In Daoism, Peach Wood Swords are a symbol of a person that is trying to cut away the bonds that tie them to the world of men

If we can introduce an element of play to our training there is a greater chance that we will more frequently and more thoughtfully, engage in that training, and of course, more chance that we will learn and benefit from that training.

In Wing Chun Kuen, which as we know is a FIST ART, the Dummy, the Pole and the Knives are examples of such play.

They are theatre.

Their purpose is not to teach us how to use a weapon, but it is to teach us how to better understand, and by extension use, our empty hand skills.

To get the most from this playful training we should avoid thinking that it is the weapons we are learning.

And at all times try to see through the dance and observe the movements of the Body, and relate all moves back to the Sil Lim Tao.


If we are talking about developing a working Martial Art that we can depend on to get the job done we should all be working with the Baat Cham Dao { Knives} Form.

Wing Chun was developed by Dr Leung Jan as a method to improve an already existing skill set.

To that end, the first three Forms are all about building a structure and studying the concepts, with very little that translates easily to applying Wing Chun to an attacker.

The Dummy, the Pole, and the Knives take the information delivered in the first three forms and make suggestions as to how we could combine them.

The dummy is mostly about understanding how to accept force, the Pole is mostly about how to issue Force, but the Knives show us how to move around while being active while potentially issuing and accepting force.

The Knife Form is the only Wing Chun Form that has anything remotely comparable to actual fighting moves.

Where it gets confusing is that the moves are for use in Empty Hand fighting.

Working on and with the Knives is still predominately defensive but that’s O.K. because Wing Chun IS predominantly defensive.

We cannot counter-attack until we are under attack, ergo, counter-attacking is defensive.

The length, weight, and balance of the Baat Cham Dao, which are truly dreadful from the perspective of a useable weapon, make it easy for us to be aware of multiple body connections while doing moves that are, like the moves of the Dummy Form, essentially Chi Sau.

The footwork in the Baat Cham Dao Form is out of Chum Kiu and Biu Gee and is presented in such a way that introduces sinking, rising, twisting, lunging, forwards movement, backward movement, sideways movement and oblique movement, that effortlessly links all of the work from the first three forms in a clear and concise fashion.

If we can resist the fantasy of thinking that we are using genuine weapons and allow the Knives to simply be a training tool, a feedback device, the Baat Cham Dao Form can lead to a dynamic understanding of Wing Chun.

Many of my seniors tried to tell me that the weapons were real, my Sifu even wrote a book on them, interestingly in his book my Sifu uses the moves with a squash racquet against an attacker.

But with regrd to them being genuine weapons one question they all struggled with was…

…If the Knives were added to the system as genuine weapons training it must be obvious that at that time and place, there was a very real need for weapons over empty hands.

If this is the case why are they introduced so late in the training?

Surely, they would be taught from the beginning if they were needed?

Think about that.

Taking a fist to a knife fight is no better than taking a knife to a gunfight.

Because the Baat Cham Dao is not a genuine fighting knife/sword we can replace it with any similar length and weighted implement and get all of the above elements and benefits from the work.

And the benefits are massive.

I know that when you look around YouTube you can see all manner of madness being performed with the Baat Cham Dao, but these are shifty people that are trying to sell something to naive shoppers, we really should know better.

On Youtube there are even people kicking while using the Baat Cham Dao, what is that about?

If we are kicking at an attacker we are outside of knife/sword range and as such if my opponent is unarmed I should close the gap and use the knife/sword, that is why we have it.

Alternatively, if the opponent is armed and out of knife/sword range as we try to kick they will chop our leg off.

The thing about common sense is that it is not very common.

The knife/sword moves in the Form are the moves we make in our ‘empty hand’ applications, the knives allow us to make a better mental connection to the correct alignment.

The treasure is found by practicing dynamic coordinated movements.

To keep this video inside everyone’s attention span I have not gone into the pure movement side of the Baart Cham Dao, I will do a separate video later in the week.


Back in the early days of the internet, I would seek out and gobble up any books I could find on Wing Chun.

I came across a book called ‘Conversations with Wing Chun Masters’ or something along those lines, it was compiled by an American so there were no inherent translation issues, unfortunately, I have long since lost it.

One such conversation was with a student of Ip Man that was also his nephew, a family member, who claimed that it was Ip Man himself that created the Baat Cham Dao Form and that he was almost coerced into it by his students.

In the early days of his teaching, sometime around 1950-51, Ip Man was reported to have had two Peach Wood Swords on the wall where he taught, which his students pestered him to teach them how to use.

Ip Man resisted because he claimed the Swords were fragile, somewhere along the line one of his students managed to copy the Swords and had a few pairs made from aluminium and presented them to Sifu Ip, upon which he created what we now know as the Baat Cham Dao Form.

There is nothing untoward in this, many Masters create their own Forms in their own Schools, and at that time nobody could have predicted how popular Wing Chun would become.

The nephew also said that Sifu Ip used the knives to explain the Ba Gua, something that during the mid-1950s came to be viewed as old-fashioned, mystic superstition and was dropped, but the Baat Cham Dao themselves remained in the system.

What always gave this story credence for me is that it was widely known that Ip Man considered himself a Daoist Gentleman.

In Daoism, Peach Wood Swords are a symbol of a person that is trying to cut away the bonds that tie them to the world of men and free themselves to walk a more spiritual path.

The Ba Gua is a Daoist tool that explores the connection to the 8 elements that make up the Chinese Spiritual Universe.

Baat Chm Dao translates to 8 cutting knives/swords, and the movement set comprises 8 directions.





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