Yang Sword (Jian)

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Yang Sword (Jian)

Postby Monsoon » Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:03 pm

Hi all,

Hope everyone is having a fruitful and relaxing holiday!

A quick question:

At the beginning of the Yang 67 sword form the sword is held inverted but with the palm facing forward. Then there follows a move which simply rotates this position to the more normally seen position with the palm facing backward.

Is there actually a purpose, or is it simply an embellishment for display?

The reason I ask is that it seems a little dangerous to rotate a pointed blade so close to the body in front of the face.

I await such illumination that may be forthcoming! :D

peace,

Monsoon
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Re: Yang Sword (Jian)

Postby Monsoon » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:33 pm

Additional point.

Having checked out as many jian and dao forms as possible on the good old YouTube, I find none of them address the issue of the weapon being in a scabbard to begin with.

While I realise that the forms are training tools, the lack of a draw technique seems to be a major over sight.

regards,

Monsoon
peace and harmony

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Re: Yang Sword (Jian)

Postby wpgtaiji » Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:04 pm

I am most certain that Josh will be, at some time, on to give us the goods, as he is a fencer as well as taiji practitioner, so he will have a more complete answer for you.

Monsoon wrote:
Is there actually a purpose, or is it simply an embellishment for display?

The reason I ask is that it seems a little dangerous to rotate a pointed blade so close to the body in front of the face.

In the form i was taught, the "reason" for this has nothing to do with fighting...well, not really. The sword behind the arm HIDES the sword (but it poking over your shoulder makes that a silly reason). The palms pointing forward is ONLY for demonstration purposes. In 99% of sword forms, it is silly, because there is only one sword. In the form that Erle taught, at advanced levels, the other hand has a dagger in the hand, so when you turn your palms from back to front (not as simple as that), we are showing the weapons. Then we move into form using both weapons.

Monsoon wrote:While I realise that the forms are training tools, the lack of a draw technique seems to be a major over sight.

I am not an expert on swords at all, but, i wonder if there exists a system like Iai in chinese martial arts? Iai is ONLY about drawing the sword, as i understand it. Yes, it has finishing blows, but they are extensions of the draw. I wonder if the chinese didnt worry so much because there was no set place to carry the sword? Who knows. It is merely speculation on my part.
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Re: Yang Sword (Jian)

Postby Monsoon » Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:42 am

Thanks wpgtaiji, at least I am not the only one who thinks this might be a worthwhile question.

Although I am not an expert with any kind of weapon, it would seem strange for a sword fighter to discard the scabbard when it could easily (probably) be used in off-hand as either a secondary weapon or defensive blocker. From what I understand the jian was either carried scabbarded in the hand, or hanging from the belt. If the latter, I find no reference to how quickly the scabbard could be released, if necessary, or of practice forms that include leaving the scabbard at the waist.

It may be that the practice forms simply do not emphasise this; in which case I feel this overlooks a quite important part of the martial approach.

Perhaps Josh, or anyone else really, has some more light to shed on this.

best wishes,

Monsoon
peace and harmony

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Re: Yang Sword (Jian)

Postby Dvivid » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:07 am

Hi, what is the origin of the Yang 67 sword form? I am only familiar with this 54 form:

http://ymaa.com/publishing/tai_chi_DVD/ ... _sword_DVD
"Avoid Prejudice, Be Objective in Your Judgement, Be Scientific, Be Logical and Make Sense, Do Not Ignore Prior Experience." - Dr. Yang

http://www.ymaa.com/publishing
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Re: Yang Sword (Jian)

Postby Monsoon » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:00 pm

I think it's another of those numbering differences more than any substantive difference in style.

Yang family website gives a list that contains 67 positions. A quick glance at this and another list showing the 54 positions doesn't reveal too much of difference apart from the naming and numbering differences on certain position breakdowns.

A bit like Yang, Jwing Ming teaching the 108 Yang hand form but the list that accompanies the DVD has 113 positions! Nothing to get too hung up on.

I have seen a few videos that show the (apparently) traditional Yang Jian form without the initial turning of the palms from front to back. So perhaps it is nothing more than a display issue or teacher-specific preference.

regards,

Monsoon
peace and harmony

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Re: Yang Sword (Jian)

Postby Josh Young » Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:29 am

I do love the fencing and taiji sword, but I have to admit these questions are largely outside of my experience and knowledge.

I have seen the drawing the sword question come up somewhere else and I don't recall the expert answer.

I have some thoughts on it, but they are trivial, so be forewarned.

In terms of the evolution of forms it might be considered that what we know now is a design made of specific exercises that either train specific techniques or skills, or condition the body for a desired effect or all of this and perhaps more.

We have the luxury of being able to compare different arts and Iai-do and some modern knife fighting methods place a strong emphasis upon drawing or opening and cutting in one motion. To a large degree this emphasis is absent from CMA, Chinese traditional martial arts.

We can consider traditional applications of jian, in an arranged contest between martial artists it makes sense that one would have already unsheathed the weapon before beginning, though exceptions can clearly be made. In terms of battle, once a solider enters into an area where he needs the weapon, he will have drawn or prepared it, so there is not as much of a need for training in drawing the weapon, in comparison to a modern knife attack or a sword duel in ancient Japan.

However the idea that anyone with practice with a sword is unfamiliar with drawing their weapon is hard to believe.

Back to the form itself, there is a great deal to the Yang sword form that yields interesting concepts upon analysis. Much of it is designed not for sword skill, but to increase the overall skill of the player. Indeed while the public long form that is passed through Chengfu lacks jumps and shakes, the sword form he passed along contains these. It is said that it is where the fajing of the system is formally taught. It is also said that it trains sensitivity and various skills that play directly into unarmed application. It has been considered by some to not be ideal in terms of swordplay, including several proponents and teachers of it.

However many of the elements of which it is comprised or composed can be found in other sword styles and methods. None of it that I am aware of is meant for embellishment or show, though the moves can be done with embellishment and in a showy way, that is not to say that this is their purpose. The exact origin of the Yang sword form in question is also a curious mystery. http://brennantranslation.wordpress.com ... iji-sword/
Here is some interesting reading on the topic of Chinese sword
http://brennantranslation.wordpress.com ... e-sword-2/

Weapons were considered impolite and many who were skilled with them would not carry them casually. Often they would be hidden as well and when possible. If someone wanted to resort to a very fast draw attack with a weapon a jian is perhaps not the best choice, though it can certainly be done. I've yet to see any formal teachings about drawing the sword, but have read instructions that say in general to familiarize yourself with it well, drawing and resheathing it, knowing how it balances and where the vibration focal point or sweet spot is. I assume that someone who owns a sword can draw it and put it away safely.

Today there isn't much point to using a sword as a weapon and the skills one gets from knowing it as a weapon apply in many contexts, so the benefits go far beyond just sword skill.

Near the first move of the form there is an application or two ;) to strike with the end of the handle.
Part of the beginning reminds me of moving from a posture held by guards or soldiers to ready the weapon. They wouldn't have their weapons covered.
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Re: Yang Sword (Jian)

Postby John the Monkey mind » Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:12 am

In Ancient Chinese Weapons by Dr. Yang I seem to remember a reference to people often carrying multiple weapons. The would have a short concealable weapon and know how to use it. I find it hard to think of a situation in which you have been surprised and have to get a weapon and strike quickly in which the Jian would be more appropriative than any number of the sorter or concealed weapons.
If you have room you can jump back/use the space and draw at a relatively slow speed and the Jian would be a good choice.
If you have no room or are crowded in on the Jian would be a poor choice anyway.
If you want to attack using surprise but from within line of sight again the strait Jian will never draw as fast as a hidden weapon or even a saber.

I have to stipulate that a quick draw with a regular length straight Jian will never be so fast as to be a practical or worth wile alternative over other choices people had. This is a different case from the curved Japanese blade. Also as Josh pointed out the Jian may not have been worn at all times wile the Katana or its shorter companion sword were.
The Japanese warrior with a Katana had more motivation and hope in training a quick draw than a Chinese Warrior with a Jian.
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Re: Yang Sword (Jian)

Postby EdmundDante » Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:22 am

my point of view:

It is best to do tai chi sword forms with a light wooden replica jian until your wrist and elbow ligaments are strong and your movements are accurate. When you can use a full weight wooden sword without tiring or straining, and when you have stopped accidentally hitting it into your leg, it's time to try a real steel sword.

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Last edited by EdmundDante on Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Yang Sword (Jian)

Postby Monsoon » Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:33 pm

Your point is noted Mr Dante, although on my many stays in China I don't recall ever seeing anyone practising with a wooden sword. Not to say it doesn't happen though!

Monsoon
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