Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

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

Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Trick on Sun Oct 22, 2017 5:55 am

windwalker wrote:I was under the impression that "kendo" was not really about the tech or swordmanship but really teaching something else.
"Kendo is a way to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the katana."

Had a friend into Iaidō, who also taught Aikido, and practiced Kendo...
Very impressive. Was teaching a person who used to fence competitively some taiji
his "yi" intent was quite strong well developed. Which in an odd way was a problem
as he was unaware of it but did use it.....

Yes Kendo practice is very much about fostering and tempering once spirit. 'Zanshin' as state of awareness, is an important concept in Kendo and in all Budo...and in all kind of dueling....In competition unlike western fencing the "correct" mental awareness must be "expressed" all time, this might make a Kendo fight look a little too constructed and forced and by some maybe even silly.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby MaartenSFS on Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:10 pm

I watched the shorter video. My VPN has been acting up and the long one won't load. I'm sure that they have great spirit and train hard and are very good at winning within the confines of their VERY limited ruleset. Western fencing is also rendered impractical by the rules (and the "weapons" themselves. I respect any athlete, but what I care about is effectiveness as a martial art and that is where they fail. Thankfully there are Kenjutsu and HEMA to keep those traditions alive or ressurect them. I can't find a single decent Kenjutsu fencing video, though.. Perhaps they keep to themselves?? I was hoping to compare techniques with what I'm learning..
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Wanderingdragon on Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:18 pm

Respectfully, Video of what you are learning would be helpful
The point . is absolute
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Trick on Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:33 pm

MaartenSFS wrote:I watched the shorter video. My VPN has been acting up and the long one won't load. I'm sure that they have great spirit and train hard and are very good at winning within the confines of their VERY limited ruleset. Western fencing is also rendered impractical by the rules (and the "weapons" themselves. I respect any athlete, but what I care about is effectiveness as a martial art and that is where they fail. Thankfully there are Kenjutsu and HEMA to keep those traditions alive or ressurect them. I can't find a single decent Kenjutsu fencing video, though.. Perhaps they keep to themselves?? I was hoping to compare techniques with what I'm learning..

Well Kenjutsu is mainly probably only two person Kata(form)practice and often also incorporate Iaido(sword drawing/single person form), so you will probably not find anything that suit yours preferences. I personally find the two person Kata's of Kenjutsu very interesting. Here's two old film fotage of traditional Kenjutsu, first one supposed to be of Miamoto Musashis school, and the second(the one I really like) of one of the oldes Kenjutsu schools. http://v.youku.com/pad_show/id_XMjcxNTU ... q_kenjutsu http://v.youku.com/pad_show/id_XMjEyMDM ... to%2520ryu All schools of sport/sparring fencing might be seen as becoming impractical because of their rule set, that's just how it is, and we are probably lucky it is so, we can not do as in the very old times go out and chop and stab people with sharp blades to find out the most practical way. About the impractical modern western fencing, take away the protective knob at the tip of the Foil or Épée, no fencing mask and wear just a simple shirt, one have to pay a little more attention then. Or for your own fencing sparring, use real bokken and no protective gear and then go full out,someone will get seriously hurt. That's why there are rule sets, protective gears and "protective swords". In Kenjutsu they choose only "rule set" in the form of their two person Kata's.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Trick on Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:35 pm

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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby MaartenSFS on Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:07 am

I watched the first 25 minutes of that first video posted about the Hachi Dan testing. I love the determination and spirit.

My main gripe with the ruleset is that the hands are too exposed, thrusts can only be done to the throat, the legs are not a valid target, passing footwork is not allowed and even the stances are limited. Having to shout the name of what you are striking could go either way for me..

I currently don't have any video of our fencing, but it will be on the agenda in the coming months. Right now I'm focusing on learning and training as much as I can before I leave China. Our rules are that the lead hand (closer to the guard) and the neck/throat/head are worth two points and the rest of the body is worth one point. Any part of the body except the back of the head/neck and the groin are valid targets. An additional point is awarded if one thwarts an incoming attack and then successfully counters. Grabbing (or using the palm to pat) the opponent is also allowed, but striking, kicking and throwing aren't (so that the focus is on sword techniques). In future I may allow throwing. Any footwork and stance is allowed, as are one-handed techniques (of which there are many).

I watched one of the videos about Kenjutsu, the one with Kata. I think that those are good to learn in addition to training basics and fencing, but by themselves are not very practical. A lot of them are high-level techniques. One of the most important things to learn is tricking your opponent to expose themselves using feints, Shenfa and crafty footwork. This cannot be learned by doing forms. So, everything I have seen from Kenjutsu is great, but it is missing half of the art and it's the half that made it practical. The same with Kendo, but a different "half".

One of the biggest differences between sport fencing and proper sword fighting is that double hits are avoided and the hands are targeted a lot more. Also, attacks are more conservative in general, as one hit could be enough to end one's life. I'm not saying that what we are doing is perfect or that we are true swordsmen, but it's sure as Hell closer to the real thing than Kendo and Western fencing. I'll need some years to really master the art, though.

I'll watch the other video when I get a chance. Thanks for sharing. I'm really hoping to see some footage of Kenjutsu sparring to compare the techniques that they use and the footwork. So far, what we do seems like a cross between Kenjutsu and HEMA, but with a lot of unique stuff.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Trick on Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:05 am

Well what I tried to say in my other post, is that Kenjutsu is mainly about two person Kata practice no free sparring, and Modern Kenjutsu would be Kendo......Now I'm just speculating, I'm probably very wrong- In older times there was the "practice" of Kata, then there was dueling that ended with someone injured or maybe even dead..
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby MaartenSFS on Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:01 am

So you mean that it's one or the other?? Ouch, that's too bad.. If someone studied both Kendo and Kenjutsu then they might be able to reconstruct the whole.

What the art that I'm studying has got going for it is that it is an almost complete sword art. It's got foundation training for both unarmed fighting and sword-specific stuff, specialised training equipment, partner drills and fencing with a less limited ruleset. The only thing that I [probably] won't be learning is test-cutting and obviously the best Kendoka's will be better athletes, what with so many people in high-level, international competitions.

If Kendo and some Samurai films I've seen are a semi-accurate depiction of Kenjutsu fencing then there are some pretty big differences between that and what we do. We don't really do a lot of "double-tap" hits where you hit the hand first, then the head. There are a lot of circular swings to come around at different angles and cut the opponent, a lot of one-handed attacks, such as thrusts with either hand and the above swinging attacks (which are very technical, but easy to apply), Dian, in which the hands go up and the tip comes down at an angle to thrust them, over their guard, to name a few are things that I have not seen in Kenjutsu. There is also more binding, though that is not my forte. There are many, many ways to attack the hands, which are the preferred target by far.
Last edited by MaartenSFS on Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Trick on Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:40 am

In the Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū vid you see more complex pair and Iai Kata's with more variety of techniques than many other Kenjutsu schools, almost to the point of looking as a non traditional Kenjutsu school, but it being one of the oldest Kenjutsu/bujutsu traditions still in practice. As I understand the art of sword making and style of the sword and probably also fencing techniques was kind of imported in to Japan from China back in some distant history. Maybe the Katori Shinto ryu is more close to the "Chinese" way of fencing.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby MaartenSFS on Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:56 am

I just watched that video. There does seem to be more going on. The part where they do a lot of the techniques with one hand on the back of the blade is something that my Master does too. Didn't see much one-handed stuff, though, or some of the other techniques we use, so those may be unique to Chinese sword arts. There is some stuff that they do that we don't as well, which is good. Glad that there is some variation! If everything was the same it'd be boring...
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Finny on Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:25 am

Trick wrote:In the Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū vid you see more complex pair and Iai Kata's with more variety of techniques than many other Kenjutsu schools, almost to the point of looking as a non traditional Kenjutsu school, but it being one of the oldest Kenjutsu/bujutsu traditions still in practice. As I understand the art of sword making and style of the sword and probably also fencing techniques was kind of imported in to Japan from China back in some distant history. Maybe the Katori Shinto ryu is more close to the "Chinese" way of fencing.


I wouldn't think of the Katori Shinto ryu style as closer to the 'Chinese' way of fencing.. certainly not due to any importing of either technique or technology. The early 'ken' style swords in Japan were supposedly a chinese/korean influence, but had evolved well before the creation of Shinto ryu, or any other ryugi for that matter.

MaartenSFS wrote:I just watched that video. There does seem to be more going on. The part where they do a lot of the techniques with one hand on the back of the blade is something that my Master does too. Didn't see much one-handed stuff, though, or some of the other techniques we use, so those may be unique to Chinese sword arts. There is some stuff that they do that we don't as well, which is good. Glad that there is some variation! If everything was the same it'd be boring...


The entire focus differs - early/pre-edo kenjutsu systems are geared around training to target weak points in yoroi, which is different in form and construction from traditional Chinese armour. Then too, Chinese swordsmanship in the main seems to be designed around 'civilian', or un-armoured combat. An obvious example being Maarten's focus on attacking wrists, which are one of the first places protected by armour.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Pandrews1982 on Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:05 am

Afraid I didn't read the latest discussions about Japanese traditions.

Finny wrote:An obvious example being Maarten's focus on attacking wrists, which are one of the first places protected by armour.


Qing dynasty bannerman brigandine (ding jia) sometimes had sleeves extending beyond the wrist but in Chinese armour there wasn't much really to protect the hands/wrists. As such the wrist is a viable target. Even with armour a heavy blow to the hand/wrist can hurt at least and allow for a distraction which gives an opening for a body thrust/cut, and at worst could cause the person to drop their weapon even breaking the arm/hand. As such the wrist is a viable target with or without armour but your cut must be heavy to be effective.

My own practice of Chinese swordsmanship has an awareness of armoured opponents with a focus on attacking vulnerable points - armpit, throat, inside joints elbow/knee, wrist/hand, hip, groin, rear of legs, percussive blows to the side of the head.

Still working on a lot of things myself, the biggest thing is discipline. It's easy to pick up a mujian or mudao (wooden sword) or waster and swing for the hills without technique or real link to your style and training (see this in emptyhand too). So it's difficult to jump right into full speed, full contact play whilst maintaining good form. Takes time and control.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby MaartenSFS on Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:46 pm

That's a good point, about armour. My Master says that his swordsmanship was originally from the military, but it has been passed on by civilians for at least hundreds of years, hence we don't care about armour at all. Rather, we subconsciously remember that any long object we pick up may be a substitute for the sword when it comes to real-life self-defence.

There are plenty of beginners that wildly "swing for the hills", but most of them are easily dispatched with superior technique and experience, especially with thrusts and attacks to the wrists. It's not hard to let them run into your blade with a bit of trickery and good timing. If both are skilled fencers it's more restrained, but explosive. If both are inexperienced it looks like a messy brawl with both suffering mortal wounds, but we all have to start somewhere, right?

I've now learned most of the techniques of the art, especially offensive ones, and can apply all but one in fencing, though I'm working on that last one. The next part of my training (about two months) will consist of a more systemised approach to learning the defensive techniques and learning combinations of the various offensive techniques (and there are many). And, of course fencing every day and more foundation training. After that I may learn a Miaodao form before leaving China, but we'll see.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby MaartenSFS on Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:39 pm

My Master, a Gongfu Uncle and some of my fellow disciples (I didn't have money or time..) have just returned from an All-China sword fighting competition. The Gongfu Uncle was awarded first place, my Master second and the other disciples also fared pretty well, despite learning for only a short period of time. My Master is 58 years old. Not bad. Some of the teams that arrived were doing HEMA, some Kendo, some fought single-handed, others double. I think that in the years to come there will be more and more masters interested in preserving the traditional knowledge of armed combat. :)
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby MaartenSFS on Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:08 am

Well, I've been studying swordsmanship full-time for nearly a half year now and I'm amazed at how deep and practical this system is. I recently had the chance to do some partner drills with dull replica swords of an authentic weight and balance and was surprised how easily transferable the skills were, how little modification was required (none, really, except being slightly more careful). I think that it really helped that I do a lot of solo drills with a heavier, longer wooden sword, so the additional weight was not a problem. My wrists and forearms are much stronger now. My forearms are huge. Anyone that says that swordsmanship doesn't require a lot of wrist strength isn't doing swordsmanship. That goes doubly for one-handed swords.

The practise swords that we use are great. They have less bend to them than the synthetic (fibreglass?) swords that I've used, stick a little when binding, but can absorb a lot more power upon impact. The tip is also much larger and safer. We get bruised quite a bit, but with a head guard, gloves and possibly light chest-protection, there should be no major injuries. When my Master was learning from his master, they didn't have this modern equipment. It was a lot of pain and suffering. I'm impressed that he has achieved this level of skill the hard way, with no safety equipment besides a winter coat and a wool hat. I honestly can't imagine doing that. I just wouldn't.

Another thing that keeps coming up is just how much of unarmed and armed combat is the same, at least in Chinese styles like Baguazhang and Taijiquan, XYQ. It's clear that past masters were true warriors, even just a generation or two ago. My Master searched high and low and studied bits and pieces from masters all around China, after his own master died, trying to preserve as much as possible. He says that there are still a lot of masters of unarmed combat, even some much younger than him, from most styles, but very, very few that have preserved knowledge of weapons usage. It was absolutely forbidden, even more so than unarmed combat, not long ago, but these days the government is more concerned with guns than swords and spears and the rise of HEMA in the West and Kendo from Japan has sparked renewed interest

Still, there's not much left to preserve (as in the number of masters that can fight with weapons) and those knowledgeable like my Master are few and far between. It's much easier to just learn Kendo or HEMA in the big cities, even if the instructors learned from fucking videos. It's obvious to me that these arts were specifically designed to be used both armed and unarmed. It's a shame that they aren't really trained like that today, but for most it just isn't practical. I, however, have found that it has improved my unarmed fighting a lot recently, both in increasing my power and improving my timing and reaction. And if the shit hits the fan I can pick up any sword-like object and use 90% of the techniques to some extent. The length, weight and balance really don't matter as much for two-handed use. We've used a number of different training swords, the lightest at 350g and the heaviest well over a kilo, and the biggest difference is that it becomes harder to wield with a single hand the heavier it gets (and correct balance plays a larger role). Still, with a bit of training even those problems can be overcome as long as it's not balanced like an axe. Some of the techiques in my Master's system come from the massive Baguadao and even the staff. Many of the techniques are almost identical, with just the slightest modifications, like the way the blade is gripped on a narrower blade versus a thicker blade.

Lastly, I want to touch upon something interesting and that is the strategy of swordsmanship. I feel that unarmed combat involves a lot of strategy, but not at the same level as swordsmanship. It may be because you start further away from each other and have more time to think or that you have a piece of steel between you and them and so many different options at your disposal (especially with our two-handed style that also frequently switches to one-handed and switching from hand to hand). At first we learn how to attack with single techniques and quickly progress to two-technique combinations. Nowadays I have been learning many three or four-technique combinations. These are all designed to force the opponent to react in a certain way and then create openings. Unlike unarmed combat, you can't just trade blows and take a beating. Death is always around the corner.

My Master is very sneaky. I've learned a lot of feints and tricks from him. Lately it's been very interesting. We both try to trick each other and the first to discover what the other really intends to do is the victor. The satisfaction upon this realisation and the instant gratification of the sound of the sword hitting their head or thrusting loudly into their throat is pure joy. I've never laughed so much when getting my arse kicked. Today I fought the most skilled of my fellow disciples. At sword-fighting we are about equal and our battles are epic. It's like a very dramatic game of chess. I love it. I recommend it to anyone, even to improve your unarmed game. Sorry for the long rant. :P
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