After one year of practicing Tai Chi, it is time to introduce your mind, body and spirit to the king of weapons used in martial arts: the sword. Learning the sword would only mean that you have already conquered a lot of things in your life and some in-betweens. It will also mean that you are ready to face one of the toughest areas in your Tai Chi training. The sword will be taught only if you have successfully mastered every form; that will be the time that your mind, body, and soul will be ready to accept the sword and make you feel comfortable about it.
At the beginning, Tai Chi will teach students the use of three weapons namely: tao (knife or broadsword), chien (straight sword), chang (spear or staff). Setting Tai Chi aside, these three are also used in different kinds of martial arts combat. It is used according to its range. Long-range weapons like the staff and spear are often used in the battlefield, while short-range weapons like the straight sword and broadsword are designed for a personal one-on-one combat.
The sword – a relatively light and small short-range weapon is considered as the king of combat because of its properties that can make your opponents run for their lives. Before, the sword is used as a symbol of power and is used for violence. Today, it’s a different story. People is now learning to handle the sword as a weapon used in exercises for the development of self-discipline in terms of mind and body connection.
The introduction of Tai Chi in the present society is a great medium where one can practice the usage of the sword. Some are attracted to learn because of the idea of how a weapon as deadly as this can be manipulated into one graceful and harmless act.
About the Sword
The chien or short sword has a length that is measured for about 3 ft. It is composed of a double-edged blade that has a range of 28 – 30 inches long and is about 1 – 2 inches wide. The handle is approximately 8 – 9 inches wherein a hole is found at the end of its hilt where a tassel or knot is commonly attached. The tip is sharpened and can make a person bleed in an instant.
In the traditional sense, the chien is crafted according to the user’s size, balance and comfort to the material. Today, there are wide varieties of swords that mass-produced in a non-functional and lighter sense that are used for practice and in competitions.
Before learning the sword, it is more advisable to learn the knife because of its simplicity and it is unlikely for the wielders to injure or cut themselves for the weapon only has one edge that’s sharp. Experts of Tai Chi give due respect to the sword and consider it as the weapon that only elite warriors and scholars can use. Unlike tao, which they considered as a soldier’s weapon.
Here are some points to remember when handling the sword:
1. Be familiar with the weapon at hand. Understand all possible aspects about it like its attacking parts.
2. Be one with the sword. Make it your best buddy. Practice it everyday like it was a long-time job.
3. Look at the sword as if it was a tool and not a display object that you can hang decoratively on the wall.
4. Whenever your in the presence of the sword, move with purpose and grace.