Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby .Q. on Sun Aug 27, 2017 3:32 am

MaartenSFS wrote:
.Q. wrote:Never used this, but EPW sounds like an interesting thing to try:

With our training swords it is also possible to bind. Do you know where to buy these?

This is their website:
http://www.epw-sparring.com/index.html

Skallagrim has a review on them too:
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby MaartenSFS on Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:20 am

Thanks for all of the information. It looks like there are a lot of different options, which is great. I will also have a look at what the HEMA people are doing for ideas as well. The European swort art has come a long way in a short time and it seems like it's working for them and they already have most of the equipment I'll need.

I trained at least eight hours today.. So tired... My master and I met up with two other masters this morning and exchanged some knowledge. Their Miaodao stuff was great. I then learned some more in-depth footwork and fenced with a lot of people this afternoon and had a chance to use what I learned on the lesser opponents. Got bruised pretty badly by another disciple that has been learning a lot longer than me, but I did well considering the little time that I've been studying it so far. There really is a lot of technique involved and practise makes perfect.

I am so impressed at how intact the sword art is. At least with these masters. They are in the minority. I really hope that their respective arts get passed on. It is so cool to learn an unbroken tradition of armed combat. In a way, the popularity of HEMA is helping Chinese weapon arts. My master never learned the complete curriculum of any art (armed or unarmed). He travelled around China and learned from whoever had the skills and was willing to teach him. Some masters had gaps in their knowledge, which he filled by going to other masters, to eventually arrive at a near complete art. His focus has always been on fighting and how to do it more effectively. He reads a lot as well. He knows what works and what doesn't and experiments a lot.

He has decided that there are already enough people working to preserve and promote traditional unarmed styles and that he will focus on armed arts (though there is a lot of overlap). When he was young his master taught him with sticks and beat his arse every day. Now, with modern equipment, there is less pain, but that intensity is still there. It's not a game, but trained as a matter of life and death. We spend a lot of time on footwork, which is critical, and strength-building foundation exercises, like developing strong wrists. The years of unarmed training are serving me well, although I can't completely rely on it. One wrong move and you're finished. There is a lot of Tingjin, or "listening" for one's opponent's power, like in Taijiquan and wrestling, especially when binding. That sensitivity is important and there are a lot of cool drills to train it.

Overall I'm having a blast and am making good progress. My goal is to upgrade to proper swords and armour eventually, but am learning the technique first. They just bought a real Jian, so I'll have the opportunity to train with it as well and feel the difference. It's about a kilogram in weight. Twice as heavy as our fencing swords! Anyways, I just wanted to share my journey with all of you. Good luck in your training. :)
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Peacedog on Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:29 am

Maarten,

Check out the following book. Lots of resources from traditional sword work both written and who's who.

https://www.amazon.com/Swords-Swordsmen ... +swordsmen
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby nicklinjm on Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:38 pm

Maarten, I really like reading your updates on your training - maybe you should consider combining them all in one place and putting them in a blog?
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby yeniseri on Mon Sep 04, 2017 12:27 pm

CHinese swordsmanship is not superior to Western swordsmanship but both sides can learn from the other. The former just happens to have been a leftover from the pre-Industrial Rvolution due to the lack of modern weapons in the arsenal so functionaltiy is still in recent memory along with usage.
The ceremonial sword used in USMC parades/special events is a remnant from the halls of Tripoli excursions (Barbary pirates) along with the dress blues high collar to mitigate slashes to the neck (usually lethal) even in the hands of non experts!
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby wayne hansen on Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:06 pm

To judge if one is superior to the other you must not only judge its combat efficiency but it as an overall training method.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby MaartenSFS on Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:00 pm

I'm glad that you enjoy the updates. Due to overexerting my wrist I've begun learning the two-handed Miaodao. There are a lot of similarities in training and technique. Although the swords are similar (especially since we are using shorter swords of about 100cm long), I feel like the usage is quite different from the little Kenjutsu I've seen. The footwork is very interesting with a lot of circular movement. Regardless, the emphasis is on fighting, not on forms or test-cutting, which is great.

One of the most interesting things I've been learning is called Niandao, or Sticky Sabre (different character than Sticky Hands) in which one has to cut or stab the opponent without losing contact with their blade (or getting past the blade). It trains Tingjin (Listening Power), Shenfa (the way the body moves) and footwork extremely well and is fun!

I always arrive really early and learn new things from my Master before other students arrive and later begin with general Gongfu warm-up/foundation exercises, then move on to solo line drills with the sword, partner drills, Niandao and finally fencing with protective equipment. The fencing is always in competition format with a clear winner and loser to prevent us from just randomly smacking each other and to give us a little pressure to train harder and win. After training we'll drink some tea and discuss the training and the history of Chinese sword arts etc. My plan is to train like this for at least four hours, five days per week (plus an afternoon or two) for the next year before I leave China.
Last edited by MaartenSFS on Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Pandrews1982 on Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:56 am

I teach Chinese swordplay in the UK. I've trained in Xing Yi Quan including weapons for over 13 years. Quarter finalist of the 2011 European Jian tournament, Semi-finalist in 2012 (my own student beat me and went on to win that one!). I've trained with Scott Rodell for a few years now also, hosting him for intensive seminars and recently travelling to USA to train with him. Scott's system is based on Yang Tai Ji but he believes has a Xing Yi influence historically and it is not really style specific as he teaches basic cuts and applications first rather than forms. I train with Scott because he is really an expert on Chinese sword, translating a number of old texts (on amazon kindle) with the added understanding of having years of experience in the arts (unlike some others) and he's also dealt in antique chinese weapons for many years and has handled thousands of real Chinese swords so he really understands them. I was lucky enough to be shown a few from his own collection and those he has in storage for sale recently.

A lot of Chinese sword work (and any sword work actually) is filled with myths and misconceptions. Partly down to media portrayal but also due to lack of practical understanding (people haven't really used these weapons in earnest for many years and a lot of that knowledge has faded or been misinterpreted, even by so called experts).

We train with wooden swords primarily. These are usually from Graham Cave of Tiger's Den, I helped Graham in the production of his new Republican Jian by testing the prototype and providing feedback. Graham's swords are made to have the same length and feel/balance as historical weapons whilst having large blunt edges to provide some safety. there are other options but these are generally the best we've found.

We don't use foam or synthetic swords as they tend to either feel unlike a historical sword in terms of weight and balance (they may look the part but don't feel it), they don't have the same shock or response on impact with another weapon, and can provide a false sense of security.

I have a metal training sword (Scott Rodell's sparring Jian, which he personally gifted to me). But metal sparring swords require more protective equipment.

Protective equipment is used to reduce (not negate) the risk of injury. When training with blunt wooden swords or metal swords impacts still hurt even through padding. In the 2011 Tournament I actually knocked out an opponent with a strong blow to the head (it was described in Kung Fu Tai Chi Magazine).

The training should inspire a respect for the danger of the weapon itself in order to provide correct responses. All too common are people from all forms of sword craft padding up or using padded weapons and jumping in and swinging for the hills thinking they are amazing swordsmen but in reality having no technique at all. A lot of this is also perpetuated by the fact that there are few out there that have practised this craft extensively and under pressured situations therefore the majority of the field are of low skill, leading to the fact that swinging like a mad man or lunging in with disregard can work. This is then taken to be effective technique by the player but they have never actually met with effective technique so continue to practice undisciplined methods with limited connection to the real art. This is similar to many emptyhand schools where they train impeccable form and application and when it's time to spar everyone turns into bouncing patty cake players.

Test cutting is essential to understand your weapon, even the "finesse" of the jian. You must know that cutting is different to striking and there are different cuts and targets etc. The majority of players when faced with their first cut, even against a soft target like a water bottle, will knock the target out of the park with hardly a scratch on it. Cutting is a skill and no manner of walking trough forms or smacking a partner with a stick will teach you this effectively. You may think that hey I hit him with my wooden sword therefore I've chopped his arm off, but maybe not so easy as you think. Edge alignment, shifting grip, angle of attack, target choice, all determine the effectiveness of the cut. A touch is not a cut!

Also just swinging right through to get a cut might look cool (plenty of videos of guys with katana cutting plastic bottles and letting their arms swing right back behind them!!), but you learn control, cut but just enough to get through the target effectively, allowing you to press a further cut or attack if needed.

Understanding that the tip of the jian is really dangerous. The edge is unlikely to cut through armour or even heavy padding, hell might not get through a think sweatshirt even (cloth is difficult to cut) but the tip will thrust through most things. So if I step up beyond your tip and your blade is 1 inch from the side of my face then I'm relatively safe, yuo might be able to slash or draw cut my face causing a small cut or scratch but I'm moving into you and probably going to put 6 or more inches of blade into somewhere vital, so rather than die and scratch me you would be more worried about parrying the blade. Things like this are often overlooked by those that don't test cut or understand the real capabilities of their weapon and the opponent's weapon.

I cut with the hanwei cutting jian (Scott Rodell also designed this), it's robust and cheap and more than good enough to do the job. You might want a fancier blade with pattern welding or nice fittings it's your choice.

There's lots more I could talk about but I don't have time.

I teach and hold workshops and seminars on Chinese sword in Leeds UK. I've trained the staff at the Royal Armouries museum in basics of Chinese swordplay and performed test cutting and introductory workshops in Chinese sword at the Royal Armouries museum. If anyone is interested in learning more then get in touch. Scott Rodell also has seminars all over USA and Europe and one venue in Australia most years.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby MaartenSFS on Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:18 am

Thanks for sharing. Due to budgetary constraints we don't have access to any real swords at the moment (there is a blunt Hanwei Jian with a furled tip at my master's house that I have played with), but I definitely want to use wood and real swords at some point, even some test-cutting for research purposes. Due to pretty much everyone wrecking their wrists with overexertion we're all doing Miaodao right now, which also has a fair bit of single-handed techniques and makes sparring very interesting. My hope is that by learning the technique and doing a lot of sparring, learning the distance and timing, footwork, applying internal power etc. will set me up for slowly investing in armour and better swords.

The training swords we use are not very flexible at all and hit hard. Wearing a head guard with a face mask, the thrusts can still be dangerous to the body. No one has been injured so far, but I can see it happening. The training swords aren't completely round and have a sort of edge to them. After a bit more training I think that the double-handed sword translates to canes or umbrellas, baseball bats etc. much better than single-handed swords do. I care about that more than cutting properly, as I hope that our training can glean more real world value. Test-cutting will come last, when I can afford real, sharp swords and mats or whatever to cut, but it's on the agenda at some point. I have heard it from several sources now that cutting through clothing is not as easy as one would surmise, though. We will definitely take it into account as we are modifying our sparring rules.

The balance of the sword is much less important with two hands and it is quite easy to do single single-handed thrusts or a cut or two from the two-handed position and the other hand can give it a bit of a push. Very interesting. It's almost the best of both worlds. When I get back to the West I'll do most of my training with wooden swords and save the sparring swords for... sparring. Once I get armour we can use the wooden swords for sparring as well.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Wanderingdragon on Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:44 pm

Sorry sounds nothing like Chinese sword, the wrist should not feel any more fatigue than the entire body, as you should be united, the weapon a mere extension. The balance two handed or one is essential in proper technique, again a sign of disconnect. No swordplay should ever be likened to the use of blunt force, bats sticks or canes is a different style of hitting all together . It sounds more like a dog brothers event than the study of Chinese sword art.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby wayne hansen on Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:49 pm

+1
Don't put power into the form let it naturally arise from the form
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby MaartenSFS on Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:36 pm

When you train every single day without rest for over a month, without ever having trained your weak, modern wrists, it's quite easy to overexert the wrist. We don't just use blunt force. We use the entire body. There are techniques that require a bit of strength in the wrists. I said that balance was less important with two-handed, not that it wasn't important.. I don't get why you are all trying to discredit my training.. It's starting to get annoying. What's the point of posting, then?
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Wanderingdragon on Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:24 am

Chinese arts are whole body arts, fatigue to any one part of the body means you are not doing it right and, honestly , should stop, until you have had time to learn to have the foot support the hand, as the body as one beam. Clearly as you have stated, your training, as well as your masters have been unconventional, though here I think it would behoove you to pay heed to one of the more traditional ways. Learn form as function before you start hitting. You will avoid undo fatigue that leads to injury, you will only learn muscle dependent strength oriented skills, you will never learn the sensitivity of the sword, the absolute essence of sword skill.

https://youtu.be/kzab-cGu9A0

One can copy form, but if you cannot put your body in the tip of your sword you will never develop sword skill.
Last edited by Wanderingdragon on Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby wayne hansen on Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:24 pm

The main thing that differs with the broadsword and double edge sword in tai chi is the use of whole body versus folding
The broadsword requires whole body like swinging an axe
The sword can fold and disengage from overall body motion like using a paint brush
There is an old poem that I have long since forgotten but its essence is


The old master would die laughing if he saw you use the sword like a broadsword

I see my sword like a pushing hands partner
It is possible to replace the broadsword with a walking stick
To replace the sword you need a sharp knife or razor blade
If they did not differ what would be the point of doing both
Don't put power into the form let it naturally arise from the form
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby wayne hansen on Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:27 pm

I would like to know why Bao removed his comment
I think as a matter of clarity any comment that is removed should be replaced with a short comment as to why
Don't put power into the form let it naturally arise from the form
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