This mysterious weapon is potentially one of the most important martial arts artefacts in the world. Currently in private ownership in England this weapon was formerly the property of the family of William Gladstone (1809 – 1898), four times British Prime Minister and President of the Board of Trade during the wars between Britain and China. On it is inscribed the symbol (正) which represents correctness. It has been suggested that this was presented to William Gladstone by the Chinese, though this claim as yet remains uncorroborated.
It is steel, weighs 603grams and measures 52cm in length, the shaft is circular and the cambered double-edged blade measures 8cm long and 2.5cm wide. It is ideal for strong parries and puncturing and slicing blows. The weapon is dated to 1850 (approx) and though not showing any signs of recent sharpening it still maintains a cutting edge. A single notch in the blade may suggest a use at some time.
This weapon is contemporary to the Sai and is associated with a plethora of short range steel weapons that were at one time a key feature of southern Chinese martial arts and its similarity to the Kama cannot be ignored. The exact name of this weapon is unknown and we would welcome suggestions from other martial artists and historians. This weapon has contributed to the ongoing practical research into historical fighting practice at Jikishin Kobudo and will feature as part of a martial arts demonstration at the Royal Armouries Museum in February 2015.
William Gladstone was a popular, caring and poignant man whose insight into world affairs is as relevant today as it was a century and a half ago.
“Remember the rights of the savage, as we call him. Remember that the happiness of his humble home, remember that the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan among the winter snows, are as sacred in the eye of Almighty God as are your own. Remember that He who has united you together as human beings in the same flesh and blood, has bound you by the law of mutual love, that that mutual love is not limited by the shores of this island, is not limited by the boundaries of Christian civilisation, that it passes over the whole surface of the earth, and embraces the meanest along with the greatest in its wide scope” W.E. Gladstone 1879.