Sterling Armory Aluminum Training Jian

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Sterling Armory Aluminum Training Jian

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Feb 26, 2008 6:42 am

Sterling Armory Aluminum Training Jian


List Price: $120
Company Website:

Test Results:
Solo Basic Cuts & Form Practice Test
- I decided to kill two birds with one stone by using these jian to warm up for a hard targets cutting session. I found these aluminum jian to handle quite well. Though a bit lighter than their steel counter-parts, weighing in at 1 lb 6 oz. (625 g.), they handle in essentially the same fashion.

Structural Integrity Test- To test the integrity of these swords I simply put them to use in two person drill with one of my senior students. We worked up to delivering & deflecting full power blows in our drills. Neither of the sample swords provided by Sterling Armory were bent or damaged with the exception of minor edge dents. Such dents are to be expected when using aluminum blunt swords such as these, this is in no way a criticism of these swords.

Historical Design Authenticity- At 1 lb. 6 oz., these jian are at the very lightest of weights encountered in historical jian. However, in overall balance & handling they compare well with true swords. The one detail of these jian that is not historically accurate is the overall shape of the grips. They are an oval shape in the plane of the blade flat, however, they are not curved in any other plane. Due to the nature of jian swordsmanship, which employs quick changes from deflecting to coutner-cutting, a full lozenge shaped grip is essential.

Rating- Overall, I'd say Sterling Armory's Aluminum Jian make very good, inexpensive training swords. Except for the two changes I recommend below, I quite like these aluminum jian. Wooden swords are good for training but aluminum blunts, like these, behave more like steel swords do & as such are excellent for both forms & two person training, though their thinner edge requires proper armor when using them for contact drills or free swordplay. Given they are on the light side of historical weights for jian, they make an excellent low cost, intermediate step for newer students working their way up to full weight swords. As traditional Chinese Swordsmanship continues to grow, I think we'll find more & more practitioners moving to using metal blunt swords like these for at least part of their training.

What I'd Like to See- Two things, one is a wood handle of the proper shape. I spoke with Chris Fields, owner of Sterling Armory, as I prepared this review & he told me he was considering just that. The other thing I'd like to see is a blunt tip. Both samples I examined came to a point, This means that without proper armor, they can not be used for full free play. Indeed, even when we used them for solo drills, we could not aim directly at our partners (as we do when using wooded weapons) because of the pointed tips.

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