Chinese Sword Fighting is exciting to watch if it is done well. I'm not saying we can all be as flexible as the star from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". But it all begins somewhere. First sword fighting lessons are usually aimed towards getting the foundation right. Start with discovering your best learning style on the multiple intelligences page.
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The hand not holding the sword forms what we know as the sword talisman. Point your index and second finger straight ahead. Curl the other two fingers towards the palm, but not touching it, and tuck the first joints under your thumb. The two pointing fingers rest in the hollow of your sword hand wrist, at the base of the thumb. This can be used as a brace. The sword talisman has other uses as well, which I'll get to when explaining the basic sword fighting cuts.
Make the grip by wrapping the thumb of your sword hand over the middle two fingers. The index and pinkie fingers are not used as part of the main grip. They help and guide but don't grasp. In this way, the sword handle floats in the hollow of the hand, while being held firmly. It gives the wrist a lot of flexibility. This grip may feel awkward at first. It isn't the natural way you would grasp something in your hand. Do persevere with it until it becomes automatic because it will make you difficult to disarm in a sword fight.
In some styles of sword fighting, the index finger is wrapped over the guard. Don't be tempted to try this with a jian. It's all very well to wrap your finger over when there is a basket hilt or finger ring to protect it. If you try that with a jian, there is nothing simpler than for your opposite to snap a quick Pi cut at the unprotected finger. With sharp swords, of course, this would mean a severed finger. When you play with wooden swords, it means a bruise, or possibly a break.
There are many sword fighting stances possible with a jian. I may talk about some of them on another page. This section is to explain the Basic Stance of the Yangjia MiChuan Jian system. Since it's a taiji sword style, taiji principles apply. In fact, these principles apply to every aspect of the system. Whether you are doing sword fighting lessons, emptyhand, push hands - whatever - the same body mechanics and principles of movement apply.
In most systems, a student doesn't get to swordsmanship until they have practised empty hand skills for years and years. This option wasn't available to me, so I started with sword. Most of the Australians start with sword, both children or adults. At first I was worried that I might mess up the balance of how I was supposed to be learning. But then I realised I could be learning fangsong, fajing, verticality, every part of the body moving together, using the waist, and all the other taiji principles, with a sword in my hand or without one. So I kept training, using whatever opportunities I had.
I'll explain the right handed sword fighting stance on this page. Practise it equally both left and right handed. Just swap the hands and feet around.
It is a good idea to stand with your sword using the correct grip and stance, concentrating on keeping your joints and muscles loose and unclenched. Breathe slowly and stand in this basic stance until it becomes pointless because you are stiffening up too much. Ten minutes regularly standing like that will help your sword fighting techniques more than most other things. Half an hour will change you from the inside out, but don't try that straight away. Build up to it.
How to master sword attacks with deflections - Part 1: Definitions
Deflection to the upper left - Best self defense: Part 2
Defensive move for the upper tight side: Part 3
Four Corners Deflection Drill
How to Step Part 1 - The Half Step or Advance
How to Step Part 2 - The Passing Step or Full step
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