So don't just stand there. Do something. Use a deflection and take the centre. One of my favourite moves from a tips crossing swords position, is to push the sword offline with a mo deflection while keeping my tip online, and thrusting to the chest - fight over. The European types call this "thrust at opposition". It works really well if the other guy is just standing there waiting for you to give him something to respond to.
How to step into swordfight position
If you have a lot of ground to cover before crossing swords, use passing steps rather than half steps. For stability, add a 45 degree angle to the foot opposite the sword hand. All you are doing is stepping in basic stance. The back leg is at 45 degrees when you are standing with weight on the back leg. Now keep the same foot angles but walk. The sword side foot steps forward pointing straight ahead. The "back" foot steps past it and lands in 45 degree position so that you do not have to shuffle for stability when you close the distance.
Passing Strike on the off side
Click on the thumbnails to view the whole picture.
(Pic 1) Move in quickly, stepping as above, or even charging in before the duifang has time to think. Extend your arm and sword to point at him on the way. For European swordsmen, the blade position is fully extended in Fourth. For Chinese swordsmen, point a stretched out Ci at his face with the blade horizontal (flat edges to ground and sky). As you come into crossing swords range, pass the duifang on the side furthest from his sword, taking a strike at his head or neck on the way past.
This works best if you use a snake step to pass around your duifang. Snakes move forward by wriggling in curves. If you step forward while drawing a curve with your foot, you give the illusion of moving to one side. The curve can be a C or an S, but it finishes on the same line it started. Soccer players are very good at this. You can use it to step around and change direction in midair.
(Pic 2) It is likely your duifang will try to deflect what looks like an oncoming thrust. A blade up deflection into Gua (rising cut angled from lower to upper torso) would be a good choice. (Pic 3) But as the deflection just touches your blade, bend your elbow to a low inside guard - palm away from your body. This is a forward hanging guard to the right front diagonal (in a right handed grip). The effect is to lift your blade above the deflection, voiding it.
(Pic 4) Then quickly turn your wrist to the palm down position and cut with Hua to the neck. All of this happens in the space of one step - the snake step around, the attempted deflection and counter strike, and your counter to a hanging guard and wrist turn into a cut. Seriously - it's not that hard. I taught children to do it in about ten minutes. Just practise the stepping forward with sword extended, first. Then do that while adding the snake step. Large tree trunks make great pretend people. Next, add the hanging guard that slips over a deflection, as you step. Finally, do all of that with the wrist turn to neck cut. If you do it twenty times a day to the tree, you'll improve to automatic stage quite quickly.
Reverse lungeA classic lunge covers the last bit of distance from a position not normally within range. Fencers are really good at this. In fact, they are good at all their footwork. Most of the rest of us should spend more time training our feet.
If your duifang is charging towards you and you are not quite sure whether he's going to run you straight through, or do something else, a reverse lunge with the blade pointed directly at his face or chest, will help. Either he will run onto your blade, or he must deal with the threat.
A reverse lunge is executed by taking a long step backwards while turning both feet. The stepping one turns in the air and the grounded one pivots. It will look like an elongated version of bow stance with the sword pointing back, directly at the duifang. If he avoids it, you still have the option of running away and choosing an easier way of crossing swords.
Keep an eye on this page for the next group of ways to enter the fight from a distance.... coming soon.
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