Low Watch”stance, the spear (stabs) at my left foot, use a low insert and lift technique. If they stab at my face, I will use the back of the saber to hook and open the spear, a diagonal step with the right foot [will allow me] to kill with a chop. 



“Single Lift”

The right hand holds the saber, the side of the body together with the hand are angled to the right side, specially hold out the left hand out side of the torso in order to lure an attack from the spear. Take a diagonal step in with the left foot to the right, the left hand pulls back and opens the spear, follow them in with the right step, the Dan Dao is flat and [the edge is] vertical, stab and withdraw. 



“Single Stab”

Thrust with one hand and withdraw [the saber], bring the saber back and turn it, turn five flowers, bend the left elbow, cover them with the back of the saber, bring it to head level and rest it on your right shoulder.  



“Carry Saber on the Shoulder”

The saber is placed across the right shoulder, the forward hand is held out to the left. Prominently expose your flank and belly to entice them to thrust in [with the spear]. Use the left elbow to go across right, cover and open the spear, take a step with the take two oblique steps, left and right, then leap in, the left hand come sup and grabs the handle for a two handed chop to kill. (Single Lift, Carry on the Shoulder, are two of the Japanese Pirates’ most cunning tricks. But, when a man sees this large opening, he is quickly deceived and commonly fall for the ploy, indeed, many thrust in with abandon. As the told saying goes; “ He who is deceived by the enemy will be destroyed.”



“Diagonal Slice”

If holding the saber against the chest, the right shoulder will be facing the enemy. He thrusts at my right foot, use a diagonal slice to open the spear, angle the saber to the right side. He thrusts at my face, steal a step with the left foot, the saber will wind around the spear to open, proceed to chop [the enemy]. 



“Sheath the Sword”

When finished with practice of the sword, entwine the saber left around the head. Bend the left arm, rest the back of the saber against your elbow, again use the hand to hold the handle in reverse and put it in the scabbard. 


These methods to use the saber against the spear, are described in simple language as to be clear. All of my previous works were described using poetics in songs with drawing diagrams of the individual stances of staff techniques,. Although these methods are easy to record and remember for the reader, they are also easily misunderstood the same as if one did not yet have all the information, so now [I will use] common language to explain the methods of Spear and Sword, for it is my desire for a clear explanation. Certainly those with their own opinion do not have to accept my foolish observations, but what if the enemy is coming toward you? When holding a sword or spear how do you defend? Which way do you dodge to avoid attacks? When using footwork, how do you know when to advance or retreat? Coordinate mind and action, change and follow and wait for an opportunity, but obey the stances and the power of the subtle action; if you defy, you will not be able to  claim victory. History speaks of the 18 weapon skills but only the spear is named “King [of weapons]”. Several weapons use the spear techniques [in battle] to take advantage of its long reach and speed [of attack]. This is why my saber method also uses the spear method to instruct [it’s use]. If one comes upon any other type of weapons, observe their system, understand its use, employ each the stances to defeat them, and one will not taste defeat. For example, the male tiger gains advantage with its claws and teeth, when fighting surely the teeth and claws will injure a man: Oxen are large and strong and have powerful horns, when fighting, surely the horns will gore a man. This can be described in this analogy, it can be said, “adapt to the enemy to win”, otherwise, why speak of technique? 

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