Sunday, 29 June 2008

The straight sword as known in the movie "Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon". Wu Tan's San Cai Jian

Recently, I got my straight sword back from Ollie, my Kung Fu brother. Taking it out and holding it in my bedroom, I remember the time my grandmother bought me a plastic toy sword and got an uncle to bring it back for me in Belgium. I was a little child then but already crazy about Kung Fu movies. The Chinese straight sword, timelessly associated with Tai Chi and movies such as Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon, is a gentleman's weapon. The people wearing this type of sword in classic Chinese soaps are all either generals, taoists or intellectuals.
Unlike the broadsword, which is a tool for the battlefield, the straight sword needs a different approach to yield. I have never met anyone who has mastered the straight sword. That is of course, before I met teacher Mike. Watching teacher Mike's performance with the straight sword is like watching the light waves at a calm sea, and feel the light breeze moving the waves gently but with a consistent drive. Yet in its unmeasurable depth, you know the storm is never far away. For the untrained eye, the straight sword is like an extension of just waving the arms, legs and body... for health purpose. The chi that flows, the firm legworks, the cunning sword play and body movements are difficult to see. There is really no use to explain to the novice, how the chi could transfer to the tip of the sword. These concepts are too abstract. As teacher Mike would say, if you don't understand these things yet, or can't do it... then practise mechanics first and do it well.
After much looking, I have found a video with a clear example of how the jian is used mechanically. I believe this video from Sifu Tsou can help us, the students to understand what they are actually yielding when practising the form.

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