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Tai Chi Principles for Chinese Swordsmanship


Most Asian fighting arts come from complete systems. Taiji sword is no exception. The tai chi principles and body mechanics found in the empty hand are also in Chinese swordsmanship. Many schools do not train students in weapons until they have completed several years of empty hand training. During this time, body mechanics become natural so that when weapons are introduced, they become an extension of the already trained body.

What is Verticality?

The Principle of Verticality.
Alt Text--tai chi principles - verticality
In this section of the Chinese Swords Guide we are looking at several tai chi principles that should be part of Chinese swordsmanship:

There is a point on the spine above the tailbone, known as the mingmen. This is a dividing line for a Chinese swordsman. Below this point, the weight is sunk downwards into the ground. Above this point, the aspect of the body is focused upward, opening the spine in a light and energetic manner in a line through the crown of the head. Imagine a string suspending your head so that your spine is lifted, free of tension, and straight. This is verticality.

In order to achieve this verticality, you have to tuck your tailbone under. This is a different process for males and females because of different coccyx anatomy. Pulling it under too far tenses the muscles in your buttocks and lower belly. It also tightens the hips. All of this tension needs to be avoided while still rolling the tailbone forward for good verticality.

In this tai chi principle, the weight of the body balances over the balls of the feet rather than the heels. Verticality does not mean the back is always upright. It means that the main points of the body will be in alignment for good balance during any movement. Asian fighting arts usually employ a lot of body movement. Correct body mechanics mean a lunge will sink lower by widening the ligament stretch between the legs rather than extending the knee past the toe. Hip, knee and ankle should also be aligned on the outer and inner lines. No joints are hyperextended or rolled sideways.

Verticality is important for good fajing. Where the body breaks alignment, the smooth flow of energy also breaks.

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