Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

sabre, sword, spear, etc

Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby Sugelanren » Thu Oct 10, 2013 12:36 pm

I'm going to be asking my Sifu about this when he comes over but it would be nice to hear the opinion of the forum on this.

The other week, while i was at work i had time to do some Tai chi practice. I went to a vacant car park (which my job allows), and began. Unfortunately, i forgot my broadsword (a wooden practice Dao). I looked in the back of the van i was driving, and found a Pick axe handle with the end broken off, almost the exact length as my Dao. I started playing, and as you would expect the extra weight made it difficult for me to hold it in position while i held it outstretched, and i managed to hit myself on the back of the head as i was bringing it round my body. It occurred to me, that this is what would happen if i actually tried to use a metal sword. My practice with a wooden replica has meant that i am not used to holding a weighted implement out for any real length of time.

What do you guys think about using said pick axe handle on a regular basis? It would add a dimension to the form practice, namely conditioning my arms to be able to slowly work with a heavier object. I will be at a weekend masterclass with the Dao, and will ask my Sifu about this, but as this forum seems to have a wealth of Long time Tai chi practitioners, i thought about asking you guys aswell.


Peace...Sean
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Re: Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby Bob Ashmore » Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:53 pm

First I'd like to say that using the actual weapon to condition yourself to using that weapon is going to be optimal.
However...
I've used all kinds of different things as weapon substitutes over the years; broom handles, yard sticks, tree branches of appropriate shapes and sizes, walking sticks, wooden curtain rods (these make awesome staffs) and, yes, even axe handles a few times (I have a wood burning stove and I cut and split a lot of my own wood, I've gone through more than my fair share of axes/mauls).
Many other things have become fodder for my weapons practice over the years as well. Basically, if it fits the bill and it's handy I use it for practice.
I have an aluminum "blind cane" that I use to practice sword when I'm in areas where carrying a sword would be inappropriate. It's the same length as a medium jian, it's the same weight and has a handle that is almost identical in size and shape to a Chinese jian. I got it about fifteen years ago when I worked at a medical supply company. It's perfectly balanced too, more so than any jian I've ever owned actually.
Heck, I've even got two Nerf Marauder swords that I bought several years ago, when you could still buy them (Hasbro has discontinued them, unfortunately). I use them to train sword techniques with other people. They're a bit longer and heavier than a jian but they're the same shape and no one gets hurt when we hit each other or make mistakes and hit ourselves during pushing jian or jian application practice.
They also work out fairly well for practicing pushing dao or dao application too. They're not curved but the handles are closer in shape to a dao and the weight is just about the same.
They even have round pommels on the ends, not rings you can put your fingers through but round and basically the same shape.
But I digress...

I'm all for using what's available to hand to train with if you don't have the real thing, obviously.
As long as you're not tensing up to do the "conditioning" you're looking for you're probably going to be OK.
I do recommend that your axe handle have good balance. Otherwise you won't be training correctly and that will not help very much.

One question though...
Why not use a steel dao to condition yourself to using a dao?
It's the right weight, the right length, the right balance...
The right weapon.
I only use simulacrums when I don't have the option to use the real thing.
Otherwise I'm all about the swashbuckling.

Bob
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Re: Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby Sugelanren » Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:31 am

I do my Tai chi practice in one of two places, Home or work. (roughly 50/50). At home i play in the local park, at work i play in vacant car parks (usually at night as i work nights). Using a steel Dao would garner unwanted attention, or bring the Garda special unit (Irish police with Guns). I know technically a pick axe handle isn't much better, but if carried in a hockey bag till used, it would be slightly less offensive to the general public. I would one day like to own a proper sword, but in terms of practice for now i use a wooden Sword (as is normal for players of my level, i think).
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Re: Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby DPasek » Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:47 pm

Hi Sean,

I do not have much to add to Bob’s comments since, unlike Bob, I do not have much experience using improvised training weapons (although I do heat my home with a wood stove and thus also split a lot of wood with an axe). Instead, I have some antique Chinese weapons and then have had custom wooden sparring weapons made for me that closely match the historic weapons in my possession (the lengths match and the balance points are close, although the weight is typically slightly less for the wooden reproductions than their metal models).

Instead, I wanted to address the use of ‘broadsword’ as a translation of the Chinese dao. Here is what Brennan states in his translation of “Yang Style Taiji Sword According to Chen Yanlin”:

[While the character for “saber” (刀) is a picture of a knife with a single blade, the character for “sword” (劍) breaks down into “all (僉) bladed (刂)”. Therefore the most accurate way to translate these two terms would actually be “single-edged sword” and “double-edge sword”. (However, these names are rendered impossible when considering some sets use two weapons at the same time. To talk of a “double double-edged sword” set or a “single single-edged sword” set, or even worse, of a “double single-edged sword” set or a “single double-edged sword” set would be rather messy. Far less confusing to be able to refer to them as “double sword”, “single sword”, “double saber”, “single saber”, and so it is preferable to have shorter though less explicit names like “saber” and “sword”, the brightest side perhaps being that they so deliciously alliterate alongside “staff” and “spear”.)]


Since English usage usually uses ‘broadsword’ for a broad bladed double edged sword, using ‘broadsword’ to describe a single edged dao is problematic.

Also, there are various types of dao used in Chinese martial arts (see below) and, since each has somewhat different handling characteristics, it may help if we knew which type your form(s) use. Which are you referring to? Here are pictures of some wooden reproductions of various types of commonly used Chinese dao (notice that the ‘Taiji’ dao has a similar blade to the ‘goose quill’ dao, but has a ring pommel an ‘S-shaped’ hand guard):

Goose Quill:
Image
Willow Leaf:
Image
Ox Tail:
Image
Taiji:
Image

The above wooden swords (and their lengths and weights for standard production manufacturing) can be found here:
http://www.little-raven.com/RS/MA/Do.html
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Re: Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby Sugelanren » Sat Oct 12, 2013 6:24 pm

Hi DPasek.

Is it possible for you to tell me why you wanted to make an etymological argument in this particular thread? It would help with my response if i knew your motives.
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Re: Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby DPasek » Mon Oct 14, 2013 2:21 pm

Sorry, but I was just freely providing information that readers of this thread may not be aware of. Your use of the term ‘broadsword’ for the Chinese Dao meant to me that the information that I provided may be relevant. If this was a violation of some social convention that I am not aware of, or if it offended you, then I apologize (I am not particularly social, and thus could easily miss social conventions).

How any reader chooses to use the information that I provided is certainly up to them, and if you were aware of the information (or disagree with it) and chose to use the term ‘broadsword’, then you are certainly free to do so.
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Re: Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby Sugelanren » Mon Oct 14, 2013 3:49 pm

No, i'm not offended, i was just puzzled why you would disagree with a term that is in common usage and that is widely accepted as a term for the object i was discussing. I actually had a laugh with a friend of mine about how i got trolled on a Tai chi site (a troll is someone who would derail an honest request for help with a spurious etymological argument). I came to the conclusion that this was not necessarily the case, and that i shouldn't judge this forum the way i would other internet forums. This is why i followed with further information as to your motives before i continued, i thought it best. For this initial misunderstanding, i am Sorry. This is a forum of my Tai chi peers and betters, and i came here in search of information so that i could better understand and enjoy the art i have chosen to experience.

So, now that we have that misunderstanding out of the way, let's discuss the name for the Dao. Allow me to provide a counter argument.

1) The problem with using existing English words to describe something it was not designed for is that it is always going to be that - a name for something it is not designed for. The sabre for example (in the west) always has a hand guard, it can also have a second edge ( though not generally). As this is the case, there is an argument to be made that Sabre is also not the correct term. Tai chi knife would be a better translation, to be honest.

2) Many things in the west are called things that do not describe them precisely. French fries are not french, German Shepherds do not tend sheep anymore, Jerusalem artichokes are neither from Jerusalem or artichokes... and never ask for Rocky Mountain Oysters and expect seafood. To bring this further to home for you (your settings would suggest you are from America) - American Indians aren't from India, New York isn't in York, even the 44th President of the United States is technically the 43rd. This isn't even restricted to the English language. "Pomme de terre" literally translates as "apple of the ground". This would all go to suggest that where technically a word might not exactly describe what a thing is, what is important is that when a word is used, it is understood...this is the best we can expect from a language, right?

3) When i posted this thread i took it for granted that as it was a Tai Chi forum that i could omit the term "Tai Chi" before Broadsword, as i considered it to be generally understood that it would be a Tai Chi Broadsword i was talking about. It was understood by Bob, so at least one other person understood that when i mentioned broadsword, i was talking about a Dao. In the general Tai chi player parlance, Broadsword is a perfectly acceptable word to use to when concerning the Dao. Everyone knows what we mean, even if it is not their preferred term, and discourse is not impeded by it's use.

I still am puzzled why you would post your objections in a thread that was an honest search for help from my peers and betters, but as i'm not au fait with the normal decorum of this forum, i guess i have to accept that this is the normal way a topic is addressed here. C'est la vie. I am sorry for the misunderstanding. I hope this would not prevent you from answering any of my many questions about the world of Tai Chi in the future.

Peace. Sean.
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Re: Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby DPasek » Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:21 pm

OK, perhaps you are unaware that many schools of Taijiquan use Dao types other than the ‘Taiji’ Dao. The Yang (and Wu) families certainly may promote the use of the ‘Taiji’ Dao which you use, but many other Yang style lineages and other styles of Taijiquan tend to more frequently use the ‘ox-tail’ Dao (or even include the two-handed Dao or the ‘Guan’ Dao [yinyuedao] long weapon, which is not uncommon for the Chen style, in their routines), so it was not clear to me which you were referring to. That is why I asked you which style Dao you used and provided pictures so that it would be clear. Note that there is even a possibility that other types of Dao may be used in certain traditions since, for example, even Japanese blades mounted with Chinese style fittings were available during the late Qing. I actually used an ox-tail Dao when I began studying Taijiquan, and did not even know about the ‘Taiji’ Dao until perhaps about a dozen years later (and I am not certain that they were available during the 1980’s like they are today). Therefore, I did not make an assumption as to which style of Dao you use. Also, since this forum is accessible to non-Association members (like me), and even to practitioners from styles other than Yang, the use of the ‘Taiji’ Dao is not guaranteed.

Notice that in the pictures I provided, the handles of both the ‘willow-leaf’ and ‘ox-tail’ Dao are angled due to the handling characteristics of the weapons, and would thus not likely be reproducible very accurately by using a pick axe handle (which I am guessing is straight, perhaps flaring somewhat at the head end and possibly having a slight knob on the handle end). If you use the ‘Taiji’ (or ‘goose-quill’) Dao, then you may get a reasonable improvised Dao for your practice, but probably not if you used the ox-tail Dao instead. The reproducibility would also depend somewhat on the weight distribution and the point of balance for your pick axe handle, but that issue may be difficult to address on this forum (rather than actually handling it myself).

The link that I provided gave reasonable lengths and weights for wooden practice Dao in case you were looking for that type of information (with the additional information that metal antiques would typically be somewhat heavier). I do not know the length or weight of your pick axe handle, nor do I know the characteristics of the handle shape, but you can refer to the pictures that I included in my original post.

Personally, I think that it would be good to use your pick axe handle as an improvised ‘Taiji’ Dao to get a better feel for using a heavier object. Many techniques can be done incorrectly, without realizing it, when using a light weapon. Better technique is often required when using a heavier weapon.

As a final note, some Chinese Dao did have a back edge (though more common would be a ‘false’ or unsharpened back edge), and one of the Dao forms that I learned (from Fu style Taijiquan) had a couple of moves specifically designed to use the sharp back edge of a dao.
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Re: Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby Sugelanren » Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:38 am

I am part of a small but enthusiastic group from Dublin Ireland. What we lack in number we make up in regular practice and the willingness to travel to wherever our Sifu teaches (he is based in London). I am nearing Instructor level, so i am trying to make sure i am ready before i take the plunge (for myself, more than anything else). I do try to read as much as i can but i must admit that i tend to keep to Yang style literature. I think the only books i have that are not are maybe - one from Chen Xiao Wang, T T Liang's book, and a book by Cheng man Ching. I was aware that there are several types of sword that come under the umbrella of Dao, but i misunderstood your reason for asking the question maybe. Our club almost exclusively uses an Ox tail sword. This is probably due to the ease of purchase more than anything else (although in all honestly, i have never thought to ask why...i will ask at class tonight). Our Sifu warns against using a real sword due to a Doctor from Germany buying one off his own back, and slicing the inside of his arm from arm pit to elbow, in a way that proves that perhaps one can be "over enthusiastic".

I was considering buying a Proper Yang family Taiji Dao, but as i have a young family the idea of buying a replica to later buy a sharp one seems frivolous in the circumstances so i am hesitant. As i practice every day in all weather, i find in heavy winds even a decent hard wood replica has a tendency to blow off course in the wind. I once read that in the complete Yang system, each weapon brings a different aspect to the table, and was worried that i was losing out by not using a tool of the correct weight (slow, controlled, extending of a heavy object as opposed to a lighter replica).
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Re: Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby DPasek » Tue Oct 15, 2013 1:53 pm

Well, if you are using the ox-tail dao rather than the ‘Taiji’ dao, then you may still find that using the pick axe handle for conditioning purposes may be useful, but keep in mind that some movements from your form may not be replicated properly. A heavier training weapon may help you to understand how the body supports the actions imparted to the weapon, so I am in favor of this type of training. But, especially if you are practicing slowly, be careful not to overdo the weight since tendon injuries are slow to heal and would not be good for your dedicated practice routine.

The ox-tail dao is better as a chopping weapon than a thrusting one, whereas the ‘Taiji’ (or goose-quill) dao still retain fairly good thrusting characteristics (though they are not as good at chopping). The weight distribution of the ox-tail dao is closer to the tip than for the ‘Taiji’ (or goose-quill) dao, and is probably different than the pick axe handle (although a thickened pick end would help to simulate this to some degree). The weight distribution of the ‘Taiji’ (or goose-quill) dao is closer to a jian (notice that the blade thicknesses are similar; the differences being the curvature of the blade near the tip and the increased thickness of the spine of the dao) than is the ox-tail dao, and the thrusting ability is still quite good without the need to have an angled handle. On the other hand, the thickening of the tip of the ox-tail dao means that thrusting probably needs the angled handle for a historically weighted and balanced weapon to have a chance of staying accurately on-target during a thrust.

My understanding (I’m not an authority on antique Chinese weapons) is that the flaring of the tip of the ox-tail dao has increased over time (producing increasingly tip heavy weapons that emphasize chopping more and more at the expense of thrusting). Early on, the flaring was rather modest. My antique from probably about the mid-1800’s has a smaller tip flair than the wooden reproduction in the picture shown in my original post. Most modern reproductions are so relatively light that their very wide tip flare probably does not really affect the handling characteristics of the weapons. I have not yet handled any antiques (or accurate reproductions) with the degree of tip flair as is found in most reproduction ox-tail dao available today.

Note that my antique is not sharpened (it has a partial polish, but not enough to sharpen the edge). There is some debate as to the use of sharp weapons for practicing Chinese swordsmanship. Some strongly favor it (due to increased respect for the weapon and thus a greater focus during practice), and some schools use realistic and sharp weapons since they include cutting practices (on both soft and hard targets) in their schools. But in modern society we do not really need to have sharp weapons, and the risk of injury may counter arguments for realism. So it probably comes down to personal choice, but I should also point out that Japanese swordsmanship seem to satisfactorily incorporate the use of both non-sharpened sparring and practice weapons as well as realistic and sharpened ones, and I do not see any reason why Chinese swordsmanship cannot do the same.
Last edited by DPasek on Thu Oct 17, 2013 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:59 pm

The Wu Chien Chuan lineage I trained under uses what is referred to in many places as an ox-tail dao. I have seen them called "Manchu Broadswords" in various online listings as well. At the Wu school the classes were called "big knife" when rendered in English.
Sword, what the Yang family calls "jian", under the Wu school is called "gim". The gim classes were listed as "knife" classes in English renderings. Unfortunately I did not train sword in that lineage. I really don't know why, I just didn't "get 'round to it" in my time there.
I have trained in both the Yang and Wu styles of "dao" extensively though. I no longer really have a preference between them in terms of which I like to use. They each have their own particulars and principles and each has taught me much.
If I were to be put into a situation in which I had to defend myself using a dao, on foot, I would most likely choose to use the ox-tail dao. Why? Because of my longer association with the weapon. Much longer, 15 years more time wielding an ox-tail dao, so I'm just a lot more familiar with how to use it and would prefer to have that experience behind me if I ever had to do so.
If presented with the same scenario but from horse back I would choose the willow tail saber. Not that I've trained to use it that way, I haven't, but I am well versed in horsemanship (thought it's been too long since I've been on one) and I recognize that the weapon is much better suited for that purpose.
I enjoy playing both weapons, to be honest, almost equally now that I've gained some experience using both of them.

All that said...
I was not, in any way, suggesting that training either style of dao using an axe handle was optimal.
What I was trying to convey was that if you do not have access to the real thing it is better to practice some of the art then it is to practice none of it.
Having been in that situation many, many times in my life I choose to practice what I can, when I can, even if it's not a perfect situation it's better than nothing at all.

As for sharpening a weapon, I highly recommend it.
IF you are very good using it.
AFTER you've learned how to use it correctly sharpening a blade and then practicing with it is, in my opinion, the best way to learn to use it to the optimum level.
Why?
Good question, I'm glad you asked (OK, I asked, but you know what I mean).
Because until you know you can handle a sharpened blade safely and well during practice it's really not a good idea to handle one at all.
It will let you know, with no margin for self delusion, if you can do so and it will do that in a very big hurry.
That's why NONE of my students use a sharpened blade yet.
But I use one every single day.
I've been playing with edged weapons since I was 12, when I took my first saber fencing class.
So I've got quite some time in that particular area.
However, most folks don't have that kind of experience and so I highly discommend that they use a sharpened blade until a qualified, experienced instructor gives them permission to do so.
AND that he stays with them for the first while to be sure they handle it safely and with respect.

Bob
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Re: Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby Audi » Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:22 am

Greetings all,
I once read that in the complete Yang system, each weapon brings a different aspect to the table, and was worried that i was losing out by not using a tool of the correct weight (slow, controlled, extending of a heavy object as opposed to a lighter replica).

If this is your goal, I would advise buying a metal sword. The feedback from a wooden weapon is quite different from what a metal one provides. On the other hand, I think Bob's statement below is wise as well.

What I was trying to convey was that if you do not have access to the real thing it is better to practice some of the art then it is to practice none of it.
Having been in that situation many, many times in my life I choose to practice what I can, when I can, even if it's not a perfect situation it's better than nothing at all.

Sometimes, if I have no weapon, but want to practice, I even practice the saber simply using an outstretched palm, and the sword while using a second set of sword fingers.

As for the terminology, I think the Association uses "sword" for Jian and "saber" for Dao. I have always been confused by use of the term "broadsword," since, for me, that term explicitly connotes a particular type of two-edged weapon or even a two-handed weapon like a claymore. I first heard the term in grammar school when I had to memorize part of a 19th century poem describing Horatius defending a bridge across the Tiber against Etruscans attacking Rome. The verse explicitly talks about an Etruscan attacking him while wielding a weapon with both hands.

For me, the term "saber" seems quite appropriate for the weapon called a "Dao"; however, the term "sword" is problematic as a general term for two-edged weapons. I understand a saber to be a type of sword and so think of the term "sword" as generally ambiguous outside of its usage within the Association.

Sword, what the Yang family calls "jian", under the Wu school is called "gim". The gim classes were listed as "knife" classes in English renderings.

In Cantonese, the Mandarin word "Jian" is pronounced "Gim," and the word "Dao" as "Dou" (almost like the English word "doe"). I think most of the Wu family speaks Cantonese. The word "Dao"/"Dou" means either "knife" or "saber."

Take care,
Audi
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Re: Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby Bob Ashmore » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:00 pm

Audi,
I've learned with time and experience to change between the Cantonese and Mandarin words and pronunciations depending on which group of people I'm talking to at the moment but I was quite confused for a long time over it.
I just threw all those "differences" out there to show that there are plenty of words different groups can and do use to describe the same thing.
No reason to get hung up on that as long as everyone knows what we're all talking about. Any confusion is easily cleared up by simply explaining what you're referring to in other terms until we all land on the same page.

I call the dou (never saw that spelling for it before, interesting) I use to do Wu Chien Chuan lineage "big knife" form a broadsword. I do so because that's what the English speakers called the weapon while I trained it in that school. I don't recall if I ever heard Eddie call it that or not. Wu Tai Sin didn't speak much English and my grasp of Cantonese was and is nill so I couldn't possibly tell you what he called it though I went to his "big knife" seminars every time he was in town. I also heard it called "saber" and "Manchu broadsword". I always assumed the broadsword designation came about because of the "Manchu broadsword" name for it, but that was and still is only an assumption.
I call the "willow tail dao" that the Association uses a "saber" since it so very closely resembles the sabers I trained with in my teens. In fact, I have an Italian Infantry saber (I've mentioned this before on this forum sorry for the redundancy) and it so closely resembles the Association saber that I use it to practice with quite a bit. Other than the fact that is has a basket hilt it is nearly exactly the same length, weight, balance and feel of the Association saber. The basket hilt does not in any way hinder my usage of it to perform the Yang Family Saber form. This is the "sharp" blade I refer to when I say I use one to do practice in order to maintain respect for a "live" blade. So to me the Association saber IS a saber in all respects.

I also practice sword form sans sword while using dual sword fingers, what Si Kung Eddie taught me to call "Secret Sword Fingers". I have no idea what the secret is though. :)
I have found it to be an interesting and educational experience, actually, and now do so sometimes just because I really like doing the form that way.
If you haven't already done so I highly recommend doing Traditional the hand form using dual sword fingers, that's quite fun and educational as well.
The energies feel "different" and I find myself moving my whole body in slightly different ways when I do this.
It's a subtle set of changes that I find fascinating.
The energy that normally gets sent to the palm or wrist, or wherever, now goes out to the sword fingers.
This changes the "orientation" for my Yi and the pathway that the Qi travels.
That makes things very interesting indeed.

Bob
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Re: Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby Sugelanren » Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:52 pm

This has been enlightening, thank you all for your input. While having this conversation, i searched for a pinyin to English translator, and found the following. ( i do speak mandarin, but it's usually used to talk with family).

Saber - mǎ dāo, or pèi jiàn

Sabre - jūn dāo

Broadsword - dà dāo

From http://chinese.yabla.com/


Similar results come up here - http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.p ... wdqb=saber

The tranlsation of dāo on these sites seems to be - knife / blade / single-edged sword / cutlass.

Seems that to translate "dāo" as any of there three is not precisely accurate. So, surely in the spirit of inclusion as opposed to exclusion, we should accept that different schools have different terms for the dāo? I live in Europe. We call the sidewalk the pavement, pants are trousers, and Starbucks coffee "Bilge water". To have a debate every time we use different terminology would get very tedious very quickly, although i must admit i'd happily discuss Tai Chi till the cows come home, especially with people like yourselves who know what you are talking about.

I've decided that i'll probably get an unsharpened Broadsword in the new year, and consider buying a sharpened one when i have my own club. It's playing the long game, but isn't that what Tai Chi is all about?

Out of interest, i saw this the other day. http://www.forthoodsentinel.com/story.php?id=12226

Not exactly weapons related, but whenever i see Tai Chi gaining a little more legitimacy in the wider public, it cheers me up.
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Re: Pick axe handle as a broadsword for practice.

Postby DPasek » Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:20 pm

Sean,

Back in the 1980s when I was first learning Taijiquan, I had a very limited knowledge of Chinese weapons; the jian (double edged sword), the dao (at the time I only knew about the ox-tail version), and the staff and spear. At that time calling the ox-tail dao a ‘broadsword’ (or just a ‘dao’ without further clarification) and the jian a ‘sword’ worked to distinguish these two weapons apart, and since the ox-tail dao does have a broader blade (throughout, but especially at the tip) than the jian, this designation may have made sense. But today, we know that the goose-quill and willow-leaf dao are also dao as is the ox-tail version, and then things start becoming confusing especially when some traditions (like the Yang and Wu family styles of Taijiquan) use what is now known as a ‘Taiji’ dao. The blades of the ‘Taiji’ dao, the goose-quill dao, and the willow-leaf dao are generally no ‘broader’ than a jian, and it does not make sense to me to also refer to these types of dao as ‘broadswords’.

If I know more now than I did in the 1980s, then why should I continue using an ‘established’ translation which may be confusing or inappropriate today? If you wanted to continue using ‘broadsword’ specifically for the ox-tail dao, and some other term for other types of dao (e.g. ‘saber’ or ‘knife’ or ‘cutlass’...), then I suppose that could be understandable. I personally would prefer more complete descriptions that indicate the specific type of weapon being referred to, since different types of dao have different handling characteristics. Today I use several different types of dao in my personal Taijiquan practice, so I am conscious of the need to distinguish clearly between them.

I did not really want to start a discussion about what to call a dao that is used in Taijiquan practice (although that is also OK), but I did want to provide information that I did not have when I began learning Taijiquan weapons; and I wanted to answer appropriately to your initial post, but that depended, at least in part, on being clear about what type of dao you were using the pick axe handle to simulate.

Best wishes in your practice.
DPasek
 
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Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2004 6:01 am
Location: Pittsboro, NC USA

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