Listening Exercises for Chinese Swordsmanship and Push Hands

Canberra Training Day 20.06.2010

Shan cuts horizontally.

Chinese broadsword shan cut

T he listening exercises we worked on in our recent seminars with Scott Rodell, help develop skills for both emptyhand and Chinese swordsmanship. The term "listening", means using all of your senses to understand what the duifang is doing or about to do so you can use minimal effort for the greatest result. Some of the key points to remember from the seminars are:

  • Receiving is releasing; reflecting is aiming
  • Listen to find the duifang's intent
  • Learn to use jie jing - the point between deflection and return of energy
  • Before your opponent gets close enough to strike, your mind should be joining him.
  • In rollback, absorb the duifang a little bit before throwing him off.
  • Feel the centre and move in. Don't go past the centre. If the duifang makes a small movement, you stick and follow with a small movement.
  • Use brush knee and strike as a moving exercise to practise from different positions. Feet are moving but hands move similar to opposite concentric circles.
Listening exercises help develop skills. Practise what you know whenever you can. Don't let the duifang get more than 4oz of strength on you at any time. There is a careful balance between keeping that and allowing the duifang to bring out 70% of his energy. If you work on the listening exercises, the skills will become more automatic.

    Sword Techniques for Jian

    This month we worked on the eight basic cuts and deflections of the Michuan Chinese swordsmanship:

    • Mo - very useful for deflection to set up a strike or move directly into one. In the form we do it with the blade parallel to the ground, turning the waist and cutting a U-shape to either side. In swordplay, the blade is usually angled up for a deflection to the left (assuming right handed swordsmanship), or angled down to deflect to the left (sword hand side)
    • Liao
    • Ci
    • Zha
    • Hua
    • Dian
    • Duo
    • Pi
    • Tiao
    We also looked at:
    • Ya - a defection used for striking the duifang's blade low.
    • Gua - similar to liao but more aggressive and without distinction between the deflection and cut.
    • Jie - a draw cut underneath the downcoming strike. See "Drag" on the linked page.
    • Ge - Stepping back off the line and cutting to the hand with a diagonal movement
    Partner exercises for the month:

    • Four corners deflection drill
    • Deflections for overhead strikes
    • Dian, dian, tiao drill
    • Liao to Zha drill - the footwork usually consists of a full step followed by a half step forward, and the opposite back, but be flexible enough to change the footwork if the duifang is moving differently. This is one of the better listening exercises for sword. Don't get stuck doing a learned movement if the duifang has done something different. Stick and follow.

    Sword Techniques for Dao
    (Chinese Broadsword)

    Jie interception.
    Chinese broadsword jie cut
    Most students usually begin with jian. We endeavour to get the basic cuts correct by practising them multiple times. I suggest 10,00 of each. Then, when we move on to dao, we sometimes neglect this practise of the basic cuts. Do as many practises of the dao cuts as you do for jian, and practise them both left and right handed. This will help you prepare for real Chinese swordsmanship with a different sword.

    This month's cuts:

    Shan - a slashing horizontal cut. In the form it is cutting from the opposite direction to the one in the picture above.
    Chan - wrap (don't confuse the two but use them in combination)
    Jie - intercept. Do it with a hand on the back of the sword as in the form and make sure you keep your hand extended and sword braced with the hand running vertically with the back of the blade. Avoid any position that would cause your fingers to be cut. The right hand should be a little higher and straighter than I'm holding it in the picture.

    Tai chi training day

    Questions and Answers

    If you are unclear on a movement or the listening exercises, please use the form on the main learn tai chi online page to ask about it. The questions will come to me, be answered within a few days, and appear underneath the form, as links to their own page. These questions will then be visible to others. Others will be able to make comments and be included in the discussion.

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