Sword Fighting Lessons
Chinese Sword Techniques

Lesson 3: More slash cuts

You can begin your sword fighting lessons by working with these online techniques. That won't be enough to know for sure you are getting it right though. You really need a teacher to help you learn correctly before you build in too many errors from trying to do it alone. This is just a place to start while you are finding the right teacher for you. These sword fighting moves are historically correct and useful in real Chinese swordfighting. This is the third of a series on Chinese Sword Fighting Moves. There will be links to other pages in the series at the bottom of this page. It is best to begin with the basic swordfighting pages, start with this one on sword grip and stance. Then go to Lesson 1 in the learn to sword fight series Thrust techniques

Slash Techniques: PART 2

On this page, we will look at two more slash techniques from the Yangjia Michuan taij Jian system Liao and Duo. Here's a slideshow about Liao to start you off.

Liao - a rising draw cut.

Liao is a rising draw cut with the false edge of the jian. It is effective from both the right and left sides of the body. Liao is usually part of a defect/cut combination, a circular movement. In a right handed grip, it is very effective against a committed thrust from the opposite. The deflection in this case is performed with the flat of the blade and the tip upward. The deflection is made by turning the body sideways with the weight on the rear foot. In this movement, the rear foot is opposite to the sword hand - sword in right hand, back-weighted left foot.

This deflection leads into Liao.
Alt Text--sword fighting lessons deflection
When you deflect like this, the thrust will probably miss you anyway, just with the turn of the body out of its path. Deflect with the part of your blade that is as close to the guard as you can. The instant the opposite's blade is offline, turn your body back to the front while transferring your weight to the other foot in a passing step. As you do this, turn your wrist and lift the elbow while cutting under the armpit or thigh. The targets are main arteries. You are now in position to take another half step forward and use zhao if the opposite has avoided your Liao by stepping back.

The sword talisman hand is active in Liao, as in all the basic cuts in these sword fighting lessons. During the deflection, it braces the inside of the wrist. This is especially helpful if you are up against a heavier sword and a style that uses strength rather than flexibility. As soon as the opposite's sword is offline and the cut changed from defense to attack, the hands separate and the sword talisman circles up under the blade, bringing it to a mental halt, pointing under, but not touching the sword hand wrist when the position is right for the next cut.

After the deflection, step in to the Liao cut.
Alt Text--sword fighting lessons Liao
Liao is also good for using against a diagonal cut from high, such as aimed at your neck. Since it is such a telegraphed cut, another Chinese swordsman can avoid it of deflect with a Liao of his own, or a point down deflection, or even a quick, angled in Tiao. A swordsman of another style will probably not catch it the first time since it's unknown in the sword fighting lessons of most other styles.

Left handed swordsmen can change the foot and hand directions to the opposite ones in this explanation.

When using Liao from sword hand side of the body it can most easily be performed with a step forward on the sword hand side. These are not rules. Just preferences. Liao can be done with or without a step, and launching from either leg. It can also be used very effectively from side to side with a step each time, in a similar way to common two handed rising cut sequences.

Duo - a heavy two-handed cut

Teacher Scott Rodell demonstrates Duo on bamboo.
Alt Text--sword fighting lessons Duo2

Duo is a heavy chopping motion using both hands. It cuts downward.All two handed sword styles have similar cuts. The difference here is that the jian is a single handed sword. The hilt of a jian is long enough for hand and a half use for many people. One hand can easily fit over the end of the hilt and the pommel. This cut is more usually done by putting the two fingers of the sword talisman hand on the hilt behind the leading hand. I almost always do Duo with both hands gripping, which compensates for female lack of strength.

A Duo cut in training with a wooden sword.
Alt Text--sword fighting lessons Duo1
In these sword fighting lessons, all the cuts employ taiji principles. They are directed through the waist and the whole body is involved, not just the hands.

Praticing Duo reminds me of scissors opening and shutting. The blade begins in a raised position at 45 degrees and cuts down to another 45 degree angle with the blade to the ground. Its natuaral accompaniment is Tiao. It flows well if the front foot moves forward, stepping to the ground at the same time the tip reaches its downward position.

A low stance for Duo in the form.
Alt Text--sword fighting lessons Duo3
Since this is such a powerful cut, it is best to only use it in training when your partner is wearing a good solid helmet, in case he fails to deflect and gets hit on the head. In our kids sword fighting lessons we usually ban it in freeplay - not because of the heads. Our kids wear helmets, but because they easily break the padded training swords with this cut.

In the Michuan jian form, it is performed as a low squatting movement such as Matt is demonstrating below. Some of the younger, more flexible students in our Blue Mountains group are able to use it in freeplay. They simply disappear out from underneath, giving themselves the position to deliver a low strike straight after the Duo .... most disconcerting. In their sword fighting lessons up here, they are taught to use youthful flexibility to the best advantage and try not to lose it as they grow older.

The next sword fighting lessons to go up on this site will be on ways to deflect or parry.

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