History of the Baat Jáam Dōu

by SiFu William Cheung
Last Updated: 13 March, 2014
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     History of the Wing Chun Eight Slash Butterfly swords is also called Wing Chun Baat Jáam Dōu.  The name Baat Jáam Dōu was derived from the initial intention of the originator work designed the striking technique mainly aiming for the wrist, elbow, knee and ankle.  The purpose was to maim the opponent rather than to kill since the Wing Chun Baat Jáam Dōu was originated in the shaolin Temple and used by the monks and nuns of the temple in their travels.  They frequently carried sums of money donated by their worshippers.  Often bandits who intended to rob them would meet them.  The monks were prepared for this, and they were equipped with butterfly swords to defend themselves.  Since their religion did not allow them to slaughter anyone, their initial target was to maim their opponents the wrists, knees and ankles.

     In the Ching Dynasty (A.D. 1644-1911), China was ruled the Manchu’s.  It was a time when Ninety percent of the Chinese, the Hun’s, were ruled by ten percent minority, the Manchu’s.

     When the Manchu Government, the Manchu gained full control of China, outlawed all weapons.  They enforced unjust laws on the Hon’s.  Thus Kung-Fu world then be banned for the Hon People.  For instance, all the female Hun infants were made to bind their feet so that when they grew up they would be restricted in their movement and they would have to be dependent upon their parents or their husband.  They restricted the work opportunity of the Huns.  The Huns were unable to hold office in the government high than a certain level.  They placed heavy tax burdens on the county so that they could have complete economic control of the Hun people.  Kung Fu training was also banned for the Hun people.

     However, the Manchu Government adopted the Hun Culture.  They respected the Shaolin Temple as a Buddhist sanctuary.  The Huns began to train their revolutionary army in the art of Kung Fu, using the Shaolin Temple as a secret training place.  In the traditional Shaolin system it would take 15 to 20 years to train a kung fu master.  The need to develop a new and more effective style of kung fu became critical when some of the existing kung fu master surrendered to work for the Manchu Government.  Five of the Shaolin grandmasters planned to develop a new for one which would have a shorter training time and would be more effective than all the other systems developed before.  The five teachers met to choose the most efficient training method from each system.  They developed the principle and the training program of Wing Chun that would take only five years to master.  They called this system Wing Chun, its name meaning, “hope for the future.”  However, before this new system could be put into practice, the Shaolin Temple was raided and burned by the Manchu’s.  Ng Mui, a nun, was a survivor of the original group of five.  She passed her knowledge onto a young orphan girl whom she named Wing Chun.

     Along with the development of the Wing Chun system, the butterfly swords (Baat Jáam Dōu) was chosen as the only weapon in the Wing Chun system because the length of the Baat Jáam Dōu made it easy conceal.  It could be used as an extension of the arms, and they were the most deadly and effective weapons of all.  This was because the Baat Jáam Dōu system emphasized the training of coordinating the two swords, the training of the eyes, wrist and footwork.  The principle was based on the fact that every defense was accompanied be a counterattack, and every attack was accomplished by a trapping, parrying or immobilizing move of the other sword.