with Taiji Sword

Some of the best balance exercises can be found in a tai chi form, including the jian forms. If you want to follow some of the best tips for a healthy lifestyle from Chinese culture, this is the page for you. Let me warn you that these exercises are not easy. However, any tai chi exercise can be performed at the ability level of the individual. Begin slowly and develop your skill as you are able. Most of the Chinese Swords Guide focuses on the martial aspects of Chinese swordsmanship. The pages in this section have more to do with health. As you will see by the video overview, even small children can benefit from the balance exercises learnt in Chinese swordsmanship.

In recent times, research has been done on cross-brain exercises for learning difficulties. Children with Aspergers and dyslexia are thought to benefit from such training. I'm not qualified to comment on that. But if you are convinced it is helpful for either yourself or your child, consider Chinese swordsmanship as a creative way of using these activities. It is well documented that older people regain health, balance and flexibility through tai chi exercises. The same can be said of practising taiji sword. If you visit China, you will notice it is a normal part of Chinese culture to exercise daily in the parks. Clearly, older people benefit, but so do younger people.

There are many exercises and movements in our sword training that promote balance. The physical balance benefits are the most obvious but all taiji practise has a balancing effect on the mind and emotions as well. Breathing and concentration exercises such as zhanzhuang seem to put some of the body's rhythms into balance. If you are overwhelmed by hot weather, for example, it makes you more tolerant of the heat. I don't know why that happens but it happened to me. It also balances depression to a certain extent. Zhan zhuang deserves a page of its own though. The first thing a Chinese swordsmanship student needs to learn, is how to do sword zhan zhuang.

Let's take a closer look at the physical balance exercises from the short slideshow above.


Taitui is an exercise that springs from one foot to the other. The hands rise to a peak while one leg comes up and then hang loosely downwards as the other leg comes up. It's a bit like a bouncy marching exercise, but so much more.
balance exercises in taijiquan balance exercises in taiji.
First taitui step
Second taitui step.

The arms and legs must coordinate. The thigh rises to a position parallel to the ground as the hands reach their peak or lower point. The root changes from one foot to another so that one is always solidly attached to the ground. The energy springs up with the rising foot, while sinking down with the lower foot. Imagine a pair of electromagnets attached to the feet. Placing one foot on the ground activates that electromagnet while instantly releasing the opposite foot. And it looks so easy..... Well it is, but like everything in taiji sword, there are levels of correctness.

Stretched Out Ci and Zha

The sword form is like a textbook of useful movements for real Chinese swordsmanship. This is how teachers passed on their knowledge to students in the days when reading and writing were rare. Now it is how we preserve the training of the past in a time when swords are not a necessary part of survival. The form is part of an art.
balance exercises in taiji sword balance exercises in taiji jian.
Stretched out Ci.
Stretched out Zha.

Ci and Zha are two of the basic cuts of the Yang Family Michuan Jian system. They are both types of thrusts. They can be performed from a standing position, with a step, or, when the duifang is escaping, in a stretched out position. In the form this can be used as a balance exercise, standing on one leg, with the other stretched out behind, parallel to the ground. This is not easy when the weight of a sword is added to the front and the whole point of doing it is reaching a retreating target with a precision thrust. The swordsman has to keep a stable balance, rooted through the standing leg.

Sometimes these movements are performed after a pivot on the ball of the foot. This is really tricky and is very good balance exercise. If the swordsman's forward momentum is too great, he will overbalance, putting him at a disadvantage. This can be countered by swinging both arms in a backward circle and kicking forward. It's all in the form, so if you want to help improve your balance, find a teacher and start learning.

Squats on One Leg

There are a number of movements in the sword form involving squats on one leg. Some of them hook the opposite foot behind the knee and descend slowly, then rise slowly without touching the ground with the hooked foot. This is both a balance exercise and a strengthening exercise for the legs. Other squats descend on one leg while extending the other - almost as good a stretch as the splits. and remember that the exercise isn't the main reason for the movement. They are all martial applications.
balance exercises in sword squat balance exercises in taiji jian squat.
A low squat.
A higher version.

Don't try to learn these squats too quickly. If you are overweight or have damage to your knees, you will cause further joint damage by forcing this position. The same principles can be achieved with a higher stance. People who learn them young are likely to be able to continue well past middle age. If you begin training in middle age, you might never achieve the low stances but you can still use the higher versions as balance exercises.

Great Roc Spreads its Wings

balance exercises in swordsmanship
Great Roc Spreads its wings
and Shows No Mercy
The full name of this movement is The Great Roc Spreads its Wings and Shows No Mercy. That's because the high energy Pi cut, powered by a kick to the opposite diagonal, was originally intended to stop a sword attack by removing the duifang's arm - no mercy. The movement is one of our balance exercises because a lot of springy energy goes into the cut. It uses the whole body, as most taiji sword movements do. Since this one is more powerful, the likelihood of overbalancing is higher. The sword arm and the leg have to kick to directly opposite diagonals and find their end point at the same moment. This one is fairly easy to do because the movement is intuitive once you have the directions correct.

Liao or Zha to Both Sides

We do a lot of basic cuts exercises. Some of them flow naturally into an either side circle. Both Liao and Zha can be performed this way. These are good cross brain exercises. A cross brain exercise is anything that moves to each side of the body. You could use your hand to draw a large figure 8 across your body, or you could move with a sword. When I was teaching kindergarten, I used such exercises to help rebalance dyslexic children. Changing the focus of the mental eye can help a child capture letters or words that jumble into many positions for a very visual child.

Leave Balance Exercises and return to Stretches and Health

Return to Chinese Swords Guide Home

Sword For Sale

Viking Sword for Sale

This sword is used but in excellent condition. Del Tin forged full-tang blade, peened pommel, lambswool lined wood scabbard with hand-sewn leather outer.


Private Lessons Available  in Katoomba, NSW, Australia
by arrangement
Phone Linda (02)47826593

$20 per hour