Sword grip

sabre, sword, spear, etc

Sword grip

Postby DPasek » Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:16 pm

In Brennan’s newly posted translation of Yang Style Sword according to Chen Yanlin (from
太極拳刀劍桿散手合編) he gives the following:

“The hand that holds the sword must be relaxed and flexible. You must not grasp with all five fingers too tightly, for that would be a hindrance to using the sword in a lively way. You need only grip it with your thumb, middle finger, and ring finger. Your forefinger and little finger should be constantly loose. There should be an emptiness in the palm so that it is like holding a writing brush.”
http://brennantranslation.wordpress.com ... en-yanlin/

While I agree with what is stated, as recently as this year’s Kuoshu tournament a friend of mine who was looking at possibly purchasing a sword (jian) was shown “the proper way to hold a sword” in what I consider to have been a misinterpretation of the “like holding a writing brush” phrase. He was shown a grip where nothing but the tips of three fingers contacted the handle (thumb on one side of the handle and two fingers opposite). Although the phrase “You need only grip it with your thumb, middle finger, and ring finger” may seem to support a literal “like holding a writing brush” interpretation, my understanding is that a grip like that would be wrong.

While light reproduction swords may be able to be held and controlled in the manner shown to my friend (like holding a writing brush), a realistically weighted sword would typically be 1.5+ pounds (700+ grams) and is much heavier and has a much thicker handle than does a writing brush. Is there something in Chen’s Chinese writing (or from some other source) that may clarify this point? Is the phrase meant to be taken literally? How is the sword grip taught in the Yang Family Association?

I have been taught that the sword (jian) grip differs from the saber (dao) grip in that the sword grip should be much more lively than the saber grip, and an important difference is that the hollow of the palm should remain ‘changeable’ and thus not firmly touch the handle of the sword (while it often does when holding a saber). But this does not mean that only the tips of the fingers are used! Someone wielding a sword should have flexibility in their grip (even when using a realistically heavy sword), but should still maintain constant control of it even when the sword is struck forcefully by an opponent. Thus, in the way that I learned to hold the sword, the entire thumb, from the tip to the pad on the palm at the base of the thumb, can be used to hold the sword. Likewise, more than the tips of the fingers can be used to hold the sword.

Any clarifications on this point would be greatly appreciated.

Dan
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Re: Sword grip

Postby Bob Ashmore » Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:05 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1p0C4vdPds

Start watching at about the six minute mark for a brief description of how to hold the sword as explained by GM Yang Zhen duo.

Bob
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Re: Sword grip

Postby Audi » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:21 pm

Hi everyone,

Dan, I think I might have some of the same questions as you and do not know the answers. I may, however, be working from a slightly different set of understandings.

What I understand is that our grip of the sword should vary depending on the movement and the energy to be expressed. For instance, in Left and Right Step Over and Block (左右跨拦 Zuo you kua lan), I believe we have to grip the sword somewhat tightly. The same grip is not possible in Block and Sweep, Right and Left (右边拦扫 You bian lan sao, 左边拦扫 Zuo bian lan sao), because the angle the sword has to make with the forearm forces a looser grip.

I also understand that the index finger and little finger combine, sort of like a Yin-Yang pair to swivel the sword grip in the palm, with the thumb, middle, and ring finger helping to hold the pivot center. This action allows the contact with the palm to act like an additional joint to provide greater flexibility beyond what the wrist alone can provide. This greater movement is important in many places. For instance, to get the right energy of Pointing (点 dian3), I think this last second pivot is important in order to express the energy correctly and differentiate it from a chopping or cleaving/splitting energy. I think this may also be why Chinese find apt the analogy to holding a calligraphy brush, where the extra articulation the fingers provide to wrist and whole-body movement allows for greater expressive power.

As for how this would work with heavier swords, I do not know. I myself, however, have some doubts about whether there is true precision in any dichotomy between reproduction swords and "realistically weighted" swords. Swords have varied tremendously from century to century and culture to culture to meet different needs and to take advantage of improving technology and techniques. Our sword is explicitly meant to be light, nimble, and precise,even when compared with the saber, and so generally is not meant to withstand a direct blow. The saber, on the other, hand has more powerful spirited movement. I am not sure what precise environment our sword is designed for and so cannot judge how "realistic" it is or isn't.

As for holding the sword with the fingertips, I avoid this as much as possible; however, when I have to hold the sword at a small angle to my forearm, as in Block and Sweep (拦扫 Lan2 sao3), I can't see a way of avoiding the handle moving from the center of the palm towards at least the pads of the fingers. You can also see an example of this at time index 26 seconds in the link Bob provided. The video is not clear, but you can just see that Master Yang's fingers are not exactly perpendicular to the sword grip, but are slightly open and angled toward the tassel ring as he prepares to do the hike up/upper cut (撩 liao1) technique to the rear. This movement again shows the type of articulation I think we are supposed to make with the contact point of our grip.

I hope this helps.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Sword grip

Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:17 pm

Yang Jun's teaching DVD on Sword has a very good explanation of how to grip the sword d for Traditional Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan. It starts about the 5 minute mark on the DVD, in the Introduction section.
The video zooms in on his hand and shows very clearly how he's holding the sword and he very clearly states how the fingers and thumb grasp the hilts; where on the hilt to grasp and which fingers are used both for grasping and controlling (he holds up his extended thumb, forefinger and middle finger) and which are used mostly for controlling the blade direction (the other two fingers, clearly indicating ring and pinky fingers).
He also clearly states how firmly to grasp the handle; "flexible, light and not too stiff".
I watch how he grips the sword closely as he performs each individual movement though. I understood that these general methods were the basic guideline and then there would be some grip variation in the different postures. Mostly I noticed that he constantly holds the thumb, fore and middle fingers in a loose but fixed manner, while some movements require differing positions of the ring and pinky fingers on the handle.
But this is a good place to start.

Bob
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Re: Sword grip

Postby DPasek » Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:40 pm

Thanks for the replies.

Audi wrote:I also understand that the index finger and little finger combine, sort of like a Yin-Yang pair to swivel the sword grip in the palm, with the thumb, middle, and ring finger helping to hold the pivot center. This action allows the contact with the palm to act like an additional joint to provide greater flexibility beyond what the wrist alone can provide.

Audi, I like your description, and this type of grip is what I mostly use in my practice.

Bob Ashmore wrote:The video zooms in on his hand and shows very clearly how he's holding the sword and he very clearly states how the fingers and thumb grasp the hilts; where on the hilt to grasp and which fingers are used both for grasping and controlling (he holds up his extended thumb, forefinger and middle finger) and which are used mostly for controlling the blade direction (the other two fingers, clearly indicating ring and pinky fingers).
He also clearly states how firmly to grasp the handle; "flexible, light and not too stiff".

Bob, thanks for taking the time to review your video materials and giving this description for us. This is not quite the same as the grip described by Audi, but all of us seem to emphasize the flexibility and changeability desired in the grip, so I have no problem with this variation since different teachers likely have slight differences in how to achieve the desired flexibility and changeability in their grips. While my grip is primarily like what Audi describes, perhaps I use the grip that you describe sometimes, like when the index finger is the Yang one in what Audi describes as the Yin-Yang pair of the index and little fingers.

I would add to Audi’s description that when the jian is held in the palm of the hand during certain techniques, that there should still be a hollowing (yin ‘suction’ away from the handle rather than being pressed firmly against the handle) of the center of the palm (see the laogong point in the following illustration):

Image

The following is an example of Chinese sword sparring (with wooden sparring swords having reasonable historical [late Qing, early Republic] accuracy) where one participant has his jian knocked out of his grip during full speed, full contact (with protective gear) sparring:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4ad8nUAaz4

Here is a short clip showing five aspects of traditional sword training:

http://www.grtc.org/resources/videos/elements-chinese-swordsmanship/

Personally, I have training in forms, basic cuts, partner drills, and have limited free sparring experience, but with no test cutting experience yet. I feel that many practitioners who use modern replicas that have a balance point close to the guard (unlike late Qing jian) which allows for very quick and easy movements for performing forms, leads to ineffective techniques when free sparring. It is difficult to explain this in words, but my experience is that the point of balance farther out on the blade facilitates the blocking and controlling on an opponent’s weapon during free sparring, especially when at full speed and power. I suspect that a close point of balance would also negatively affect cutting, although I have no personal experience with this.

In regards to balance, weight and length for jian used in Taijiquan, I feel that historically accurate balance may be the most important. Some teachers advocate that the jian used for Taijiquan be as long as can be effectively used, longer than would be typical using wushu performance standards (i.e. as held in the opening ‘reverse’ grip, the tip of the blade should reach the top of the ear; or, with the tip touching the ground, the pommel reaching the navel). I personally do not think that the length of the jian is particularly important as long as it retains a reasonable point of balance, but a longer weapon would increase the weight (in addition to whatever sparring advantages are gained with longer reach). If modern materials and manufacturing techniques produce a well balanced jian with less weight than late Qing examples, I could imagine that they would work reasonably well, but many of the available modern reproductions that are available to the average consumer are unsatisfactory, in my opinion.

Dan
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Re: Sword grip

Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:05 pm

Dan,
This thread is relevant to me right now because I am teaching a beginners sword class and we just started a couple of weeks ago. I have gone over the grip several times with my students in the last few weeks with varying levels of success and so I thank you for the opportunity to review what Yang Laoshi says more closely as it will help me teach this to my students.
I will go into tomorrow nights class with a better understanding of how to teach this and that's always a good thing.

As for balance of the sword blade...
I've spent a great deal of time swinging swords around. In my misspent youth I used to practice medieval swordsmanship, primarily with the European style longsword. There are a lot of variations in that type of sword as to length, weight and balance. Each sword design is used to meet a specific set of circumstances and each has its own good and bad points for overall usage.
The Chinese Jian is no different. There are as many styles of Jian as there are drops of rain in a thunderstorm, each designed according to so many factors that it simply boggles the mind to try to understand them all.
Understanding that, let's face it, you aren't going to learn to use all of them.
At first you will learn the basics of the type and design of sword that your teacher tells you to use, obviously. This will vary from teacher to teacher and according to school, type of lineage, tradition, etc.
In the long run, it doesn't really matter which type of sword you start out with though. What is important is to learn the basics of sword and learn them to the best of your ability.
After you have learned the basics, then you can begin to experiment with different sword designs until you find the one, or two if that happens to you, that you feel works best for you.
I have played around with many different types of Jians and I have my own preferences for which I feel is best suited to me.

All that said, I got very lucky in my method of finding a practice Jian.
So lucky that I doubt it could ever happen to me again.
Long story short, one of the members of our local group went on one of the Association trips to China.
I do not remember which year he went... 2008? Maybe 2009?
Not coming to me. It was several years ago anyway.
Before he left he asked us all if there was something he could pick up for us while he was in China.
I immediately asked him if he would mind trying to find me a "decent practice" Jian as all I had was a cheap wall hanger at that time. I was new to TCC sword so it was "good enough" to use while I learned the form and the basics but I was quickly finding it to be entirely inadequate after I had learned the basics.
He said that if the opportunity presented itself, he would do so.
He is roughly the same height as me and we have just about the same basic arm and hand size.
I told him to find a Jian that was comfortable to him but maybe felt just a touch heavy as I am a bit more husky than he is.
OK, a LOT more husky. But that's beside the point...
He went and when he came back he presented me with a shiny new Jian, straight from the Lung Chuan forge. It was an Association "high carbon" blade, one of the older ones before the re-design, that he said he found in a big barrel of those older blades that they let everyone pick through since they were switching over the designs. He said when he picked it up it just "sang" my name to him, he couldn't find anything wrong with it, it felt a bit "heavy" to his hand so he got it for me.
At first I was kind of surprised at his choice, as it was one of the "short" blades and I'd always preferred the "medium" blade since it corresponded with the traditional length of "held reversed in Preparation form it should reach the top of your ear".
When he first handed it to me, before I drew it, I immediately thought, "Oh, well. I can let my fellow students borrow it when they don't remember theirs" and just kept smiling.
Then I drew it from it's scabbard and started playing with it.
Oh.
Wow.
It was absolutely perfect for me.
The point of balance is about three and a hair inches up the blade and the pivot point rests solidly at the middle point between a thrusting and a cutting blade, allowing a good capacity for either use with a single blade. (this is very rare for a Jian, I've never felt it in another Jian)
It's sweet spot is almost exactly on the percussion point, making it a very gentle blade to use when making a full force cut or thrust. Again, rare in a Jian.
My practice of sword has made exponential leaps since I found a sword that works very well with me, personally.
While it is a high carbon "combat" blade I have never sharpened it and most likely never will.
I practice with this sword every single day and I take it with me all over the place. It really wouldn't be a good idea for me to sharpen it as several times I've been approached by the local police when I have been practicing in the parks near my home and the first thing they ask me is, "Is it sharp?"
When I answer "Nope." they inevitably feel the edge, grunt and go away.
Apparently if it was sharp I would have a much different reaction out of them, so I don't sharpen it.
Which is a shame, to me personally, but that's how it is and all.
I have another "high carbon" blade that I have since picked up that doesn't have the same overall good qualities. It is balanced a bit closer to the hilt at 2 and a half inches, it's percussion point and sweet spot are somewhat separated and it's pivot point is much better suited to thrusting than cutting.
Still, I use it to practice with a "live, sharp" blade so that I keep my respect for the edge quite high and doing cuts with it is much more difficult, which should help any "real" kind of thrusting I do be a bit more robust when/if that time ever comes.

But I digress.
Each swordsman will need to find his own version of a "sweet sword", the one that sings to them and gives them the capabilities they desire to suit their own requirements.
Smaller, lighter people usually prefer a smaller, lighter sword. One that balances near the hilts so as to give them greater control.
Larger, heavier people tend to go for the heavier swords balanced closer to the point.
It's all relative to your particular needs.

Which brings to mind an Italian army issued saber I was recently given as a gift by one of my student which was actually designed by Del Fratte to combine the qualities of weight and balance in different ways depending on where you place your thumb on the handle/hilts.
But that's another story for another time.
Sorry, I get off on these tangents from time to time.

Bob
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Re: Sword grip

Postby DPasek » Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:35 pm

Bob Ashmore wrote:The point of balance is about three and a hair inches up the blade

Hi Bob,

I wish you the best with your sword class – have fun!

The sword (jian) that you mention sounds to me like it has a point of balance (POB) that would be slightly too close to the hand guard by historical standards (late Qing, early Republic) for Chinese swords, but it is not as bad as many reproductions that are on the market. That said, however, it IS important that it feels good, lively, controlled, etc. in your hand, so it sounds like you may have a very good sword for your personal preferences.

I have posted my opinions on the POB for swords, and the effect on various aspects of usage, in the following thread:

http://www.yangfamilytaichi.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=283

While I mentioned a POB about 4-6” beyond the guard in the above post, a more consistent way to measure the POB would be to measure the distance from the junction between the handle and the guard, and would then translate to about 6-8” (depending on sword length, etc). This is a better measurement since sword guards have a variety of designs (e.g. an ‘ace of spades’ design would be longer than a ‘bat-shaped’ design), and addresses better the distance from the hand to the POB. If you were measuring the 3” of your sword from where the blade meets the hand guard, then it would likely be at least another inch farther out when measured from the junction between the handle and the guard.

Dan
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Re: Sword grip

Postby ChiDragon » Thu Feb 04, 2016 12:02 pm

This is a modern way of holding a sword. IMO The thumb is on top of the index finger seems to have a better control than the method mentioned above.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq62hX9cFyk

May I ask someone to come forward and indicate which method that was used in the practice. Please don't just let me do all the talking. I need some oppositions and arguments for discussion sake. Thanks!
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Re: Sword grip

Postby ChiDragon » Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:22 am

Greetings!
My knowledgeable friends...
Through my experience with the Chinese classic instructions, I had discovered that they are very individualistic. Most of the time is very hard to understand what was in the mind of the author. In addition, the choice of words are very ambiguous. Sometimes they don't say what they meant or don't mean what they say. What I do in this kind of situation is to ignore the original source and go to another to come to my own conclusion.

Why is it so important for one to know "how" to do the sword grip? I think it is more significant to know "why" instead of how? Hence, if one knows why, then one knows how. As someone had mentioned in another thread, it is the weight of the sword which contributed to the degree of difficulty in handling the weapon. The weight of the sword must not be treated lightly. The practitioner must know how to overcome its weight. How, guess what? It all relies on the method of the sword grip.
Last edited by ChiDragon on Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sword grip

Postby DPasek » Fri Feb 05, 2016 3:39 pm

I do not have the background to be able to address grip strength or precision of the various fingers, but the following publication may present some information of interest:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2997957/

The middle finger is seen to be the pivotal digit in that it serves the needs of both precision and strength. Normally, it supports the index digit in matters of precision, but if need be it alone can assume the role as the only finger of precision. When its special ability of precision is not required, its great size and strength contribute a considerable portion of the gripping power provided by the medial side of the hand.

The above quote from the article seems to support the idea that the middle finger (not the index finger) may be the most important when gripping a sword. I do not know if it matters which other fingers supplement the middle finger, but one approach seems to emphasize the ring finger (my approach as well as Audi’s) or the index finger (Bob and ChiDragon’s preference). From the article, it would seem that if more precision is desired, then it may be best to emphasize the index finger supplementing the middle finger; or if strength is important, then the ring finger may be a better candidate.

Precision prehension of the hand involves the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Prehension by these three digits is derived through the median nerve which supplies the extrinsic superficialis muscles, profundus muscles, and the flexor pollicis longus. In addition the same nerve supplies the lumbricals of the index and middle fingers and the positioning muscles of the thumb, the opponens, and the palmar abductor. The median nerve also supplies the tactile surfaces of the three digits.

In contrast to precision prehension, grip strength of the hand is primarily an ulnar nerve function and is obtained through the medial three digits and the thumb. The extrinsic profundus muscles of the ring and little fingers as well as their intrinsic muscles are supplied by the ulnar nerve. The tactile sense of the little finger and the medial half of the ring finger are also of ulnar nerve origin. In grip strength, the adductor of the thumb provides the power of contra force, and it too is supplied by the ulnar nerve.

The technical information in the above quote from the article seems to indicate that different nerves are responsible for the different parts of the hand (thumb, index, middle for one, and ring and pinky for another). For me it seems like balancing precision and strength by emphasizing the middle and ring fingers would also mean that both of the nerves mentioned above (the median nerve and the ulnar nerve) would be significantly involved in the actions of the grip even when changing the grip for differing applications (the yin/yang pair for the index and pinky fingers as stated nicely by Audi).

I am just speculating since I do not have sufficient knowledge, but the above may provide some information for further discussion. Perhaps the difference in preference may be due to the weight of the practice swords that different people use. Since I use an antique sword from the late Qing that weighs about 850 grams (as well as two wooden sparring swords that I had custom made to have about the same characteristics as the antique, including both weighing over 700 grams) perhaps the middle plus ring finger emphasis feels better for me than for someone that practices with a lighter sword and who may not need as much strength, and thus prefers to emphasize more precision? I am certain that different practitioners will have differing preferences for finding a balance between precision and strength when gripping a sword.
Last edited by DPasek on Fri Feb 12, 2016 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sword grip

Postby ChiDragon » Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:21 pm

Good morning, Dan
I always admire someone who brings in some modern scientific knowledge into the traditional Tai Ji discussions. Please pardon me for being ignorance by rephrasing your quote on the sword grip. Since the thumb and index finger grip form an "O", it has the resemblance of the symbol for OK. For simplicity, I would like to called it the OK grip method for discussion sake.

The OK grip method.
“The hand that holds the sword must be relaxed and flexible. You must not grasp with all five fingers too tightly, for that would be a hindrance to using the sword in a lively way. You need only grip it with your thumb and idex finger. The middle finger, ring finger and little finger should be constantly loose. There should be an emptiness in the palm."

Dan said:
" From the article, it would seem that if more precision is desired, then it may be best to emphasize the index finger supplementing the middle finger; or if strength is important, then the ring finger may be a better candidate."

The statements in blue seems to be contradicting the idea about the precision and strength. It indicates to me that the ring formed by the first two fingers, as my preference, just to keep the sword in place; and also, the looseness is allow for the swivel action of the sword. The other three fingers are to hold the handle lightly and to guide the position of the sword. However, I must point out to the fact that the OK grip is more applicable to a traditional sword. By a traditional sword, general speaking, I mean it has the POB six inches measured from the rear edge of the hand guard.

I would like to share my empirical experience in handling a traditional sword. Let's experience with the wrong grip. I had a tight grip on the handle and had gone through the 32 movements. As a result, I had felt lots of tensions on arm muscles and my wrist was aching due to supporting the 1.5 pound weight from the sword. Despite to the weight of the traditional sword, then I ordered a competition Tai Ji sword from China. The competition Tai Ji sword has the POB of three plus or minus half inches measured from the rear edge of the hand guard.

The competition sword seems almost exactly like the one that Daniel Tan uses in his video. BTW I admire his performance.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GFnimrzqro

Please note that his last three fingers have never been moved. It seems like that he didn't have to fight the weight of the sword because it is a light one. With a traditional sword, he probably would have to speed up the moves a little bit to counteract the weight of the sword. Hence, it will prevent the arm from fatigue for holding a heavy sword in the air too long.



Edited for correction:
Correction: The POB was measured from the rear edge of the hand guard rather than the front edge.
Last edited by ChiDragon on Sat Feb 06, 2016 4:48 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Sword grip

Postby DPasek » Fri Feb 05, 2016 9:04 pm

Chen Yanlin (book published in 1943 – see the original post) states:
The hand that holds the sword must be relaxed and flexible. You must not grasp with all five fingers too tightly, for that would be a hindrance to using the sword in a lively way. You need only grip it with your thumb, middle finger, and ring finger. Your forefinger and little finger should be constantly loose. There should be an emptiness in the palm so that it is like holding a writing brush.


This would seem to support the way that I favor holding the sword, rather than the thumb and index finger of the ‘OK’ grip that you explained. Are you indicating that the Brennan translation of Chen’s book may be in error?

We both seem to agree that “The hand that holds the sword must be relaxed and flexible. You must not grasp with all five fingers too tightly, for that would be a hindrance to using the sword in a lively way” as well as “There should be an emptiness in the palm.” The difference seems to be which fingers are used to grip the sword, and which are loose.

It may just come down to differing traditions. I do not think that it is accurate for you to state “I must point out to the fact that the OK grip is more applicable to a traditional sword” since I also use a traditional sword but with the different grip, as apparently did Chen Yanlin since his book was published in 1943, presumably before any reproduction (non-traditional) swords began to be manufactured.
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Re: Sword grip

Postby ChiDragon » Fri Feb 05, 2016 9:24 pm

Hi, Dan

Thank you for asking the question. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I left the traditional grip out of the discussion was because I was comparing the OK grip and tight grip in my mind at the time.

I did not indicate that the translation was in error. The translation is exactly what the original document says. Thanks for pointing this out. I should have had said that "I must point out, to the fact, that both the OK grip and the traditional grip, is more applicable to a traditional sword.” It is because both grips do provide a ring for the swivel motion of the sword to move freely. The traditional grip is known as the ring formed by the thumb and the middle finger.


Peace..... :)
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Re: Sword grip

Postby ChiDragon » Fri Feb 05, 2016 10:37 pm

DPasek wrote:Chen Yanlin (book published in 1943 – see the original post) states:
The hand that holds the sword must be relaxed and flexible. You must not grasp with all five fingers too tightly, for that would be a hindrance to using the sword in a lively way. You need only grip it with your thumb, middle finger, and ring finger. Your forefinger and little finger should be constantly loose. There should be an emptiness in the palm so that it is like holding a writing brush.


This would seem to support the way that I favor holding the sword, rather than the thumb and index finger of the ‘OK’ grip that you explained. Are you indicating that the Brennan translation of Chen’s book may be in error?



Dan,
I had just tried the traditional grip. It seems most definitely that the grip makes the sword to feel much heavier. I had felt a centripetal force which contributed by the weight of the sword. In the OK grip, it seems to me the sword was centrifugal and lighter. However, with the traditional grip, the centripetal force tends to take over all the moves. Thus that which leads me to believe: If one is not familiar with the routines of the movements, then it's better to use the OK grip or a lighter sword.

With the traditional grip which makes the sword to feel heavier, I think the reason is the leverage was shifted toward the rear of the handle from the index finger to the middle finger.

This discussion is very interesting and beneficial. Thanks Dan!
How less do I know! :oops:
Last edited by ChiDragon on Sat Feb 06, 2016 8:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sword grip

Postby ChiDragon » Sat Feb 06, 2016 1:20 am

DPasek wrote:In Brennan’s newly posted translation of Yang Style Sword according to Chen Yanlin (from
太極拳刀劍桿散手合編) he gives the following:

“The hand that holds the sword must be relaxed and flexible. You must not grasp with all five fingers too tightly, for that would be a hindrance to using the sword in a lively way. You need only grip it with your thumb, middle finger, and ring finger. Your forefinger and little finger should be constantly loose. There should be an emptiness in the palm so that it is like holding a writing brush.”
http://brennantranslation.wordpress.com ... en-yanlin/

While I agree with what is stated, as recently as this year’s Kuoshu tournament a friend of mine who was looking at possibly purchasing a sword (jian) was shown “the proper way to hold a sword” in what I consider to have been a misinterpretation of the “like holding a writing brush” phrase. He was shown a grip where nothing but the tips of three fingers contacted the handle (thumb on one side of the handle and two fingers opposite). Although the phrase “You need only grip it with your thumb, middle finger, and ring finger” may seem to support a literal “like holding a writing brush” interpretation, my understanding is that a grip like that would be wrong.

Any clarifications on this point would be greatly appreciated.

Dan


Hi, Dan
After I'd taken my bird for a walk, finally, the phrase “like holding a writing brush” just struck me. It should not be taken literally. It doesn't mean to hold the sword like one is holding a writing brush. It simply means that the gesture of the grip is to place the thumb over the ring and middle fingers. It resembles how one would hold a writing brush. Besides, the context was referring to the emptiness in the palm rather then the sword grip itself.

Here is how one would hold a writing brush: The brush should be placed, vertically, in between the thumb and both the ring and middle fingers.

I hope this will clarify the interpretation of the phrase.
A deep discussion requires explicit details for a good comprehension of a complex subject.
ChiDragon
 
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