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Geoff Keyes

Wushu taichi swords and Darn dao

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i 'm mostly an avid fan of nihonto but I was just curious as to what those  chinese blades are made of! I was guessing some sort of spring steel but how are they heat treated to be so darn flexible? That and the fact that those wushu tai chi swords are almost paper thin

 

anybody here know anthing about these blades?

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Not a whole lot.  The Wu Shu blades are made (for the most part) to light and flexible so that when moved fast they will flex and make some noise.  The light blades also make it easier to move in the fast and snappy way that impresses judges in competition.  I have a very cheap Chen that can be bent at the tip with hand pressure nearly 90 degrees and snap back.  It's very light and not good for much of anything else except practice, but it's very good for that, doesn't wear you out.

 

Geoff

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Well...  So far the info I've been able to dig up has been questionable.  If you look at the subject concerning Tai Chi Swords, there are some sights listed you could check out.  

  The sanmei method seems to be used on contemporary blades, but to me in my inexperienced opinion they don't seem as well forged as some of the Katanas I have seen.

  Something I would love to see would be a Jian (Chinese straight sword) with a blade made from wootz and fittings akin to that of the Katana...  I'll keep dreaming.

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I've been practicing and teaching Tai Chi for 20 years and the way I see it, a Tai Chi sword is the sword I'm holding when I'm doing Tai Chi.  No more and no less.  I think that most of them are little better than junk, whippy, theatrical props.  I rehandled a set of straight swords used by a friend of mine for gung fu demos and it looked like the distal taper was done with a  rolling mill in three steps.  The tips would bend 180 degrees and were springy mainly because of their thinness, not because of any great temper.  

 

I have done a bit of looking around for info on Tai Chi swords and have come to believe there is no such thing.  The straight blade (jian) usually labelled a 'Tai Chi Sword' is based on a Chinese blade, but good old blades in the pattern are conventionally thick at the ricasso, and are properly distal tapered to a sensible thickness at the tip.  I've heard that some instructors try to say that the thin, flexy blades are for specific techniques, but I think it's a bunch of hooey.  Sometimes the practitioner strays from reality, more or less.  

 

The people in top-level wushu competition may have well-tempered and tapered blades, but the intent of the blade is still theatrical, not for cutting or parrying.  

 

But it is pretty cool to see/hear those blades whip around.

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well i guess some things just get lost with the passage of time. I haven't seen much of anything regarding jian or chinese blades, everybody's into katanas or european swords these days

 

 

here's a thought: Falcata

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I'll bet that it's not lost.  There's gotta be thousands of Chinese guys forging steel in their spare time.

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I suspect that Chinese sword making was not all that different than the swords made in areas around them.  Some were fine, most of them were just serviceable.  The Chen that I have seen have run from patterned blades to pretty crude.  The Chen is not un-like a narrow broadsword, or a Roman Spatha.  As far as I can tell from the forms I've learned, and a couple I've just seen in books, it was used to nick and cut, or to stab, but not to hammer an opponent.

 

The Da (or Darn) Dao is a single edged curved sword, not too long, that was used to slash and crush, and occasionally to stab.  Sometimes they carry the blade weight out to the end, like a Western Falchion, others were like light sabers.

 

I agree that there is probably nothing that could be called a "T'ai Chi sword".  Anything that can be used as a weapon, can be used with T'ai Chi principles in mind.  My teacher teaches Chen, Da Dao, cane, and a 6 foot staff.  I have seen T'ai Chi spear, short stick, and fan forms, but since T'ai Chi is an internal art, the use of weapons needs to conform to that set of ideas.  If it doesn't, then it isn't T'ai Chi, no matter what kind of weapon you're using.

 

None of this answers the original question.  I believe that the commonly available Chen are junk, designed to look good and move fast.  The ones at www.chinesearms.com are fairly conventional in construction, assuming that laminar blades are conventional.

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