Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Sword’s Qì is as a Rainbow trans by Scott Rodell


The Sword’s Qì is as a Rainbow translation by Scott Rodell


Jiàn qì rú hóng jiàn xíng shì lóng
jiàn shén hé yī xuánmiào wúqióng
Guǎng Píng Yáng Chéngfǔ tí

The sword’s qì is as a rainbow, the sword moves like a dragon.
Sword and spirit meet as one, its profundity is boundless.
Yang Chengfu of Guangping

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Wudang Sword Grip by Scott Rodell


Wudang Sword Grip

"The Classic Manual “Fundamentals of the Wudang Sword Method (武當劍法大要),” records the correct sword grip as: “The grip technique is for the thumb to reach between the third and fourth finger to make the grip. The forefinger and little finger usually are loose, the center of the palm shaped like it can hold something. When striking or thrusting (with this grip) the sword has lively, profound skill far beyond that with the dead grip, but training this (grip) requires a long time.”* 

Those who follow the way of the sword today have two choices. The first, to follow the teaching recorded by accomplished masters of the past, teacher such as Li Jinglin (李景林). Or, if one feels his or her skill equal to or exceeds these past masters, evolve something new. For myself, I prefer to follow the path of past masters to the very best of my abilities. Given that these teachers lived in a time when they and others actually engaged in lethal, bladed combat where their lives were at stake, it seems wise to follow their tuition. To think ourselves wiser seems sheer folly and arrogance. 


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Chinese Emperor's Personal Sword


"Straight Sword with Marks "No. 1 of the Earth Category" and "Emerging from Clouds"

"The wooden sheath is covered with red-stained shark skin and decorated with auspicious emblems in openwork. On the face of the blade a four-character reign mark of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736-179) is inlaid in official script (lishu), and on the reverse is inlaid "No. 1 of the Earth Category" (Dizi yihao) and "Emerging from Clouds" (Chuyun). According to the Archive on Handicrafts at the Imperial Workshops (Zaobanchu huoji dang), thirty daggers and thirty swords for the emperor were produced from 1748 to 1757 in the Imperial Workshops (Zaoban chu). Dexterously forged, these weapons are for collection rather than for use. Swords made during the Qianlong reign were inventoried and stored in three categories: Heaven (tian), Earth (di) and Man (ren). As the label attached to the hilt states, this sword was the first in the "Earth" category."

Period: Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: steel blade, gilt-iron fittings, wooden sheath covered with red-stained shark skin
Date: undated
Dimensions: length: 100 cm, width: 9 cm


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Chinese Swords and Swordsmanship: Late Qing Jian

 Chinese Swords and Swordsmanship: Late Qing Jian

"This video looks at a typical late Qing Jian, a type that was made into the early Chinese Republic and is often seen in photos in manuals published during that period, including Taiji Sword by Chen Weiming. Judging from the number of jian of his form encountered today, it appear a fair large number of these were forged. This is perhaps why many today think this is typical Jian. While is a common form of late Qing Jian, is quite a departure from Jian of just 50 to 100 years earlier. This example has a blade length of 31 1/2”, 80 cm. And it is heavy, 2 lb 3 oz, 992 g. The guard is also wider than was typical for earlier Jian. It also has a wooden scabbard that is clad in metal. A feature that is extremely rare for Chinese swords. This feature is most likely a European influence as Chinese was importing European style military sabers for the New Army based in Tianjin and these had metal scabbards. In video this Rodell laoshi discusses why these late Jian differ from earlier examples as well as how it handles from the practitioner’s point of view." 

To learn more about Chinese Swordsmanship, please see:​

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Xing Yi Quan master Su Jing Sheng Tiger style


Xing Yi Quan master Su Jing Sheng Tiger style

"Xing Yi Quan master Su Jingsheng demonstrate the Tiger (虎形) form from the Xing Yi Quan 12 animals (形意十二形拳). Master Su Jingsheng (苏景胜)  is one of few disciples of grandmaster Wang Lianyi(王连义),son of great grandmaster Wang Jiwu (王继武). He is one from eldest disciples who learned many stuff also with his grandmaster Wang. 王连义师爷的徒弟苏景胜师叔演示形意十二形拳虎形,Lineage: Li Luoneng(李洛能)---Liu Qilan(刘奇兰)---Wang Fuyuan(王福元)---Wang Jiwu(王继武)---Wang Lianyi(王连义)---Su Jingsheng(苏景胜)"

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Dao De Jing - Strategists Advice - Trans - Scott Rodell


Strategists have a saying:

I don’t dare be the host, 
but the guest.
Don’t dare advance one inch, 
but retreat one foot.
This is moving without moving.
Push up your sleeves 
without revealing your arms,
prevailing as if you have no enemy,
wielding your weapon 
as is there was none.
The greatest disaster 
is to underestimate the enemy.
Under estimating the enemy 
I lose my treasure.
When soldiers resist each other, 
those who lament combat will be victorious.

Dao De Jing Chapter 69, trans. - Scott M. Rodell

Commentary and Notes- Daoist thought has had a strong effect on almost every aspect of Chinese life, including combat and strategy. In this chapter, Laozi speaks of being the guest instead of the host, codifying one of the basic approaches to strategy in jianfa. When one is the host, one acts first, arranges things, demonstrating one’s intent by way things have been organized. The host does all the work then invites the guest in. From the swordman’s point of view, this presents a great deal of information about one’s plan of action and skill set. On the other hand, when one is the guest, one follows the action without interjecting one’s own plan. In this way, the swordsman can know his opponent while keeping that duifang in the dark about one’s own strengths and weaknesses. This is action or movement without there being action. This means that instead of expending energy on a plan of action, one waits and listens, allowing the duifang to expose his or her intent. Then, with this clear insight, applies the correct counters to defeat the duifang’s strategy. In this way, without having taken any action of one’s own, one can prevail. This does not mean surrendering control of the action to the duifang. Rather it means controlling the action by allowing the duifang to tell you his or her plan.

“Push up your sleeves without revealing your arms,” is a specific example of what the first line alludes to. Preparing to engage a duifang, one would commonly push the long flowing sleeves of Chinese garments up out of the way as the hands are raised to a useful position. But in doing so, one should not show any aggressive intent, or indeed any intent at all.

Sunzi similarly suggests one -

“Be extremely subtle
Even to the point of formlessness
Be extremely mysterious
Even to the point of soundlessness
Thereby you can be the director

Of an opponent’s fate.” (trans. Tomas Clearly*)

While the Taijiquan Lun records, that by hiding one’s intent, “He (the enemy) can not know me, I alone comprehend him. Where ever a hero goes he has no enemies, this is because he has achieved these skills.\.” 人不知我, 我獨知人. 英雄所向無敵, 蓋皆由此而及也.

The notion of emptiness expressed as “wielding your weapon as is there was none,” is a common one found in jianfa. It brings to mind Huang Yuanxiu, (黃元秀),”Song of Empty Mind” from his Fundamentals of the Wudang Sword Method:

The song says:

With palm empty, the sword is lively.
With the center of the foot empty, the footwork is nimble.
With the topknot empty, the entire body is one.

The central idea in Huang’s “Song” is that by being free of any predisposition, one’s movements as lively and adaptive, so that one is able to respond exactly as needed.

- Scott M. Rodell

*I usually prefer to translate myself any lines I reference from a Chinese classic, but honestly, I just couldn’t translate make any significant improvement over that already offered by Thomas Clearly when it came to this line. 

Dao De Jing - Strategists Advice - Trans - Scott Rodell

Found HERE 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Xing Yi Quan by old Bagua master Yang Bao


Xing Yi Quan by old Bagua master Yang Bao

"One of old generation Beijing master Yang Bao practice Xing Yi Quan (形意拳). Yang Bao (*1937 in Hebei province) is one of famous old generation Beijing masters of 5th generation of Bagua Zhang style. He has been learning martial arts since 9 yars old under local master Meng Fanjing (孟凡敬). He learned Xing Yi Quan(形意拳) and Shaolin Quan first(少林拳).  In 1956 year he became disciple of famous Cha Quan (查拳) master Chang Zhenfang (常振芳) and learned the style include various weapons. Then he bacame disciple of famous Beijing master of Bagua Zhang (八卦掌) style Gao Ziying(高子英). He also practiced Xing Yi Quan under master 朱云行. Yamng Bao is member of Chinese Wushu Association( 中国武术协会会会员),Beijing  Bagua Zhang Research Association(北京武协八卦掌研究会会员) Beijing Xing Yi Quan Research Association (北京武协形意拳研究会会员) and Beijing Chaquan Research Association vice-president (北京武协查拳研究会副会长). 


1)Cha Quan Lineage: Chamir(查密尔)--- Li Laochong(李老崇)---Zhang Qian(张乾)---Yang Hongxiu(杨鸿修)--- Zhang Qiwei(张其维)---Chang Zhenfang(常振芳)---Yang Bao (杨宝). 

2) Bagua: First Lineage: Dong Haichuan(董海川)---Liang Zhenpu (梁振普)---Guo Gumin(郭古民)--- Gao Ziying(高子英)---Yang Bao (杨宝) Secong Alternative Lineage:  Dong Haichuan(董海川)---Yin Fu(尹福)/Liu Dekuan(刘德宽,creator of Bagua 64 hands linear form-八卦掌六十四手)---Gao Wencheng(高文成,father of Gao Ziying)--- Gao Ziying(高子英)---Yang Bao (杨宝) 

3) Xing Yi Quan lineage: Li Luoneng(李洛能)---Liu Qilan(刘奇兰)---Li Cunyi(李存义)---Li Liangzhong(李良忠)---(Zhu Yunxing)朱云行---Yang Bao (杨宝) 

Alternative lineage: Li Luoneng(李洛能)---Liu Qilan(刘奇兰)---Liu Dekuan(刘德宽)---Gao Wencheng(高文成,father of Gao Ziying)---Gao Ziying(高子英)---Yang Bao (杨宝) 

Long live to uncle Yang Bao!!!"

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Chinese Sword - Dāndāo Shuō (單刀說) by Cheng Zongyou trans. S.M. Rodell


其用法,亦惟以身法 為要,


Qí yòngfǎ, yì wéi yǐ shēn fǎ wèi yào,
xuān tiào chāo jù, yǎn kuài shǒu jié,
yòu ér jī zhī, jīng ér qǔ zhī,
xīn shǒu jù huà,
dǎnshì bù luàn, fāng kě yán miào.

Using the saber, the most important point is the body technique,
long nimble jumps, quick eyes, fast hands,
entice the enemy to strike, startle capturing the advantage,
heart and hand moving together,
courage and insight clearly precieved, then one achieves wonderous skill.

from Dāndāo Shuō (單刀說) by Cheng Zongyou
trans. S.M. Rodell