Tai Chi Chuan is a kind of moving meditation with ancient roots in Chinese martial arts. Beyond the bare hand Tai Chi form awaits the elegant and highly effective Tai Chi Sword, which has long been considered the highest achievement in Tai Chi training. The beautiful and flowing Tai Chi Sword form will strengthen your body, sharpen your mind, and raise your spirit.
When practicing Tai Chi sword, your body should be as relaxed as possible, while your concentrated mind leads Qi (energy) through the movements. Tai Chi sword is an internal art, which increases your body's energy and develops sharp and penetrating power.
Like practicing a Tai Chi barehanded sequence, you must coordinate your movements with deep breathing. The sword forms must be done slowly in order to get the fullness of this elegant and ancient weapon sequence. With patience and practice, the practitioner can make the Taiji sword sequence a useful and beautiful series of techniques for health or defense.
In actual sword combat, most of the sword motions are done with ﬂuidity and extreme speed, using the whole body. The ultimate goal of the Tai Chi swordsman is to successfully attack by never touching the weapon of the opponent through the use of deceptively quick steps. Mainly used as a defensive weapon, Tai Chi Sword requires a strategy of 'calmness in action.' To achieve this calmness, the student must develop patience, peace of mind, and bravery.
Types of Sword Forms
The Jian is a narrow-blade, double-edged sword, respected as the "King of Short Weapons" in China for millennia. Wielding the Jian requires the highest of skill, and the sword user must strive to the heights of spirit and morality. In addition to the obvious self-defense uses, swords were commonly carried by scholars for their elegance and beauty.
The study and practice of sword techniques, like any martial art, has value that can benefit all aspects of your life. This art form has been developing for over 4,000 years and represents a great development of human culture. Sword training promotes good health. Like any sport, perfecting the art of the sword requires extensive physical training, which results in a strong, finely tuned body. Sword technique retains its personal defense value because it trains one's perceptions and reactions, allowing for quick and correct response to any situation. Finally, the most important aspect of the art of the sword remains its moral value. The practitioner must develop their endurance, perseverance, and humility. With continued practice, Tai Chi sword will strengthen your spiritual confidence, self-respect, and power.
Projecting Qi Through the Sword
Along with the sword form, there is a Tai Chi sword qigong form, a powerful set of exercises to improve your health and increase your stamina. According to the ancient Chinese definition, Qi is the energy existing throughout everything in the universe. Most often in modern times the word Qi is applied only to humans, and it refers to the energy circulating in your body. Qi is the life force, which enables every cell in your body to function, sometimes called 'bioelectricity.' Different Taiji styles may have different ways of Qigong training. No matter which style you train, the basic theory remains the same.
In order to use the sword effectively the student must learn to use his or her mind to direct and project the Qi through the sword, balancing the flow of energy with the secret sword hand. This is extremely difficult and often takes a lifetime to reach a high level.
It is said, "100 days of bare hand, 1,000 days of Spear, 10,000 days of Sword."
David Silver compiled the above from several of Dr. Yang's books and DVDs. David Silver has had a lifelong interest in meditation, and began training Gojū Ryu Karate at age 11. He studied Taijiquan, Qigong, and Yoga in his 20s, and became certified to teach Qigong by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming in 2006. David works as a writer, producer, and director of instructional martial arts and health books and DVDs. He is the co-writer of the books and DVDs Sunrise Tai Chi, Tai Chi Energy Patterns, and Sunset Tai Chi. David lives in Cape Cod, Mass.