Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Discussion of Chinese historical swordsmanship from all styles.

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Ken
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Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by Ken » Thu Apr 23, 2009 10:08 pm

Hi Guys,

Here are some interesting practical applications of Chinese Swords Techniques I found on youtube. What do ya think of these techniques ?

Wudang Two Handed Sword. Applications and free sparring.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zora28Fh ... re=related

Wudang Sword. Application and light sparring.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6e3Y0coL ... re=related

Miaodao Partner Sword Form
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Htx_8tKA ... re=related

Miaodao Competition in Japan 2007
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pqjRwb3RhM

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Re: Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by Aidan O'Brien » Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:02 am

Interesting, however, it looks far too much like point scoring on the free fighting. The music and colour flash on impact didn't help with that impression either. Many of the strikes looked like they needed at least the intention of a follow through stopped rather than the light taps that they displayed. To my eyes at least. I'd be curious to see what Mr Rodell has to say about it.

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Re: Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by Nik » Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:40 am

Well. I would like to point this out using a bit of padding and some wooden swords. There is a lot of misconception about the goals, as well as, like already discussed in the "Jian vs. " debate, the idea that you would primarily fight someone attacking you with the very same weapon you are using. Quite the opposite is the far more frequent issue.

I always get a headache when a 110lb woman grabs a >170lb man and pulls him down by the head for a knee to the body. You could probably allow that for half an hour without taking more than mild reddings at the belly. This manouver also means instant death when I don't have a generous day. Infighting with swords always involves the risk that the blade can be pointed back at you in a blink, not for a cut, but stab. So a punch must nullify that immediately, knocking the opponent down or leading into controlling grappling moves, and the next move has to be a gutting one with no time in between, holding the opponent so he bleeds out without regaining control even for seconds. Option 2 is to gut him and throw him away to make space and take care of the next one. Some of these moves get different when facing an opponent wearing a leather armor, but there were no helmets covering the whole face and neck area.

Another issue is attacking the body. I NEVER attack the body without making sure the weapon is out of the way and sure not to come back before I finished the person. Primary goal is the limbs, i.e. provoking an attack of the opponent to intercept it in a way removing either the blade so you can go for the vital points, or removing his hands immediately. If your weapon is shorter, you can on attacking the body immediately run into a saber or sword tip. Unfortunately, my right hand is a bit useless until I dare to take on the surgery of my elbow, so I cannot show on video how that should look like without slow motion.

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Re: Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by Dan Pasek » Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:08 am

It seems to me like all four videos suffer from use of too light weapons such that the movement is somewhat unrealistic. To illustrate this, for example, look at the typical pivot point for the weapons in these clips; they mostly all pivot almost at the hand guard, and the techniques seem to be initiated too much by quick flexing &/or rotation of the wrist joint.

While noting the problems caused by the light weapons, otherwise I like that the individuals in the first two clips are trying to use techniques from their forms and partner drills. It also seems like they may be familiar with basic cuts and techniques – they are attempting to use proper strategies and techniques rather than just flailing around in an undisciplined manner. In general I feel that the ideas behind most of the techniques shown in these two clips are sound, but the movements of the light weapons (the execution) are very suspect. If they were to practice with realistically weighted and balanced weapons, then their basics, foundation, tactics, etc. may be sound enough for them to quickly become reasonably proficient (though this is somewhat difficult to judge when all that is shown is with unrealistic weapons).

I am not familiar enough with Miao Dao to really feel comfortable making specific comments about the last two clips.

Dan

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Re: Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by Linda Heenan » Fri Apr 24, 2009 6:29 pm

The first of the miaodao videos isn't freeplay. It's a two person fighting set. So it's choreographed like a form and always performed the same way with two people performing. There is some debate over their usefulness. Some people think it is just more to learn rather than getting on with actually training in swordsmanship. Others think they train good responses into the body so that freeplay has better automated correct response. When I train my sword club kids to Laoshi's DVD of applications to the Michuan Jian form, I'm doing a shorter version of two person fighting sets. When the kids get into freeplay, they revert to animal instincts and non taiji competitive survival swordsmanship. So who knows?

It's not easy to train in miaodao freeplay. If you use shinai, they are light and don't perform as real swords would. When I first held a reproduction miaodao, I was actually surprised at how light it was compared with my wooden ones. We broke one of my two wooden miaodao in freeplay with the first block. So one of us picked up a longsword shinai and then we broke a finger. They use heavy cuts and fast action, so it's a bit of a dilemma to train with them well and survive the session. I've got four more being made at the moment and certainly haven't given up on practising. I think that the pair on the last video got in close a lot and perhaps we should've seen more emptyhand skills combined with the weapon use.
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Re: Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by Nik » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:50 am

Now you know why I always insist on using proper safety gear when doing anything "freeplay". The reflexes of trained fighters, for example competitive fencers, could be absolutely lethal when you are "playing" with steel blades and no gear, like I have seen some people I have to refrain from using the correct term for do.

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Re: Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by taiwandeutscher » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:37 am

[quote="Linda Heenan"]
It's not easy to train in miaodao freeplay. If you use shinai, they are light and don't perform as real swords would. When I first held a reproduction miaodao, I was actually surprised at how light it was compared with my wooden ones. We broke one of my two wooden miaodao in freeplay with the first block. So one of us picked up a longsword shinai and then we broke a finger. They use heavy cuts and fast action, so it's a bit of a dilemma to train with them well and survive the session. I've got four more being made at the moment and certainly haven't given up on practising. I think that the pair on the last video got in close a lot and perhaps we should've seen more emptyhand skills combined with the weapon use.[/quote]

Linda, besides a shortened form, I only train some singular moves out of a miaodao form with a partner. We use one Shinai (bamboo) and one Bokken (red wood), switching once in a while. This comination works good alread for 2 years. Before, we destroyed lots of wooden replica and got hurt a lot by splinters. Now we seem to have found a good combination.

As for reproductions, there are several quite good ones for sale, with good messures, like the one I got for test cutting bamboo. Scabbard 550g, blade 1050g, bald lenght 79,5 cm, handle 30,5 cm. 59 HRC and more than 4000 layers of carbon steel. Good enough for me!
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Re: Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by Linda Heenan » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:15 pm

Now you know why I always insist on using proper safety gear when doing anything "freeplay".
Nik, we were in full gambesons, cricket gloves and helmets. We were also used to training in longsword with both shinai and steel. Miaodao is a powerful swordsmanship system and no swordsmanship training is safe. I'm sure we'll find ways to train with the most safety possible while not sacrificing the fact that we are training in a martial art, not a sport.
besides a shortened form, I only train some singular moves out of a miaodao form with a partner
Taiwandeutscher, that's what we are doing in our after school kids training, except we use normal wooden dao or shinai for forms and shinai for paired work. I suppose, as we all keep training and people get better, our methods and abilities will develop. Let's share discoveries as we make them so we can all increase our understanding of how to do this.
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Re: Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by Nik » Sun Apr 26, 2009 5:33 am

Linda Heenan wrote:Nik, we were in full gambesons, cricket gloves and helmets. We were also used to training in longsword with both shinai and steel. Miaodao is a powerful swordsmanship system and no swordsmanship training is safe. I'm sure we'll find ways to train with the most safety possible while not sacrificing the fact that we are training in a martial art, not a sport.
I was refering to people who "play free" using steel blunts or shinais in funky china wear or t-shirts, for example like seen on the Wudang sword clip. Either it's choreographed, then it's not that dangerous (but still, one freak accident and one is dead), or it's free, than they either don't train reflexes or it gets excrucially dangerous.
Like you said, when going at it a bit, a broken finger is not rare.

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Re: Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:18 am

Nik wrote:... I NEVER attack the body without making sure the weapon is out of the way and sure not to come back before I finished the person. Primary goal is the limbs...
Very happy to hear that, you've already learned on of the most important tactics...

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Re: Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:28 am

Dan Pasek wrote:It seems to me like all four videos suffer from use of too light weapons such that the movement is somewhat unrealistic... noting the problems caused by the light weapons, otherwise I like that the individuals in the first two clips are trying to use techniques from their forms and partner drills...
Spring is an insanely busy time for me (already been to Europe & back twice with US seminars every weekend I'm not on the otherside of the pond) so just had a moment to look at the first video...

First let me say I applaud all efforts to bring Chinese Swordsmanship back. Any comments I make are not meant to attack or demean the work of other teacher, but are meant as hopefully useful critiques... having said that, Dan Pasek's comments are right on. The use of light weight weapons leads to all kinds of misunderstandings. Aside from the examples given above, note the edge on edge blocking, if one did that with real weight weapons at full speed & even half power, the interaction of the weapons would be quite different & also with real swords they would be severely damaged to the point where they would have to be retired.

I feel quite strongly that there is a very real difference between historical swordsmanship with real weight weapons, be they wood or metal, & foam/plastic weapons. One is a martial art, the other is a martial sport & these are elementally different.

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Re: Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by SpaceJian_Greg » Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:27 pm

Are they maintaining the proper grip in the first video? I was under the impression the hands should be touching when wielding a two-handed jian.

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Re: Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by Nik » Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:05 am

Well. As I would not like to be too harsh, let's say, the grip is the least concern I have watching that video. The miao dao stuff is MUCH better, by the two elder folks, and they actually seem to show truely authentic swordfighting schools. The first one doesn't, unless there is some european medieval style doing that. Why would you fend off a stab to one side and then to the other, instead of going in right away keeping contact ? Calling that a "Wudang school" really gets me. Sorry.

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Re: Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:33 am

SpaceJian_Greg wrote:... proper grip in the first video? ... under the impression the hands should be touching when wielding a two-handed jian.
What little historical information we have indicates that the shuangshou jian was wielded by a grip where the hands are close or touching for a faster spinning/beat deflection, however, we should also note that there is very little source material for this weapon & it is quite possible that a grip with the hands apart was also used, or even that there was a school of shuangshou jian swordsmanship that used a changing grip.

Please reference these four threads in this Forum-
The basic swing in 2 hand jian
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=706&hilit=Shuangshou+Jian+grip

Big knife grip positions?
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=576&hilit=big+knife+grip+big+KNife

Junzi Jian, Book on Shuangshoujian
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=404&hilit=Shuangshou+Jian

Long Handled vs. Two-Handed Jian
viewtopic.php?p=2558#2558

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Re: Practical Chinese Swordsmanship on youtubes

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:35 am

Nik wrote:Well. As I would not like to be too harsh...
Indeed, let's always do what we can to help each other & not create an us against them atmosphere. If members of the schools whose videos are posted about were to read this thread, I hope they would find it helpful & not feel as if their school was under attack... let help critiques & not biting criticism being the guiding principle...

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