How to grip a jian

Flying Crane

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I'm sitting here trying to remember the form and the blocks are deflections not clashes and there is a fare share of avoidance for thursts too things like wrists and knees.

I believe there was actually a rather high degree of standardization of the weapons made in China for the military throughout its history but there was also a high degree of experimentation too, that is why they had so many different swords and weapons

sure, a certain standardization in design, but what might appear at a glance to be two identical pieces can feel quite different depending on minor differences in the thickness or width of a blade, etc. I did some reading on European swords, and from what I gathered, based on many existing examples, there was a lot of variation in the specifics. I'm guessing that would be true in the Chinese weapons as well. Given that these were all hand-forged and assembled, that alone would dictate minor differences even if they were attempting to make them identical. I'm guessing that a stronger soldier might select a more robust weapon, if he had the chance. Or someone who simply perceived the value in a more robust weapon, and was willing to sacrifice some amount of speed in handling for the strength of the piece.

The jian seen today tend to have very light blades. Many of them are pure junk, but some could be serviceable. It is my belief that these serviceable blades would be a civilian's weapon, and not a battlefield weapon. They would be useful for a gentleman of means to defend against bandits who are lightly armed and probably not armored, but would not stand up to defending against spears and other heavy military weapons, and defeating armor.

The other issue with today's jian is the pure junk hilts. The guards and pommels either have a light wood core under a thin sheet of brass that would break away if struck a real blow, or are a hollow cast shell that lack real weight and strength. If you put a proper hilt on one of these modern blades, with a solid guard and pommel that could stand up to the abuse of a battlefield, that alone changes the balance and the feel of the weapon entirely. That can change one's notions of how to best grip the weapon as well. If you take a blade that is perhaps 20-40% more robust than one of these very light jians and give it the kind of hilt it deserves, it enters into an entirely different class of weapon. The balance and handling of the weapon can be very different and the amount of abuse the weapon can take will go up dramatically.
 

Xue Sheng

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sure, a certain standardization in design, but what might appear at a glance to be two identical pieces can feel quite different depending on minor differences in the thickness or width of a blade, etc. I did some reading on European swords, and from what I gathered, based on many existing examples, there was a lot of variation in the specifics. I'm guessing that would be true in the Chinese weapons as well. Given that these were all hand-forged and assembled, that alone would dictate minor differences even if they were attempting to make them identical. I'm guessing that a stronger soldier might select a more robust weapon, if he had the chance. Or someone who simply perceived the value in a more robust weapon, and was willing to sacrifice some amount of speed in handling for the strength of the piece.

The jian seen today tend to have very light blades. Many of them are pure junk, but some could be serviceable. It is my belief that these serviceable blades would be a civilian's weapon, and not a battlefield weapon. They would be useful for a gentleman of means to defend against bandits who are lightly armed and probably not armored, but would not stand up to defending against spears and other heavy military weapons, and defeating armor.

The other issue with today's jian is the pure junk hilts. The guards and pommels either have a light wood core under a thin sheet of brass that would break away if struck a real blow, or are a hollow cast shell that lack real weight and strength. If you put a proper hilt on one of these modern blades, with a solid guard and pommel that could stand up to the abuse of a battlefield, that alone changes the balance and the feel of the weapon entirely. That can change one's notions of how to best grip the weapon as well. If you take a blade that is perhaps 20-40% more robust than one of these very light jians and give it the kind of hilt it deserves, it enters into an entirely different class of weapon. The balance and handling of the weapon can be very different and the amount of abuse the weapon can take will go up dramatically.

You mean my friend was right when he called the jian of today the "boing boing fwap fwap sword" based on the sound it made when people were doing thier forms :D

Based on multiple guys making multiple swords you may be right, however there are certain things the Chinese of old could get surprisingly picky about, meaning do it this way or the emperor will have you killed. I am not sure if sword making was ever one of those in any dynasty. But if you look at the Terracotta warriors of the Qin dynasty the weapons they have found there are very similar and that was a bit if a surprise to archeologists. But I cannot be 100% sure of that without further research and I do not have the time to do that today. However I have heard of sword weight in similar style swords being a big issue outside of the military based on personal preference some are heavier than others

Old Chinese saying: The jian is the weapon of a scholar; the dao is the weapon of a butcher.

But thinking about this a bit more and trying to remember various Jian forms I have learned over the years (Yang, Wu Taijiquan, and Changquan#
What you have in both is not just the blade but the training to go with it and the jian, looking at it as the weapon of the scholar and completely discounting the earlier version used in various dynasti9es in their militaries, take much more skill to use properly. And there is a rather large amount of angular stepping to help dissipate any thin\g coming straight at you, such as a spear. Then the blade of the jian is not taking anywhere near a full impact, it is a glancing blow and if you see a jian form you also see a circular hand movement following the blade, I n come cases this is to protect the wrist and in others it is to assit in blocking and they are not blocking a dao or a jian or any other bladed weapon with their hand or arm, they are blocking spears #after the point) or any type of pole weapon.

There use to be a person that posted here briefly that would know a whole lot more about Chinese bladed weapons and their uses than I since he does considerable research in Chinese weapons, particularly military, and their uses and I really wish he would chime in because I think he could answer a whole lot of questions popping up in this thread all the way back to proper hand position for holding a jian

This is the guy I am talking about
 

Sukerkin

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Just to illustrate the anatomy of a katana, here is a clear little drawing I found recently:

View attachment $chiyos_katana-vector2.jpg
Note that one area of the blade has the name that is translated as "Blocking Surface" - no technique that I have ever seen with the katana makes use of the side of the blade to block with; you're just asking for your sword to be snapped if you do that. I recall a story about Sensei Iwata (I think it was he) demonstrating why all blocks should be done with the edge by taking a katana and smacking it sideways on a bench - the blade broke apart into it's component sections.

I should point out that many of the blocks in MJER are either sliding or rising to deflect rather than stop the opponents sword; only a couple are 'supported' blocks (where the forward portion of the blade is held with the left hand). For non-supported blocks, the aim is generally to try and catch the opponents blade on the upper third of yours and deflect it away using the curvature of the blade. This can be turned into a 'bind', if wished, by stepping in so that both swordsmen are in a situation where both are in danger of being cut (usually in the neck) unless an understanding is reached and both step back to a safer distance. Of course, the koryu schools being founded on techniques that worked out in the wilds, there is a way of breaking that stalemate and taking victory :lol:.

To give you some idea of how blocks and cuts interact, have a watch of this {I should note that there are some differences between how these fellows do things and the way I have been taught, to the extent that in some places I would argue that they are 'doing it wrong' :lol: }:

[yt]CFzWK47MyUo[/yt]
 
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Flying Crane

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You mean my friend was right when he called the jian of today the "boing boing fwap fwap sword" based on the sound it made when people were doing thier forms :D

Based on multiple guys making multiple swords you may be right, however there are certain things the Chinese of old could get surprisingly picky about, meaning do it this way or the emperor will have you killed. I am not sure if sword making was ever one of those in any dynasty. But if you look at the Terracotta warriors of the Qin dynasty the weapons they have found there are very similar and that was a bit if a surprise to archeologists. But I cannot be 100% sure of that without further research and I do not have the time to do that today. However I have heard of sword weight in similar style swords being a big issue outside of the military based on personal preference some are heavier than others

Old Chinese saying: The jian is the weapon of a scholar; the dao is the weapon of a butcher.

But thinking about this a bit more and trying to remember various Jian forms I have learned over the years (Yang, Wu Taijiquan, and Changquan#
What you have in both is not just the blade but the training to go with it and the jian, looking at it as the weapon of the scholar and completely discounting the earlier version used in various dynasti9es in their militaries, take much more skill to use properly. And there is a rather large amount of angular stepping to help dissipate any thin\g coming straight at you, such as a spear. Then the blade of the jian is not taking anywhere near a full impact, it is a glancing blow and if you see a jian form you also see a circular hand movement following the blade, I n come cases this is to protect the wrist and in others it is to assit in blocking and they are not blocking a dao or a jian or any other bladed weapon with their hand or arm, they are blocking spears #after the point) or any type of pole weapon.

There use to be a person that posted here briefly that would know a whole lot more about Chinese bladed weapons and their uses than I since he does considerable research in Chinese weapons, particularly military, and their uses and I really wish he would chime in because I think he could answer a whole lot of questions popping up in this thread all the way back to proper hand position for holding a jian

This is the guy I am talking about


all true, but I think that what we see in a Jian blade today is not what was historically accurate. I believe todays jian are exceptionally light, and any historical jian of any era was probably more robust than what is commonly available now. Granted, there are some more robust pieces out there, but I'm talking about what is most commonly seen. So I think it's important to keep that in mind and not judge a historical jian by the standards of what we see today.

Some pieces are over-built, too heavy to be realistic. I think some makers swing the pendulum too far in the other direction and they turn out a heavy, unwieldy plank. In some cases, those can make for a good practice piece, the extra weight making you work harder. But in some cases I think they are just not useable at all.

But if you walk into a class of 50 middle-aged or older folks doing taiji as an exercise (even if there are younger people in there too), and they are practicing jian, typically every single weapon in the group will be an ultralight stage prop and not a realistic weapon. Only the few people who take a special interest in their weapons training and make an effort to bring it up to a more realistic level might have a worthy piece, but those cost considerably more and most people don't want to spend the money. You'll see this in the modern wushu classes too, because it's impossible to do those aerial and acrobatic forms with a realistic weapon. But most people just go buy a "sword" and are content to work with the junk that is prevalent and readily available. That's been my experience, anyway.
 

Flying Crane

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Just to illustrate the anatomy of a katana, here is a clear little drawing I found recently:

View attachment 17543
Note that one area of the blade has the name that is translated as "Blocking Surface" - no technique that I have ever seen with the katana makes use of the side of the blade to block with; you're just asking for your sword to be snapped if you do that. I recall a story about Sensei Iwata (I think it was he) demonstrating why all blocks should be done with the edge by taking a katana and smacking it sideways on a bench - the blade broke apart into it's component sections.

I should point out that many of the blocks in MJER are either sliding or rising to deflect rather than stop the opponents sword; only a couple are 'supported' blocks (where the forward portion of the blade is held with the left hand). For non-supported blocks, the aim is generally to try and catch the opponents blade on the upper third of yours and deflect it away using the curvature of the blade. This can be turned into a 'bind', if wished, by stepping in so that both swordsmen are in a situation where both are in danger of being cut (usually in the neck) unless an understanding is reached and both step back to a safer distance. Of course, the koryu schools being founded on techniques that worked out in the wilds, there is a way of breaking that stalemate and taking victory :lol:.

To give you some idea of how blocks and cuts interact, have a watch of this:

[yt]CFzWK47MyUo[/yt]

Too many names!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

just kidding..
 
OP
BlazeLeeDragon

BlazeLeeDragon

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Too many names!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

just kidding..

We have just as many in CMA :)...well close to as many (yes I saw you said just kidding)

chinesedaoanatomy_zpsa6c0f00e.jpg


RoninFactsheetJianParts_zps44655547.jpg
 

Xue Sheng

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Just to illustrate the anatomy of a katana, here is a clear little drawing I found recently:


Note that one area of the blade has the name that is translated as "Blocking Surface" - no technique that I have ever seen with the katana makes use of the side of the blade to block with; you're just asking for your sword to be snapped if you do that. I recall a story about Sensei Iwata #I think it was he# demonstrating why all blocks should be done with the edge by taking a katana and smacking it sideways on a bench - the blade broke apart into it's component sections.

I should point out that many of the blocks in MJER are either sliding or rising to deflect rather than stop the opponents sword; only a couple are 'supported' blocks #where the forward portion of the blade is held with the left hand#. For non-supported blocks, the aim is generally to try and catch the opponents blade on the upper third of yours and deflect it away using the curvature of the blade. This can be turned into a 'bind', if wished, by stepping in so that both swordsmen are in a situation where both are in danger of being cut #usually in the neck# unless an understanding is reached and both step back to a safer distance. Of course, the koryu schools being founded on techniques that worked out in the wilds, there is a way of breaking that stalemate and taking victory :lol:.

To give you some idea of how blocks and cuts interact, have a watch of this {I should note that there are some differences between how these fellows do things and the way I have been taught, to the extent that in some places I would argue that they are 'doing it wrong' :lol: }:

Having trouble posting, give me a minute and I will try and get posted what I want - Done and it only took 5 refreshes on leave and come back and 2 runs a clearing cookies


Yeah... I see what you are really doing here....but it didn't work...I'm STILL bringing a Guan Dao

SH2212.jpg

But then are rather heavy and it has been years since I worked with one and I was not to good so I think I will be ready sometime between 2018 and 2023..or if you are set on sooner there is still option two :D


Now a more serious question; I did a little Kendo many years ago and I am wondering, in general is Japanese sword word always this linear
 

colemcm

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I think part of the reason that there are varying opinions on how a jian is gripped is because there are different jianshu and each is going to have a slightly different take on it.

My Sifu taught me to hold the jian the same way that Scott Rodell did; holding with the thumb, pointer, and middle fingers as the ring and pinky fingers hold loosely; with the thumb and pointer finger acting as a fulcrum/pivot point.. This cuts down on wrist tension and allows the blade to be maneuvered more easily. Cuts are delivered as Sukerkin mentioned, with the loosely-gripping fingers tightening on impact.

My Sifu's Sigung was Chen Wei Ming. I only mention this because he was one of the first Yang style practitioners to write on Taiji Jian and I thought you might be interested in where he (and by extension, myself) got his information.
 
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colemcm

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I was reading through the Wudang Sword book last night and found this on page 75:

Normally people hold the sword very firmly, which is called Si Ba Jian (dead-grip sword). The advantage is that it is not easy for the sword to be knocked from your hand. The disadvantage is that you cannot use the sword in a flexible manner. In Wudang sword, you hold the sword loosely, which is called Huo Ba Jian (live-grip sword). The good thing about Huo Ba Jian is that you can manipulate the sword freely. However, if you have not practiced long enough to learn the ways of doing so, it might be easy for your opponent to strike your sword down. The way to hold is that you use your thumb, middle finger, and ring finger to hold the sword while keeping your index finger and little finger relaxed and separate, making the shape of the palm like a container that could hold something within it. The agility and delicacy of using this type of grip to strike and stab are something that a swordsman who uses Si Ba Jian can never achieve. Nevertheless, it takes quite a long time to train to the extent of mastering it.
 

blindsage

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FWIW my Yang Taiji sifu claims that his teacher was a swordsman with the jian, not just a practitioner, but had used it, and he taught the lighter more flexible grip.
 

Xue Sheng

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A jian is a lighter more flexible grip, most of the action of a jain comes from the wrist, unlike the Dao which tends to come from the elbow. And a lot of this has to do with the fragility of the jian as compared to a Dao....as compared to is the key phrase there
 

Old Iowa Man

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I'm not a sword expert, but was a professional knife maker-designer for over 20 years - Doesn't the end result become a combination of the weapon, how it was made, materials, etc. and by how good the user is no matter what the weapon is - Just because you can afford a $20,000.00 Katana or any custom made weapon if you don't know how to use it what is the real value? Better to cut someone with a $20.00 machete and put them out of commission than to miss with a $20,000.00 Katana - Just my 2 cents - OIM
 

Xue Sheng

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I'm not a sword expert, but was a professional knife maker-designer for over 20 years - Doesn't the end result become a combination of the weapon, how it was made, materials, etc. and by how good the user is no matter what the weapon is - Just because you can afford a $20,000.00 Katana or any custom made weapon if you don't know how to use it what is the real value? Better to cut someone with a $20.00 machete and put them out of commission than to miss with a $20,000.00 Katana - Just my 2 cents - OIM

Not disputing any of that but a Dao is more for slashing and hacking where a Jian is more for stabbing and controlled cutting. Also a Jian tends to be more fragile than a Dao, but that is not saying a jian is fragile just that a Dao tends to be a heavier blade. But you are absolutely correct, spending $20,000 on a Katana you do not know how to use is not going to help you any more or less than the $20.00 Machette
 

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