Dao Form Applications

Discussion of Chinese historical swordsmanship from all styles.

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Linda Heenan
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Dao Form Applications

Post by Linda Heenan » Wed Mar 09, 2011 6:50 am

I'm working on Yangshi Taiji Dao, so starting this thread to ask about applications for some of the movements. I think the correct position of hands, legs and the sword, will become more apparent if I know what the movement is doing. The first one I'd like to ask about is the double kick movement. What would the duifang be doing and what am I doing? I need to know why the sword is in the crook of my arm and why the kick is like that.
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Re: Dao Form Applications

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:41 am

Chen Gong gives the application of Er Qi Tui , in his book as, "Use the left foot to pretend to kick & startle & scare the duifang. Use this opportunity to kick the duifang's heart or chin." The only reason why you would craddle the dao in left arm, is if the duifang is close enough to possibly get hold of your weapon. Kicks are often presented in sword forms as a means of driving the duifang back out to sword distance.

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Re: Dao Form Applications

Post by Linda Heenan » Tue Aug 02, 2011 4:04 pm

Thank you.
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Dao Form Applications - Intent

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:31 pm

There is one "error" that I noticed is common with the way dao forms are practiced today. That is they are typically practiced in the same fashion, that is with the same intent in the cuts and the way the body is used, as in the jian forms. I wrote error in quotes because it is not that many types of dao can not be used in the same fashion as jian. indeed, the yanmaodao (goose quill saber) is designed to be just straight enough and double edged at the tip, to be able to use the upper back edge and to employ the thrust effectively. What I mean is that daofa (saber method) is elementally different than jianfa (straight sword method) in that it evolved to be used by the military. That means daofa specialized into a form or method, designed to be used when facing armored duifang. In such situations, one would also be wearing armor. This means that quick precise cuts to the arm, drawing cut to the stomach, neck and other soft tissue targets, and short dian (pointing) cuts that are common to jianfa are largely to completely in effective.

In order to render a man in armor incapacitated so that he could no longer attack, requires cuts that do real damage thru his armor. In fact, most of the time a dao (saber) blow lands on armor, it won't actually be doing any cutting at all. If it did there wouldn't have been much use is wearing armor. Instead these saber "cuts" would deliver blunt force trauma. Accordingly, dao forms are designed to deliver powerful blows to structurally weaker parts of the body, such as the floating ribs and collar bone. These cuts should hit to transmit power inward, not slice. This is why so many dao forms employ large movements that generate a great deal of power, while also appearing to create openings in one's defense. This large movement is needed to be effective thru the duifang's armor and one is protected against quick short energy counter-cuts by one's own armor.

Given my earlier statement that a dao can be wielded in the same fashion as a jian classical is, why is this an error? The reason this can be seen as an error is because if one wields a dao as one does a jian, one is not expanding one's understanding but instead limiting it. There will be times, regardless of the weapon in one's hand, that the powerful hitting cuts of daofa would be the most effective way to deal with the duifang standing before one. If these haven't been practiced and trained into one's skill set then they won't be there to be called upon when needed. Also, by practicing both the dao and jian forms in the same jianfa like manner, one loses the opportunity to learn both the strengths and weakness of the daofa approach to swordplay.

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Re: Dao Form Applications

Post by taiwandeutscher » Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:41 pm

Very interesting!
Does this also influence the general speed in training the forms of Jian and Dao?
Is there also a stronger centre control of the sword involved, whereas the momentum of the heavier sabre works a bit in the opposite direction?
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Re: Dao Form Applications

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:51 am

taiwandeutscher wrote:... Does this also influence the general speed in training the forms of Jian and Dao?
Both dao and jian forms should be practiced at regular slow taijiquan form speed up to full speed & power. Naturally, practicing both the basic cuts & short segments of the form, building from slow to full speed, will help one achieve this.

One aspect of weapons training that is usually completely overlooked is that training with weapons is the "weight" training of taijiquan. We don't pump iron, but then again we do (go should) be practicing some hundreds of cuts each week. This strength training is an integral part of the taijiquan system.
taiwandeutscher wrote:... Is there also a stronger centre control of the sword involved, whereas the momentum of the heavier sabre works a bit in the opposite direction?
Certainly the weight, & more so, the more forward balance of dao effect the manner in which it "wants' to move. Dao have a much more defined, focused point of preferred point of percussion & are balanced so that the motion of the blade pulls toward that area of the blade. When one handles an old period dao, there is never a feeling that the blade wants to slice (with the exception of the rarely seen, specialized paindao, slicing saber) But don't forget, there are different dao blade forms, each wants to move in a slightly different manner than the others. So, in order to develop a well rounded understanding of daofa, it is wise to practice one's form with each of the three major dao types; willow leaf, goose quill & ox tail as well as with a short duandao.

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