Chen Style Tai Chi Weapons – The Dao or Single Edged Broad Sword
by Max Yan and James Cravens
Chen Style Tai Chi has many weapons that are a part of its curriculum. In the old large frame the weapons are practiced today because they play a role in focusing on part of the goal to create a Tai Chi Body.
Chen Style Tai Chi Single Broad Sword (Dan Dao) is one type of short weapon form among the routines of Chen Style Tai Chi. There are only 13 movements in the old form which indicates the reason the form is named “13 Broad Sword Movements”. In 1930-1938, a famous 18th generation Chen Style master, Chen Zhao Pi, taught in Nan Jing (the southern capital of China). At this time he added nine more movements to the form which is now the way the people in Chen village practice the Broad Sword.
Chen Style Tai Chi Single Broad Sword Form is very short and efficient. The application of every movement is very realistic. Truly the Broad Sword form demonstrates how Chen Style Tai Chi uses a combination of soft and hard, slow and fast, jumping, leaping, relaxing, active, shaking, stickiness, following, silk reeling, and making the opponent empty his force. The form looks like a fierce tiger. The force looks powerful and is described “like splitting a mountain”. This short weapon can also reach a deceptively long distance.
The Thirteen Techniques of Broadsword:
1. Gun – deflect by turning left
2. Bi – deflect by turning right
3. Zha – thrust
4. Lan – parrying with back side of Broadsword
5. Pi – cleave – vertical plan
6. Kan – cutting – horizontal plane
7. Liao – circular deflection with point upward
8. Jie – block (using edge)
9. Chan – circular twisting
10. Dou – shaking (Fa Jing)
11. Jia – lift up opponents weapon overhead
12. Mo – level or oblique upward slicing cut
13. Tiao – upward flicking with top two inches
When you practice the Single Broadsword, it is important that you coordinate well the hand, eye sight, the body and the footwork. When one part moves every part moves. In every movement one should make sure that the waist is the axis. As you practice, the force should move continuously without a hesitation or break. The technique should be clean and the design and applications should be obvious or clear. The body and movement should fulfill the basic requirements of Chen Style Tai Chi. When practicing one should learn to coil the Broadsword very close around the head, back and waist. The cutting movement should be big and strong (different from jian).
An old saying in Chinese Martial Art was that “Single Broadsword depends on the other hand, and Double Broadsword depends on footwork”. One should pay much attention to the empty hand or minor hand and how it should coordinate with the sword movement. Sometimes the left hand palm will support (on back of the Broadsword) and follow the technique and movement of the sword when it moves upward (jia) or side to side (gun). Sometimes the left hand is used for clearing, blocking etc. Thirdly, the left or empty hand is used for counterbalancing. The palm should harmonize with the body movement.
This entire exercise must be based on the empty hand form. When moving, the power should be able to be sent to the end of our body. When coming down or moving back, the energy will go back to the Dantian or the center of the body. When you are familiar with the form, the body can push the Broadsword or the Broadsword can lead the body.
Dan Dao – Single Edged Broadsword Form
2. Protect Heart
3. Green Dragon From Water
4. Wind Whips The Flower
5. White Clouds Above Our Head
6. Black Tiger Searching the Mountain
7. Shu Qin Carrying a Sword on His Back
8. Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg
9. Rolling Away from the Wind
10. Cut White Snake Body
11. Three Rings Around the Sun
12. Move the Clouds and See the Sun
13. Beat Grass to Find Snake Left
14. Beat Grass to Find Snake Right
15. Green Dragon From Water
16. Wind Whips The Flower
17. Wild Goose Opens Wings
18. Ye Cha Searching the Ocean
19. Left Turning the Body To Cut
20. Right Turning the Body to Cut
21. White Snake Sticks Out Tongue
22. Holding the Moon