Classical Hand Positions (Grips)

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Classical Hand Positions (Grips)

Postby po owdman » Sun Mar 20, 2005 7:29 am

I just ran across Stewart Olsens book:

T'ai Chi Thirteen Sword
A Sword Master's Manual
[sic]

Apparently it's been out for some time.

In it is a section called "Secrets of the Eight Sword Hands". This, showing eight hand positions (grips) for the various cuts and maneuvers of the form.

When I was studying sword with TT Liang (Olsen's teacher also) Master Liang provided me printed sheets of all the posture's names in sequence with some explanatory notes on technique, grip, compass direction, etc. for each posture.

Problem: The cover sheet from Master Liang for this material was a graphic showing the eight grips with their names:
(In pinyin here)
zhongyin
shaoyin
taiyin
laoyin
zhongyang
shaoyang
taiyang
laoyang

So what's the problem? The Graphic for the "Secrets" of the Eight Sword Hands in Stuart's book bears no resemblance to the name pairings in Master Liangs drawings. There is no zhongyin grip shown at all! (opening grip, jian-left hand, blade up, index finger toward pommel).

Master Liang died in 2002 (at 102 years old by the way). So I can no longer call him up.

Does anyone have any authoritative references to the classical sword hands definitions.

I do not doubt the teaching I received from Master Liang, but it's this kind of warping of information in new books that new students will read and will trust... erroneously.

It would be nice to have something other than my humble little photochopies (which I cherish) to refer new students to for conformation, clarification, and peace of mind regarding authenticity.

po
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Mar 20, 2005 6:47 pm

Greetings po,

The problem may actually be that there is no one authoritative reference for the sword grips. Even within the Yang tradition, there are various interpretations of the sword routine, its techniques and terminology. On page xi of Olsen’s book, he lists six old books as his sources for the material he presents, including titles by Li Zhaozheng, Lin Boshen, Chen Weiming, Chen Gong (Chen Yanlin), Qi Jingzhi, and Xiong Yanghe. Unfortunately, he does not make it clear exactly how he used these sources, and what materials came from which book. The Wu lineage evidently uses entirely different terminology for the sword grips (see Zhang Yun’s _The Art of Chinese Swordsmanship_, pp. 41-43). You might also have a look at Scott Rodell’s book, _Chinese Swordsmanship: The Yang Family Taiji Jian Tradition_.

Have you checked out SwordForum.com? If you post your questions there, you may get a better answer.

Take care,
Louis
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