Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

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

Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby MaartenSFS on Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:47 am

So, since I moved back to Guilin a month ago and was impressed with my master's sword system I have decided to focus all of my energy on it for the next six months or more. I have two basic choices; Jian or Miaodao (and short staff, but my master hasn't found a safe training weapon solution for that one yet).

I chose Jian because its use is varied with a lot more types of attacks and footwork and for safety and financial reasons. I feel that the weight of the two-handed training Miaodao makes it dangerous to practise without full armour, whereas with the training Jian only a head-guard and possibly a chest-protector are needed (less of an investment). Also, though the Miaodao is a brilliant weapon, I can't help but feel like the Jian, with it's cuts, thrusts and many off-hand techniques offers something more unique, as Miaodao seems very similar to Kenjutsu (they are related after all). Also, I feel like Jian skills can more easily transfer to every day objects like a cane or umbrella that one could carry on their person.

That being said, the power that can be generated with the Miaodao is scary, so I have a healthy respect for it. Perhaps next time I'm in China..? It would require a much more significant investment to be safe enough to fence with that I'm not sure most would be too keen on.

I have been training almost every day this month and will be training five days a week once school starts back up and fencing pretty much every training day for at least six months and possibly until I leave China next summer. It's a lot of fun, but hard work. My master is teaching it like any other competitive pursuit (boxing, etc.). I hope to teach it once I get back to the West. A lot of the unarmed training I did is still very relevant, not only for Gongli to add power to the techniques, but also for using the off-hand (grabbing and parrying the weapon or arms with it is permitted), not to mention the footwork, etc.

Thoughts? Do any of you fence a lot with swords? How in-depth would you say your training is?

The training swords we use are great, with just the right balance of power and safety. Cutting work doesn't interest me as much, as I'm more into the fencing aspect of it and a walking stick or badminton racket would be more practical than wielding an actual sword in a pinch (unless it's the apocalypse). I would like to get some proper wooden training Jian for solo work, though. Any suggestions?
Last edited by MaartenSFS on Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby RobP3 on Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:24 am

I enjoy sword work, fencing and cutting. For me it forms the base of some types of empty hand work, after all who goes into battle empty handed? Here's footage from a day of "general" sword work we did a while back


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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Bao on Thu Aug 24, 2017 7:07 am

The training swords we use are great, with just the right balance of power and safety. Cutting work doesn't interest me as much, as I'm more into the fencing aspect of it and a walking stick or badminton racket would be more practical than wielding an actual sword in a pinch (unless it's the apocalypse). I would like to get some proper wooden training Jian for solo work, though. Any suggestions?


Jian practice won't help you with use of badminton racket, cane etc. Jian demands a very special usage,. When you play the jian, you need to understand the balance point of the sword and adapt the movements to that point. You need to understand how to cut with a jian. It's nothing like using an axe. However, most people play with it like it was an axe. So all their form practice, how pretty they ever can move in their shiny pyjamas, their practice is a complete waste of time. If you want to use a weapons form for other kind of tools, the dao/broadsword/saber is the best weapon to practice. You can hack and slash with it just like an axe and you have the twist and turn movements of the wrist that are useful and strengthen the wrist as well.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby LaoDan on Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:24 am

I agree with Bao Re: jian vs. dao.

MaartenSFS wrote:I would like to get some proper wooden training Jian for solo work, though. Any suggestions?

In response to your specific question, I know of three sources for practice jian with reasonably historic weights and balance points. I use these for both solo practice and in free sparring (although I mainly only practice at moderate speed and power, emphasizing controlled attacks).

1) Realistic Sparring Weapons: I do not own these nor have I used one, but the specs given look good. http://www.rsw.com.hk/jian.htm
They also make a Miaodao: http://www.rsw.com.hk/miaodao.htm

2) Raven Studios: I could not connect (timed out error) so I cannot provide a link – hopefully she is still in business. I have several of her swords (goosequill and oxtail dao) – they could be custom ordered to make their weight, length and balance close to what you personally desire.

3) Graham Cave’s Tiger’s Den: http://www.tigersden.co.uk/products/tcslqingjian.html
I have a pair of these that he custom made to match my antique jian. Quite nice to practice with!

Hope this helps.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Trick on Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:39 am

Bao wrote:
The training swords we use are great, with just the right balance of power and safety. Cutting work doesn't interest me as much, as I'm more into the fencing aspect of it and a walking stick or badminton racket would be more practical than wielding an actual sword in a pinch (unless it's the apocalypse). I would like to get some proper wooden training Jian for solo work, though. Any suggestions?


Jian practice won't help you with use of badminton racket, cane etc. Jian demands a very special usage,. When you play the jian, you need to understand the balance point of the sword and adapt the movements to that point. You need to understand how to cut with a jian. It's nothing like using an axe. However, most people play with it like it was an axe. So all their form practice, how pretty they ever can move in their shiny pyjamas, their practice is a complete waste of time. If you want to use a weapons form for other kind of tools, the dao/broadsword/saber is the best weapon to practice. You can hack and slash with it just like an axe and you have the twist and turn movements of the wrist that are useful and strengthen the wrist as well.

I agree that Dao/sabre practice would adapt much better into stick/cane "self defense" . Maarten, find a carpenter and have him cut out a wooden Jian, the "blade" of course thicker and a just little wider, choose a sturdy wood. What are the Sparring "swords" you use made of ? The sparring you do is something like this ?http://v.youku.com/pad_show/id_XMjg0OTE3MDUyOA==.html?spm=a2h0k.8191407.0.0&from=s1.8-1-1.2&source=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.soku.com%2Fsearch_video%2Fq_%25E8%258B%2597%25E5%2588%2580. http://v.youku.com/pad_show/id_XMjY2NTE ... %2588%2580
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Trick on Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:41 am

LaoDan wrote:I agree with Bao Re: jian vs. dao.

MaartenSFS wrote:I would like to get some proper wooden training Jian for solo work, though. Any suggestions?

In response to your specific question, I know of three sources for practice jian with reasonably historic weights and balance points. I use these for both solo practice and in free sparring (although I mainly only practice at moderate speed and power, emphasizing controlled attacks).

1) Realistic Sparring Weapons: I do not own these nor have I used one, but the specs given look good. http://www.rsw.com.hk/jian.htm
They also make a Miaodao: http://www.rsw.com.hk/miaodao.htm

2) Raven Studios: I could not connect (timed out error) so I cannot provide a link – hopefully she is still in business. I have several of her swords (goosequill and oxtail dao) – they could be custom ordered to make their weight, length and balance close to what you personally desire.

3) Graham Cave’s Tiger’s Den: http://www.tigersden.co.uk/products/tcslqingjian.html
I have a pair of these that he custom made to match my antique jian. Quite nice to practice with!

Hope this helps.

Thanks for those links
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby LaoDan on Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:38 am

I was able to connect to Raven Studio:
http://www.little-raven.com/product-category/eastern/chinese/jian/

[Note that both Raven Studio and Tiger’s Den also carry miaodao.]
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Eric_H on Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:56 am

Used to run a saber club. I've bought a few dozen wasters from Raven studios over the years, I can vouch for the quality of what they make.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Niall Keane on Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:20 pm

Double Jian... as my Sifu said... once you can use both hands, you'd never be happy with just one... think boxing!
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby Niall Keane on Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:24 pm

Another thing... over the years I've noticed this..

some people are trained standard systems and dont fight... sanda wrestling etc...

other do and then go on to sabre, spear, sword...


we have a good bit of sparring equipment for weapons...

the inexperienced at fighting always got overwhelmed by the ferocity of the fighters, even where they had more sword skills...

this is the same style but different approaches... it was an eye-opener!
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby johnwang on Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:08 pm

MaartenSFS wrote:Any suggestions?

The basic skills are much more important than the form.

If you train sword, you should train

1. stab your sword on a tree, move your hand in big circle while the tip of your sword still stay on the tree. This way your hand can make a big circle while the tip of your sword only make a small circle (to cut on your opponent's sword holding hand).
2. step into bow arrow stance and stab, step back into bow arrow stance with 45 degree upward cut on your opponent's sword holding hand.
3. jump from far distance and straight down cut.
4. 45 degree downward cut followed by horizontal cut.
5. ...

1 and 2 are used to drop your opponent's sword. 3, 4, and ... are used to kill.

If you train Miao Diao, you should train

- left comb hair, straight cut.
- right comb hair, horizontal cut.
- horizontal saw your opponent's waist.
- 45 degree upward cut.
- ...

The reason that I like Miao Diao more than sword because I can almost find the same open hand technique for each and every Miao Diao move.
Last edited by johnwang on Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby wayne hansen on Thu Aug 24, 2017 7:05 pm

Bao wrote:
The training swords we use are great, with just the right balance of power and safety. Cutting work doesn't interest me as much, as I'm more into the fencing aspect of it and a walking stick or badminton racket would be more practical than wielding an actual sword in a pinch (unless it's the apocalypse). I would like to get some proper wooden training Jian for solo work, though. Any suggestions?


Jian practice won't help you with use of badminton racket, cane etc. Jian demands a very special usage,. When you play the jian, you need to understand the balance point of the sword and adapt the movements to that point. You need to understand how to cut with a jian. It's nothing like using an axe. However, most people play with it like it was an axe. So all their form practice, how pretty they ever can move in their shiny pyjamas, their practice is a complete waste of time. If you want to use a weapons form for other kind of tools, the dao/broadsword/saber is the best weapon to practice. You can hack and slash with it just like an axe and you have the twist and turn movements of the wrist that are useful and strengthen the wrist as well.



I agree totally
I have just finished teaching the Jian to a student
About the third week in he told me it was beyond him and that was just the exercises
I use it as a pushing hands partner and do it with both hands
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 Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:11 am

RobP3 wrote:I enjoy sword work, fencing and cutting. For me it forms the base of some types of empty hand work, after all who goes into battle empty handed? Here's footage from a day of "general" sword work we did a while back




Exactly. That's what my master said. He said; "Toss an MMA champion a sword or staff and let's get it on." :P
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby MaartenSFS on Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:15 am

Bao wrote:
The training swords we use are great, with just the right balance of power and safety. Cutting work doesn't interest me as much, as I'm more into the fencing aspect of it and a walking stick or badminton racket would be more practical than wielding an actual sword in a pinch (unless it's the apocalypse). I would like to get some proper wooden training Jian for solo work, though. Any suggestions?


Jian practice won't help you with use of badminton racket, cane etc. Jian demands a very special usage,. When you play the jian, you need to understand the balance point of the sword and adapt the movements to that point. You need to understand how to cut with a jian. It's nothing like using an axe. However, most people play with it like it was an axe. So all their form practice, how pretty they ever can move in their shiny pyjamas, their practice is a complete waste of time. If you want to use a weapons form for other kind of tools, the dao/broadsword/saber is the best weapon to practice. You can hack and slash with it just like an axe and you have the twist and turn movements of the wrist that are useful and strengthen the wrist as well.

We do a lot of thrusting. There's a lot of nuance involved. The techniques for sabres and Jian have a lot of overlap, especially the straighter sabres until the early Ming dynasty. If one becomes proficient with a sword, using a cane, badminton racket, etc. shouldn't be a problem. Not everything will work, but enough will that it's practical.

We don't do any forms.
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Re: Anyone do Chinese swordmanship?

Postby MaartenSFS on Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:18 am

LaoDan wrote:I agree with Bao Re: jian vs. dao.

MaartenSFS wrote:I would like to get some proper wooden training Jian for solo work, though. Any suggestions?

In response to your specific question, I know of three sources for practice jian with reasonably historic weights and balance points. I use these for both solo practice and in free sparring (although I mainly only practice at moderate speed and power, emphasizing controlled attacks).

1) Realistic Sparring Weapons: I do not own these nor have I used one, but the specs given look good. http://www.rsw.com.hk/jian.htm
They also make a Miaodao: http://www.rsw.com.hk/miaodao.htm

2) Raven Studios: I could not connect (timed out error) so I cannot provide a link – hopefully she is still in business. I have several of her swords (goosequill and oxtail dao) – they could be custom ordered to make their weight, length and balance close to what you personally desire.

3) Graham Cave’s Tiger’s Den: http://www.tigersden.co.uk/products/tcslqingjian.html
I have a pair of these that he custom made to match my antique jian. Quite nice to practice with!

Hope this helps.

Those are great and not THAT expensive. Thanks a lot! ;D

They even have the Yanmaodao, which is actually more in line with our training, though I see no photos.
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