Bart-Cham-Dao

The Eight-Cutting Broadswords Form

Introduction

The final stage in the Wing Tsun system is the Bart-Cham-Dao. Meaning Eight-Cutting Broadswords, the Bart-Cham-Dao is considered the crown jewel of the system and is the epitome of weapons fighting.

More than a few stories exist as to how the Bart-Cham-Dao came to be included in Wing Tsun, but even a brief glimpse of this fighting set will readily reveal how it has been adapted to fit the the empty-hand concept. In fact, it is actually an armed method of the empty-hand Wing Tsun applications themselves. This, however, is by design, not coincidence.

Most martial arts include a variety of forms for their weapons that are different than their empty-hand sets. The empty-hand fighting is such that a completely different set of rules applies to their weapons training.

By contrast, the Wing Tsun system is such that a practitioner skilled in empty-hand fighting can pick up any weapon and at least have a semblance of defense right from the start. Couple that with the curriculum itself and you have a fierce weapon system at your disposal. Fighting with a weapon vs. fighting empty-handed should encompass little to no difference in order to ensure survival (a trademark that the Filipino arts have already proven).

Not everything will be exactly the same, of course. After all, one look at the Luk-Dim-Boon-Kwun and you will immediately see a lot of variations simply due to the nature of this long, heavy weapon. However, the concepts are relatively close, and the same holds true for the entire system (with the Bart-Cham-Dao being the culmination of this effort).

The double knives are approximately 1-½ pounds each and are generally 1 foot in length (some are longer). Their construction differs from the standard Southern butterfly knives in that there is also a small hook on the front of the hand guard. Originally used for trapping longer-range weapons while closing in, the hook can also be used for trapping the blade of an opposing knife. That particular skill, however, requires years of training.

Bart-Cham-Dao Dimensions

Bart-Cham-Dao Dimensions

While some lineages flip the knives or circle them (as commonly seen with Japanese weapons like the sai), we do not teach this specific concept. Anytime that a blade is not directed towards the opponent, a hole is presented in your defense that the attacker can make use of. Since we always want to remain on the attack, not having the blade or tip towards the opponent can put us at a fatal disadvantage.

Therefore, we never flip the knives backwards, nor do we circle them as seen in other lineages. Those that do, however, call this movement Huen-dao, or Circling-knife. We do manipulate the knives around the long pole, but our version of circling is much smaller, almost to the point that it is not really a circling action at all.

As with training in the Luk-Dim-Boon-Kwun, training in the Bart-Cham-Dao begins by creating the necessary strength and coordination for handling the knives.

Strength Training

Strength training takes a great deal of time in order to build the correct musculature for using the heavy knives. Never train the Bart-Cham-Dao form or the drills without spending at least 3-6 months of regular strength training. You can readily tell those that have skipped this training because their knife movements are sloppy and unwieldy. They are intent on solely learning the form vs actually using the knives to fight with, and it shows. Pit them against a practitioner that has trained properly and it will be a quick bout.

Strength Training Drill #1

1. Strength Training Drill #1

Extend both arms to full extension with the knife tips pointed upwards.

Strength Training Drill #1

2. Strength Training Drill #1
(continued)

Using only the wrists and keeping the arms fully locked out, slash one knife downward.

Strength Training Drill #1

3. Strength Training Drill #1
(continued)

Continuing to keep the arms fully locked out, return the knife to its starting position. When returned, immediately slash the other knife downward. This continues repeatedly until the forearms are so stiff you can hardly move them. When you can repeat this drill for at least 50 times each side and still feel relaxed, continue to drill #2.

Like the pole, it is important to work these strength training drills in order to build up the strength necessary to properly handle the weapon. In this case, the knives are very heavy, the actions we use including chopping and cutting, so ergo, we need extreme forearm strength to handle the knives correctly.

Strength Training Drill #2

1. Strength Training Drill #2

Slash one knife downward via Gaun-dao while the other knife drives forward with Biu-dao.

Strength Training Drill #2

2. Strength Training Drill #2
(continued)

Immediately change to the other side.

Strength Training Drill #2

3. Strength Training Drill #2
(continued)

Change to the other side and like drill #1, repeat this drill until you can work a minimum of 50 reps each side with strength, fluidity and relaxed explosion with the knives.

Section 1

Section 1 begins our training in the form by teaching us how to handle the various angles that are present with edged weapons. With slashing, chopping, slicing, and simultaneous attack and defense actions, these are the preliminaries for a competent foundation in the knife form.

Bart-Cham-Dao Hoi-ma

1. Place both knives at the right side and held by the right hand only. The body is upright, feet together, with the left arm at your side.

Sheung Jut-dao

2a. Sheung Jut-dao
Double Jerk-knives

Reach across with the left hand and grab the inner knife.

Sheung Jut-dao

2b. Sheung Jut-dao
(continued)

Forcefully jerk both knives down and in front. The arms go to full extension and the contact points are the middle of the blades.

Sheung Wu-dao

3. Sheung Wu-dao
Double Guard-knife

With the arms remaining locked out, snap the tips of both knives directly upward.

Jut-dao/Wu-dao

4a. Jut-dao/Wu-dao
Jerk-knife/Guard-knife

With the arms remaining locked out, snap or jerk the left knife downward at the wrist only.

Jut-dao/Wu-dao

4b. Jut-dao/Wu-dao
(continued)

With the arms remaining locked out, snap the left knife back up to Wu-dao while the right knife simultaneously snaps or jerks downward.

Jut-dao/Wu-dao

4c. Jut-dao/Wu-dao
(continued)

With the arms remaining locked out, snap the right knife back up to Wu-dao while the left knife simultaneously snaps or jerks downward.

Sheung Jut-dao

5. Sheung Jut-dao

Snap both knives sharply downward while the arms remain locked out.

Sheung Wu-dao

6. Sheung Wu-dao

Snap both knives upward so that the tips are pointing directly up. The arms remain locked out.

Jut-dao/Wu-dao

7a. Jut-dao/Wu-dao

Repeat Jut-dao/Wu-dao, only now beginning right Jut-dao and left Wu-dao.

Jut-dao/Wu-dao

7b. Jut-dao/Wu-dao
(continued)

With the arms remaining locked out, snap the right knife back up to Wu-dao while the left knife simultaneously snaps or jerks downward.

Jut-dao/Wu-dao

7c. Jut-dao/Wu-dao

With the arms remaining locked out, snap the right knife down via Jut-dao while the left knife snaps up via Wu-dao.

Sheung Jut-dao

8. Sheung Jut-dao

Snap both knives sharply downward while the arms remain locked out.

Sheung Wu-dao

9. Sheung Wu-dao

Snap both knives upward so that the tips are pointing directly up. The arms remain locked out.

Chuen Tan-Biu-Tze-dao

10a. Chuen Tan-Biu-Tze-dao
Turning Palm Up-knife with Thrusting-knife

Assume a right Juk-sun-ma while simultaneously executing left Tan-dao and right Biu-Tze-dao.

Right Tan-dao/Left Biu-Tze-dao

10b. Chuen Tan-Biu-Tze-dao
(continued)

Assume a left Juk-sun-ma while simultaneously executing right Tan-dao and left Biu-Tze-dao.

Chuen Tan-Biu-Tze-dao

10c. Chuen Tan-Biu-Tze-dao
(continued)

Assume a right Juk-sun-ma while simultaneously executing left Tan-dao and right Biu-Tze-dao.

Sheung Jut-dao

11. Sheung Jut-dao

Snap both knives sharply downward while the arms remain locked out.

Sheung Wu-dao

12. Sheung Wu-dao

Snap both knives upward so that the tips are pointing directly up. The arms remain locked out.

Right Tan-dao/Left Biu-Tze-dao

13a. Chuen Tan-Biu-Tze-dao

Assume a left Juk-sun-ma while simultaneously executing right Tan-dao and left Biu-Tze-dao.

Chuen Tan-Biu-Tze-dao

13b. Chuen Tan-Biu-Tze-dao
(continued)

Assume a right Juk-sun-ma while simultaneously executing left Tan-dao and right Biu-Tze-dao.

Right Tan-dao/Left Biu-Tze-dao

13c. Chuen Tan-Biu-Tze-dao

Assume a left Juk-sun-ma while simultaneously executing right Tan-dao and left Biu-Tze-dao.

Sheung Jut-dao

14. Sheung Jut-dao

Snap both knives sharply downward while the arms remain locked out.

Sheung Wu-dao

15. Sheung Wu-dao

Snap both knives upward so that the tips are pointing directly up. The arms remain locked out.

Chuen Sheung-har Gaun-dao

16a. Chuen Sheung-har Gaun-dao
Turning High/low Splitting Block-knives

Assume a right Juk-sun-ma while simultaneously assuming a right high and left low Gaun-dao.

Sheung-har Gaun-dao, left high

16b. Chuen Sheung-har Gaun-dao
(continued)

Assume a left Juk-sun-ma while simultaneously assuming a left high and right low Gaun-dao.

Chuen Sheung-har Gaun-dao

16c. Chuen Sheung-har Gaun-dao
(continued)

Assume a right Juk-sun-ma while simultaneously assuming a right high and left low Gaun-dao.

Sheung Jut-dao

17. Sheung Jut-dao

Snap both knives sharply downward while the arms remain locked out.

Sheung Wu-dao

18. Sheung Wu-dao

Snap both knives upward so that the tips are pointing directly up. The arms remain locked out.

Sheung-har Gaun-dao, left high

19a. Chuen Sheung-har Gaun-dao

Assume a left Juk-sun-ma while simultaneously assuming a left high and right low Gaun-dao.

Chuen Sheung-har Gaun-dao

19b. Chuen Sheung-har Gaun-dao
(continued)

Assume a right Juk-sun-ma while simultaneously assuming a right high and left low Gaun-dao.

Sheung-har Gaun-dao, left high

19c. Chuen Sheung-har Gaun-dao
(continued)

Assume a left Juk-sun-ma while simultaneously assuming a left high and right low Gaun-dao.

Sheung Jut-dao

20. Sheung Jut-dao

Snap both knives sharply downward while the arms remain locked out.

Sheung Wu-dao

21. Sheung Wu-dao

Snap both knives upward so that the tips are pointing directly up. The arms remain locked out.

This completes section 1 of the Bart-Cham-Dao

Drills & Applications

Not only is sufficient wrist and arm strength necessary, but conditioning of the lower body is also essential. The most advanced of Wing Tsun footwork is found in the Bart-Cham-Dao, and naturally, our opponent will not be standing still. Many are unaware that a Wing Tsun practitioner can actually cross up to 20-feet with one fluid action, and this particular step is found in the Bart-Cham-Dao.

Therefore, strength and flexibility for both the upper and lower bodies must be competent before learning the Bart-Cham-Dao form itself.

After the form is learned, we then progress to various drills and applications in order to “bring out” the movements. It is important to learn the entire form and become competent with handling the knives before working the drills and applications, since doing the opposite will create many bad habits that can put your life in jeopardy.

The Bart-Cham-Dao’s actions are closely patterned after the empty-hand concepts, so learning the applications are actually quite easy once sufficient strength and flexibility is attained. For example, Tan-dao and Gaun-dao are performed in the same manner as Tan-sau and Gaun-sau, learned during the Siu-Nim-Tau.

Tan-Biu-Tze-dao

Tan-Biu-Tze-dao

1. Tan-Biu-Tze-dao
Palm Up-knife/Thrusting-knife

As the attacker approaches...

Tan-Biu-Tze-dao

2. Tan-Biu-Tze-dao
(continued)

… he executes Biu-Tze-dao. This is defended with Tan-dao while turning…

Tan-Biu-Tze-dao

3. Tan-Biu-Tze-dao
(continued)

… and driving Biu-Tze-dao into the attacker’s neck.

As you can see, the knive's actions are similar to the empty-hand actions. And Gaun-dao is no exception.

Gaun-dao

Gaun-dao

1. Gaun-dao
Splitting Block-knife

As the opponents square up…

Gaun-dao

2. Gaun-dao
(continued)

… the attacker drives forward with the lead knife. This is defended via Gaun-dao while the other knife is raised and...

Gaun-dao

3. Gaun-dao
(continued)

... chops into the attacker's neck.

Even a brief look at the Bart-Cham-Dao will demonstrate the knives are utilized in the same way as our empty-hand actions. The only difference is that the blade is used instead of the hand or arm. This allows for a smooth and easy translation of empty-hand to armed applications.

Although the handle is used by some lineages, the AWCA does not teach this. Instead, our concept for the handle is only for protecting the hand. We prefer to strike with the blade itself vs. any other area of the knife.

Concepts & Theories

Knife Concepts vs. Empty-hand Concepts

One of the interesting things about Wing Tsun is that the empty-hand concepts and movements are almost always applied to whatever weapon we are using. Where the double knives are concerned, this is clearly evident even with just one glimpse.

And that is one of the things that sets Wing Tsun apart from other martial arts.

In most arts, the empty-hand forms and the weapons forms are night-and-day to each other. You could become proficient in empty-hand fighting, and then have to learn a completely different approach to weapons fighting. By contrast, Wing Tsun empty-hand concepts are directly applied to the weapon being used at the time, thereby allowing for faster and more efficient use.

Flipping the Knife Backwards

Not all Wing Tsun/Wing Chun styles train the same way, and one of these variations includes knife training. As mentioned previously, some practitioners flip or circle the knives in such a way that the blade is reversed and not towards the opponent. Some lineages teach this, while others insist that the knives should never do this.

Since flipping the knives means that you would be purely on the defensive, the AWCA does not teach this concept. However, I have witnessed many practitioners who do flip the knives and have no doubt that they can utilize their skills. This is an excellent example as to the diversity of training within the Wing Tsun families.

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