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Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 9:16 pm    Post subject: Chinese Swordsmanship         Reply with quote

Does anyone know anything about it besides for people doing backflips with aluminum jians?

I can't find any data on specs of historic jians or on how it was used in battle (unless they actually did cartwheel around the battlefield)

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Nicholas Allan Wilson




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 16 Feb 2009

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PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 9:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Check this out:

http://www.grtc.org/

The head instructor (?), Scott M. Rodell, is always on Sword Forum too. If you are really interested I think he would be a good place to start (in my opinion).

From what I have seen, Chinese Swordsmanship looks just as effective as any other style out there.
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




Location: New Orleans
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 9:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.sevenstarstrading.com/html/

I don't know of the quality.
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Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 9:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

thank you,

And I"m not saying it isn't, but I doubt that the modern form is, it looks as worthless to me as foil.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 9:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Curl wrote:
thank you,

And I"m not saying it isn't, but I doubt that the modern form is, it looks as worthless to me as foil.


I would imagine that some of it has become theatrical Chinese swordfighting the equivalent of Western stage/film swordsmanship and the flamboyant and acrobatic has been exaggerated over the simple, practical or effective.

There are certainly some serious Chinese sword arts out there but the Chinese Opera or Film stuff is full of showy stuff mixed in to some maybe good techniques.

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Nicholas Allan Wilson




Location: New Orleans
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 9:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

well, it depends on how you would use the techniques and the weapon. When you have a system and take it out of context then it very well may appear to be worthless. For example, a Jian would probably not work well against plate armour. But against someone who is not heavily armoured the Jian might perform exceptionally well.

There is no such thing as a perfect style or system. What really counts is the practitioner, his level of training and his understanding of his chosen art. If you are looking for the perfect system then I fear you will never find it. Finding the perfect system for yourself is a different matter, however.
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




Location: New Orleans
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 9:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.grtc.org/video-clips/rediscovering...ong-sword/

As you can see there are different swords out there other than the Jian or Dao. The Dadao (not featured in vid) is very interesting.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 10:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think we are disputing that the Chinese forms of swordsmanship where effective but the stuff seen in films might have some distant resemblance to the real thing but is not the real thing. Wink Cool

I wouldn't judge the effectiveness of longsword or rapier based on what we see in movies or even what we see in modern Olympic fencing: This doesn't mean that modern fencing isn't skilled it just is very far from a martial art that you could use to keep you alive in a period duel to the death ! It's a modern sport optimized to winning points that in a real fight would get you killed a fraction of a second after you " theoretically " won by touching first by 1/100 of a second.

What I think Michael is questioning are the exaggerated acrobatics and the very wiggly / waggly swords used " theatrically " as opposed to real fighting jians that are much more stiff and heavy. ( Not an expert on the subject of jians ! ).

From what I've read here before, on this site, a lot of jian work can compare and resemble rapier or one handed sword work.

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Nicholas Allan Wilson




Location: New Orleans
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 10:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
I don't think we are disputing that the Chinese forms of swordsmanship where effective but the stuff seen in films might have some distant resemblance to the real thing but is not the real thing. Wink Cool
What I think Michael is questioning are the exaggerated acrobatics and the very wiggly / waggly swords used " theatrically " as opposed to real fighting jians that are much more stiff and heavy. ( Not an expert on the subject of jians ! ).


I think he is asking more about traditional Chinese swordsmanship, not theatrical. It appears that the only reference he has is theatrical but that was never mentioned and is pure speculation. Based on Mr. Curl's last post, I think we are debating the effectiveness of Chinese sword styles in general. He did use the term "modern" however, so he could just be referring to Wushu...which I believe is not entirely historical. Correct me if I'm wrong though.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 11:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas;

Yes I was assuming that his impressions where/are at least influenced by the more flamboyant Chinese films but he didn't specifically mention these in his question. Cool Maybe the " modern " Shaolin style as shown in public performances which are more circus ( very skilled circus ) performances ? But then again I'm just guessing again. Wink Big Grin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaolin_Kung_Fu

From the above link, Contemporary training at the Shaolin Temple:

Quote:
While most warrior monks tend to be focused on performance geared toward the touring troupes, a smaller cadre of Shaolin warrior monks seek the traditional route that focuses somewhat more on self-defense and authenticity of techniques. In many ways, the contemporary performing warrior monks are comparable to contemporary wushu artists who focus on beautiful, elaborately dazzling form rather than original martial application and fighting prowess. The 72 Shaolin Arts are more indicative of the older, original Shaolin temple fighting system and theory. Also, performing monks are not pressured to practice or study Zen, while inside the temple, at least a show of deference for the Shaolin customs is expected by the masters of their chosen warrior monk disciples.


Anyway this is what I was thinking about in my previous posts.

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Nicholas Allan Wilson




Location: New Orleans
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 11:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And here is another link:

http://www.chinese-swords-guide.com/

The Chinese swordsmanship community is a larger than I realized!
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




Location: New Orleans
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 11:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Nicholas;

Yes I was assuming that his impressions where/are at least influenced by the more flamboyant Chinese films but he didn't specifically mention these in his question. Cool Maybe the " modern " Shaolin style as shown in public performances which are more circus ( very skilled circus ) performances ? But then again I'm just guessing again. Wink Big Grin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaolin_Kung_Fu

From the above link, Contemporary training at the Shaolin Temple:

Quote:
While most warrior monks tend to be focused on performance geared toward the touring troupes, a smaller cadre of Shaolin warrior monks seek the traditional route that focuses somewhat more on self-defense and authenticity of techniques. In many ways, the contemporary performing warrior monks are comparable to contemporary wushu artists who focus on beautiful, elaborately dazzling form rather than original martial application and fighting prowess. The 72 Shaolin Arts are more indicative of the older, original Shaolin temple fighting system and theory. Also, performing monks are not pressured to practice or study Zen, while inside the temple, at least a show of deference for the Shaolin customs is expected by the masters of their chosen warrior monk disciples.


Anyway this is what I was thinking about in my previous posts.


Ah, I understand. However, there appears to be real techniques out there that are alive and well, techniques not associated with show.

Concerning Shaolin monks, I don't think they were allowed to practice Shaolin Kung Fu outside of their monastery(?). Or it may be that they couldn't teach, not sure. If the former is the case then what they were doing might not be considered "authentic".
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Aug, 2009 12:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

During some fast and furious free play, I had a small epiphany regarding Kung fu fencing; A lot of the very showy and seemingly illogical techniques in Kung Fu look like the improviced, wildly pragmatic moves that you end up doing when sparring.
In this case, my guess is that they started out with lots of sparring experience, and made a system out of what they actually DID when fighting each other, rather than building perfect techinques from basics principles...

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Nat Lamb




Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 15 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Aug, 2009 4:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:
well, it depends on how you would use the techniques and the weapon. When you have a system and take it out of context then it very well may appear to be worthless. For example, a Jian would probably not work well against plate armour. But against someone who is not heavily armoured the Jian might perform exceptionally well.

There is no such thing as a perfect style or system. What really counts is the practitioner, his level of training and his understanding of his chosen art. If you are looking for the perfect system then I fear you will never find it. Finding the perfect system for yourself is a different matter, however.


Unfortunately one can find perfectly bad systems. Not saying Chinese swordsmanship is such, just pointing out that "No single, exclusively right answer" does not mean "there are no wrong answers"
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Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Aug, 2009 7:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glad to see you understand me jean!!! Wink


Correct, I am not saying that chinese martial arts are not (or were not) effective, however all the footage I can find (youtube...sigh) doesn't seem useful. I know that one should compare, but I find it hard to believe that backflips and spins are that useful in combat, you don't see it in the west, and you don't see it in eastern styles that haven't become about show (the older katana styles). I was simply wondering if anyone had links or information on more actually practical means of using a jian (which fascinates me as it seems so similar to a european sword)

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Nicholas Allan Wilson




Location: New Orleans
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Aug, 2009 11:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nat Lamb wrote:


Unfortunately one can find perfectly bad systems. Not saying Chinese swordsmanship is such, just pointing out that "No single, exclusively right answer" does not mean "there are no wrong answers"


Good point.
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Aug, 2009 11:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Curl wrote:
Glad to see you understand me jean!!! Wink


Correct, I am not saying that chinese martial arts are not (or were not) effective, however all the footage I can find (youtube...sigh) doesn't seem useful. I know that one should compare, but I find it hard to believe that backflips and spins are that useful in combat, you don't see it in the west, and you don't see it in eastern styles that haven't become about show (the older katana styles). I was simply wondering if anyone had links or information on more actually practical means of using a jian (which fascinates me as it seems so similar to a european sword)


What do you think of the links that were supplied?
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Simon E.




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Aug, 2009 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The sense I get from reading material on GRTC and from Scott Rodell's posts is that many modern day Chinese Swordsmanship forms are concerned with performance alone... that flash back flippy stuff you most often see on youtube. There has, however, been a recent effort (something along the lines of WMA reconstruction) in putting forms in the context of their historical use. The advantage there is that Chinese swordsmanship will often have a living tradition in the form... figuring out how a movement is to be applied in a combat situation is where the work is involved. Like others have mentioned, grtc.org is a good place to start investigation. The recently released a short video describing the 5 elements of Chinese Swordsmanship here: http://vimeo.com/4641270.

I don't practice any swordsmanship ...my interest is mainly in making action comic illustrations that don't rely on generic looking martial arts fighting. My investigations brought me to Scott Rodell's work, like his book on Yang Family Jian: http://www.amazon.com/Chinese-Swordsmanship-F...=pd_sim_b_. His book also cites another book on Northern Shaolin sword by Dr. Yang: http://www.amazon.com/Northern-Shaolin-Sword-...B001U1XFXW. You might want to take a look into his work.

Be aware that Medieval and Renaissance European arts also had techniques intended for show. Check out this swordforum thread on epee jumping: http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t...apier+jump. The modern focus on the pragmatic aspects of WMA seems to stem from a desire to dispel the myth of the slow and clumsy knight.
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Aug, 2009 2:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Awesome... Finally a myArmoury subject I can add something useful to! Haha!

The "modern" wushu jian forms are the equivalent of gymnastic tumbling. The swords used are very light and flop around like that for show ONLY. Often, what they perform are real Jianshu (the romanisation of the chinese characters for "sword technique") forms, but sped up and over-acted. I suggest you google the "China Games".

In regards to working against armour, in battle Chinese warriors used thicker, stronger swords for this purpose, or for the last dynasties, they used the dao. For both the Jian and Dao there are numerous types. The thinner jian types you see on wu xia films are the scholarly type, worn for duelling and fashion, like rapiers and smallswords were. Hence the reason you often find jian that are so heavily decorated it seems a shame to hit something with them.

For technique, the first place to start will always be the Wudang Mountain Temples. These Taoist priests developed swordsmanship to such a degree, most of us will find the feats attributed to them unbelievable. As with almost all Chinese Martial Arts, the main training style there is choreographed forms. This is because the theory is that by repeating the forms an infinite number of times, your body will automatically react in the movements of the form. Strength exercises are of near, or equal importance. I find personally that use of the tendons, rather than muscles to generate power is ideal for jianshu. I would definitely recommend Wudang over Shaolin for Chinese sword techniques...

To show the reverence with which Chinese people regard the Jian, the saying is as follows:
"The Dao is the marshall of weapons" (Probably due to the dao being adopted as standard arm of the army in earlier times)
"The Jian is the Gentleman of weapons"
And the list goes on... Interesting perhaps for you weapons buffs is that the Spear is known as the KING of weapons.

Chinese swordsmanship is awesome. I used to be a Kendoka for a number of years, but quickly switched once finding a good teacher of Jianshu. I feel there is more room for self-expression. Plus, by this stage in my training, if I pick up any sword I start to use it with jianshu or daofa.

This is one subject I actually know, so ask me whatever you need to know and I'll do my best...

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

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Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Aug, 2009 2:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tonight when I have some free time I will study the links,


Bennison, what kind of armor did the chinese use during imperial period? I know its a big area but the only answer I get is brigandine and lamellar and I can't find any discussion about its evolution.

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