Some Thoughts on Liao.

Discussion of Chinese historical swordsmanship from all styles.

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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Wed Sep 06, 2006 1:50 pm

josh stout wrote:... The liao cut you show is a powerful chop... Others do this move without the chop as more of a draw cut to slice the femoral artery...


Whether liao manifests itself as more of a percussive cut or more of a slicing cut depends on whether one steps or not. Most of the time, in the Yangjia Michuan Taiji Jian form, it is used with a step, so it has a lot more slicing action than can be seen in the short clip of my double liao. This short clip is part of longer demonstration of several cuts with both jian & dao. During that demonstration I cut two mats wrapped around a bamboo stalk with a liao as I step thru & forward. I think you will see more slicing action in that cut.



To practice the slicing version of the liao, simply add a forward diagonal step to your cut. If you want to practice the double liao, with both as slicing cuts, just set up two target far enough apart to allow a step between the two.



Which ever type of liao cut you want to practice, keep in mind that both have some of the other, for example, the more percussive versions certainly has a good deal of slicing action from the way the blade is arced thru the cut & vica versa.
Last edited by Scott M. Rodell on Thu Sep 07, 2006 7:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by josh stout » Wed Sep 06, 2006 1:59 pm

Thank you so much. I had thought it would take a percussive cut to go through a mat or bamboo, while a slicing draw cut would take a different target for cutting. Is it the step through that gives the power to go through bamboo with a slice, or is the step just used to get close enough? I am picturing the slice pushing through the bamboo because the weight of the body is behind it rather than using the weight of the sword as in a more percussive cut. Is that what you are doing?

Josh
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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Sep 07, 2006 7:40 am

josh stout wrote:... I had thought it would take a percussive cut to go through a mat or bamboo, while a slicing draw cut would take a different target for cutting.


Not necessarily. When I first built my cutting stand, the base was a little too small, so the stand & target rocked. (This may actually be more realistic, but that's a different point). The result was than when practicing even powerful dao cuts like shan (fanning), I'd cut 3/4 of the way thru a mat around a bamboo (as soon as I put a wider base on my stand, my cuts went straight thru). Becasuse the stand was already rocking, I wasn't using the suibu (follow step) as one should with dao cuts, as I would have most likely not rocked the stand, but knocked the whole thing over. This meant that the shan cut was delivered as large sweeping, slicing cut with very little percussive force. Even cut 3/4 of the way thru two mats (including a 2" dry bamboo core) with this slicing cut. So from my experience, I would say power is power, slicing or precussive, as long as there is enough, you'll cut effectively.


josh stout wrote:Is it the step through that gives the power to go through bamboo with a slice, or is the step just used to get close enough?...


A step certainly adds power but it is not necessary in regards to cutting thru most targets. However, a step is usually necessary to score a hit with a liao in free swordplay. This is simply because, as a large movement, it is a little easier for one's duifang to see it coming & withdraw.


josh stout wrote:...... Is that what you are doing?


I practice the liao (& all other cuts) both with & without a step. Sometimes it is just simpler to practice multiple cuts standing in one place because then you only need to set up one target. Overall, I practice cuts the way they are presented in forms & the way I know they work from my free swordplay experience. I stay away from the macho man sort of test cutting where one cuts a long row of matts that is several times wider than a well feed American. I can appreciate the difficult of such cuts, I just don't see it adding anything to my understanding of historical swordsmanship. In fact, I'd say the wide spread practice of such cutting has warped the understanding of historical swordsmanship.

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Post by josh stout » Thu Sep 07, 2006 10:40 am

Scott-

I agree, power would not seem to be the most necessary ingredient when you are cutting with essential a very long extra sharp razor. It is good that you are bringing cutting back into the study of the Chinese sword given that many people think such cutting is not possible with non-Japanese cutlery, and so many CMA forms have become arm waving dances. However, if people then go around training to cut the most number of mats they will miss the subtle movements that slice a tendon without taking off a hand. For now I am quite happy trying to slice leaves with cuts that don't move the tip of the sword more than a foot or two. When I am confident that I won't wreck a nice sword I plan to move to more solid targets, but then the goal will not be to see how hard I can hit, but rather to see how relaxed I can stay when using a more forceful cut. At the moment, any tension in my shoulders tends to put the blade slightly out of alignment. I could see guys solving this by essentially staying tense the whole time so that there is no subtle change in alignment during the swing. That would be a big mistake.

Josh
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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Sep 08, 2006 9:25 am

josh stout wrote:... When I am confident that I won't wreck a nice sword I plan to move to more solid targets, but then the goal will not be to see how hard I can hit, but rather to see how relaxed I can stay when using a more forceful cut...


Having watched the video of students' practice cuts in slow motion replay, I feel obliged to say that one should figure on banging up the first practice sword he or she own's pretty good. Unless one does something drastically wrong, the sword shouldn't be totally wrecked, but bends, edge chip, loosened grips, & plenty of scratches are the norm. Basic sword mantenance/repairs & sharpening should be looked at as a regular part of the practice of swordsmanship. Certainly one should expect to have to rehilt his or her practice sword repeatedly during its life & to re-wrap the grip wrap. Fortunately the skills & materials necessary are becoming more widely available.

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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Sep 08, 2006 3:21 pm

josh stout wrote:... At the moment, any tension in my shoulders tends to put the blade slightly out of alignment... could see guys solving this by essentially staying tense the whole time so that there is no subtle change in alignment during the swing...

Josh


Maintaining proper blade alignment is the most typical problem for those new to cutting training. This is why I always recommend cutting soft targets that allow one to check the angle of one's edge, straightness of cut, etc, before moving on to more difficult targets. If one gets the technique right, power is easy to add.



Please see the thread:

Test Cutting Soft Targets: A Beginner's Impressions, in this Forum, for other beginners' observations.

http://www.grtc.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=229

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Post by josh stout » Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:20 am

Scott-

Thank you for the tips. I have been looking at your liao and realized it reminds me of something. The way you extend the energy up from the back foot through the shoulders and into the sword is extremely similar to a golf swing. Obviously the two movements are not the same, but the general similarity of mechanics is striking.

Josh
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Re: Some Thoughts on Liao.

Post by KyleyHarris » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:36 pm

Slow motion recording of cuts seems like a very valuable analysis method.

My video recorder only does 25 frames per second, which means that you cant actually see anything relevant in slow motion.

What do people use for recording in slow motion? how many frames a second is required to get an accurate picture of the form?

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Re: Some Thoughts on Liao.

Post by Aidan O'Brien » Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:54 am


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Re: Some Thoughts on Liao.

Post by KyleyHarris » Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:57 am

Aidan O'Brien wrote:For slo-mo can't go past google.

http://gizmodo.com/5164508/tips-for-sho ... tion-video
Thanks. I've already reasearched it a reasonable amount.. More what I meant to ask is: Is anyone using slow motion to record their cutting pratice? and if so.. what cameras are you using and at what cost?

Many new cameras like Canon can do 200-1000fps to record.. but it all comes down to cost. I'm wondering if there are any budget ones out there that can slow it down.

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Re: Some Thoughts on Liao.

Post by Nik » Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:24 am

I have access to a guy from the largest TV company in Germany (WDR). ;) But I'll ask him if he knows something.

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Re: Some Thoughts on Liao.

Post by KyleyHarris » Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:01 am

Nik wrote:I have access to a guy from the largest TV company in Germany (WDR). ;) But I'll ask him if he knows something.
Thanks Nik.

I've seen that there are a number of Casio handheld Cameras that can record up to 1000frames per second.. thats insane..

As the prices drop I think I may get one. I cannot imaging a better method for self-examination of technique.

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Re: Some Thoughts on Liao.

Post by Nik » Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:47 am

If so, you will need good lighting. The frame duration will be insanely short, that means you will need enough light intensity to get something like a good picture. I.e. professional spots, mirros and such.

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