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Sword buying advice

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 1:57 pm
by The Wandering Brit
I'm about to buy my first sword and I'd be really grateful for any advice...anything I should/shouldn't be looking for?

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 4:52 pm
by DPasek
Try the following link to the Sword Forum International - Chinese Swords & Swordsmanship section:

Ed Vazquez posted an engineer's analysis of Chinese sword design on 11/1 & 11/2. There are also numerous other posts on this topic on this forum (use the search function to find the specific info that you seek).


PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 3:13 pm
by Jamie
Hi WB,

Most swords have a bolt welded to the blade. This extension of the blade into the handle is called the tang. In a really high quality sword this would be a solid piece of metal that is part of the blade, not a welded extension. I have yet to see a Taiji sword like this. Most have the bolt welded on that goes into the handle and is secured by a nut outside the end of the handle. This is ok as long as the wooden handle seats well into the metal cups at each end. The nut can always be tightened. But if the handle doesn't sit well it will keep coming loose. Those cups must also butt up against the metal parts on either end snugly also, or you'll have the same problem.

Look for something that is up to your ear when held behind your arm with the point up. Or look for something that comes almost to your navel when the tip is on the floor between your feet. Don't go for the cheapest thing. I find that here in Canada the decent swords go for anywhere from $80 -$150. Also look for a sword with the balance point within a couple of inches from the hilt. If it is too far forward on the blade it means the handle is too light or the blade too heavy. You can open the handle nut at put some lead weights in there , but I suggest just getting a good sword. Alternately you can get the colapsible telescopic sword cheaply, depending on what you're looking for. Those can be purchase in Canada for as cheap as $12 if you shop around. If you have a Chinatown near you that's where to start. Some of the martial arts supply stores have good products but the markup is greater. Keep shopping around til you find the best quality and price combination. Have fun with your new sword!

Take care.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 7:19 pm
by Anderzander
Jamie's post says most of it - the link to the forum is also an excellent resourse.

I think your best bet for a range of genuine swords - ie well made with a full tang at a realistic price is with the Paul Chen range:

$80 to $800


PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 8:27 pm
by JerryKarin
Those look pretty interesting (I wonder if they are made at the Long Quan factory) but I would not recommend a sharpened sword to a beginner.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 2:13 pm
by The Wandering Brit
Hi all,

Thanks for the advice. had been looking at the Paul Chen swords models (models 2008 and 2009) and they were what I was leaning toward after having followed DPasek's link and reading around.

Jerry, I believe they are from Long Quan factory...and don't worry too much about me, I have weapons experience, just not in Tai Chi.

Thanks all.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 9:52 pm
by Marc Heyvaert

Sorry for the late reply...

I have the (black scabbard) sword on

It is really very nice. Wel balanced, 'real' steel. It can easily be sharpened if you would wish this, but basically they are unsharpened, although the point is sharp enough to hurt you if you are not careful. I find that once you get used to this kind of weapon it is hard going back to the flexible wushu kind. It's difficult to explain, but you sort of feel the blade.

A word of warning though. This sword is made of some sort of carbon steel and it needs a lot of attention. It is actually rather difficult to stop it from corroding. I bought a maintenance set for (Japanese) swords and I clean and oil it regularly, but I can already see some points where is is slightly corroded.

So you may perhaps prefer its red 'flexible' brother lower on the page.

I bought mine here

If you follow the links Chinese swords | straight swords and click on the picture on the second row left, you get detailed pictures of this sword.



PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:10 pm
by JerryKarin
It is highly advisable to use an unsharpened weapon as equipment for practicing in a sword class with several others. Even though you may be perfectly responsible and careful about a sharpened edge, you'd be amazed at how careless some of your classmates will inevitably turn out to be.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2004 9:50 am
by Marc Heyvaert
I completely agree. I never use stiff blades, even blunt ones during classes. The sword that I described is for personal practice and demos only. In classes we use unsharpened wushu variety stuff or telescopic swords.

I also take another measure: I limit the number of students very strictly so that everyone has sufficient space to keep a safety perimeter at all times! Classes for dao are 6 maximum, jian 8 maximum. This also allows adequate control over what everyone is doing, what mistakes they make and it makes timely intervention possible (you can also hurt yourself, even with a blunt weapon).

Finally our federation works with a licencing system (= membership at 20 euros, approx 26 dollars) that includes an insurance that also covers practice with weapons, including with metal blades.


PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2004 6:30 pm
by DPasek
I want to contribute an alternate viewpoint from the post by Jamie:
<<Also look for a sword with the balance point within a couple of inches from the hilt.>>

Many individuals seem to prefer swords that balance (POB) closer to the guard than is historically accurate, and this close POB is influenced even further by sport wushu where fast and flashy moves require a POB very close to the guard (resulting in light weight "whippy" blades). Jian made for actual use (as opposed to ceremonial/decorative) from the Qing Dynasty and early Republic typically have a POB about 4-6" beyond the guard depending on sword length (you can search the Sword Forum for this info). While a closer POB often seems easier to control in relatively slow speed solo work, it actually seems to interfere with proper applications against an opponent at moderate or full speeds.

If you are simply looking for something that is comfortable to use in solo practice, then a closer POB and a lighter jian may be acceptable. If you are looking for more accuracy in how the applications would be applied against an opponent, then I would recommend getting a jian with a more historically accurate POB and a weight around 1 ½ to 2 pounds. While this may initially seem uncomfortable to hold, if you use your body to properly control the sword rather than solely the arm and wrist, then it should not be too stressful, and consistent use will quickly condition the arm and wrist.

As I experience it, some of the advantages of historically accurate balance and weight are the following:

Tip Control/Effectiveness: The tip is often used in Taijijian, and for these techniques to be effective (especially the pokes) the tip must have enough weight. The weight (and POB) also seems to help keep the tip on target, a lighter tip being easier to inadvertently jiggle off line by a hand/wrist movement, as well as being easier for an opponent to deflect off target. The combination of historically accurate weight and POB seems to be ideal for such tip techniques.

Lively Blocks: Taijijian blocks emphasize deflections that keep the tip simultaneously threatening the opponent. For example, simple left or right blocks typically move the jian handle to the sides while keeping the tip towards the opponent. These blocks seem to be facilitated when the POB is closer to the pivot point of the block. Also, techniques where the jian pivots around the opponent's weapon (e.g. jian outside then pivoting around to the inside to block or set up an attack) also seem to benefit from the more historic POB closer to the pivot point.

Chops: Although perhaps not used particularly frequently, POB and more weight farther out on the length of the blade facilitates the chop technique (as is clearly illustrated by examining the design of the familiar ox-tail dao, which emphasizes chopping and sweeping techniques more than the jian).

While the above seem to benefit from historic weight and balance, I also do not notice much detriment to other techniques (thrusts, cuts/slices, etc.). Even speed and control, which one perhaps would think would improve with a lighter jian and a POB closer to the hand, do not seem to me to be significantly interfered with (assuming one is using the body to properly control the jian and that the flashy wushu style movements are not being performed) when using a more historic accurate jian. To me the speed and control of the above mentioned techniques seem improved (although I don't have any empirical evidence to support this claim) when using a historic sword (I have one that is probably from around the mid-1800's, as well as wood ones made to historic weight and balance for use in sparring practice).


PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 5:53 am
by Michael
Good advice from Jery on group practice and dull swords.

But I also agree with DP concening your solo practice. I was about to recommend a sword sold by Kris Cutlery, but just saw that they no longer sell it. I consider myself lucky to have purchased my sword when I did. It is the "real" thing.

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 11-18-2004).]

PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2004 7:09 pm
by mls_72
the yang family website sells quality swords. the balanced edge saber is the best on the market. nobody has one like it!

PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 12:34 am
by Jamie
Hi DP,

I'm glad you posted about the POB - I didn't know that. It explains alot. I have an antique sword that is full weight and not floppy at the end - the POB is as you said. I thought it was poorly balanced. You learn something new every day! Thanks.



PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:14 am
by andersonix
mls_72 wrote:the yang family website sells quality swords. the balanced edge saber is the best on the market. nobody has one like it!

Yeah your right they all have good quality sword, I bought one to them last year.

Re: Sword buying advice

PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:34 am
by Aslan
Yeah, there's some nice swords on that site. I picked up a nice one for $650.