View Full Version : Saber, internal aspects

08-19-2004, 07:46 AM
I recently completed learning the external aspects of Yang style saber from a videotape. Some of my sources tell me, "It develops the waist," or,"Teaches you to extend Chi beyond your body." I focus thus far on breathing as I would in the empty hand forms, and smooth shifting of weight. Would some of you who are more knowledgable about Tai Chi weapons suggest what I should be trying to get out of the Saber (or for that matter, other Tai Chi weapons) form? What should my next step(s) be?

Thanks, Bill

08-19-2004, 09:47 AM

The dao is a simple instrument and the best thing is to know the form as second nature. It does help waist movement and that is about it. An excellent all round exercise that develops left side/right side integration. Beyond that construct, it depends on the individual.

The jian has a much more "mystical" orientation regarding extending qi befond the body, etc but again I believe too much can be made of this stuff where none exists.

I imagined a teacher telling me (I don't recall or I could have made it up-old age, I guess-maybe pre Alzheimers) that you carry the subtlety of whatever you are doing within yourself and act accordingly.

08-19-2004, 12:31 PM

It is too much writing so i recommend reading Paul's article"What is internal". Do you know about internal aspects in the fist form? Focus, relaxation, mind clean, breathing, qi and weight shifting? Then imagine qi(or thoughts) travelling not only to your fingers but to the tip of the sword. Imagine a point on the opponent's body where you hit or pinch the sword. Direct qi from dantian directly(quicker) or from the foot to the tip of the sword instead to your fist or fingertips

08-23-2004, 05:30 PM
Stanton and Soraya- Thank you for your responses. Bill

Marc Heyvaert
12-13-2004, 04:33 AM

I'm browsing the older messages on this board right now and as I'm currently very focused on taijijian and taijidao I would like to throw in my 0,02 :)

Training with a weapon is fun. I can give you a real sense of achievement. I think this is a general observation that one can make about the fun and enjoyment that one can get from 'manipulating' things. Look at gymnastics where you have all kinds of exercises with ball's, rings, etc. Look at other stuff like juggling, or knife throwing or darts or playing music. I believe that all these things are basically fun for the same reason.

Now back to weapons en TJQ. I only know dao and jian. They are fundamentally different weapons. The jian has in fact never been a weapon of war. I was more gentleman-like. You can still see it in the way that it is supposed to be used. A lot of the techniques are intended to hurt, but not to kill. Jian is also a weapon that you could use to spar with, it is almost playful. I don't know if anyone has seen the footage of Zhen Manqing doing swordplay with his students...that sort of opened my eyes. The jian is about sticking, adhering looking for a weak point, then very fast slashing and 'pointing', preferably to some part of the limbs. The other technique to the body are there too of course, it is a 'complete' art after all, but the focus is not on them I believe.

The dao is primarily a war-weapon. Used for hacking, slashing, very rarely for pointing (with some forms of dao like the 'oxtail' that is used for wushu you couldn't even do this, the willow-leaf design that is used for Yang style taijidao make some variety possible). Historically the dao was used to arm the common soldiers. During the 18th and 19th century a lot of those where drafted amongst the peasants and other common folk. Gathered into militia to defend there town, fields etc, the dao would be the weapon they were trained with. I think that this is the reason why we have a dao tradition in taiji, because in itself the weapon is not refined enough to have made it on its own. Makes me wonder if the jian was perhaps only introduced later? Perhaps only after the gentryfication of the Yang family?

The approach to the dao and the jian should be different. It is clear from the forms. But there are common points that may be relevant to this thread.

1. A weapon is to become an extension of yourself. This will only happen if you succeed in getting your structure, i.e. your basic stances absolutely right so that this 'can' happen. In this sense a weapon will help to improve your taiji, also the fist forms. Next stage, so after correcting the stances, will be to use you yi and to become really purposeful about the weapon that you wield. This can be a bit disturbing if you are a very peaceful person (this gave me some trouble) because you have to think about an imaginary enemy. IMO there is no other way. Only when you do this your movements will be correct en your yi will lead qi outside your body to the weapon....

2. Each weapon has it's own personality, it's own context and properties. You have to respect that. A dao is quite heavy (normally it is, although the versions for practice are much lighter). When you wield it there are some things that you can do, some things that you can't. A lot of the movements use the natural momentum of the weapon. Sometimes I have the feeling that my weapon moves without any initiative of mine and that I simply accomodate where it wants to go. I also do cudgel routines (changquan though) and there, because of the speed of the stick and the length, this is very much the case. This character of a weapon is very important and it doens't amaze me that some people in the past developed special relationships with their weapons. The important thing for us, taiji practitioners, is that you have to care for your weapon, respect it as a tool that will bring you joy and happiness and a good health too. When you use a jian, you use it like a jian and respect it unique properties, when you do a dao routine, the same applies. The properties are different, but the weapon deserves just as much attention as the jian.