Why Study Sword

Why study the sword? In our modern day society no one expects to get into any sword fights. In addition, a sword fight requires a level of violence and a mental state not many civilized people today would not want to have, paradoxically we use it as a tool for self-cultivation. Today, people learn how to use the straight sword and/or broadsword for reasons unrelated to combat: it is used for exercise, mind-body development, a practice of traditional arts or even competition. Taijiquan serves as a good medium through which one can learn to use the sword.

A question that I’ve wondered about many time is how Taiji sword differs from fencing. In many respects it differs greatly from the Western art of fencing. I watched fencing for years which uses the foil (ultra thin, incredibly flexible laminated blades with a cross section shape of a square, the delivery part being the sharp pointed end) was an extension of the arm, with movement and guidance controlled by the wrist. Anything beyond the wrist would create body movement that would increase the time it took to execute a move and thus reduce the speed of your attack or defense, allowing your opponent opportunity to take the advantage. Taiji sword, on the other hand, where the blades are thicker, less flexible and the delivery end is mostly along the length of the blade itself. It is the whole body that controls the weapon and not just the arm and certainly not the wrist alone. Thus the chi/energy flows uninterrupted from the ground, through the feet, up through torso, the arms and into the sword. If Taiji principles were applied to fencing, the reliance upon wrist would break the flow of chi/energy. Conversely, applying ones whole body to a foil would result in defeat. The swords, blades, sizes and their use are vastly different between the two arts as is the methodologies. So attempting to use one set of principles in the other would be foolish.

taijisword

As has already be explained the learning of the sword helps the student integrate the body and mind as a whole. The broadsword helps with fa-jin or the release of chi/energy by bringing it out. The straight sword helps with balance, agility, mobility and sticky energy, the energy to follow. Thus swords in a natural extension to ones Taijiquan practice, even though, the use of the sword, in our society, has little to no merit.