Zhang Yun, Scott Rodell,
Kung-Fu Interview: Part 4
Benefits of Studying
ZHANG YUN: Another common mistake is to think there is something magical about sword skill. Again, this is similar to the situation with taijiquan today. Some people over-mystify it. Instead of focussing their practice on acquiring solid skills, they chase after strange, miraculous things that never existed. Like everything else in martial arts, high-level skills, no matter how miraculous they appear, actually come from step-by-step training, from the very basic to the most complex. There is no magical skill.
Taijiquan Sword Forms
INSIDE KUNG-FU: After all of this hard work and training, what benefits can practitioners expect to get from studying taijiquan sword forms?
"It is basically impossible to reach a high level in Chinese martial arts without practicing the jian"."YANG JWING MING: At the beginning, I learned sword because of its beauty. After I learned for a couple of years, I began to love its depth as an art and the level of concentration it required. Practicing sword accurately cannot only bring your mind to a high level of concentration, but also offer you good physical health. As I know from my 42 years of martial arts experience, sword skills are the hardest and the highest.
Estonian students training at one of Scott Rodell's seminars.
ZHANG YUN: There are certain benefits that you can get directly from sword training but are very difficult to get from empty-hand training. First, most of the movements in the taiji jian form are much more difficult than the movements of empty-hand form. So practicing jian can improve your physical ability tremendously - things such as strength, agility, balance, relaxation, and coordination, especially for the legs and the waist.
Also, when you hold a jian in your hand, you basically extended the length of your arm. So now when you move, all of your internal components must be bigger also. For example, the size of circles you project with your mind must now be much larger, reaching out much further. to control the movements your qi now has to go beyond your fingertips to reach all the way to the tip of the sword. All these things will help your internal components get much more developed.
"There is no magical skill."SCOTT M. RODELL: I'd say that the greatest benefit of being involved in swordsmanship and seriously training is overcoming fear. There are many other benefits that people will point to and rightly so; improvement of your body mechanics, strengthening, improving your endurance, and so on. These are all really useful, but sparring with real weight wood weapons 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of oak, with nothing but protective goggles, you will get hit, bruised and hurt (which naturally causes fear). and fear absolutely destroys the mind because fear is really not being in the present moment. it is thinking about what is going to happen to you, and of course, it quickly is a self fulfilling prophecy.
So what good is learning weapons? I've learned to face people with a sword. I know how to do it. It is really a kind of useless, obsolete skill in society. Let's say I am a well-known swordsman - it's not like there is a line of people at my door - like homeland security isn't going to hire me. So what good is it? I think it is good because you learn what fear is and you learn to let go of it. When you learn just to let go of fear, to not follow it, to stay in the moment, then you have a skill you can use every single day.
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