Friday, June 9, 2017
The Major Methods of Wudang Sword by Huang Yuan Xiou - Book Review
“Shaolin shadow boxing and the Wu Tang sword style, do you think your Wu Tang sword can defeat me?” Wu Tang Clan – Bring Da Ruckus - Enter the 36 Chambers - movie sample from Shaolin & Wu Tang 1981 (dubbed).
The Wu Tang/ Wudang sword method is famous in America because of the Hip-Hop group The Wu Tang Clan’s use of samples from, and love of, Chinese kung Fu movies. The book The Major Methods of Wudang Sword by Huang Yuan Xiou is a classic and a must have for anyone interested in Chinese straight sword (Jian) methods, philosophy or anyone interested in historical swordsmanship. This book translates the original text with pictures. It outlines the basics of the Wudang sword method but do not expect to learn something a complex as the Jian from a book. The book is a wonderful reference tool, but it is not meant to learn the real method from.
The Jian is called the “king of weapons” because of its complexity and subtlety. It was traditionally thought it would take 10 years of consistent training to begin mastery. Because of its difficulty it was also referred to as a “scholar’s weapon” and traditionally depicted as the preferred weapon of the aristocracy of ancient China.
The Major Methods of Wudang Sword is an important work and even more important because it was one of the few English translations (until recently) of a Chinese Jian manual (check https://brennantranslation.wordpress.com for others). I believe the thing that sets this translation apart from other translations is the author and translator are both long time practitioners of the Wudang Jian method. They lend their insights to the translations and they help clarify some of the underlying principles of traditional Chinese swordsmanship.
There are several chapters devoted to the basic theory of the Jian. I think these chapters are some of the most insightful because they outline different practice methodologies. With names like “yin – yang sword circle method” and “triangular paired-practice method” there will need to be some explanation, and for the advanced practitioner I found some of these chapters to be most illuminating.
This is an excellent book and a must have for anyone interested in Chinese straight sword (Jian) methods, philosophy or anyone interested in historical swordsmanship. The biographies, history and discussion of the methods are rare in Chinese and even rarer in English.