In Tai Chi Chuan the dao represents the tiger. It is a ferocious weapon used to hack and slash at the opponent. It is fast and agile, it spins and bites. It appears and disappears, twists and turns. It snarls and growls and attacks constantly. The form contains many deep, long stances that really build out the legs and the sweeping, hacking motions strengthen the waist and the arms. It is possibly the most energetic and vigorous of all the forms in the Wudang style.
The dao is, possibly, the most practical of all the weapon forms in the Wudang style. It is actually really easy to substitute the dao with an umbrella or a walking stick. All the techniques still work in exactly the same way except for the fact that they bludgeon rather than cut.
The spear techniques require long weapons ( and we tend not to carry long things around with us ) and the jian techniques are geared towards piercing cuts or techniques that draw blood through slicing actions ( there aren’t too many chopping techniques ). The dao however is a very hacky-slashy weapon that translates very well to being used with umbrellas or walking sticks.
The dao is often the first weapon learnt and in terms of practicality and versatility it really can’t be matched.