Dao (pronunciation: [táʊ], English approximation: /daʊ/ dow, Chinese: 刀; pinyin: dāo) are single-edged Chinese swords, primarily used for slashing and chopping. The most common form is also known as the Chinese sabre, although those with wider blades are sometimes referred to as Chinese broadswords. In China, the dao is considered one of the four traditional weapons, along with the gun (stick or staff), qiang (spear), and the jian (double-edged sword), called in this group “The General of Weapons – Dao Blank Blade
While dao have varied greatly over the centuries, most single-handed dao of the Ming period and later and the modern swords based on them share several characteristics. Dao blades are moderately curved and single-edged, though often with a few inches of the back edge sharpened; the moderate curve allows them to be reasonably effective in the thrust. Hilts are sometimes canted, curving in the opposite direction of the blade, which improves handling in some forms of cuts and thrusts – Dao Blank Blade
The cord is usually wrapped over the wood of the handle. Hilts may also be pierced like those of jian (straight-bladed Chinese sword) for the addition of lanyards. However, modern swords for performances will often have tassels or scarves instead. Guards are typically disc-shaped and often cupped. This was to prevent rainwater from getting into the sheath and blood dripping down to the handle, making it more difficult to grip. Sometimes guards are thinner pieces of metal with an s-curve, the lower limb of the curve protecting the user’s knuckles; very rarely, they may have guards like those of the jian.
Other variations to the basic pattern include the large bagua dao and the long handled pudao.