Saber and Shield

Discussion of Chinese historical swordsmanship from all styles.

Moderator: Scott M. Rodell

User avatar
Linda Heenan
Rank: Chang San feng
Rank: Chang San feng
Posts: 617
Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2004 3:58 am
Location: Australia
Contact:

Post by Linda Heenan » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:39 pm

That is very interesting. Many of those moves are only possible because of the bar fitted to the tengpai. It makes the grip more stable and the shield rigid enough to use as an extension of the arm for executing rolls.



I'd like to know the purpose of tapping the shield with the knife. A move I learnt once, involves striking the duifang's shield with the pommel of a sword if he obscures his own vision. This makes him think the strike has passed, so he lowers the sheild, only to meet the sword tip. Perhaps striking one's own tengpai has an application in this form. Can anyone think of one?

Scott M. Rodell
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 1364
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:50 pm
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Oct 05, 2006 6:45 am

Linda Heenan wrote:... Many of those moves are only possible because of the bar fitted to the tengpai. It makes the grip more stable and the shield rigid enough to use as an extension of the arm for executing rolls...


The Qing dynasty shields I've examined all have this bar, it is essential for keeping the shield at the proper angle.


Linda Heenan wrote:... purpose of tapping the shield with the knife...


It is interesting to see a form preformed with a tengpai simply because it is so rare, but one doesn't get the feeling the practitioner is really giving it his all, afterall, he's talking to the woman who is taping him. In anycase, there are several movements in this form that appear to have other functions than direct martial applications, such as the circling around steps. My impression is that banging his blade flat on the shield front is purely for "martial spirit."

josh stout
Rank: Chang San feng
Rank: Chang San feng
Posts: 339
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:17 am
Location: maplewood NJ
Contact:

Post by josh stout » Thu Oct 05, 2006 2:15 pm

That is a nice find. At first I thought there was something wrong because the knife was too short, but in watching the video I saw that the movement was designed for a longer curved blade. The opening moves where the shield is behind the knife show this clearly. Imagine how it would look with the shield giving support to a long blade with a pronounced curve. The wrapping (fan) cuts also look like they would work better with a longer blade. There are several other spots where the short blade ends up just looking wrong. I am very glad this art is still being practiced, but for me the video highlights the need to match the form to the correct weapon.

Josh
hidup itu silat, silat itu hidup

-Suhu

User avatar
yowie_steve
Rank: Yang Chenfu
Rank: Yang Chenfu
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 12:50 am
Location: Regional NSW
Contact:

Shaolin sword/shield

Post by yowie_steve » Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:02 am

I don't know if any has seen this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sL0XzShJRY



Or if they think it's no good. It's modern wu shu.



But I like modern wu shu.



I can imagine an army looking something like this.

Scott M. Rodell
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 1364
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:50 pm
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Re: Shaolin sword/shield

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Wed Oct 11, 2006 10:24 am

yowie_steve wrote:I don't know if any has seen this... It's modern wu shu... I like modern wu shu...


Well as you know, performance Wushu is designed to look good, & is quite athletic, but typically is not very effective. I'm sure any experienced targeteer would roll his or her eyes at the way these practitioners constantly extend their sword arm well past the protection of their shields. Much of the time, they aren't using the shield at all.



Honestly, its nearly impossible to get a clean shot at a good targeteer. Anytime they cut, the shield moves to cover any opening that might be created & for nearly every cut you can throw at them, they have a simple shield deflection that includes a counter-cut.



Looking at old Qing era military prints, paintings & manuals, it looks like there was about a one-to-one ratio between spearmen & targeteers on the battlefield amongst the Bannerman forces. Of course there were also musketeers, archers, jingal crews & artillery on the field.

josh stout
Rank: Chang San feng
Rank: Chang San feng
Posts: 339
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:17 am
Location: maplewood NJ
Contact:

Post by josh stout » Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:59 pm

There is what looks like a mounted person with a rattan shield in the LaRocca Tibetan exhibit book. Did Chinese cavalry also use rattan shields, or is this just a Tibetan example, perhaps relating to much earlier practices in China?

Josh
hidup itu silat, silat itu hidup

-Suhu

Scott M. Rodell
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 1364
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:50 pm
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Oct 12, 2006 11:03 am

josh stout wrote:... Did Chinese cavalry also use rattan shields, or is this just a Tibetan example, perhaps relating to much earlier practices in China?...


Both the Chinese & Tibetans used rattan shield, though the design of each is different, as is the method of use. The Chinese tengpai is typcally shaped like a bowl with a flat rim & it is held across the forearm so that the front of the forearm is parallel with the plane of the shield.



The most common type of Tibet shield has a conical shape & is held in the center with the arm extended. When I was in Tibet I saw many temple murals that depicted the shield used in this fashion.



I've spent some time recently looking at Chinese prints & paintings of Qing battles to get an idea of how the targeteer's were emplyed in battle. In nearly every picture, you can see many men armed with dao & tengpai, but none of the mounted troops have tengpai. I would suggest this is because one important role of Qing mounted troops was as mobile archers. If these men also carried a shield, it would have likely gotten in their way. Thru the 18th century, these mounted men would have been wearing armor that was plenty strong enough to deal with arrows. One of the big advantages of using shields instead of armor is that one tends to become over heated in armor, which has to be worn over a thick padded coat. This factor was probably more important to foot soldiers that had to run, than mounted troops who at least had the breeze to cool them a bit.

josh stout
Rank: Chang San feng
Rank: Chang San feng
Posts: 339
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:17 am
Location: maplewood NJ
Contact:

Post by josh stout » Fri Oct 13, 2006 8:53 am

..."none of the mounted troops have tengpai. I would suggest this is because one important role of Qing mounted troops was as mobile archers."



That sounds like a very reasonable conclusion. I think Tibetan cavalry often were lancers, where a shield would be quite useful. However, carefully checking LaRocca, it is not clear if the example given of a cavalryman with a shield (#26 p.99) was not put together by the museum rather than collected as a coherent set. It is the only mounted man with a shield shown, and I think the shield was collected separately. The man is equipped as an archer, and has no lance. All of the historic depictions of soldiers in LaRocca show cavalry without shields, while there is a photo of foot soldier musketeers with shields.



I also notice that the Tibetan shields often have an iron boss (#25 p. 95) at the center. Two of the Chinese shields on this post have a hole in the center. Could they be missing the central boss?

Josh
hidup itu silat, silat itu hidup

-Suhu

Scott M. Rodell
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 1364
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:50 pm
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Oct 13, 2006 9:52 am

josh stout wrote:... I think Tibetan cavalry often were lancers, where a shield would be quite useful... carefully checking LaRocca, it is not clear if the example given of a cavalryman with a shield (#26 p.99) was not put together by the museum rather than collected as a coherent set...


Don LaRocca is a very good personal friend, so I've had the opportunity to talk with him about the Tibetan Exhibition several times. The horseman in mail on the cover, that does not have a shield, was put together by the Met from pieces in their collection. The man & horse you mention is from the Tower Museum (UK). I believe that was collected (captured) by Younghusband as a set. The next time I speak with Mr. LaRocca, I'll ask him.


josh stout wrote:... that the Tibetan shields often have an iron boss... Two of the Chinese shields on this post have a hole in the center. Could they be missing the central boss?


These aren't, but you are correct that some Chinese tengpai did have brass boss in the center. All the Tibetan shields I've owned have steel boss.



BTW, I strongly recommend the book Josh sited above:

Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet

http://www.amazon.com/Warriors-Himalaya ... F8&s=books

User avatar
Peter Dekker
Rank: Chang San feng
Rank: Chang San feng
Posts: 395
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2005 7:46 am
Location: Groningen, The Netherlands
Contact:

Why they wear a tiger outfit / Use against the Dutch

Post by Peter Dekker » Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:37 am

Tiger outfit

The tiger outfit isn't at all as silly as it might appear. Tigers have been very common in China until fairly recently and were the natural enemies of horses in these parts. As so called "fleeing animals", horses are known to first run when scared, and then think. The tiger outfits and tiger heads on the shields are very likely to have had an effect on the instincts of these horses.



Use against the Dutch

In "Het Verwaerloosde Formosa", a Dutch V.O.C. account written by Frederick Coyet about the Dutch losing Formosa (Taiwan) in the 17th century to the army of Ming loyalist Zheng Chenggong, there is a very detailed account of how rattan shield troops were used in battle.



According to the desciption of one of the few surviving Dutch officers of a battle against the Chinese on Taiwan, these rattan shield bearers would form the front line of assault, carrying a shield with a tiger head and a saber, similar as well into Qing times. The second line would have consisted out of troops carrying "stick swords", big knives on top of 1.5 metre long poles. In attack, the rattan shield bearers would storm the enemy as if they were cavalry and bash into them. They were reportedly very brave and would storm into enemy lines without hesitation and without looking back.



Any who would pass by the rattan shield troops, or any enemy who fell to the ground was systematically hacked up by the second line of "stick sword" wielding troops.



Some other details were that most of these Chinese soldiers carried armor consisting of a large amount of metal plates held together by leather which was said to be very effective and flexible. The Chinese had artillery and muskets but were not very good at using them. The Chinese archers on the other side, were so effective that they often overshadowed the firearms. The first wave of arrows is said to have darkened the sky above my unfortunate ancestors (the Dutch).



-Peter
Knowing is not enough, we must apply.
Willing is not enough, we must do.


-Bruce Lee

http://www.mandarinmansion.com
Antique Chinese Arms & Functional reproductions

http://www.manchuarchery.org
Fe Doro - Manchu Archery

Scott M. Rodell
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 1364
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:50 pm
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Tengpai in a Defensive Role

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:58 am

As practitioners interested in historical swordsmanship, we usually look at the more offensive or active roles of any weapon type. I was going thru Qing era paintings & illustrations, thinking about how the tengpai with dao was used on the battlefield in relation to other weapons, when I took note of a role I don't usually think of for the targeteers, that of guards.

Image

In both the above & below woodcuts, you'll note that targeteers are positioned to provide cover for artillery & musketeers.

Image

No doubt they were meant to provide protection from & to discourage an enemy charge.

Chris Fields
Rank: Chang San feng
Rank: Chang San feng
Posts: 84
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2007 7:45 am
Location: Tampa, Fl
Contact:

sword and shield

Post by Chris Fields » Tue Jul 24, 2007 1:55 pm

This is by far my favorite weapon combination. And I have created several choriographed fights using Dao and Shield. However, I personally have never owned a rattan shield. i have always used leather, wood, and steel.

Did the chinese ever use hardened leather, wood, and steel for shields? I seem to remember seeing a few statues at Splendid China that used to be in Orlando, although i don't know what era they were from, where the lamilar armored soldiers seemed to be holding a round leather over wood with steel or iron accents type shield. Anyone know?
www.royalkungfu.com

Stage combat weapons and Martial Arts Training weapons:
www.sterlingarmory.com

User avatar
Peter Dekker
Rank: Chang San feng
Rank: Chang San feng
Posts: 395
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2005 7:46 am
Location: Groningen, The Netherlands
Contact:

Post by Peter Dekker » Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:44 am

There is reference of wooden shields in China, some of them would be rectangular and used upright, reminding of the shields of the Roman army.

I translated 18th century regulations on a circular wooden shield as "Green Standard Army Wooden Shield", it is 70 cm in diameter and said to be made from xiaomu, xiao meaning "to peel" like in peeling the skin off fruit, or to cut or slice a part off something with a knife. Mu simply means wood so I think they mean strips of wood.

It is 70cm in diameter and lacquered blue in the middle. It has a tiger's head painted on it and the edges are painted red with yellow lines (in the shape of clouds). The inside is lacquered vermillion.

There is a reference to what I think is a Tang dynasty text in the description but I haven't got my classical dictionary at hand to figure out the arcane language of that much earlier era. It is something about the shield being able to widthstand something sharp, but an unknown condition is given of a feature the shield must have in order to do so.

As far as I know, no iron shields were used in China at any time, neither have I found any reference to shield made of or containing leather. Their alternatives like rattan have proven effective protection against most weapons used against it. Shields with iron parts are known, most notably from the Tibetan region where some embossed shields and shields with iron reinforcements have turned up.

-Peter
Knowing is not enough, we must apply.
Willing is not enough, we must do.


-Bruce Lee

http://www.mandarinmansion.com
Antique Chinese Arms & Functional reproductions

http://www.manchuarchery.org
Fe Doro - Manchu Archery

User avatar
Graham Cave
Rank: Chang San feng
Rank: Chang San feng
Posts: 91
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 3:40 pm
Location: UK
Contact:

Post by Graham Cave » Fri Oct 19, 2007 1:20 pm

Another tigerman:

Image

- from 'Chinese Ornament' by Jessica Rawson

User avatar
Peter Dekker
Rank: Chang San feng
Rank: Chang San feng
Posts: 395
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2005 7:46 am
Location: Groningen, The Netherlands
Contact:

Post by Peter Dekker » Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:12 am

A link to an interesting article about a village where they still practice formations with rattan shields:

http://www.cultural-china.com/chinaWH/h ... e1030.html

-Peter

MOD Note -
More info can be found at about this group at:
http://www.bei-jing.com:8080/cultureIII.jsp?NewsID=870
(added 9/9/08)

Image
Knowing is not enough, we must apply.
Willing is not enough, we must do.


-Bruce Lee

http://www.mandarinmansion.com
Antique Chinese Arms & Functional reproductions

http://www.manchuarchery.org
Fe Doro - Manchu Archery

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests