test thrusts?

This Forum is a place for students of swordsmanship to ask advice from moderators Paul Champagne & Scott M. Rodell on how to practice test cutting in a manner consistent with how swords were historically used in combat. Readers use this Forum at their own risk.

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josh stout
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test thrusts?

Post by josh stout » Wed Sep 20, 2006 12:47 pm

I have been following the discussions on cutting, and it seems people are learning a tremendous amount from the practice. I was wondering if anyone is also practicing thrusting into targets. Some thrusts involve the sword rotating as it enters, so they seem inappropriate for any but the softest targets, but other thrusts remain linear without rotation. I have tried these on a cardboard box. My general impression was that thrusting is much easier than cutting. The tip never bounces off because of improper alignment like it can in cutting. The skill seems to be in the targeting. Trying to hit twice in exactly the same spot was very difficult.



Another thing I tried was slashing with the tip. This also was easier than regular cutting.



My goal is to be able to stab plastic bottles. With these, the target is quite small. If you hit off center, the bottle is just pushed out of the way.



I would be interested to hear if other people are practicing this, and what suggestions people might have to make the practice more useful.

Josh
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Roland Tepp
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Re: test thrusts?

Post by Roland Tepp » Thu Sep 21, 2006 1:48 am

josh stout wrote:Some thrusts involve the sword rotating as it enters, so they seem inappropriate for any but the softest targets, but other thrusts remain linear without rotation. I have tried these on a cardboard box.


To my knowledge (in Michuan system at least), there should be no thrust techniques that would involve rotating the sword.



At least this goes to "basic techniques" - when using them in conjunction with other movements (like in form), then yes - there are couple of places where the sword would rotate 180 degrees before ending with a thrust (deflection and then thrust), but I don't see how one could perform such a thrust without fully completing the rotation before thrusting into the target.



Trying to turn the sword while it's in a target, would probably damage your sword or worse, injure your wrist as the sword resists to be turned while you are thrusting it into the (hard) target...



That said - I have actually next to no experience with test-cutting and all the talk above is purely a product of good imagination, logical deduction and few dormant memories from a physics class loooong time ago...
Roland

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Linda Heenan
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Post by Linda Heenan » Thu Sep 21, 2006 3:10 am

I don't know of any twisting entries either. Ci usually enters with the blade horizontal. Imagine what would be necessary for it to slide between ribs, for example. Zou is commonly a diagonal downward thrust. It doesn't twist in either. There is Dian which pokes in without twisting on the way, and Tiao can also be used as a sort of thrust if it comes up under the hand. I've never tried to change the blade angle on entry. If the hand rotates, it is to get the blade into position before the entry point.



We practise thrusts into soft targets such as a plastic bag stuffed with other plasic bags. If this is swinging from a tree, the blade angle has to be constant on entry, otherwise the bags would swing around. If we practise a thrust into a water filled plastic bottle, the blade has to slide in and withdraw quickly so that the weight of the bottle doesn't pull the student off balance. I haven't tried a twisting entry, but suspect it would just knock the bottle off the stand or cause worse balance problems.



I haven't done any practise on the "elephant stabbing" pokes upward in the form.

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Post by josh stout » Thu Sep 21, 2006 10:32 am

I think you are absolutely correct that rotating inside a target is a bad idea. However, in my style, several thrusts rotate on their way to the target. Think of the standard punch from many styles where the closed fist starts palm side up, and ends with full extension palm side down. The rotation is typically 180 degrees, but in my sword movement there is a thrust with a full 360. When I practice these, the rotation ends only a couple of inches before the thrust ends. In theory, I think the final part of the thrust is flat as it enters the target, but I have been afraid to try this in case I accidentally try and rotate inside the cardboard I just stabbed. That would be bad.



Linda, thanks for the practical pointers on using a bag of bags and how to stab a bottle.

Josh
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Dan Fleet
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Post by Dan Fleet » Thu Sep 21, 2006 12:24 pm

I'm trying to picture this -- are you talking about a thrust that is closer to "screwing" the sword into the target, with rotation down the axis of the sword spine, or is this a motion where the tip of the sword might be circling around in a small circle/spiral before ending in a thrust?



Edit: Linda -- oo hanging plastic bags sound like a neat idea. I've been poking holes in empty cardboard boxes -- which also fall over if you don't hit them straight on or with enough intent.

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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Sep 22, 2006 8:49 am

Those practicing cutting might like to review the thread:



TEST CUTTING - things to think about

http://www.grtc.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=220

josh stout
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Post by josh stout » Tue Sep 26, 2006 10:50 am

Dan Fleet wrote:I'm trying to picture this -- are you talking about a thrust that is closer to "screwing" the sword into the target, with rotation down the axis of the sword spine, or is this a motion where the tip of the sword might be circling around in a small circle/spiral before ending in a thrust?


We have both the kinds of thrusts you have described, but I was talking about the first one. I don't think the "screwing" motion happens inside the target, but I will have to ask my teacher. I think it is just like a punch where the screwing motion adds power, but there is no turning during the actual moment of the strike.



I would also like to take a moment to thank Scott for setting up this resource, and posting the extremely helpful videos and information on sword care and maintenance.

Thanks,

Josh
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J HepworthYoung
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Post by J HepworthYoung » Sat Sep 30, 2006 8:06 pm

I have a sword like object, the Adam Hsu Taiji jian, that I had practiced thrusting with in the past. The tip is able to flex, much more so than a true jian, though it requires a bit of force to get it to do so. I have thrust it in the past at soft targets, having done a bit of foil fencing in year past I found it formidable. Though the one foot ci is much better than a standard foil lunge IMO. I have also thrust it at hard targest like softwood boards where far too much of the force was lost in flex. I'll admit that since I began to study the likeness of the michuan jian I have not practiced any cutting or thrusting with targets.



I really like practicing Ci and Dian in the air, with a good sword there is not a lot of difference between the air and a soft target like cardboard.



I would suggest that one training method could use a rope or cord holding a stone or other hard target, and one uses ones wooden sword to thrust at the stone. A small stone can be used and even thrust at while moving back and forth to practice. With a sharp sword a soft target is much more ideal.

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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Wed Oct 04, 2006 9:21 am

J HepworthYoung wrote:I have a sword like object, the Adam Hsu Taiji jian, that I had practiced thrusting with in the past. The tip is able to flex, much more so than a true jian...


Please use caution practicing cuts with any SOL's, if they are poor quality steel & keep flexing, they will eventually snap. When they do, the tip will go flying & could really hurt someone. The wisest thing to do is never practice cuts with a sub-standard cut.



Another teacher I know put it well. We all understand that not everyone has spare cash around for a real sword, even one that is as cheap as $500. But he asked, "What is your daily practice worth to you?" A dollar a day? Two? If it is only worth a buck a day, even a good quality sword would be paid off in less than three years. A $490 one would be paid in a year & four month. Something to think about for one's safety & skill development.

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Post by J HepworthYoung » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:17 pm

Very sound advice, thank you.

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Target for Thrusting Practice

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:53 pm

Try using a three matt roll of tatami mats for testing thrusts. After you've finished your thrusting practice, you could use it for slashing cuts practice where you don't intent to cut all the way thru the target.

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