Training in Dao

Discussion of Chinese historical swordsmanship from all styles.

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Linda Heenan
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Training in Dao

Post by Linda Heenan » Sun Oct 28, 2007 3:10 am

Hello everyone. I'm looking for training suggestions to improve my dao skills. My plan at the moment is to do something similar to how I started in jian training but some of you might have better ways. I'm the only one who has started training in dao over here, as I was for jian. Those skills have improved, so perhaps this will work for dao as well. What do you think?

With jian, I learnt the basic cuts and did 10,000 of each at an average of 4 and a half hours per day. I plan to do that for dao, but more slowly because I'm using a real one and it's heavy. Also, I now have many other things to practise so that amount of time is not available.

With jian, I learnt the basic cuts from watching the form and an applications DVD. I learnt the form properly after finishing the basic cuts work. I learnt the dao form in Estonia and there are a few small videos with basic cuts, so I think I know all of them enough to practise correctly. I will practise half with the left hand and half with the right, as for jian.

With jian, I had to find a practise partner because it was 14 months before I could have a seminar. This may be the same with dao. I have two wooden ones and a teenage boy who will probably be willing to train as a partner. I also know a reenactor who loves the sabre, but doesn't know a real style. He might be willing to train with me sometimes. The thing is, I know nothing of actual dao swordplay. We will have to make it up from my knowledge of the form and of basic cuts.

I'm also cutting plastic bottles with dao cuts, to make sure the actions are correct.

That's all I can think of to do. What do you suggest?

Linda

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Post by Linda Heenan » Sat Nov 03, 2007 3:08 am

Okay ... no suggestions so far. I'll write a little commentary as I proceed because it might help others further down the track.

I've begun slowly, only doing 50 each of Shan,Zha and Pi per day, half with each hand. That seems to be enough to make the left forearm feel sore the next day. I'm determined to build up strength slowly this time, to avoid damaging a ligament, as I did with jian. The result of the damaged ligament was that I had to do far more training with the right hand than the left. Consequently, my right arm is very much stronger in jian swordplay, to this day. I want to correct that with dao, and that means proceeding slowly.

The next cut I plan to add to the schedule, is Kan. When the left arm strengthens enough, I'll add 50 of them to the daily routine. At this rate, it's going to take me a year to do 10,000 of each. I think it is the right way to proceed, at least in my case. I already feel a lot more controlled and confident in the cuts I've been working on. Also, during bottle cutting practise today, they went through all kinds of plastic cleanly and easily. So it's working .......

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Linda Heenan
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Stance and Grip questions

Post by Linda Heenan » Thu Nov 08, 2007 3:52 am

Hello everyone. Would someone who knows please answer a couple of questions for me.

What is the correct grip for holding a dao? Is it the same as we have for jian? The shape of the grip is different and a little wider, so I was thinking there may be a different way to hold it.

When training in basic cuts with a dao, what is the best stance? I'm not stepping with the cuts yet. Should it be a bow stance, as most of the form shows, or something else?

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Re: Stance and Grip questions

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Nov 08, 2007 9:47 am

Linda Heenan wrote:... What is the correct grip for holding a dao? Is it the same as we have for jian?
No, jianfa & daofa are quite different & require different grips. The daofa grip is tighter with no space between the palm & grip.
Linda Heenan wrote:... training in basic cuts with a dao, what is the best stance?...
Assuming that one is practicing basic cuts & test cutting as a part of one's training in Historical Swordsmanship, then whichever stance one is using in the form one trains should be the stance one uses during test cutting.

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Zha

Post by Linda Heenan » Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:42 am

Thank you for the answers above, Laoshi. Now I have another question someone might be able to help with:

The Zha I'm working on is number 35 in the third post down, in this thread viewtopic.php?t=525

No matter what I try, I can't get good tip control. I've tried training it with and without a kick on the left and right sides. I've practised a lot thrusting the tip into plastic milk bottles hung against a heavy punching bag. I think we learnt this cut in the form, with the the hand position palm in and knuckles up, to the front of the shoulder. But in that position, my blade will not go straight forward. It wavers and curves off the line. I can make it go straight ahead if I hold the blade flat horizontally to the ground, but I'm sure we learnt this one with cutting edge skyward.

Does anyone have some hints on how to do the cut correctly?

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Re: Zha

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:48 am

Linda Heenan wrote:... Does anyone have some hints on how to do the cut correctly?
Practice the movement solo, slowly, repeat again, repeat again, until the precision comes, Then repeat a bit faster & so on...

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Post by Linda Heenan » Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:04 pm

Practice the movement solo, slowly, repeat again, repeat again, until the precision comes, Then repeat a bit faster & so on...
Scott Rodell

Thank you. It's easy to forget how long it took to get precision with jian and to expect it automatically for the dao. For some cuts this is almost true but in Zha, my body is not used to hinging from that position. Okay then .... slow .... lots of aiming between bricks and gaps in the trees, directing the sword through tunnels, etc.

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Liao and Gua

Post by Linda Heenan » Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:43 am

Next question:

I'm now working on 6 of the Dao cuts every time I practise. I need to know the main differences between Liao and Gua. I use different leading feet and a different cut angle, but am not really sure if I've got them correct. Would someone please explain.

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Post by Jeremy Sambath » Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:42 pm

The way I was taught;

Gua dao is downward, 'figure 8' type movements. Condensed movement can be used to lead an enemy's weapon away enough to create a small opening. Usually at diagonal-angle.

Liao dao is upward cutting. Can also be done with hand on back of blade. Can be performed at an angle or directly upward and can also be done continuously left and right (like liao miao dao).

Which foot is leading doesn't matter. In practise Gua dao is at an angle though I guess it really doesn't matter when you are applying it.

Hope this helps !

Regards.

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Post by Linda Heenan » Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:54 am

Hi Jeremy. Thanks for your answer. I think we might be doing different styles of Dao though, since I believe both Liao and Gua are rising cuts in the form I learnt. I'm referring to Yangshi Taiji Dao. Which is yours?

You just live down the hill from me. I'm in the Blue Mountains. It would be really good to get together and compare things sometime. I just added you to my MSN contacts. It would be fun to spar together sometimes. I'm just beginning in dao, after three years of jian, and it would help to have a training partner.

Linda

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Post by Jeremy Sambath » Wed Nov 28, 2007 8:30 pm

Hi Linda

I learned a dao form from northern shaolin (yinqin) but don't really practise it anymore (in favour of wu xing dao from xing yi).

I believe the dao methods (beng, dien, pi, etc) would be the same on principle and only differ slightly from one another.

I checked my notes and the gua dao that I learned is cutting downward at angle; the back edge of the sabre knocks or leads away your enemy's weapon to create and opening for a downward chop or slice. The movement is unbroken (blade travels in a circle, either side; figure eight).

Liao dao can be applied at any angle as it is upward slicing; liao miao dao for example. This move is also found with guen/staff methods.

Having said that, there is an 'inverted' gua dao (the one I learned anyway) which is applied simlarly but instead of 'knocking' the weapon you 'lead' or 'guide'.

Not sure if this helps, I hope it does somehow !

Yes, it would be great to meet other Chinese martial artists in Sydney. PM me and maybe we can arrange something.

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Last Time the Dao was Used in War...

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Mar 28, 2008 9:28 am

Found a short clip of the Dadao Dui, Big Saber Unit, shot around 1937. The Dadao Dui fought the Japanese during WW2. This footage was shot before the Japanese Invasion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyeEq9W6Jpc

It's hard to see exactly what type of dao they are using, but clearly it is one they can easily wield with one hand. I find this interesting because most believe the two-handed dadao was the common sword carried in WW2 (see: dadao and shuangshoudao viewtopic.php?t=415)

Common WW2 Dadao -
Image

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Chinese Paired Sabers ca. 1900

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Dec 22, 2009 3:28 pm

Via a Russian colleague, this photo was supposedly taken in Vladivostok in 1900.
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Re: Training in Dao

Post by Eric_H » Fri Feb 25, 2011 5:49 pm

RE: The grip on a dao.

I have found that a firm grip while simultaneously relaxing the back of the hand allows for the most use of the wrist and consistent forward energy expression from the sword. Being too tight chokes the energy and makes your weapon very easy to influence from an outside source.

To me it has been similar to forming a fist leading with the pinky finger as I have seen in many kung fu styles.

Best,
~Eric
Wu Dang Swordsman's Club of Arizona
www.wudangaz.com

Offering Wu Dang (Wu Tang) Bagua Broadsword training in Tempe, Arizona.

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