A glimpse of the latest designs from


Wooden sword by Graham Cave prize jian

The sword pictures on this page are to give you a glimpse of the latest designs in wooden swords. Graham Cave of Scotland is making a wonderful contribution to the restoration of historical Chinese swordsmanship. He works in consultation with experts to bring each wooden sword close to the look and feel of real Chinese swords, while making different styles for the needs of students throughout their training. This is a close up of a one off design by Graham, created as the winner's prize for the TCSL Beginners Tournament in 2024. It has a tradition bat design on the hilt, symbolising good luck for the fortunate tournament winner.

More Tournament Prize Sword Pictures

TCSL Beginner's Tournament Prize
Sword pictures Prize Jian

This wooden jian is made from hickory. It is made to TCSL tournament specifications. Swords used in the tournament must have a blunt tip that is wide enough not to slip through the bars of the fighting masks most of the contestants are wearing.

I must say that I've been very impressed with Graham Cave's wooden swords. They feel easy and natural to use and they have my full recommendation as a practitioner of Chinese swordsmanship.

A prize worth fighting for.

Sword Pictures Tiger's Den Jian
    The tournament rules state the tip should be at least half an inch but my experience with the Open tournament in 2009 leads me to say it needs to be wider than that. My preferred wooden jian was a touch over half an inch wide and it still passed through the bars of those masks, so I couldn't use it. Be careful with this one if you are entering the tournament. It must also weigh more than 600 grams and have a blade length not exceeding 31 inches (71.78cm) from the base of the guard to the tip.

      All of the work on Tigers Den swords is inspired by traditional Chinese craftsmanship. The grip wrap is hand crafted according to original methods. The lanyard is also a traditional feature and can be seen on the swords in Chinese artworks.

      The Chinese characters on these tournament sword pictures read Ti Tian Xing Dao, an inscription found on antique jian translated literally as "follow the way of Heaven". Chinese rebels used this as a slogan to encourage the restoration of harmony in society. I have the same inscription on my own new sword (pictures below). As a Christian, "follow the Way of Heaven" has a slightly different meaning for me and I'm proud to display it on my training sword. Graham tells me it's sometimes translated as "act on Heaven's behalf". That's a nice one too.

      A New Model on the Way in 2024

      Wooden sword pictures two models, the newer and lighter prototype underneath.
      Sword Pictures new Graham Cave design

      Graham is designing a smaller, lighter and more affordable model this year. The sword pictures above and below show a prototype in comparison with one of the student training swords already available. This particular one weighs approximately 560 grams, so it isn't tournament weigh but is an excellent choice for beginners. If you are just starting your Chinese swordsmanship training, a full weigh jian can be too hard on your arm ligaments. This is the answer as a first sword. Please note that the standard model of any of Graham's swords does not come with grip wrap or pommel, hilt and blade designs. Those are extras.

      Comparison sword pictures.

      Wooden swords by Graham Cave
      It is anticipated that some of these swords will reach tournament weight, so when they have been fully tested and become available, specify that if you plan to enter a tournament in the near future. These swords will probably cost a little less than the ones already available. Keep your eye on the Tiger's Den website for a probable release of this model in the future. Tony Mosen also makes a lighter beginner model in Australia. 

      My Own Wooden Sword Pictures

      This is my newest training sword.

      Wooden sword design by Tiger's Den
      I had some trouble getting a wooden sword for the tournament last year. I already had a good Raven Studios
      Close up of the guard on my new Tiger's Den Sword.
      Wooden sword pictures - hilt
      jian but the tip was too narrow for the masks even though the sword measured up to the tournament rules. I didn't want to endanger anyone.

      I also had some excellent jarrah swords by Tony Mosen. In Australia we use them all the time and have no trouble with them. But jarrah is softer than oak or hickory and if one of my opponents used a sudden hard block, it would put my sword at risk.

      Raven Studios made me another jian in record time, which I took to America for the tournament. I have no sword pictures of that though because I was used to a different balance and didn't have time to get accustomed to it. I ended up using one of Graham's oak jian for half my matches and a Raven Studios Dao for the other half. I sold the new RS sword to an Estonian for the same price I bought it for. He has an excellent sword there. It will never break.

      When Graham sent this sword, it took less than a week to get to Australia from Scotland. That was very impressive. It's made of hickory - my choice because it is so strong. it weighs 780 grams. That's a fair bit heavier than some of my others but the balance feels so natural I don't notice the extra weight. I use this sword all the time as though I've had it for years.

      Follow the Way of Heaven

      wooden sword pictures - follow the Way of Heaven
      I'm a Christian, so this inscription describes Who to follow, rather than what. Perhaps that's not quite linguistically correct, but I like it. In fact, I love the look of this sword and the easy way it plays. It will be with me at the Australian Sword Festival in Sydney in April if you'd like to check it out. Playing with the real thing gives you a better idea than looking at sword pictures.

      You know how to care for new wooden swords, don't you? Use tung oil or plain linseed oil and rub it in with a soft cloth:
      • Once a day for the first week
      • Once a week for the first month
      • Once a month for the first year
      • Whenever it needs it after that
      I always say if you can't go to that much trouble you have no right to blame the maker when your sword splinters or breaks.

      I used tung oil on this one. My husband hates the smell and shuts all the doors, but it's something I'm not allergic to so I happily use it. The tung oil brought out some lovely colours and patterns in the wood. It showed up some beautiful red streaks on the top of the blade and gave the sword character.

      The blade tip.

      Alt Text--Graham Cave wooden sword maker Tiger's Den logo
      This is one of my favourite wooden sword pictures. When working with training partners in Chinese swordsmanship, you need your sword to be smooth and safe. I like hickory more than oak because it doesn't splinter. It's heavier. It costs more. But it's going to last a long time.

      How to Order Your Own Wooden Sword from Graham

      Graham now has his own website where you can view his work, price your wooden sword, and order it. he has some nice wooden sword pictures for you to enjoy. You can find him at the Tiger's Den.

      Custom wooden dao made by Graham Cave.
      Alt Text--A custom wooden sword by Graham Cave

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