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F. Carl Holz




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2011 8:19 pm    Post subject: german vs. Chinese swordsmanship         Reply with quote

I've seen a lot of comparisons between european and japanese martial arts, but i was wondering if anyone knew about how european and chinese martial arts compare.
we'll say Liechtenauer specifically since that is what i'm based in. I'm sure that there are various stylistic differences in the chinese martial arts as well, but unfortunately i am not informed enough to know what they are.


in short:
how in terms of technique, style, mindset, etc. does chinese swordsmanship compare to the liechtenauer swordsmanship.

Oh, and this is not a "who would win" question.

31. And there are some whom everyone should consider to be wise...
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T. Arndt




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2011 8:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting question.

When I hear Liechtenauer I think longsword; however, the Chinese swords (Jian) I have seen being used are more similar to arming swords (aka war swords).

Is there a Chinese equivalent of the longsword?

Are we comparing the Liechtenauer longsword tradition or the older pre-Liechtenauer (I33) arming sword tradition to Chinese swordmanship?
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William P




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Jul, 2011 12:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

there are defined techniques for 2 handed chinese swords, both jian and dao. look up chnese longsword
dao versions such as miaodao and changdao would which would be akin to grossemesser as well as zweihanders in chinese combat, and regular dao would be not unlike single handed messer combat.
im not sure about german but george silvers techniques for double edged broadsword, non basket hilted. could be used somewhat as a guide to comparison with jian
lso remember jian comes in two forms, civilian or scholars sword and the jian that would be used by soldiers.
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F. Carl Holz




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Jul, 2011 6:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

while Liechtenauer is best known for the longsword that is mostly because it is the foundation weapon as it were, and the principles are applied to single handed swords, messers, spear, basically everything else, in various manuals.
I have come across some manuals online for chinese longsword, spear, halberd, and several others. the problem is that they are period manuals (about 400 yrs old) and as typical they expect a certain amount of proficiency of the reader. beyond that I'm barely even using the period manuals from germany in my studies. anyways, all that to say that i was hoping someone who actually practices, or is at least very familiar with chinese martial arts would provide some commentary.

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-Le Livre de Chevalerie, Geffroi Charny-
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William P




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Jul, 2011 6:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

if tyou want an idea of single handed jian, there are a tone of videos on youtube of sword forms. both single and in pairs for the chinese styles
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 20 Jul, 2011 6:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm friends with Scott Rodell, and he and I sometimes trade notes on techniques between the Liechtenauer school and Yanfjia Taijiquan. For the sword aspect, the differences are largely superficial. Every culture has certain movement aesthetics that are different, so there are certain stylistic differences between the arts. Ultimately, though, there are far more similarities than differences.

For unarmed, Taijiquan has more of an emphasis on strikes whereas the Liechtenauer school focuses more on the grappling, but even that is a gross over simplification.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


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William P




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Jul, 2011 7:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
I'm friends with Scott Rodell, and he and I sometimes trade notes on techniques between the Liechtenauer school and Yanfjia Taijiquan. For the sword aspect, the differences are largely superficial. Every culture has certain movement aesthetics that are different, so there are certain stylistic differences between the arts. Ultimately, though, there are far more similarities than differences.

For unarmed, Taijiquan has more of an emphasis on strikes whereas the Liechtenauer school focuses more on the grappling, but even that is a gross over simplification.


its interesting though that.. GENERALLY most chinese martial arts are strking arts whereas european and japanese unarmed schools seem to more often emphasise grappling, (karate is an exception, though many, including myself would argue its a product of the chinese schools. and more tellingly these are traditionally not stand alone sets of skills but,, as we see in german longsword etc, and in japanese jujutsu schools. you see the grappling tied in with the use of the sword.

whereas most of the common chinese styles are, as you pointed out. striking arts
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Michael Curl




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Jul, 2011 9:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.grtc.org/category/video-clips/

A little past halfway down, about 3/4 down, its called rediscovering the chinese longsword.

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 20 Jul, 2011 1:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
Bill Grandy wrote:
I'm friends with Scott Rodell, and he and I sometimes trade notes on techniques between the Liechtenauer school and Yanfjia Taijiquan. For the sword aspect, the differences are largely superficial. Every culture has certain movement aesthetics that are different, so there are certain stylistic differences between the arts. Ultimately, though, there are far more similarities than differences.

For unarmed, Taijiquan has more of an emphasis on strikes whereas the Liechtenauer school focuses more on the grappling, but even that is a gross over simplification.


its interesting though that.. GENERALLY most chinese martial arts are strking arts whereas european and japanese unarmed schools seem to more often emphasise grappling, (karate is an exception, though many, including myself would argue its a product of the chinese schools. and more tellingly these are traditionally not stand alone sets of skills but,, as we see in german longsword etc, and in japanese jujutsu schools. you see the grappling tied in with the use of the sword.

whereas most of the common chinese styles are, as you pointed out. striking arts


This is purely a theory, I suspect a lot of this has to do with whether the art was being practiced in an armored context or not. For example, by the 19th century, boxing was a very common sport in Europe. In the 15th century, a knight was learning his art for armoured combat as well as unarmoured.

Jujitsu originates from a time when armored combat was practiced (though it has off shoots that are definitely purely unarmoured), and the Japanese certainly also have striking arts (i.e. Karate) that were developed when armour was not an issue. I suspect most of the surviving Chinese striking arts were developed when full armor was not common, but I don't know for certain.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Jul, 2011 2:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Although not really Chinese per say, the Mongolians preferred grappling to striking (they still do), and it would appear that their techniques would have been equally as effective against armour as against no armour. The quality of their swordsmanship speaks for itself, they pretty much conquered everybody until they spread themselves too thin. I'm just guessing, but there possibly could have been grappling tied in with the use of their swords.

And they did rule China (as the Yuan Dynasty) at one point in the late 13th - mid 14th. Groups of Mongolians still enjoy ethnic minority status in China today.

And Bill is right to say that the majority of surviving Chinese martial arts were developed when full armour was not common. Most of the well known ones we see today come from around the Qing Dynasty, which was mid 17th to the start of the 20th.

It's my personal opinion that the real "homes" of Chinese Swordsmanship are the Taoist Temples. There's a number of these all over China, but by far the best known ones are Wudang Shan and Hua Shan. "Shan" means mountain, so that might help find materials online you can use to do a closer comparison.

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

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Michael Curl




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Jul, 2011 2:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think swordsmanship one the mongols their empire, more like their ability as horse archers, and their ability to adapt, and hire new troops who had strengths they lacked in specific instances (sieges, river combat, etc). As well as the inherent advantage every nomadic army has, it doesn't fight unless it wants to, since it can always outrun a superior opponent.
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Jul, 2011 3:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

F. Carl Holz wrote:
while Liechtenauer is best known for the longsword that is mostly because it is the foundation weapon as it were, and the principles are applied to single handed swords, messers, spear, basically everything else, in various manuals.


Hey, Michael... This is what I meant by swordsmanship. I don't know about you, but I feel tactics and strategy I can use in a one-on-one sword duel could be equally adapted and used in a battlefield situation. This includes the "run if I don't think I can win this time" technique and the "that looks like it could do a better job, so I'll have that" strategy. Big Grin

I know the two types of bow and the lance were the favourite weapons of Mongols in battle. But they had swords as well, and they were very proficient at using them.

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

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Bob Burns




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Jul, 2011 8:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Carl, an interesting question, from my Asian martial arts background with two 1st degree blackbelts and one high brown sash equivalent of a 1st brown, for those not familiar with brown belt ranks, there are 3 with 3rd brown being the lowest. Of the 3 belts I earned, it was the Chinese art of "Chuan Fa" that the brown is in. You had requested someone with a Chinese martial art background to respond.
Chinese swordsmanship is about being extremely limber, fast while a lot of circular moves there are many quick body stretching liniar moves, somewhat like with the Italian rapier but faster, more deceptions, slashing moves and opportunistic cuts. Chinese swordsmanship has a lot to do with low crouching strikes as well. To simplify, up and down, in and out all mixed up with circular foot and boy movements with speed, distance control and evasive of making "committed" moves. The jian sword is a greased lightening thruster where as instead of one deep thrust, there might be 5 or 6 quick stabs in one thrusting motion. The Chinese physically a much smaller people are much like an expert gymnist along with expert swordsmanship, more fluid and flowing nonstop style. That jian is going to come in an omnidirectional way by a warrior who physically all over the place. How well the Chinese army would fair against the German I really cannot say because though I know a few things about German swordsmanship, I don't know near as much as I. Do about the Chinese arts! But I'd say it would be one of the most interesting of all the medieval military engagements!
A large people with an equally complex martial art using much larger swords and polearms in a more physically upright physical stature along with more power up against the style I described of the medieval Chinese. Way of the sword. One thing for sure, there's going to be a lot of carnage!

Well, somehow I hope this helps!
Bobr

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Nat Lamb




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Jul, 2011 10:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
William P wrote:


its interesting though that.. GENERALLY most chinese martial arts are strking arts whereas european and japanese unarmed schools seem to more often emphasise grappling, (karate is an exception, though many, including myself would argue its a product of the chinese schools. and more tellingly these are traditionally not stand alone sets of skills but,, as we see in german longsword etc, and in japanese jujutsu schools. you see the grappling tied in with the use of the sword.

whereas most of the common chinese styles are, as you pointed out. striking arts


This is purely a theory, I suspect a lot of this has to do with whether the art was being practiced in an armored context or not. For example, by the 19th century, boxing was a very common sport in Europe. In the 15th century, a knight was learning his art for armoured combat as well as unarmoured.

Jujitsu originates from a time when armored combat was practiced (though it has off shoots that are definitely purely unarmoured), and the Japanese certainly also have striking arts (i.e. Karate) that were developed when armour was not an issue. I suspect most of the surviving Chinese striking arts were developed when full armor was not common, but I don't know for certain.


In jujitsu's offshoot/successor of judo you still find that a significant proportion of the techniques more or less require the uki to be wearing a robust grabable clothing (to the point where ther is a joke amoungst judoka that their worst nightmare is being attacked by a shirtless assailant...)
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Michael Curl




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Jul, 2011 11:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:

Hey, Michael... This is what I meant by swordsmanship. I don't know about you, but I feel tactics and strategy I can use in a one-on-one sword duel could be equally adapted and used in a battlefield situation. This includes the "run if I don't think I can win this time" technique and the "that looks like it could do a better job, so I'll have that" strategy. Big Grin

I know the two types of bow and the lance were the favourite weapons of Mongols in battle. But they had swords as well, and they were very proficient at using them.


I disagree. Just because someone knows military tactics, does not mean they know swordsmanship, or the other way around. The idea that concepts (such as running away when you can't win) are applicable to both is obvious. But these ideas are so basic as to be meaningless. As we know, the Art of War can be applied to business, school, etc. But that does not make Bill Gates a swordsman. While mongols no doubt had swords, and were probably as versed with them as anyone else, I don't see why they would be better swordsmen than lets say, Persians or Chinese.

The advantage that the Mongols have is not that they can run away (everyone can do that) the advantage is that a cavalry army mounted on ponies can move faster and farther on less food than foot armies and can also move in areas where their foes cannot. Additionally, if the mounted force doesn't like the look of a battle they can simply withdraw, whilst a slower moving army cannot, since it has been brought to battle and cannot outrun its enemy.

The other advantage for a nomadic army is that the opposing force cannot simply lay siege to its cities. In all the Chinese campaigns, nomadic opponents could only be defeated using tribute to either buy them off, or buy of their enemies. Long campaigns into Mongolia never achieved any lasting victories.

The ability to decide where and when a battle is to be fought is a HUGE advantage as it means you can only be defeated when you are surprised, or you over estimate your chances. This strategic advantage, as well as the sundry and obvious tactical advantages of horse archers were a much greater advantage for Mongolians than swordsmanship

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F. Carl Holz




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jul, 2011 2:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hey Bob,
thanks, that was pretty much what i was looking for. also, i know there are some period manuals for chinese swordsmanship floating around, do you have any experience with them? i was wondering if they differed from what is being taught currently. My perception has always been that currently the sword being used was light and whippy, ie not battle practical, versus something more robust that might be able to deal with receiving physical trauma. hope i have not offended, i'm just kind of ignorant when it comes to chinese martial arts.

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-Le Livre de Chevalerie, Geffroi Charny-
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William P




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jul, 2011 6:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

to help move this along ve found a whole heap of videos of both chinese and german sword techniques. as well as some george silver to represent the arming sword.
chinese
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elA6d_Bh12U Ching Ping Jian (Straight Sword) (青萍劍) Form One and Applications
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d03eDBJcGz0&feature=related Straight Sword Fighting Techniques
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X254e0JZuuU Shaolin Sword Techniques vs. Japanese Katana
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X254e0JZuuU Shaolin Sword vs. Saber
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8ar5VAgH2c&feature=related Yang Style Saber Applications Partner Form - Lesson 5 his is just one of about 6 sections of a whole form.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zora28FhTHs&feature=related Two - Hand - Sword (Application, Free Fight)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6e3Y0coLljA&am...ideo_title Wudang Sword applications and free fight
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjLmsVPVvwA Open Sword Sparring Competition - Part 1/2


For the european stuff
heres george silvers stuff mostly doneby the aussie based school stoccata
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bT3oaQl_fwg Silver's Short Sword in 4 1/2 Minutes!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C18vKsUYPpw&feature=fvwrel silvers english shortsword

when i asked the school recently about george silver , since this stuff was developed around the 16th early 17th C
even though it was developed during a time when complex hilts and basket hilts were emerging, silver apparently mentions something along the lines of 'you should perferably have a basket or mortuary hilt if you can get it. BUT the techniques are tailored so that you can fight without a basket hilt and still protct your hands etc.
so to ME i consider that currntly until i see that someone has unovered something better fom the same period as all the german longsword.., ill consider george silverto be the best contender of comparison with the jian.

it has been also told to me that a jian should be less like a rapier and more like a cut and thrust sword i.e im thinking oakshott type XV sword sword, sidesword and maybe mortuary sword.
heres some german stuff
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38sVdx7nzhQ langes messer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj4Ng6DBfrg&feature=related Fechten mit dem langen Schwert
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3DhjFUOG6Y Longsword-Techniques by Zornhau, Offenbach/Germany

this isnt chinese sword but this illustrates the comparison between the long considered contender for the longsword i.e the katana http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFGPCTMp2cw&feature=related Bokken vs. Longsword its merely a quick sparring session using waster/ bokken
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F. Carl Holz




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jul, 2011 9:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hey guys, thanks for the video links. unfortunately i can not currently watch videos on my internet connection (or any other connection available to me), which is why i posted this topic the way i did. I will definitely take a look the next chance i get though.

P.S. - I've seen "Fechten mit dem langen Schwert," thats a good one! i'm a big fan of the stuff that group puts out.

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-Le Livre de Chevalerie, Geffroi Charny-
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Bob Burns




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jul, 2011 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To avoid any confusion I was not remotely stating that the Jian is used like an Italian rapier, merely illustrating the long stretching thrusts of the jian while keeping the body away from the tip of the thrusts which are accompanied with slashes and cuts for those not familiar with the Chinese art of the jian.
Also, there is nothing whippy about a true jian sword, it is in fact very stiff. With similarities of the sword promoted by George Silver. The Jian is a sword all it's own, stiff, highly tempered, blade around an inch wide, yet very light in weight. It is not a thrusting sword, rather it is a thrust, slash and cut sword. The Jian Swordsman like I said will strike with a physically omnidirectional from a physical perspective anything from crouching to jumping and every body posture in between! While the various forms of strikes will also come from every conceiveable direction and in A way of noncommitment. Focusing on evasiveness. I hope this clears up any misconceptions of my previous post. The jian is not used like an Italian rapier, this was just an illustration of the body stretching involved with the art of the Jian.

Bob

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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jul, 2011 3:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is important to note here that the JIan was not a standard military weapon for the best part of 1000 years. Chinese soldiers were equipped with the Dao, or single-edged "knife" as a general rule. This applied to pretty much all soldiers, even as elite as the Imperial Guards, the vast majority of whom were sabreurs. Or so existing art and writings would have us believe...

Generals may have used a Jian, because they would usually receive a Chinese classical education. But even then it is well known that famous Ming Dynasty General Qi Jiguang, who was tasked with beating back the Japanese Pirates of the time, used a Dao. In fact, he is said to be responsible for the great development of the technique and sword type known as a Miao Dao, a long 2-handed saber, quite similar in appearance to a Japanese Katana and used at the time specifically to defeat the Katana (which it did).

The sword attributed to General Qi himself, though, is a Yanmaodao, or "Goose Quill Saber", a type of Dao straight for the first 3/4 of it's length, with a curve and a sharpened false edge for the final 1/4 to the tip. These swords are known for being able to use both Jian and Dao techniques. Superiority to a Jian in the cut, with only a small decrease of effect in the thrust.

Like Bob said, the Jian is best compared to the Rapier (or the Small Sword, or possibly even an Arming Sword), and until the revival of the Jian in the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911), the Jian was generally a status symbol and weapon for the street, not the battlefield. The majority of effective Jian techniques are thrusts or small slicing cuts. Whereas those for the Dao are cleaving cuts, severing blows and the odd rare thrust. Many call the Jian the "Gentleman", and the Dao the "Marshall" of weapons, and this shows how each is meant to be used... attitude-wise. The attitude considered ideal for Dao is like that of a Tiger, ferocious and offense-heavy. The attitude for the Jian is like either that of a Dragon or a Phoenix, wise, calm and refined.

Chinese Dragons are far more sophisticated characters than their Western counterparts, by the way. Infinitely wise and with very potent abilities... One of the Nine Dragon Sons can swallow whatever he wants in the entire world, for instance.

As I said earlier, the majority of modern popular Chinese Martial Arts (including most forms of Taiji) were really developed during the last Imperial Dynasty, the Qing (1644 to 1911), so if you want to see how techniques compare historically, I would look to older techniques like Xing Yi (a great "internal" martial art), Eagle Claw (developed by another famous General, Yue Fei of the Song Dynasty (960 to 1279), and full of grappling, pressure point attacks, joint locks...) and of course Shaolin Temple Chuan Fa, dating from somewhere around the 5th Century..

Wudang Martial Arts, which I still believe are the epitome of Chinese Sword (jian), were in a big stage of development in the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644), so their basic Jian techniques would be more historically comparable to Longsword, I would think.

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

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