Some Thoughts on Liao.

Discussion of Chinese historical swordsmanship from all styles.

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Some Thoughts on Liao.

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Aug 03, 2006 9:37 am

Image

:arrow: Practicing the upward sweeping liao cut with my jian this morning, to targets of rolled mats with bamboo cores*, it was interesting to see the different ways the cut traveled thru the target. If one stands directly in front of the target & does not step up, it is easy to cut repeatedly, & cleanly, thru the target. On the other hand, if one steps forward toward the target, passing it to one side, sometimes one will only cut thru 3/4 of the target. This isn't from lack of power, I adjusted the angle of my step & cut right thru a two mat with core target, but the circular drawing of the blade.



That's no grand observation in itself. However, I've also noticed when employing the shan (fanning) cut with a dao to hard targets, that if the stand wobbles with the blow, one will also only cut 3/4 of the way thru the target. I don't see this as a problem, though it is not nearly as dramatic as slicing a nice thick target in two. But is has me thinking about how such cuts were used in free swordplay. It seems that a cut where the blade slices deeply thru most of the target, then is quickly freed, makes good sense. Why risk a deeper, heavier cut that may end in the blade being bound up in the target? I wonder if sweeping cuts weren't designed with just this sort of action in mind.



My concern is that essentially all the hard cutting I've seen performed is with big movement powerful cuts. There's nothing wrong with these cuts prese. But I'm afraid that it has colored the thinking of those involved in historical swordsmanship to always go for the powerful cut when a less committed cut would do the job. It seems that many are opting for a bazooka to kill a misquito.



*usually use one tatami mat wrapped around a green bamboo stalk about 3 cm. in diameter. Sometimes I'll wrap the core with two mats or use a 5 to 6 cm. core. I typically soak the mats for 3 to 3 1/2 hours & dry them about 1 1/2 hours. This AM I soaked them 5 hours & lets them dry 2 hours & didn't notice any great difference in resistance to my cuts.
Last edited by Scott M. Rodell on Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:40 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by J HepworthYoung » Thu Aug 03, 2006 10:45 am

With the mats being around a bamboo core, when the cut goes 3/4 of the way through, is it going through the core before arresting its momentum?

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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Aug 03, 2006 12:43 pm

J HepworthYoung wrote:...when the cut goes 3/4 of the way through, ... going... core before arresting its momentum?


Absolutely, the cut didn't slice thru the entire thickness of the two mats simply because the blade drew out of the cut, not for lack of power. As mentioned above, I cut right thru the two mat target by simply changing the angle of my cut & step forward.

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Post by J HepworthYoung » Thu Aug 03, 2006 1:00 pm

My mistake, the sword didn't stop, rather it cut as it was meant to for the Liao used and after the cut was unencumbered. It seems quite tactical.

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Liao Video Clip

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Aug 29, 2006 12:13 pm

I'm working on a video demonstrating different test cuts with jian, dao & shuangshoudao/miaodao. I finished the shooting for the jian cuts & used a clip of a double liao cut on my Company website:



http://www.sevenstarstrading.com/



enjoy...

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Post by J HepworthYoung » Tue Aug 29, 2006 1:55 pm

Lovely!

Is the power for the two cuts left leg, right leg? They seem whole body and very hip oriented. The control is impressive, the cut angles for Liao seeming to make keeping the blade presented correctly a challenge to perform. I would love to see such cuts in slow motion.

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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Aug 29, 2006 2:20 pm

J HepworthYoung wrote:... power for the two cuts left leg, right leg?


The power for both cuts comes from the left, rear leg.


J HepworthYoung wrote:... seem whole body and very hip oriented.


As in all movements in taijiquan, hand or sword, the movement is controlled by the waist, as in the pelvic bone.


J HepworthYoung wrote:... control is impressive, the cut angles for Liao seeming to make keeping the blade presented correctly a challenge to perform.


Edge control is certainly the most difficult aspect of correct cutting, but as with anything, its a matter of practice & then more practice...

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Post by J HepworthYoung » Tue Aug 29, 2006 3:01 pm

Thank you!

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Post by josh stout » Wed Aug 30, 2006 11:01 am

Scott-

Have you tried a palm up backhand cut? I haven?t tried cutting anything harder than a leaf yet, but I have been practicing various cuts in isolation a lot. When cutting from the backhand with the palm up I find the pommel of the jian locks into my wrist and allows a very powerful cut. I can get even my heavy short jian to whistle when I cut like this. I saw several mentions of palm up cuts in your book, but no reference to locking the pommel and the wrist. Perhaps this is something more appropriate for a dao?

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Post by J HepworthYoung » Wed Aug 30, 2006 11:11 pm

I wonder what would be the result of a backhand like liao movement into an unyielding object? What effect would a Michuan ya or tiao have upon a backhand liao type movement verses a normal liao? It seems like the backhand can cut well but has some drawbacks... I could be wrong.

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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Aug 31, 2006 10:25 am

josh stout wrote:... tried a palm up backhand cut? I haven?t tried cutting anything harder than a leaf yet...


The back handed, or palm up, ji (hitting/striking) cut is a very short energy cut, so one wouldn't practice it on a heavy, thick target like I used from the liao cuts. The ji cut is designed as a short intercepting cut, just as one can strike a boxer's jab with a short chop as in Separate Right or Left in the Yang Style Taijiquan forms. When employing ji, the cut should finish with the tip facing one's duifang, so that if he or she has quickly withdrawn the hand one aimed at, one is ready to deflect or continue with another cut. Given this usage of ji, cutting leaves off trees is an excellent target for practicing this cut.


josh stout wrote:... When cutting from the backhand with the palm up I find the pommel of the jian locks into my wrist and allows a very powerful cut... I saw several mentions of palm up cuts in your book, but no reference to locking the pommel and the wrist...


If I am thinking of the same thing you are speaking of when you say "locks into my wrist," I would avoid any such technique. Keep in mind, in any match, one needs to be prepared to continue after atempting a any cut. Any movement that "lock" any part of the body will tand to slow one done, as one will have to unluck that area to move again.

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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Aug 31, 2006 10:35 am

J HepworthYoung wrote:I wonder what would be the result of a backhand like liao movement into an unyielding object?


Most likely you would disarm yourself, the palm up grip is not strong enough for a powerful liao cut.


J HepworthYoung wrote:What effect would a ...ya or tiao have upon a... liao...?...


Ya & tiao are common to many systems of Chinese jian swordmanship. The tiao can be empolyed to stop a liao cut if one catches it early enough. The tiao would not be strong enough to deflect a solid liao cut.

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Post by J HepworthYoung » Thu Aug 31, 2006 6:21 pm

Is it best to be out of range with an incoming liao and avoid contact? I think it is a beautiful cut by the way.

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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Aug 31, 2006 9:07 pm

J HepworthYoung wrote:Is it best to be out of range with an incoming liao and avoid contact?...


It is always better to deal with an incoming cut by deflecting it, staying in range & counter-cutting if possible. If one always voids the duifang's attack, time is on his or her side, as he or she will be free to attack & attack again, while you will always be out of range for a counter.



In the case of liao, if the duifang has deflected you & gotten inside, sometimes all one can do is quickly void the cut by stepping back. When withdrawing in this way, one wants to be sure one is moving with the forward movement of one's duifang (sticking & following) & not dodging in a nervous fashion. One should ideally draw back just enough for the duifang's blow to miss & not any extra.

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Post by josh stout » Wed Sep 06, 2006 12:10 pm

Scott-

The liao cut you show is a powerful chop that some people in my style do in the same manner. Others do this move without the chop as more of a draw cut to slice the femoral artery. It seems that traditional movements can often go both ways with large versions of a movement and smaller more subtle versions of the same movement. I wonder what a good way of practicing the more subtle version would be? Cutting the bamboo looks like excellent practice for the chop. In the clip, you are able to stay relaxed and flowing without putting tension in your shoulders, which is not so easy with such a powerful movement.

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