Saturday, November 12, 2016

Chinese Sword Jian

Xué jiàn shù jì
Several Notes on Sword Study (Chinese Sword Jian )

Startling Rainbow Sword Art (驚虹劍術)

by Yin Qianhe (尹千合)
Translation and commentary by Scott M. Rodell
Yī, chūxué jiàn zhě, zuì hǎo xiān yòng zhúzi huò mùliào zhìzào jiǎ jiàn, qí shēn fǎ bù fǎ shǒufǎ, è yǒu ménjìng, zài huàn yòng gāngtiě suǒ zhù zhēn jiàn, chūxué shí shēntǐ shǒuzú, jiē bùrú fǎ, zhū gǎn bùshì, shì jué tòngkǔ, yào jiānyì rěnnài, jiànjiàn rú fǎ, jí kě shūchàng, ér jìnrù yúkuài zhī jìng.
First Point- When beginning your study of the sword, it is best to first use a sword made from bamboo or wood. Wait until the body technique, footwork, handwork, are set properly, then one can change to using a steel, forged sword. At the beginning, the body, hands, and feet, all are not quite correct. It all feels uncomfortable and seems painful. Be determined and patient, gradually it will become correct and smooth, and you will enter into a pleasant place.
Commentary -
Light weight, improperly balanced training swords have been a problem in Chinese sword work since the advent of modern, performance oriented, wushu. Such “weapons” lead to misunderstandings in how a sword was wielded in combat and allow the practitioner to preform actions that are either not possible or practical with a real weight, historically accurate jian. To develop a clear understanding of jianfa, any student must train with a sword that is historically accurate. Having said that, training with a full weight sword should only commence once the student has developed a solid foundation and proper body mechanics. Rushing to work with a full weight weapon often leads soft tissue damage in the first, elbow, or other areas. To avoid unnecessary injury and the common beginners fault of “muscling” of technique, I typically start students with a very light weight yard stick. This provides the student with a clear flat and edge, but takes away the possibility, and thus temptation, to cut with power and injure themselves.
I translated the term ménjìng (門徑) as “set properly.” Ménjìng literally means something like gaining access to something by going through a door or following a path. In a martial sense, here it implies training properly with good body mechanics.

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