The 160-lb. sword of Liu T'ing

According to this book I’m readong, “1587, A Year of No Significance”, a Liu T’ing, a Chinese army officer wielded a sword weighing 160 lbs or more.

I say this is total bull.

The source cited is Ming-shih 247.2806

From what I understand, most swords weighed a few pounds. Big ones weighed a little more.

Easily could be a problem with the translation. EG, the original was in ounces and the translation was in pounds.

Also could be using colorful language in the original that get’s translated as literal. Romance of the Three kingdoms has a lot of this kind of stuff, don’t take it too seriously.

A sword of 160 lbs?

Sounds like myth to me.

What type of sword was it exactly? Dao, Jiam? (does the source say?).

I’ll give you averages here of functional swords (because there’s no way in hell a 160 lb sword would be functional in any way shape or form except as a REALLY big and REALLY heavy paper weight :wink: ).

European swords:

zwei-hander (two handed swords): ~ 7 lbs.
Longsword (langeschwert): ~ 2 to 3 lbs.
Rapier: ~2-3 lbs.

Eastern Blades:

Katana: ~ 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 lbs.
Odachi (Nodachi -a huge field sword): 4 to 6 lbs.

I’ll double check my numbers (running from memory here) but I’m rather sure these are accurate.

Well, it bothers me when excellent books have monumentally stupid remarks like this in it. I would have though the author would have bothered to use some incredulity.

As China Guy points out, it may have bneen a translation error. Double chekc the source.

If it was 160 ounces rather than pounds that would equate to what, 10 lbs?

Sounds a little more plausible, but still rtaher unlikely. The extra weight would have made the wepaon more of a liability than an asset on the battlefield, unless he never actually used and just carried around for ‘inspirational’ purposes :wink:

While 160 lbs does seem a bit excessive, some martial arts styles do use very heavy weapons. It is not uncommon to see weapons that weigh 30-40 lbs. Primarily, they are used to help one focus their chi.

I bet the sword in that link has to weigh 20-30 lbs at least.

Perhaps they’ll help you focus your chi, but they sure as heck are not going to help you on the field of battle.

Which is why I ask: what function did the sword serve? Was it purely for show, or did he intend to use it in combat?

Even large zweihander swords (sometimes 5 feet long) were light and well balanced weapons of war. Not just heavy pieces of steel.

Maybe it was ceremonial?

The best way to be sure would be to go check the source. Anyone willing?

Anyway, while googling, I found this guy who mentions:

This is close enough to the number to your value that I would discount it as an error. Bragging in the original source of the tidbit, yes, probably, but you run into people wielding massive weapons too often in Chinese litterature for this to be a mistake I think. (Although, he might have mistranslated the unit, simply replacing pound for the Chinese word.)

Now we need to send someone to Hunan to check that other guy’s sword, I couldn’t find pics online.

Damn, I’m having a hard time with 10 lbs for a sword (unless extremely well balanced, though the swords on the pictures I’ve seen -very falchion like- don’t seem well balanced at all).

I just can’t fathom a 100lb sword as being anything BUT a status symbol. In battle it would useless. I would bet good money no one using such a weapon would live through an engagement.

And forget duels. No chance there either.

Hey, this guy pulled if off:

Seriously, 160lbs is far too much for a sword. I can’t see a Chinese man of that era weighing 160lbs himself, much less being able to heft it around with ease.

Catties, in ‘Outlaws of the Marsh’, (a Chinese classic akin to Robin Hood), have a wide variance of corresponding weight, IIRC, from somewhere between 1/3lb to 1 1/3 lb. Depending upon translation the sword may’ve weighed as little as 40lbs. Once you account for exaggeration, the sword may well have weighed 20lbs.
Legendary General Kwan is said to’ve used a weapon, (named after him, a pole arm of sorts like a halberd), that weighed 80 catties. Now pole arms are a much different animal when it comes to weilding them, as they allow for more easily distrinuted ‘body english’ than a sword.

IIRC aren’t there claymores that weighed around 50lbs?


Could this be propoganda? I don’t know about Liu T’ing specifically, but isn’t the literature full of generals who were twelve feet tall, had a visible aura, or floated several inches above the ground? In making a general somewhat larger than life, an extraordinary weapon would be a typical device.

That guy must have had incredibly strong wrists.

Nope. More like 5-9 lbs.

Well your traditional Bangua sword weighs about 4 pounds.

This thing must weigh in excess of 10 pounds easy. Although we don’t know what it’s made out of nor the width of the blade.

I recall watching those old kungfu flicks were the good guys rattled their blades and they flopped around like paper.

I could be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure the swords you see in Kung Fu movies are props. = P

I’m not so sure. I have seen similar blades in kung-fu/eastern martial arts schools.


These were designed to break through a shield wall. You and your similarly armed comrades charged, swung once, and then immediatley dropped the claymores and drew regular swords.