saber scarves

sabre, sword, spear, etc

saber scarves

Postby jp shadow » Thu Jul 15, 2004 8:13 pm

Hi,i recently purchased a yang style saber on ebay which is a wonderfully unique weapon,however,this particular saber did not come with the silk scarves which traditionaly adorn broadswords of this type.This aroused my interest.Besides being astheticaly pleasing to the eye,do these colorful scarves serve any practical function? Also,does anyone know where scarves for the tai chi saber can be purchased? OR can they be made at home from store bought material? thanks,jp.
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Postby Polaris » Fri Jul 16, 2004 1:22 am

From what I am told, they don't serve much more than a decorative purpose. For the most part I believe they are a modern formation by analogy with the tassel on a straight sword. Others may have differing perspectives, though, this is just my opinion based on what I have been told by my teachers.

If you look at old pictures of Chinese and Manchu soldiers wearing sabres as part of their military uniforms, none of them have cloths attached to the handles. There are stories told in wushu circles that they are to keep the blade clean or to provide better leverage in order to pull the sabre out of an opponent (which was the original purpose of the sword tassel).

Interestingly, there are heel kicks and body turnings placed at certain points in most sabre forms designed for kicking impaled bodies off of the blade. Gruesome, eh?

[This message has been edited by Polaris (edited 07-15-2004).]
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Postby Audi » Sat Jul 17, 2004 8:23 pm

Hi JP,

I have also heard that swords and tassels can be used for distraction purposes, since the opponents eye will have a harder time locking onto the motion of your blade. In many movements, the movement of the scarf or tassel precedes the blade. I can see why this might work with the scarves, but wonder about the risk of getting oneself tangled up with a tassel.

Another more practical purpose for these ornaments, from the point of view of practitioners, is that they can help one confirm when the blade movement is correct. With correct movement, the scarves and tassels will move in nice circles and occasionally whip round. With bad movement, they end up tangled around your wrist or on the wrong side of one's arm. With the straight sword, I also find that the slight weight of the tassel gives me a different feel for the movement of the hilt and the pivot point of the blade in my hand.

I am not sure about the rules for the colors of the scarves, but I think one could simply buy any red and green scarves, cut them, if necessary, and join them by a short thread. Depending on your ring attachment, you could simply thread the entire unit halfway through the ring and allow friction to hold it in place; or if friction is insufficient, you could thread it through twice, or else tie a knot in the attachment thread to keep it in place.
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Jul 19, 2004 4:15 pm

Polaris:
I also used to believe that the tassles or scarves serve no usefull purpose. This is what the Wu family taught me and so why would I have believed otherwise?
However, I have since had a very graphic demonstration of what at least some of their martial purposes are as used in the Yang style, and am now a believer in this new maxim:
Whatever works for you, that's what's correct.
I didn't used to like having a tassel on my Gim, to be honest I thought it was very silly. I trained the Wu style Gim form this way, long, long ago (don't even recall all the forms, that's how long ago it was). However I didn't keep up my Gim practice, because my Wu style Gim instructor told me, correctly I may add, that I was much better off training the broadsword forms at that time. I had a very heavy hand at that time, about thirteen years ago, and found a true love for the Wu style broadsword forms, I took my first lessons under the direction of Wu Tai Sin at a seminar, that I have never really lost.
My heavy hand kept me from really experiencing the complexities of the Gim, but worked out quite well on the broadsword forms. So that's what I stuck with.
Now, I am beginning to train the Gim, or what they call "sword" form of the Yang family. I am hoping to really give myself a jump start and attend the seminar with Master Yang Jun next week in Louisville, but don't know if I can get the time off of work yet. Anyway, I have started some rudimentary training with my Yang Cheng Fu instructor, and he has taught me a thing or two about that tassle that really opened my eyes to it's uses.
Yes, it would indeed make a fine handle to pull the sword out of an opponent if it got stuck there. But that's not the primary use I know of.
As Audi said, it does help in learning the movement of the sword. If you do it wrong, the tassle will wrap around your wrist, or just flop uselessly around.
However, if you do it right, the tassle lets you know that right away by it's motion. Instant feedback to correct movement. A wonderful, wonderful training tool all by itself.
Beyond that, it completely distracts an opponent when it flashes across their eyes, blinding them and causing them to loose reaction time for that split second before your blade makes contact.
Also, you can put razors or hooks in the tassle to use as weapons against your opponent that they will not see. I wouldn't recommend that for a beginner who isn't familiar with the movement of the sword, however. Imagine getting those razors or hooks wrapped around your own wrist!!!!
Ouch.

So...
Again: Whatever works for you, that's what's correct.
I have also seen the high ranking Wu family members and disciples use thier Gims with absolutely no problems because they don't have a tassle.
So it's obviously not necessary.
Again, though, a usefull tool if it works for you.
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Postby Polaris » Mon Jul 19, 2004 9:14 pm

What I have seen on sabres in old pre-Republican photos and paintings is a sort of lanyard through the handle of some of their sabres. Whatever works, indeed! I have heard of the distraction element spoken of in regard to the fringe of horsehair on a Chinese spear (which fringe is used by Wu stylists), as it is at the business end. This is the first I've heard of a distraction element for sword tassels and sabre cloths, but it doesn't not make sense.

I've got some old pix on my hard drive that I've collected of pre and post-Republican sabres that I would enjoy uploading for your viewing, if someone wouldn't mind giving me a few pointers as to how that can be done on this board...

Cheers,
P.

[This message has been edited by Polaris (edited 07-19-2004).]
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Jul 19, 2004 10:19 pm

P,
I didn't think the distraction factor would work, either. Until I was given a graphic demonstration by my teacher.
He showed me, exactly, how that works with one form movement from the Yang sword forms.
That's all I've learned so far, and it's taken me about three months to get that gull durned tassle to move with anything that even approaches the grace of his movement.
Like I said, I have a very heavy hand with a sword and this requires a much lighter touch with that whippy little blade than I seem to have in me at present.
But my instructor has been working with me, when we get time in between the form training we've been doing before the seminar next week, and I've made some progress both on that single form training and on lightening up my hand with some simple exercises.
I have no idea why I get so physical when you put steel in my hand, but I do. Maybe it's that Viking blood of my ancestors or something. I seem to want to just start hacking and slashing when I get my hands on a sword hilt.
I'll work through that, I hope.
Hey, I'm better now than I was thirteen years ago.
I'd like to take this moment to say "thanks" once again to all those folks at Wu's TCC Academy who worked with me until I lost that heavy hand, even WITHOUT a sword in it.
Now I'll keep working on that, and hopefully I can get some finesse with a blade instead of trying to chop everything to kindling.
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Postby Michael » Fri Aug 06, 2004 5:27 pm

Wushuer,

Did you get my e-mail on the subject of a "real" sword?
Michael
 
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Postby Wushuer » Tue Aug 10, 2004 5:55 pm

Michael,
I've been out and haven't checked my "tai chi" e-mail box this past week or so. It was my wedding anniversary this past weekend, and what with all the seminars and classes and push hands group practices and such that I've been involved in lately, not to mention the hours and hours of practice I've been putting in to try and assimilate all this info, I had to take some time off with my sweetie this past long (for me) weekend and let her know what the most important thing in my life really is.
I'll check my e-mail forthwith and get back to you there.
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Postby Wushuer » Tue Aug 10, 2004 6:04 pm

Michael,
Which e-mail address did you use?
I've checked the wushuer address I use as my contact here, and there's nothing there from anyone but a few spams (I'm so un-popular!).
Let me know if you have a different address, and I'll check there. I used to use a different address on this site, and I think we corresponded from there, but I can't think which one I used back then.
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Postby Michael » Tue Aug 10, 2004 9:04 pm

Wushuer,

Yes, I did use the old one. I will resend.
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