DAAB – Traditional Thai sword fighting

DAAB (sword) is traditional armed combat with arm-long objects as improvised weapons and the name-giving Thai-swords, that can be used as single or double-sword.

Thai-swords were originally simple rice flails (Gab) or weed scythes (Gab Glie). Such tools were already used 4000 years ago against Chinese invaders and were, over the course of centuries, developed into fighting swords.

Typical for Thai sword fighting is using the center-near pivot that enables a high rotation speed and complex movement patterns and the use of the grip for blunt strikes.

Authentic Thai sword fighting is always trained with heavy training weapons made from wood or steel, but never with Rattan oder Bamboo.

The Pahuyuth School in Berlin is the only place in the world where the famous DAAB NARESUAN (also known as “Sword of Ayutthaya”) is taught.

DAAB NARESUAN is a special, single-handed sword style, developed and secretively passed on by a paramilitary special force, that was founded during the Reign of King Naresuan (1590-1605 A.D.).

A Thai sword is not a hammer …

Typology

Thai swords (DAAB) are unique in the world and are not related to any other sword type. They belong to the arm-long, one-hand and one side sharpened blank weapons and are divided into three equal-length sections.

The first section is the so-called sword face (Weak), which measures about one third of the blade length from the tip of the blade. It is mainly used for attacks. The lower part of the blade (Strong) is called the sword catch and is used for defence. While the sharp side of the blade is used for chopping, cutting or tearing, the blunt back of the sword can be used for a material- saving defence of attacks and for crushing bones. Some swords have engraved writing or symbols on the blade, which are said to have a magical effect.

Due to the low purity and quality of Southeast Asian steel, these swords have always tended to wear out relatively quickly. Aggressive striking of the blades against each other is therefore avoided. A Thai sword is not a hammer – therefore the power of the opponent‘s attack is preferably used to reposition the own blade and to gain power for counter attacks. In times of war, sword blades were occasionally pulled through decomposing corpses or excrement to increase the blade‘s effectiveness through the cadaveric poison and bacterial infections.

Bild: Dab (Dab Ayutthaya)

Between the blade and the hilt there is sometimes a very small guard. A hand protection is not provided for Thai swords, because it would interfere with the handling of the sword. Unlike it is taught in other sword fighting styles, between a swordsman and the blade of his opponent lies only the skill of the one who is using the DAAB.

The hilt (Grip) covers another third of the sword and serves the balance. Traditionally the sword has a round handle, which allows a secure hold and a smooth change of the grip (e.g. blade pointing up or down).

The end of the hilt (Pommel) is often reinforced with a solid steel knob. Stabs with the tip of the sword (Point) are rather unusual because of the curvature of most swords and the often broad blade tip. Instead, it is preferred to stab or strike with the end of the hilt. It is said that in the course of time more people have died by the pommel than by the blade of such a sword.

The scabbard is usually made of hardwood and can be used for defense and attack due to its high stability. The original form of fighting with double sword is with the scabbard in one hand and the sword in the other. The rope attached to the scabbard is mainly used for transport purposes and to secure the scabbard. With teacher‘s swords, the transverse bands or stripes can be an indication of the years of educational practice already completed.

Thai swords are not top-heavy but balanced. They are held relatively close to the balance point of the sword. This provides a high turning speed and enables complex movement patterns by changing direction. Thumb, index finger base and forefinger act as axis of rotation, while the opening and closing the hand produces the rotary swing. Sword strokes can thus be generated not only from the arm or body rotation, but also from the hand or wrist.

An experienced DAAB warrior knows how to handle both one and two swords (or one sword and one scabbard). However fighting with a single sword is generally preferred and considered as the highest form of swordsmanship. He also masters the fight with arm-length objects (e.g. baseball clubs, batons and cudgels) and the fight against one or more opponents with the same or different armament.

A DAAB warrior integrates bodily weapons (fist, foot, elbow and knee) as well as ground fighting and grip techniques into his fighting style. He has a considerable repertoire of pommel attacks and turning techniques. This enables him to manipulate the opponent‘s weapon (winding / Winden im Band) and to act with deadly precision in very close quarters (e.g. in the jungle or on the battlefield).

Sword Handling

Swordfighting techniques

Pahuyuth compendium daab techniques thai sword

DAAB Students of the basic level (green belt) learn 152 basic techniques.

Pahuyuth compendium techniques handbook square

The Pahuyuth Compendium contains the 152 school techniques of DAAB.

The Pahuyuth Compendium is the new technical handbook of the basic level.

It contains the basic techniques of MUAI, LING LOM, MEED, MAI SAWK, DAAB, GRABONG and SABAI.

DAAB – The original Krabi Krabong

After the execution of King Tak Sin in 1782 AD, the ancient Pahuyuth Free-Warriors withdrew from the public. They went underground and took the knowledge about ancient Thai sword fighting (DAAB) with them.

Decades later, during the reign of King Rama II (1809-1826 AD), members of the royal court developed an entertaining stage fencing for noble people: The so-called Krabi Krabong.

As a matter of fact Krabi Krabong has never been used in warfare. It was never used on historical or modern battlefields and it was not designed for this purpose. Nevertheless, in many places it is wrongly declared to be an ancient war martial art. For this reason DAAB (war sword), which is taught at the Pahuyuth school in Berlin, can be called “the original Krabi Krabong”.

Detailed information about Krabi Krabong and its history can be found in our blog article: The untold history of Krabi Krabong.

The untold history of krabi krabong

DAAB NARESUAN – The sword of Ayutthaya

After his coronation in 1590 A.D. King Naresuan restructured the armed forces of his empire.

On his orders, a group of paramilitary free warriors (Pahuyuth) was asked to protect the country in the event of an invasion and to carry out covert operations.

This resulted in a new sword style (DAAB), which was secretly passed down among the descendants of this sword fighting art – the so-called DAAB NARESUAN, also known as the “Sword of Ayutthaya”.

As the indirect founder of this style, King Naresuan is considered since then as a sword fighting teacher honoris causa and is revered by the members of the DAAB NARESUAN to this day.

Traditional sword dance (Ram Daab)

The dance with the sword is part of the traditional cultural heritage of Pahuyuth swordsmen and can be taught to DAAB practitioners of higher levels on request. Necessary prerequisites are knowledge of DAAB and Saiyasart. Three examples of such sword dances can be found in the following videos.

The curse of King Naresuan

Members of the DAAB NARESUAN cultivate a special form of the traditional sword dance. Whenever they visit the statue of the king in Ayutthaya, they express their respect and appreciation for King Naresuan with a special sword dance (Ram Daab).

Legend has it that a sword dance performed by a person who is unworthy or incapable of representing the true legacy of King Naresuan’s special forces unit would be tantamount to an insult to royalty (Lèse-majesté). It is therefore said that those people would fall victim to a curse and die within 48 hours of performing such a dance.

We have dedicated a blog article to the Curse of King Naresuan.

king naresuan curse history thai sword fight ritual

Thai Sword and European Sword

In the year of Lord 2017 we were invited by our friends of the Brotherhood of Ascanians to take part in the medieval castle festival at Ziesar Castle. The mutual deep respect and curiosity about each other’s sword style lead to an interesting exchange of knowledge. We recorded parts of this memorable meeting of fighters and blades from different cultures and processed them in the adjacent video.

More about the Bruderschaft der Askanier: To their Website

The day the fishtails began to twitch

April 8th 2007 (AD), Bangkok, Thailand: “The day the fishtails began to twitch”

For the first time since the early 1950s students and teachers from several Thai fighting styles met in Royal Prark to freely talk about their fighting styles and to exchange experiences.

The entirety of Thai martial arts has always been unequal and widespread, therefore martial artists from different styles, such as MUAI, PAHUYUTH, Krabi Krabong and Gila Dab took part in this year’s gathering.

Once on Ayutthaya’s old market place, pickled fishes abruptly began to twitch, foreboding a burmese invasion. As a result, hundreds of Thai warriors from all over Thailand were sent to defend their country.

According to this well known historic event the motto of this years gathering was „The day the fishtails began to twitch“

THAI SWORD TRAINING IN BERLIN

You are interested in sword fighting and want to learn DAAB at the Pahuyuth School in Berlin?

Pahuyuth has a traditional training and teaching concept with belt steps. The aim of our teaching method is to provide a well-founded and safe martial arts education in the physical as well as the mental sense. At the same time we want to prevent that dangerous knowledge gets into the wrong hands and can cause damage.

The entrance requirement for the discipline DAAB is the Pahuyuth student status (green belt), which requires passing the entrance examination.

Admission to the entrance examination again requires a participation in the trial student course.

Interested? Then visit our trial training page!

… thus it should not be wielded like one.

DAAB Videos & Blog Articles

The untold history of Krabi Krabong
king naresuan curse history thai sword fight ritual
How much does a Thai sword weigh?