Master Sword Attacks
with these jian deflections
Part 1: Definitions
'm going to help you master sword attacks with seven lessons on deflection techniques. They are effective against both thrusts and cuts. First you will need some definitions. It took me about two years to understand what was meant by the "tight side" and "easy side", so I'm going to save you all that trouble by explaining simply. Yes...of course it was explained to me, but there were hundreds of new bits of terminology all at once and my teacher lives on the other side of the world. I only get to class once a year or even longer. I suggest you don't go past this swordfighting lesson until you understand it automatically. You must
master sword deflections.
The tight and easy sides.
- Tight side. The side of your body that the sword hand belongs to. It's "tight" because when you swivel and spiral down into position to deflect a thrust coming to that side of the body, it is a tighter body twist to reach the attacking sword than it would be with the non sword side of your body. Got that? Okay ... in many types of swordsmanship it would be typical to do a parry with your blade tip up, on your sword arm side. This often means using the edge to block a strike, which would be damaging to your sword. We master sword attacks to this area, with the tip down, using the flat of the blade. This is much tighter and more difficult but at least you would still have an unnotched blade after it. It could be said that staying alive is the main idea, not keeping your sword edge neat. None of us will ever be in that situation so we might as well practise it with the flat of the blade and get good at doing it that way.
Easy side.The easy side is the opposite side of your body to the sword arm. We use a tip up, palm up, spiral up deflection to this side. See - it's easy to master sword deflections to the easy side. Everything goes up... and around, but that's coming next. It's called the easy side because it takes less effort than the sword arm (tight) side.
Turning the waist.
- Turn your waist.This does not mean what it appears to say in English. It took me about four years to figure out you don't turn your waist when the teacher calls out "Turn your waist!" I thought turning my waist meant swivelling in the middle like a Barbie doll does. Apparently not. This is an entirely female concept because we actually have a body part called a waist. These martial arts were invented by men... who don't have waists. This is what it really means: Turn all of your body, from the hips to the shoulders, in equal proportion, while widening the gap in your legs at the groin, bending the back knee and sinking into your rooted leg. This is for the tight side "waist" turn. On the easy side we spiral up - not as far as after hitting a golf ball, but not too dissimilar either. The waist turn puts your body out of the way of the attacker's sword so that he might miss even without the blade deflection. You will need to get the waist turn correct if you want to master sword attacks and defenses of any kind in taiji jian or dao.
Palm up. In the case of the deflection it really means knuckles up rather than palm up. The Hua strike uses a true palm up but I'll use the same terminology for easy side deflections. As your body turns into position, your sword hand turns the blade so that the edge which was facing the ground now faces the sky - like drawing a letter "U".
Rooted through one leg.
- Rooted leg. This is the leg most of your weight is on. We don't use equal weighting on both feet in Jian swordsmanship. One foot is always grounded while the other is light. Imagine your weighted foot is like an electromagnet on steel - immoveable. Then, in an instant, you can push a button and completely release that attraction, while shifting it to the other foot. It's great for stability and maneuverability. Rooted is being like a huge strong tree with roots sunk deep into the ground. You can't push it off balance.
- Duifang. This means "opposite direction". It has to do with the Chinese concept of balance - yinyang. In our style of swordsmanship, the attacker isn't really an opponent but an opposite direction of energy. When he strikes, you return his energy by deflecting and immediately returning a strike to wherever he is now open. We use deflections rather than parries. We use the energy given as the basis for our response. So you are your training partner's duifang and he is yours.
These lessons continue with:
2. Best self defense to the tight side shoulder.
3. Defensive move for the upper tight side.
4. How to delect an attack to the tight side leg.
5. Deflecting and returning a cut to the easy side leg.
6. Master sword attacks to the lower midline.
7. Deflections for the head
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