Name of Wooden Swords

Discussion of Chinese historical swordsmanship from all styles.

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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by jonpalombi » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:38 pm

Michael wrote:I'm not sure that I would agree that it is cultural sterilization, but to the extent that this tendency toward genericism exists, I wholly endorse it. I think that it's important to strip away the flash and style from each component in order to better understand its real value. While "straight-sword" and "broadsword" are poor translations, I think that an excellent translation for jian is "sword." It helps remind us of the following:
a) There is nothing extraordinary about Chinese swords when viewed in a worldwide context.
b) While jian commonly take on certain shapes and sizes, few of these are intrinsic to the idea of a sword, or even a Chinese sword. In other words, many of the characteristics of jian are incidental.

Which leads us to the corollary,
c) Some aspects of Chinese swordsmanship are dependent on the typical characteristics of Chinese swords, and others are not. This differentiation is critically important.

It has nothing to do with ease of pronunciation, and everything to do with clarity of ideas.
I can certainly respect your perspective and applaud much of your ideology (especially the point about clarity of application and utilitarianism versus blind ritual and idealism). Yes, empty traditionalism is as entrapping and possibly even worst than utter ignorance... but I also feel very deeply, that without these seemingly archaic or antiquated terms and traditions, which to my mind equate to their very Chinese-ness (for lack of a better terminology), will continue to add to the exquisitely rich tapestry which is woven into gong fu, taijiquan, xingyi, bagua zhang and many other Chinese martial systems. Personally, I do not wish to call my Sifu, "teacher", since for me, it is not simply a case of teacher and student... it is the direct line to Yang Luchan and countless masters before him, who raised this art and science to the masterpiece it is today.

From my windowsill, the view of 5,000 years of martial methodology and combative bio-mechanics are encoded in the cultural context, from which they were birthed. Sure, many elements of swordsmanship are universal and can be seen paralleled in multiple cultures. After all, a sword is a sword. but why shave away the "orientalism" of the CSA? Frankly, I am tempted to equate this kind of translation/sterilization as paramount to linguistic agnosticism. Not my cup of tea. I am a confirmed Taoist. Why? Not for "exoticism' or any other romantic notion. I have found my own nature within the empty posture of the flowing, ever-changing Tao. Because I so respect the wisdom of my Chinese forefathers and will not sit quiet when I am called to voice my mind, I challenge such audacity. MUJIAN and MUDAO are fine sounds to the ear and I am 100% behind the proliferation of these charming terms, in the dawning of the 21st century. Perhaps we agree on principle and not in color or texture? True enough, I would infer, on many levels.

We stand in the winds of modernization and digital mechanization. Shall the post-digital, proto holographic utilitarianism need to so sterilize every indigenous flair, tempo and annunciation of the native Chinese language, that we end up with what is equivalent to the simplified public taijiquan of the contemporary wushu scene? Please save us this degradation, for I have walked both roads, with an open mind and seen the light. for, are we not the TRADITIONAL Chinese Sword League? By traditional, I would assume that we cling to as much Chinese authenticity and realism as we can. There are enough white-washed martial systems out there, already. Neutered of their cultural roots and linguistic orientation. I believe Aidan is upholding this noble idea and I thank him for his contribution, however small or, upon a superficial conceptual glance, minor it may seem. I join with this archaic spirit and prefer to keep my study of these time-honored arts as CHINESE as I am able to, in the sphere of my own daily practice.

...And the jian is not just another sword, albeit the very essence of the sword. The jian encapsulates 5000 years of Chinese history, in it's sleek and sublime design. No longer a work-in-progress, the jian is a living symbol of our most advanced and longest lived Earth culture. Besides, such extreme beauty is a wonder to behold and more so to study. IMO, jianfa is perhaps the most advanced and perfect of all indigenous systems of swordsmanship and I have had some fair experience with most of them (and admire them each, for their unique qualities). Regardless of cultural origins or lineage, jianfa is the most versatile and effective methodology I have embraced and I don't want to call it by another name, thank you very much. Now, whether we refer to this as: "swordsmanship, jianfa or jianshu", it is one of the rarest gems our species has ever produced and far be it for any of us in, the East or the West, to strip away it's ancient roots and bark. To say the very least, about all the leaves (the spoken and written words)!!! It may sound like exoticism, romanticism or even purism... but it is actually, a deep love of Chinese culture and all that it can enrich our lives with.

Again, reality is subjective and we create what mythologies we choose. I am standing in a stance of respect for your viewpoint, yet... I fervently support my mate Aidan's inspiration. I am most curious to hear the opinion of my Sifu, Scott M. Rodell and my friend and fellow artisan, Graham Cave (not to mention Philip Tom or Peter Dekker). :?:

Originally, this thread was a thought-provoking suggestion for a proper name for the choice weapon of both, the GRTC and the TCSL. While we have traversed the myriad of philosophical vantage-points, each on their own plateau and parameters, of what is most appropriate in the early 21st century (especially in the Western cultural context). I propose a balance of strict tradition and objective science. Nothing new to most of us, right? Still, there cries out a need, within the heart of each warrior/scholar, to hold certain ideals above all others. I personally thank and honor Laoshi Wang Yen-nien, first for holding fast to such an antiquated lineage as Yangjia Michuan taijiquan, in the onslaught of modernization. Second, for giving my teacher the understanding to impart some of this grand practice to me.

I do not need to neutralize cultural terminology, rather, I need to neutralize my own misunderstanding of my chosen art. Then and only then, would I be able to neutralize any adversity I am challenged to face. Is this not the way? Unless you expect me to abandon words like, Tao, Qi or Li... I suspect we will never see eye to eye. As you said, they do not have direct translations into other linguistic systems, so it is acceptable. I would choose to extend this Chinese-ness towards our wooden swords and other primary sword gear. I can't draw such A DEFINED a line in the sand, so to speak, about which should BE and should not be, spoken in Mandarin. Which, is not really a problem since, like they say, "To each their own". In my book, every individual has the unique chance to create their own universe or at least their own window in which to perceive a view into that universe. I appreciate other's unique universes... but I most honor and respect most, those ideals which directly have influenced my best moments, as a human being. In this light, I firmly proclaim my devotion to genuine Chinese terminology and revel in the beauty and character that these cultural relics, Chinese words, bestow upon our daily practice.
This is exactly what I was talking about when I wrote about exoticism above. In other words, I believe that the "traditional taste" is based on an exoticization of traditional Chinese culture. And I don't blame you for feeling that way. I think it's what got a lot of us started to begin with and helps motivate us along the way. But I don't think it's healthy in the long run.
I guess all I can say is... I basically agree with the wisdom of your conception, however void of cultural anthropomorphizing. Your intellectual integrity and piercing objectivity, are honest and practical but I find it rather grey. Not grey like platinum or the early evening light of dusk... grey as in clinical and utilitarian. I am into rainbows (and the dynamics of international linguistics). Since what is obvious to most of us, is that it was, in fact, the allure of the orient and the unknown, which first drew us into this material practice. Was it not the abhorrence for the tedium of the occidental lifestyle, generated by disappointments in one's own culture (often times, most mundane and overly-rational), which prompted reaching beyond the familiar into the unknown? Your clear and direct quantification of demystification, is what drives us to reach beyond the superficial exotic package and find a jewel hidden in the emptiness of blind ritual. In this way we are totally in sync. Yet... :wink:

Must we be uni-cultural to learn traditional Chinese martial arts? I think not. Far be it for any of us, to strip the native tongue from the very culture which birthed it. I'm offended at the suggestion and will not bow to such bastardization. I mean no serious offense but I am in favor of Aidan's idea. Plain and simple, I love the culture of historical China. I am intoxicated by the language, calligraphy and various arts and musical traditions. What a profound cultural achievement! Perhaps more than any I have studied or encountered. Under this banner and in honor of this bright star, I enthusiastically second Aidan's idea of naming these wonderful wooden swords, "Mujian". Sweet and simple, descriptive and exotic. Also, my dear friend Graham has poured his heart and soul into his craft and the glaring need for an authentic Chinese name for these beauties, is far too understated, IMO. Kudos Graham!!! :mrgreen:

I would personally, like to HEAR Chinese names for our helmets (our current ones, as well as the ones being envisioned within the GRTC & TCSL community) and our gambesons (which I would want tailored with historical Qing Dynastic styling, like the ones Seven Stars sells). A basic set of terms for these vital elements of jianfa and daofa would be awesome. Yes, even our very swordsmanship equipment, like we have for the FUNDAMENTAL AND SPECIFIC aspects of our vast repertoire of martial techniques, methods and body-mechanics. Genericizing these aspects of our lineage, is most distasteful to many of the long-time students of this game and after all... no harm is done by adhering to Ming and Qing Dynasty standards, traditional values and proper Chinese terminology. On the contrary, much good comes of it, as long as it doesn't become an obsessive-compulsive dogma, therefore a tangle of complex terminologies, requiring years to absorb and comprehend (as with Japanese martial arts, especially JSA). A little goes a long way, eh? Simplicity, traditional respect and more simplicity? Sounds good to me, as does mujian and mudao.

Bring on the mu-yanmaodaos!!! I can hardly wait. 8)

Call it what you will... "A rose by any other name... "

Be well and practice often, Jon Palombi
Last edited by jonpalombi on Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:43 am, edited 13 times in total.
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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by taiwandeutscher » Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:38 am

Wow, Jon, how elloquent, thanks a lot, you spoke my heart, all with you!
My love for the Chinese culture, especially CMA, made me study sinology and of the last 28 years, I spent 18 in Taiwan, my 2nd home, where I can find all traditional cultural expressions of the China I love, behind a curtain of Western capitalism.

Mujian is fine, Mudao also, but mu-yanmaodao wouldn't work so well, as there are very few nouns with 4 parts, wood should become wooden, so I would say something like mu zuo de yanmaodao.
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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by Graham Cave » Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:39 am

taiwandeutscher wrote:Wow, Jon, how elloquent, thanks a lot, you spoke my heart, all with you!
I second that ! Excellent post Jon, beautifully said.

I am also in favour of using mudao and mujian. The terms are simple, accurately descriptive and linguistically correct. There is always something lost during language translation, even if it is just emotional content. So I feel that it makes sense not to translate if it can be avoided. In this case, most people are already used to using the terms dao and jian, so the addition of the word mu (wood) is not likely to confusion.

Also, using the term mudao or mujian infers that a wooden sword is made in a Chinese style, just as bokken infers that a wooden sword is made in a Japanese style...I can see that might be a useful thing for discussion purposes.

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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by jonpalombi » Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:57 am

Graham Cave wrote:
taiwandeutscher wrote:Wow, Jon, how elloquent, thanks a lot, you spoke my heart, all with you!
I second that ! Excellent post Jon, beautifully said.

I am also in favour of using mudao and mujian. The terms are simple, accurately descriptive and linguistically correct. There is always something lost during language translation, even if it is just emotional content. So I feel that it makes sense not to translate if it can be avoided. In this case, most people are already used to using the terms dao and jian, so the addition of the word mu (wood) is not likely to confusion.

Also, using the term mudao or mujian infers that a wooden sword is made in a Chinese style, just as bokken infers that a wooden sword is made in a Japanese style...I can see that might be a useful thing for discussion purposes.
Nihao,

Thanks, Brothers. Hopefully I have not inflicted undue optic strain on anyone following this thread. After all, it is the 21st century and brevity rules. That being said, anyone who knows me... can attest to my obvious lack of that modern aspect of netiquette. Still, there is so much to say about such a complex issue! I would like to reiterate, that I sincerely respect Michael's viewpoint, even though it is not my own. I am a romantic at heart. In agreement with Michael, I feel it is much more important to spend the time and focus on perfecting the lessons our Sifus impart to us, than fixating of the authentic application of Chinese terminology. The ART is what is of utmost importance and is the guiding star, upon which we hitch the central intention of our martial practice. Better to understand and be able to naturally execute the methodology, than elaborately adorn it with excessive exotic or mystical significance. Although, when the two properly meet... what a thing of beauty it truly is.

Zai jian, Jon
Last edited by jonpalombi on Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by J HepworthYoung » Mon Aug 16, 2010 11:13 am

And yet there comes a point where the perpetuation of terms is contrary to the spirit of the art itself, which has never been a static thing.

The silly pajamas that people often wear to do taiji is a good example, while period clothing was worn by period people, now people believe that archaic period dress is an integral aspect of taiji, this is itself ridiculous. I can give numerous examples of the same thing for numerous cultures, and while I strive to preserve and appreciate historical authenticity in regard to martial arts, as a part of global cultural conservation, it is also clear that a type of obsession arises in numerous individuals that undermines their credibility for having focuses on the tangential at the expense of the principal, in regard to martial practice.

You see, there are many people, including who post here who would not practice taiji if they had to do so without their pride based obsessions about the pajamas and the words and the rituals. They care more about the image than the art, to them the skills are secondary and the superficial is the primary, in this way they regard a test of a persons achievement to relate less to any test of skill and to relate more to the ability of a person to fit into an expected model or type, which is consensually affirmed as genuine.

The real problem of this example is found in origins of martial arts that include a tradition of racism and secrecy. It is well known that early Taiji teachers were unwilling to teach many people based upon their culture. To these people our inclusion of all Chinese as a singular culture is absurd, but to the outsider it is easy to see the borders of nations as indicating a culture. In all fairness then, to be historically accurate can also include an opinion that taiji is too advanced for westerners in general, let alone all "Chinese".

So many people these days place emphasis upon the superficial, the words, the clothes, the little petty rituals. I am alone here I suppose, in placing emphasis upon the substance, the internal, the principal, as opposed to the image, the external. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

But then as an autistic man it is normal for me to fail to understand group behavior, I can accept that mob mentality and no other thing is responsible for the preservation of terms, which are so non-vital to the art that they cannot be found throughout the history of the art but are clearly far newer than the art itself. This is to say that things are preserved because they have become established as a consensus, not because of some underlying practicality or inherent truth. This creates a specific cult of taiji enthusiasts who are so focused on the external that they feel uncomfortable using terms that are not Chinese to describe an art, which have never been Chinese in the broad sense, but has historically been limited in practice to a rather small section of the Chinese culture. While founders of the style saw China as divided in many ways, we tend to be inclusive in a silly way, indicating that our cultural perception lacks historical authenticity, particularly when we strive to be historically accurate. It is clear that our focus excludes many historically accurate aspects in an attempt to be historically accurate.

I love very much the entertaining aspects of ridiculous cultural obsessions. Clearly many here put more effort into being Chinese as they see it, than they do towards developing their art. For them it is not about the skill but about the image.

This effort to imitate a deluded perception of what is Chinese has become one of the largest threats to authentic taiji in the USA. Many people do taiji as part of their effort to be more "Chinese" or worse try to be more Chinese as a part of their trying to learn taiji.
It reminds me of how period dress of Japan became modern uniform for several martial arts. You see if it is historically accurate to train in period dress, then the preservation of archaic dress for practice is itself antithetical to the original intention of not having to wear anything special, to be able to defend the self in the clothing that one would find the self wearing when defense was needed.

To some people, the recognition is what they are after, so then the image become vital, because how can you feed the ego without the image and terms? Merely skill and knowledge alone will never suffice for these people, because their motive is not to master the art, but to be seen as a master of the art, two very different things. And so there are millions of Sifus today, but very few masters. The ethnocentric and racist content of taiji is linked to this behavior, but then i see that this is part of the historical authenticity that many endeavor to preserve.

I think it is funny how superficial some Taoists can be!!! They are more likely to call themselves Taoists than to apply the principals of Tao to their own thoughts and words!!!

A sword by any other name, will cut just as deep.

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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by Michael » Mon Aug 16, 2010 11:26 am

Well put, JHepworthYoung. I would only add that it appears to me that those who understand foreign cultures the most are the ones who exoticize them the least. When I have spoken to scholars who study these things professionally, they seem to universally maintain a down-to-earth attitude, with a nuanced understanding of the culture beyond what is emotionally appealing. It's a kind of empathy, in a way.
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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by jonpalombi » Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:06 pm

Gentlemen,

Why must you presuppose that those who are in favor of referring to contemporary Chinese-style wooden swords, as "mujian" and "mudao", are necessarily less familiar with China, taijiquan or any other Chinese martial art, than those who don't? Less understanding, less experienced, less advanced, less evolved? Nicely put lads!!! I suppose our "silly pajamas" somehow qualify us as lesser than yourselves? Wasn't that the gist of your dismissive remarks about Brother Aidan's enthusiastic idea? Was it not an attempt to proclaim how much superior and more informed you are? It's obvious to just about everybody reading this thread, that you have postured yourselves high above those in favor of Aidan's idea. True enough? By what authority do you do this? My teacher does and his teacher did, wear traditional Chinese attire, when instructing their student-body. And you are better than they are? I think not!!! So, you are both, better than Chen Manching and T.T. Liang? Better than Wang Peishung and Zhang Yun? Better than Chen Zhenglei and Chen Xiowang? Better than Zhong Yunlong, Chen Shixing or Yang Jwing Ming? Wow... I am very, very impressed with your lofty grandeur, internal development and deeply insightful appraisal of we... the inferior fools. Thanks a lot! Also, I doubt any of us really "exoticize" our Chinese martial training or our study of Chinese philosophy, art, music, calligraphy or cuisine... as it was already quite exotic, all on it's own, hundreds of years before our births.

Originally, this thread was about celebrating the accomplishments of Graham Cave and his splendid wooden jian and dao swords. Somehow... this has become convoluted into a juxtaposition of two divergent camps. Bravissimo, i miei amici! BTW, I actually prefer a loose pair of cotton pants and a T-shirt, to a traditional Chinese martial arts outfit. On occasion, I wear one that I've had for 20 years, out of respect for my Grand Master, Laoshi Wang Yen-nien, as for his traditional standards and personal preferences. My gambeson will also reflect this traditional Chinese appearance, as is the wish of my Sifu (to keep it looking as authentically Chinese as possible). Bottom line, I admire many cultures and speak small bits of several languages. Being genetically Italian, I enjoy using native words from my own ancestry. It just adds to the overall flavor excitement and romance of being alive! 8)

Yes, many of them are easily translated into English or any other known language. Si Signores! Still... I prefer to keep them alive and continuously pronounced, in my own personal life. In the sphere of my own existence, as is my birth right! Does this make me less familiar with being Italian? More of an Italian hack and less of an aficionado? If I want to call my 16th century Italian rapier an "Espada", I will choose to do so. If I disdain calling my 16th century stiletto a knife, I will continue to call it a "stiletto". So, let those of us who admire linguistics for linguistics sake, call our wooden swords what we will. Frankly, I don't feel it makes me more or less accomplished than anybody else. I do, however, feel enthusiastic to practice my basic cuts, sword forms and free-play... with my exquisite mujian, crafted by the esteemed Graham Cave. I suspect you know little of the intensive research involved in it's complex evolution? What were your specific contributions to the design and overall parameters, that you would voice such a strong opinion? Countless hours of research, measurement, hard work, sweat and trial and error... birthed these magnificent combat mujian. Aidan's honest intention was to gift a proper name, befitting of such a scientific, artistic and historically authentic, achievement in woodworking. Kudos to mBrother Aidan!
Don't you dare be dismissive of his youthful integrity. I would go as far, as to say it was mocking. Again, if you do, by what authority?

I digress... so shall we just bow and accept a small difference in personal taste and return to more productive intentions? I agree with you in principle, yet, not in attitude. As we are all well aware, Lao Tse was quoted as saying, "Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know." This statement shook me out of my socks, 33 years ago, when I first read these profound words. Sadly, I cannot repeat them in Mandarin Chinese, to this day. That being said, if we can speak small pats of this great language, should it not aim towards the familiar ingredients of our regular, daily practice? Like our wooden jian and dao? Are we not allowed to choose the form and flavor the the wording? Yes, yes and yes! In this light, we can all agree ( to a reasonable extent), that a person's gradual cultivation of internal sensitivity, is essentially non-verbal and impossible to equate to a cold mathematical formula. Much of life, is best left to the living (of it). As is the art and the artist's most treasured instrument. BTW, mine has an English name, as well, "The White Tiger". After all, it is the loveliest shade of creamy-white hickory wood! Nothing fancy really, as a nickname, or even in Chinese (although... I would actually like to know how to say, "White Tiger" in Mandarin Chinese). Of course, I just don't call it that in public, since I don't want the men in the white jackets to drag me off to the funny farm (hehehe). :mrgreen:

Say, are you lads practicing swords-persons? I assume you are, as you speak with such bradaggio. Perhaps we shall cross blades one day? If so, I will wield my mujian or mudao, with honor, clarity and adherence to core principles of the teachings of my Sifu's lineage. I am certain you will do the same with your "wooden swords". Please bring more into the ring, than just a superior attitude. OK? Later, Guys...

Arrivederci, Jon Palombi
Last edited by jonpalombi on Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by Michael » Mon Aug 16, 2010 11:53 pm

I have every right to make an argument that you disagree with, that doesn't make it a personal affront. I restrained myself from dissecting your earlier posts because I think I've made my main point well enough that I don't need to repeat myself. But this thread is quickly taking a very confrontational tone and I don't like the direction that it is heading.

And yes, I practice swordsmanship. No, I will not settle an argument with a sword.
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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by gchan » Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:58 am

Hi boys,

I propose we take a very, very Chinese (and might I say Daoist) approach to this debate. Call it what you want. Wooden sword, waster, mujian / dao. whatever. Everybody has different feelings on it and their choices in terminology will reflect it. We'll still understand whatever you're referring to.

To clear things up: There is absolutely no historical, cultural implication in the word "mu jian". There is no loss in translation when translated as wooden jian.

As for "jian". There are indeed some cultural implications that are left out when we use "sword".

As for the usage of "dao". Interesting that was brought up. I actually don't use "dao" by itself...ever. In Chinese, it has too much "kitchen knife" connotations. I prefer to use "sabre". In Chinese "pei dao" is the appropriate word for the one-handed sabre.

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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by taiwandeutscher » Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:29 am

Well, gchan,
that is ok with me, but concerning sabre, dao, nobody in my many training places in Taiwan is talking of peidao, as that would describe a certain form of the many dao shapes. My teachers here just talk of plain dao, maybe without much thought, but nobody is thinking of the kitchen chopper, lol!

As a non-native speaker, I didn't really get it, where the thread turned a bit sour. As I have sided with Jon, I can still see and accept different points of views, and it doesn't bother me at all, when some think highly of themselfs. Afterall, it's the virtuel space and not my daily realistic check of my abilities.

So, guys, please keep your cool and stay healthy, enjoy your live and train well, to use Jon's words.
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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by jonpalombi » Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:13 am

Michael wrote:I have every right to make an argument...

this thread is quickly taking a very confrontational tone and I don't like the direction that it is heading.

And yes, I practice swordsmanship. No, I will not settle an argument with a sword.
Hi Michael,

This is not an argument. I bear no ill will towards you or harbor resentment, based on your remarks. Despite my defensive posture towards my friend Aidan, whose idea is a good one for me and my bottomless well of admiration for my friend Graham's, woodworking mastery... we're really just a couple kids in the schoolyard, who call our bicycles different names. Mine has a Chinese name, even though bicycle can be easily translated into English. So, who is arguing? I do openly protest your superior attitude, as it is most dismissive and extremely rude. Does this make it a quarrel? I sure hope not, Brother. My comment about meeting in the ring, however, was directly confrontational. It was inspired by your and J Hepworth Young's insightful comments about students who get lost in all the exoticism and external trappings (like attachment to linguistics and traditional attire), in preference to their actual martial arts practice. Obviously, it is the many, many years of continued training and the depth of ones comprehension of these methodologies, which translates into ones capacity to execute them effectively, with flowing grace and clarity.

My seeming challenge was directed at this specific point in the discussion. Many who talk a great game, are less capable of successfully transferring this intellectualism into spontaneous free-play.
Like my grandmother used to say, "The proof in the pudding, is in the tasting."
So, regardless of what we call our wooden swords, it is our grasp of our own martial system, which shines through the moment of engagement. Refusing to exchange in free-play is a personal choice. Perhaps an indication that one only uses the internal arts for contemplative purposes? That's cool. This is a beautiful thing, in-and-of-itself. Still, we are speaking of Chinese swordsmanship, not Qigong (although the two are not mutually exclusive). Yes? Are not the internal and external one? And it is called "PLAY' for a specific reason, for it is the play of yin-yang (even in a full-contact match). We don't use the word "dance" (yet we probably could), for free-play is essentially combat. Spontaneous, not choreographed movements. So, the old analogy to playing a game of chess, is most appropriate and applicable. I absolutely agree with you, Michael, one should never take an argument into a match with weapons. There is no place for anger in competitive Chinese swordsmanship. It's not a war, after all. :mrgreen:

Is not yin-yang one? Not yin VERSUS yang or yin AGAINST yang? Just yin-yang. Sure, we both need to breathe and cool our jets a little bit and return to our discussion with smiles on our faces and gentility in our behavior. I can be decisively aggressive, if I feel my Brothers or Sisters are being treated unfairly and unjustly put on a level beneath, the source of such dismissive condescension. Again, my bad. That is my error for taking the bait. :oops:

Somehow I have made you feel like this is an argument? Then, I extend my hand in friendship. Besides, since Aidan has gotten an new email address and cannot respond to this thread himself (until his prfile/registration info is updated), I felt the urge to speak in his stead. Graham is too much of a gentleman to return such an insult with a challenge, while obviously, I am not. This was probably a hasty judgement, as tis thread has gone a bit sour? I am very sorry if I overreacted towards your seemingly, smug and self-righteous behavior (and it really does comes across as such). Perhaps I am to blame for much of this apparent conflict? I accept most of the responcibility for this turn in the conversation. My bad. Please believe, that in my heart, I truly bear no lasting grudge or hold any deep resentment. When I asked, "by what authority" do you project such sweeping generalities, I didn't mean to exchange blow-for-blow. On the contrary, I am being very, very serious. By what authority? I posture myself beneath you, as your younger brother and ask for your kind assistance in clarifying my lack of understanding. Please explain your implied authority, as I cannot glean it from your spoken words or the tone of your speech.

We are both walking on the same path, regardless of what name we give it or what language we name it in. We are all climbing towards the very same summit of enlightenment and aspire to channel our Qi, freely throughout our bodies, as we do so. I apologise if I came across as one who wishes to fight, as I am clearly battling with my own ignorance and lack of skill and/or wisdom, with each step I take. It is more of an issue of mutual respect, not opposing conceptions. Please look into your own wording and tell me you meant no offense to all of those who you grouped together, in sweeping gestures, as having less experience or understanding than yourself?

Lao Tse is also quoted as saying, "The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth. The named is the mother of myriad things. Thus, constantly without desire, one observes its essence. Constantly with desire, one observes its manifestations. These two emerge together but differ in name. The unity is said to be the mystery. Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders."

Wow! All of this fuss over naming Graham's wooden jian... what's that about? Admittedly, I did take offense at some of the derogatory remarks aimed at all of those who wear "pajamas" and "exoticize" their Chinese martial practice and even their swordsmanship equipment, (since it is done in the light of inspiration, not superficial fixation to ritual). I reiterate, that there is no argument, just a few differences in opinion and that's OK. There is room enough for all of our ideas and opinions in this forum. Just don't place yourselves above others, as YOU LADS are the only ones doing such an egotistical thing, in this discussion. Such elitist posturing rarely yields positive results. :shock:

I was sincere, when I brought up meeting for a match, one fine day. Nothing we say or wear, will matter in a friendly bout of jianfa or daofa (or jianfa meets daofa, in an interplay of mixed swordplay). While I have attempted to agree with your Zen-like purism (on a purely intellectual level), you have made it crystal-clear that you share none of the same mutual flexibility. I am just objectively curious how well we would match one another with swords in-hand. I'm not Sifu's most gifted student, by loooooooooong shot, yet... I thank him, from the bottom of my heart, for the guidance he has gifted me with. In his honor, I would seek to display a small fraction of this precious knowledge. I would hope to be a clean mirror for your skills, as your would be for mine. That's all I was getting at, Michael. This would be far removed from my penchant for exoticism and ritualism, it would be the reality of the matching elements of our union (yin-yang), within the parameters of an actual bout.

I have chosen to stand firm with my admiration of Aidan's idea, since I just plain like it. It sounds lovely to my fledgling ears. This does not make our differences in perspective an argument or one of us more or less advanced (despite the inference). That being said, I am intolerant of forum bullies who feel the need to pull rank and proclaim a greater level of development/evolution. Were this truly the case, is it not your responsibility to nurture and guide your younger Brothers and Sisters, by gently offering a certain flexibility in mind-set, and a friendly pat on the back? :?:

We're all in the same boat, flowing within the ever-changing sea of the eternal Tao, so why don't we enjoy the voyage together? For Is not the sky above us and the ocean beneath us, most broad and beautiful? If you are unwilling to admit that your smug attitude was intended to place yourself above Aidan, myself and the myriad thousands of pajama-wearing exoticists... then I will take full responsibility for the misunderstanding. I am an emotional Italian and my sentiments can get the best of me, if defense of my Teachers and my mates. Capiche? If I have read you all wrong and I may well have, you fellows have my deepest apologies. Why don't we peacefully embrace a harmonious conclusion, that there are different strokes, for different folks. No one is, necessarily, higher or lower, based on their choice of naming or not naming, their wooden swords, "mujian" or "mupeidao". There is really no black and white to this juxtaposition, just alternate shades of platinum grey. Platinum rules!!! 8)

As the esteemed American psychologist/philosopher, William James, used to so eloquently proclaim, "There are no differences. Only degrees of difference, between differences of degree... and no difference." :wink:

Be well and practice often, Jon Palombi
Last edited by jonpalombi on Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:21 pm, edited 14 times in total.
A wise person aspires to learn the practice of swordsmanship. A lucky person finds a worthy Teacher. A fool cannot tell the difference.

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KyleyHarris
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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by KyleyHarris » Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:42 am

Wow.. All of this over a naming convention..

There are 2 reasons to name a sword. Pride and Purpose. Pride is what has instilled owners over the centuries to gift a sword with a name, much like naming a steed that will carry you to battle, or a hound that will protect you. Pride in your weapon can instill a confidence in its use, and form a partnership that may otherwise remove some emotional content required to enhance ones use of the blade. Once in your hand.. it is part of your body, and you should protect and be prideful of it as though it is part of you. NAMING A Blade is a private and personal matter.

The second issue is Purpose.. Purpose seems to be what is being debated here. I will say, what I said before.. to that Purpose you should ask your Teacher, Sifu, Loashi, or Sensei.. If he/she tells you that you will refer to your sword and a Loppingeeko then you should pay your respect and call it a Loppingeeko.. The purpose of the name is to make sure there is correct understanding between the teacher and the student in the transfer of information. we name things and use language to create coherency. If you are learning from a teacher then you pay them the respect to learn in the method they wish to convey. A Bokken is called a bokken because generally the Sensei is the Teacher, and will communicate in the method they are comfortable.. if you turned around to the sensei and said where is my Waster, then you are saying that you are not interested in learning what they have to teach because you are Breaking a clear and coherent line of communication.

So. if your talking about your personal sword, Steel or Wood, and you wish to take pride and NAME it.. then NAME it and take pride. but when you enter the personal space of a teacher then its best to respect their way of teaching. If one Chinese Teacher wishes to say "Wooden Sword" in engish, and another just wishes to say "Jian" and expect you to understand that in training you use wood.. then so be it..

A Student who cannot understand their teacher wlll stay a student.. A Teacher than cannot understand the student will go on to teach others.

Pride, just like MA, can be internal or external. I'm seeing a bit of ruffled feathers going both ways.

Aidan clearly takes pride in what he has and does. Thats a good thing. but I will maintain that he should call his "wooden sword" whatever the teacher in front of him desires for the duration of the teaching, and when he goes home he may call it whatever he desires and take pride in a wonderful sword.

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J HepworthYoung
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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by J HepworthYoung » Tue Aug 17, 2010 10:57 am

I care nothing for the names of old teachers
nor would I worship them, as so many do
I neither set myself above or below them

I agree with the observations of :
call it what you want
and pride and purpose relate

I've called them wooden swords and wooden jian,
and never knew there was a problem with this

I don't place any culture, or person on an alter
every name you mention, if they had any skill:
had it because of practice and no other thing
not because they were Chinese
not because of what they wore
not because of what they spoke

And no matter what you wear
no matter what you speak
no matter what culture your heritage is of
your practice will not be any better
than that of a person in different clothes,
speaking different words
and having a different heritage

rituals and ceremonies do not increase
the effectiveness of transmission
specific terms and words
do not themselves contain any information

we invest words with further instruction
we bestow ritual with meanings
if pride and purpose play their roles
then let the words, the clothes, the rituals
be as talismans keeping the mind focused
instead of distractions to the mind

As for myself I am just a human being, thus
pride, foolishness and ego are my shortcomings
opinion is all that will ever come from me
no matter what words say
because I am human
and like my wooden sword you may call me what you will
but I will be one of you, and you one of me
regardless of the shapes of the hats we choose to wear
If you berate anything, let it be my human pride
for no good can come of it.

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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by Peter Dekker » Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:07 am

Phew, what a conversation!

to go back to historical precedent, I have not yet come across any references on a wooden jian. We're pretty sure they must have existed, it's just something that little, if anything, has been written about.

I did find something else useful: The qinding zunqi zeli, a text on precedents and regulations on weapons per province, region and garisson published in the Qianlong, Jiaqing and Daoguang periods does mention a wooden dao being used by the troops of the Eight Banners. Here, the name is simply mudao. Its mentioning among all kinds of ordinary equipment indeed points in the way of it not having any more significance than just saying it is a dao-like object made of wood.

Further information is lacking probably because everyone knew what it was at the time and the term needed no further explanation.

-Peter
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jonpalombi
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Re: Name of Wooden Swords

Post by jonpalombi » Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:52 am

Nihao Peter,

Thank you for you scholarly input. I am eager to hear Sifu Rodell's perspective, as it will be of significance to all of his student-body. Say, do you know if there is a Chinese Mandarin name for gambeson? Or the equivalent of cloth armor/ cloth jacket? I would prefer to use the Chinese name for all of my CSA gear. Oh boy, here we go again... :mrgreen:

I suspect Aidan did not intend for this conversation to go so off-center but such is the nature of humanity. I hope I have not offended any of my fellow CSA family, other than the two I have intentionally locked horns with. Graham has done such a service to all of us who regularly practice the CSA, with his research and development of these marvelous wooden fighting swords... that I have to second the idea, that they have a full Chinese name, not a just composite of English and Mandarin. Where's the fun in that? I really do like mujian and mudao and hope they stick!!! 8)

Zai jian, Jon

J HepworthYoung wrote:I care nothing for the names of old teachers
nor would I worship them, as so many do
I neither set myself above or below them

I agree with the observations of :
call it what you want
and pride and purpose relate

I've called them wooden swords and wooden jian,
and never knew there was a problem with this

I don't place any culture, or person on an alter
every name you mention, if they had any skill:
had it because of practice and no other thing
not because they were Chinese
not because of what they wore
not because of what they spoke

And no matter what you wear
no matter what you speak
no matter what culture your heritage is of
your practice will not be any better
than that of a person in different clothes,
speaking different words
and having a different heritage

rituals and ceremonies do not increase
the effectiveness of transmission
specific terms and words
do not themselves contain any information

we invest words with further instruction
we bestow ritual with meanings
if pride and purpose play their roles
then let the words, the clothes, the rituals
be as talismans keeping the mind focused
instead of distractions to the mind

As for myself I am just a human being, thus
pride, foolishness and ego are my shortcomings
opinion is all that will ever come from me
no matter what words say
because I am human
and like my wooden sword you may call me what you will
but I will be one of you, and you one of me
regardless of the shapes of the hats we choose to wear
If you berate anything, let it be my human pride
for no good can come of it.
Nicely said J.

I agree with many of your keen insights. As long as you do not feel that those who prefer "mujian" or "mudao" are beneath those who do not prefer it, we are on the same page. I will not be the only soul who will be offended by your "pajamas" comment but I respect you backbone. Still, those who do prefer to wear a Chinese uniform for their CSA practice, should never be slammed by those who choose not to. Many are encouraged by their own Sifu to wear one. My Teacher wears a cotton one and I will not sit quiet, while he is generalized or allow him to be insulted, nor will many of my Brother & Sister students. As an ideal, I most definitely agree with your statement. As an absolute... I have to laugh at such audacity. Overall, though, we are cool. I personally, do place myself bellow the Grand-masters I listed before, as should any one who is fully awake and completely honest with themselves. I do not worship them, nor consider them spiritual Gurus, although their martial skills and internal wisdom is beyond reproach. Humility is no crime. Boastfulness and implied superiority are not crimes either... but they come across as quite dismissive, condescending and rude. :wink:

I do agree, wholeheartedly, that NOTHING external will help one to realize the internal flow of Qi and the actualization of self-mastery, that the journey we are all taking together, eventually arrives at. Also, I concur that we are but frail humans, prone to error and emotional outbursts. Every voice has some merit and all opinions are valid, as a part of the whole. Let us agree to disagree, on a few small points, yet bury the hatchet about the heated inferences in the thread. I am in favor of Aidan's original idea and you are not. That's cool. I extend my hand in friendship. Let us raise a cup of rice wine or tea (naming them as we see fit) and enjoy this lovely voyage into the formless emptiness, of that which is beyond any name... yet has been called Tao by our Chinese elders for millenniums. I bow to you and encourage your continued devotion to the Chinese martial arts and hope to meet you for some friendly free-play, further down this pathway. 8)

Arrivederci, Jonny
A wise person aspires to learn the practice of swordsmanship. A lucky person finds a worthy Teacher. A fool cannot tell the difference.

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