Hsing-I Sword Moves
Chinese Sword Deflections and Counters

Hsing-I is a Chinese martial art with some similarities to taijiquan. It is one of the main internal martial arts so the principles we learn in using our whole bodies in a relaxed way, are the same for both. Chinese sword fighting has many styles, just as European swordsmanship does. The moves we studied in sword class today are from Hsing-I. It's good to have something a bit different to surprise your duifang.

Our teacher, Scott M. Rodell, suggested we look at the strength of the deflections with regards to leverage and tip proximity. After training together, this afternoon, we added some changes to these moves that will work better for our stye of full speed swordplay with real weight weapons. Remember, we have not studied the whole video, only these few sample movements, so if you have come to this page and were not at our class, I suggest you buy and watch the whole DVD by Sifu Guilette, before deciding anything.

To remind everyone what we learnt, here is a video by Sifu Ken Guilette

The Four Sword Moves were:

  • Left Side Deflection/Parry
  • Right Side Deflection/Parry
  • Drag
  • Lift

Hsing-I Left Side Deflection

  1. Start in basic stance. The duifang will thrust to the easy side or centre.
  2. Step your left foot back a little and the right to the ankle, while turning so the left side of your body goes to the back direction.
  3. Hold your sword angled up from hip level, using your body to make it turn into an easy deflection.
  4. Step out to the right side, cutting with Hua.
Our Adjustments:
Holding the grip near hip level means deflecting with the weaker part of your sword. This gives the duifang the leverage advantage and he may even cut you with your own sword. There is also the danger of damage to your wrist.  Further, if you are deflecting with the tip end, it's very simple for the duifang to unwind from the bind and slip underneath your sword. We made two possible adjustments to correct these problems.
  1. Hold the sword higher so that you are deflecting with the forte.
  2. Make sure your tip is pointing right at the duifang - the closer the better. This turns the movement into our normal upper easy side deflection, but with a step.  The step is a useful addition.

Hsing-I Right Side Deflection

  1. From basic stance, your right foot steps back, turning the body so that your left side faces forward. Your left foot steps to the ankle a little forward of the right foot.
  2. Your sword is angled up, from your hip, covering your body as it deflects the duifang's sword.
  3. This move is effective to counter a thrust to the tight side or centre of the chest. It is not useful for anything too low.
  4. Counter by stepping your right foot forward and to the right side. You can use hua, ci, or zha as very effective counter cuts.
Our Adjustments:
Again, the hand position near the hip is too weak for deflecting a cut of any power.  We found two better ways of handling the deflection to suit the needs of our style.
  1. Hold the sword higher so that you are deflecting with the forte and then Pi cut to the sword arm or step with a chest thrust. The arm cut deals with the immediate threat much faster.
  2. Use our normal tight side, tip down deflection with the step for the best combination. Then use zha, ci or a combintation of steps to cut with hua while flanking the duifang.

Hsing-I Drag

  1. Start in basic stance.
  2. As a downward cut comes towards you, step out with the left foot drawing your sword horizontally under the duifang's upraised wrists.
  3. Timing is important, as is distance. You have to step in the correct direction to reach the duifang without him reaching you.
  4. Always keep your sword between the duifang and your body. Stay behind your sword.
Our Adjustments:
Relying on cutting under the arms can leave you in an awkward position. Remember this is only one application. However, we changed it to give more return options.
  1. When you step out of the way of a cut, you should also be stepping in to take ground and get closer to the duifang.
  2. Don't leave your leg stretched out. Follow the step out with one foot by a step to the ankle with the other. That way you can change direction quickly or follow on from any change of direction the duifang might make.

Hsing-I Lift

  1. Start from basic stance.
  2. As a high downward strike comes towards you, step out with the right foot, turning your waist left then right to make an elongated C shape with you blade tip.
  3. Your sword will be approximately shoulder height. make your movements as small as possible. The circling turns your wrist so the leading edge is presented throughout the movement.
  4. Hua is a good counter. Stepping turns the hua into a horizontal draw cut across the duifang's body.
Our Adjustments:
As for Drag. The draw cut under the arms is good, but use the principle of sticking and following together with a lightness and changeability of step to keep your options open.

None of this is intended as a critque of another style. It's just the result of our playing around with Hsing-I for the purpose of having our young students think for themselves and make swordsmanship moves their own. 

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