When I first started learning to use an Association saber I just couldn't reconcile the blade to the movements.
I'd trained with very similar sabers so my hands kept wanting to do the more familiar movements with it.
I hope that makes sense...?
I guess you could say "muscle memory" kicked in due to the similarities in the blades. That stopped me from being able to perform the Yang family saber form very well for a while.
So when the opportunity to do so finally came, I jumped all over going to a seminar with Yang Jun to help me figure out how to use it correctly. Or, to be honest, at least more correctly.
Fortunately it worked. After the seminar I was much better able to use the Association saber.
Yang Jun is an excellent teacher.
Audi was there at the first seminar I took with Yang Jun in Louisville for saber. He should remember how clumsy I was with it back then.
I recall I tried to show Audi "The Nine Cuts", a warm up exercise from Wu style saber, but all I had to use was my Association saber. The results were less than satisfactory, to say the least.
The next day I showed up with a wooden ox tail dao and I was able to show him "The Nine Cuts" credibly.
I can do The Nine Cuts using an Association saber now, I've had about a decade to figure it out, but the first time I tried it was a pretty big failure.
I guess all that is my way of saying that the two weapons may be similar but they certainly have their differences as well.
That said, it's clearly acceptable to perform the Traditional Yang Family Saber Form using an ox-tail saber.
And I say that because here's a Yang family member clearly doing so: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qj0GS_Vb-88
That's a link to a video of Yang Zhen Ji, Yang Zhen Duo's older brother, doing just that.