Top 3 methods in Chinese Sword Fighting

Hello everyone. The top 3 methods of defensive action in Chinese sword fighting was the main thing we practised , at our class on March 24th, 2024.

Chinese sword skills are different from those learnt in some other styles. We try not to use hard blocks. Instead, we use the smallest amount of our own energy to take the opposite's energy and return it to him. We want him to move first but his strike to fall into emptiness so that we arrive first. We don't want to do anything that puts us off balance but everything that puts the opposite off balance. It's a bit like a game of chess - using strategy to set up a future winning move.

What are the top 3 Defensive Actions?

Stepping offline and forward.
Alt Text--defensive action for Chinese sword fighting
1.  Stepping offline.

When you take defensive action and step out of the way of an oncoming strike, make sure you are putting yourself out of the way of the blade, not into it's path. This isn't as easy as it sounds and it's one of the reasons we practice yielding Drill. Just think how many times you move too soon and go the wrong way.

When you step offline, try to move forward as well as to the side. Making a snake step is the perfect example. Look at these pictures of Ellen and Aled doing the drill we worked on. Notice how Aled get right around to the back of Ellen because he stepped forward as well as to the side. It's on the Crossing Swords page, half way down with four little resizing pictures to remind you what we did.

  • Aled is walking aggressively towards Ellen with his sword pointing at her.
  • Ellen deflects and gets ready to step in for a Gua strike to Aled's belly.
  • Aled lifts his arm and drops his blade to roll out of the bind (sword contact).
  • Ellen can't do her Gua because Aled has snake stepped to the side and forward so he can cut to Ellen's back.
Practise that from both sides - the attacker and the one taking defensive action.

2.  Voiding the strike
Voiding a solid downward strike.

Alt Text--sword skills voiding

In the example just up above, there is one way of voiding - rolling your blade out of contact. You can do this over the top of the other blade or under it, depending which is quicker. Let your wrist be loose and flexible as if you are wet spaghetti.

Another way to do it is by putting your sword up into a deflecting position and then stepping out from under the oncoming strike. When we do "in front of face, away from face", that's what we are doing. It works just as well with a single handed or two handed sword. If you are using this defensive action, correct voiding means the other sword won't even touch yours. Always have the defection ready just in case though. Use a slip step to pull back just far enough to be out of range.  In this defensive action, your front foot comes back to the ankle but doesn't land solidly. Just bounce it and step in again when the strike passes harmlessly.

3. Deflecting.

You all know what deflections are in Chinese sword fighting - those little actions we do with the sword while turning the waist. The four corners drill has some different deflections. We use Mo in blade tip up and tip down positions for the top two corners and spinning deflections for the bottom two.

Turning the waist to deflect a cut..
Alt Text--defensive action deflecting
Mo can also be used for stepping in to a thrust. When you do that, make sure your partner is wearing a mask to protect their eyes, teeth and throat. And remember to keep your sword tip pointing exactly where you want the sword to hit.

There are high deflections that slide down your blade and there is Ya, which knocks the oncoming blade to the ground so you can strike over the top.

When someone attacks you with a Liao. You can deflect by dropping your blade tip down and circling it up into a cut - Pi style.

The whole point of deflections is using as little force as possible by spiraling down and up as you turn your waist. This defensive action draws the force out of the duifang's strike at you and guides it into emptiness. He wasted his energy trying to get you because you turned your waist and deflected. These are basic sword skills for Chinese sword fighting.

Cutting Next Week

  1. Read the safety in sword cutting notes. If parents are reading this, please talk them over with your children. Also, I need an adult or two to help keep the kids sitting in one spot and not coming forward until their turn is called.
  2. Beginners who have never cut before will not be using the heavier swords and will only be cutting straight across or on an upward angle.
  3. Please save as many plastic bottles as you can and bring them for the day. If you fill them with water before you come, it will save time.

Scott Rodell Seminars

Expect to practise lots of good sword skills including the defensive action ones we are working on. Get parents to sign the forms for you if you are under 18. If you are over 18, sign them yourself.

Leave Defensive Action and return to Learn Tai Chi Online

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