Sword and leg co-ordination.

sabre, sword, spear, etc

Postby Simon Batten » Thu Feb 07, 2008 6:30 am

Dan: also, in the posture in the photo, given the application, it's not viable to stand with the feet further apart than in line, as immediately after the block, you are rising into Golden Rooster stance on your right foot, the left leg up. with a wider stance, this would be almost impossible, as you would have to move your right foot leftwards first, which would seriously destabilise you. Assuming this posture in the photo is facing north, the counter attack in Golden Rooster stance faces north also, but the right foot faces northwest. It involves a half step forward as well onto the right foot before rising into Golden Rooster stance. Again, this would be almost impossible and very destabilising unless the heels are in line, but then without the heels in line, it's almost out of the question not to be leaning forward slightly if crouching this low and anyway, as I've said, the lean contributes to the parry. Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby DPasek » Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:10 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Simon Batten:
<B>I can't agree with your point about using the top part of the sword to parry under any circumstances. The flexible top should never be used for this purpose - it's not strong enough.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Simon,

I’m sorry, what gave you the impression that I was advocating using the ‘top part of the sword to parry’? Was it because I mentioned the possibility of angling the jian in order to direct the tip more towards the opponent? If so, then you must realize that the jian could be angled more without altering the point of contact with the opponent’s weapon.

I actually agree with the technique of using the root half of the jian for deflecting the opponent’s weapon (using the spine/ridge for contact rather than the edge). I think that deflecting with a contact point near the jian’s point of balance (on historic jian this is roughly 6-8 inches beyond where the handle meets the guard) for several reasons: 1) it allows you to keep your sword tip closer to the opponent, reducing their time and space for reacting to a counterattack; 2) it affords greater leverage and control of the opponent’s weapon; 3) it allows you do ‘draw in’ the opponent often resulting in a higher degree of commitment to their attack and lessening their ability to change and react to your counterattack; 4) it allows easy pivoting around that point of contact in initiating counterattacks or reacting to changing tactics from the opponent; 5) it ensures that the parts of the jian used for attacking the opponent (typically the tip half of the blade) are less likely to accidentally become damaged by contact with the opponent’s weapon. However, it has nothing to do with a ‘flexible tip’ or it not being ‘strong enough’.

I only own one antique jian, and have only handled a few more, but I have been assured by knowledgeable individuals who have handled thousands of antiques that antique jian with ‘flexible tips’ are not available! Although this does not rule out the possibility that rare examples may exist, or that examples of this type usually have their tips broken and are discarded without making it to the antiques market or museum collections, I think that this idea of ‘flexible tips’ for authentic Chinese jian is more likely to be a myth!

As to form specifics, all I can do is point out things that visually indicate possible problems based on my understanding of Taijiquan and jian. If you are comfortable with how your posture feels and it is consistent with the instruction that you have received, then there is really no more that I can say.

Dan
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Postby Simon Batten » Fri Feb 08, 2008 1:32 am

Dan: thanks for this reply. Generally, on the subject of blocking with the side of the blade I would draw attention to a passage from the following article: http://www.taiji-qigong.co.uk/Free_To_Download/Magazines/DEC2002.pdf where it says: 'To be effective, you must connect the
flat of your blade (not the edge)
to the opponent's and then use the
weight and movement of your body to
simultaneously deflect his blade and
affect his balance. This should
create an immediate opportunity to
slice the wrist/arm that holds the
sword to, literally, "disarm" him or
her prior to a finishing stroke,...'. This article generally supports the points I was making about blocking with the flat of the blade and using the the body's momentum to turn into the block. The article also contains some interesting observations on the Ban Hou sword form and its relationship with the Cheng Fu form. I suppose as you say, we'll just have to agree to differ on the merits or otherwise of my form posture in the photo, but although I don't have anyone to hand to do the finger test on my shoulder that you mention, I have no difficulty rising up from the position as illustrated into Golden Rooster stance, so I suppose it must at least pass muster from that point of view. Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby Simon Batten » Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:21 am

Just as an aside, this is the position following the low block I've previously illustrated: http://aolpictures.aol.co.uk/galleries/bats921/5d50WdW5NjsgIpAZjDdE1noYn0ysoTvzjz6tv4xQp5Fd3Ig=
Regards, Simon.
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Postby aidren » Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:15 am

Dan,

Regarding the balance point of the sword -- do you put any focus or intention to that point when doing your form? -- in terms of using that as a pivot. I am looking for some suggestions to use in my own practice. I have played with it a little but have never been too sure about where to go with it exactly.

Aidren
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Postby DPasek » Fri Feb 08, 2008 7:02 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by aidren:
<B>Dan,

Regarding the balance point of the sword -- do you put any focus or intention to that point when doing your form? -- in terms of using that as a pivot. I am looking for some suggestions to use in my own practice. I have played with it a little but have never been too sure about where to go with it exactly.

Aidren</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Aidren,

Initially it may be helpful to focus on the sword’s balance point when used for deflecting an opponent’s weapon, but eventually you should retain awareness at the contact point (at any location) without a direct focus. We should strive, when using a jian, to obtain the same sort of awareness and sensitivity that we have in weaponless Taijiquan. The difference being that the point of contact with a jian is now beyond the body and must be sensed through a metal (or wood when using this for sparring) weapon.

A jian with proper (i.e. historically accurate) weight and balance should feel lively, accurate, comfortable, etc. despite the weight being heavier than typical modern production jian. After decades of using poor quality swords in my practice, when I finally obtained my antique sword (as well as accurately reproduced, in terms of weight and balance, wooden sparring jian) the feel of the form and applications (including sparring) significantly changed. I now feel that a point of balance [POB] closer to the guard is detrimental to proper use of the jian (at least for jian with historically accurate weight). In solo forms this is not so obvious, and having a POB close to the hand may make it feel like you have more control (especially when using light reproductions). But when working against an opponent’s weapon a proper weight and POB makes things easier. For me, for example, an accurate POB allows the jian to utilize its weight to assist in controlling the opponent’s weapon rather than relying on my wrist; it allows techniques to smoothly transition from defense to offense (and also from one tactic to another, either on defense or on offense); it helps the tip of the jian track smoothly and accurately toward the desired target without wavering; etc.

Regardless of the POB (and weight) of the jian, however, we should develop the ability to control different sections of the weapon when desired. This can be trained by moving the jian such that the tip stays in place while moving the body of the jian (up/down, left/right, circles CW/CCW) such that a “V” or cone is formed with the tip pointing to the opponent; moving around the middle of the jian such that an hourglass shape is formed; and moving the tip with a stationary root of the jian (close to the guard) such that a “V” or cone is formed with the tip pointing to oneself.

Dan
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Postby aidren » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:18 pm

Thank you Dan,

"I now feel that a point of balance [POB] closer to the guard is detrimental to proper use of the jian (at least for jian with historically accurate weight). In solo forms this is not so obvious, and having a POB close to the hand may make it feel like you have more control (especially when using light reproductions)."

It's interesting that you bring this up. When I had first learned that people were altering the balance point to the hilt, my response was something like..."well, isn't that kind of like a cheat, to make your form look better..." it didn't make much sense to me. It seemed to be moving away from the whole principle of what the training was about.

" But when working against an opponent’s weapon a proper weight and POB makes things easier. For me, for example, an accurate POB allows the jian to utilize its weight to assist in controlling the opponent’s weapon rather than relying on my wrist: it allows techniques to smoothly transition from defense to offense (and also from one tactic to another, either on defense or on offense); it helps the tip of the jian track smoothly and accurately toward the desired target without wavering; etc."

You are confirming some of what I've noticed with the little bit of work I have done... I have a long way to go, however, but this is the type of information I was looking for.

"Regardless of the POB (and weight) of the jian, however, we should develop the ability to control different sections of the weapon when desired. This can be trained by moving the jian such that the tip stays in place while moving the body of the jian (up/down, left/right, circles CW/CCW) such that a “V” or cone is formed with the tip pointing to the opponent;

This one I have worked with a little.

"moving around the middle of the jian such that an hourglass shape is formed;"

By "moving around the middle" are you meaing the POB or the imagined point of contact? I will work with this.

"and moving the tip with a stationary root of the jian (close to the guard) such that a “V” or cone is formed with the tip pointing to oneself."

I haven't tried this, but will. What do you mean by "the tip pointing to oneself."

I will also add, here, that I do have a sword that is a true weight. It is forged steel and has, I think, very good balance with the POB in the traditional placement. It is shorter than the typical 39" jian used for tai chi. The 39" blade is simply too long for my build so I went on a search some years ago to find a weapon that fit my size. This one came from the traditional Shao Lin foundry in Si Ping.

In following your discussion, I will also add, that when people pick this sword up, there eyes tend to get very big, because they are suprised at how much weight it has. I've even encountered one person who was trying to convince me that Tai Chi swords are supposed to be light and that I shouldn't be using this one. My response was that swords are forged steel and they do have weight, and the idea is to develop your skill to a level that makes the sword appear as thought it is light. Hence, my problem with redistributing the POB. Do you agree?

Thanks so much, again, for your input. Look forward to your reply.

Aidren
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Postby DPasek » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:58 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by aidren:
<B>
..."moving around the middle of the jian such that an hourglass shape is formed;"

By "moving around the middle" are you meaing the POB or the imagined point of contact? I will work with this.

"and moving the tip with a stationary root of the jian (close to the guard) such that a “V” or cone is formed with the tip pointing to oneself."

I haven't tried this, but will. What do you mean by "the tip pointing to oneself."...
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Sorry,
I meant that for the hourglass shape the actual middle of the sword (whether or not it is the point of contact - the point of contact does not have to be the same as the pivot point) rather than the POB. You could certainly also do the same exercise rotating around the POB resulting in an unequal shaped hourglass. Actually, you should be able to do the described exercise using any point along the blade - I only gave the three as examples, and if you are good at those three different locations then you will probably do well at any point along the blade.

For the third version that I mentioned I meant the tip of the V or cone rather than the tip of the sword.

(I also agree with you that the POB on swords should not be altered to be closer to the guard!)

Dan
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Postby aidren » Sat Feb 09, 2008 1:32 am

Thanks for taking the time to clarify those points. I'll work with them.

Thanks again

Aidren
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Re: Sword and leg co-ordination.

Postby christopher1 » Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:45 am

Simon Batten wrote:In Western fencing, in a lunge, the movement starts with the point of the blade and is likened to a string being attached to the blade at one end and the leading foot at the other so that the tip of the sword arrives fractionally ahead of the foot and as the string quickly tautens, the knee is pulled into position, rather than being in complete synchronisation with the sword. This is in order to reach the target as quickly as possible with the blade as well as keeping the final point of attack ambiguous until the knee completely bends to achieve full commitment. I was wondering if the same principle applies in Tai Chi sword. I've always assumed that the co-ordination in T'ai Chi sword would be the same as in the hand form and have always practised so as to make the lunges fully co-ordinated but now I'm wondering again about the applicability of fencing to this and whether to change my practice slightly with this concept in mind. Of course the 'string' concept wouldn't be visible to the naked eye but is present at least in terms of intention. I can't find anything anywhere about this aspect in relation to Tai Chi sword and would appreciate suggestions, information and ideas. Kind regards, Simon.


Thanks for giving an idea about western fencing and what sword should be use.
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