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What are Butterfly Swords? History, Use & Where to Buy

Butterfly SwordsButterfly Swords (Baat Jaam Do) are a unique weapon most commonly found in Southern China and most notably associated with the martial arts styles of Wing Chun, Choy Li Fut, Hung Ga, and Shaolin Kung Fu.

Butterfly Swords, which are usually wielded in pairs, are about 11.5 inches long with a 6 inch handle.  Traditionally, butterfly swords are made to order for individual martial artists and were not massed produced.  This meant that each pair of butterfly swords were unique. Each martial arts style and specific lineage have slightly different blade preferences. For instance, modern Wing Chun practitioners prefer a wider blade.  Some Wing Chun schools measure the length of the blade on the inside of the forearm based on the distance to the biceps. This enables the user to use techniques that twirl the knives inside the arm with a reverse grip without cutting themselves. Other Wing Chun lineages measure to the outside of the biceps.

The shorter length of butterfly swords allows for better maneuverability when working in close quarters.  Butterfly swords were typically carried side by side in the same scabbard which gave the appearance of just one weapon.

Traditionally, the butterfly sword blade was only sharp from the middle of the blade to the tip. This left a portion of the blade blunt which allowed the user to block without damaging the sharpened edge as well as being able to deliver non-lethal strikes.

Butterfly swords are regarded by many Chinese martial artists to hold the most versatility and balance of offensive and defensive capabilities of any Chinese weapon, with many more capabilities than just a weapon.  The butterfly sword helps the Wing Chun practitioner with footwork, strengthens their stance with root and improves coordination and dexterity of their hands. You will be a better empty hand practitioner if you train with the swords.

Butterfly Swords Seminar

On Saturday May 14th, Sifu John Crescione will be at Syracuse Martial Arts Academy teaching a seminar on the finer details of beginner to advanced Wing Chun Butterfly Sword concepts and technique. Seminar fee also comes with a DVD of sword training material. Practice swords required.




Jeanne started her martial arts training later in life and has been training at SMAA for over 10 years. She likes all aspects of the martial arts from the physical challenges to the spiritual pursuits of martial etiquette and virtue. She has a master degree in marketing and is currently working on her MBA.

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