Sword Tassel


Yellow Belt
Aug 22, 2010
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Historically, tassels did exist, in the same design for both Jian and Dao, which is strange that what is currently passed on between the two is very different between them. However, the historical tassel bears little resemblance to what is currently sold/displayed on swords today.

It was also a useful addition to a blade. Here's a picture of what I mean: http://thomaschen.freewebspace.com/

The use of the Chinese tassel was that same as that of European cavalry sabers. It looped around the wrist in battle, so if your blade was knocked out of your hand for whatever reason, you didn't lose your sword. It dropped and dangled until you could recover it. I'm sure that people would have trained skills to flick it back into their hand, but it wouldn't have been regimented.

The big tassels that are so very common these days on Jian and the brightly coloured cloth on Dao are from the Chinese Opera and gradually took over.

In modern practice is there a need for a tassel of this type? Probably not unless physics suddenly breaks down and guns stop working, because even if you are interested in restoring Chinese swordsmanship and sparring with real weight weapons, it's unlikely that you are going to be charging around on horseback with a live blade shopping at people and risk dropping your blade.

Although I have seen clips on youtube that are remarkably similar.


White Belt
Jun 11, 2011
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I just remembered where I read it

Very interesting explaination in fact.

Scoot Rodell (the guy who wrote this) is a tai chi chuan teacher, and he has trained with several famous people.

So in fact tassle is useful. :D

The post from Scott Rodell is no longer available so I thought I would throw in my .02.

I studied with Master T. T. Liang for many years and learned most of his sword forms. He taught all of them with sword tassel. He had learned from Li Jin Fei who was considered one of the last masters of Sword Tassel art.

When the two of them first met LJF proved his abilities by constantly disarming Liang (who was already quite accomplished with sword).

Liang taught that sword tassel was used for three purposes.

1. Entanglement of the opponents sword leading to a disarm.

2. Cutting the opponent's face, arms and hands. The tassel in this case was made of wire or a particular silk that could cut. These movements were swipes and slashes to the opponents face and arms areas.

3. Blinding or distracting the opponent. These movements were done so that the tassel was blocking the opponents view of the sword. Unable to anticipate where it would be next lead to the next strike landing.

Liang used different objects to weight the tassel but not because it was meant to counter balance the sword. If your sword needs counter balancing, get a new sword. The tassels were weighted so that they could more easily be moved and controlled. The tassels were long and light without weighting.

Liang also added small bells to the tassel. If he was able to hear you 'ring the bell' it signaled poor control. Throughout his forms the tassel and sword had to be in constant motion and well controlled. Any time you momentarily lost control of the tassel the bell would sound.

Liang told his students many stories related to the sword tassel but this covers his basics. Hope you find it useful.

Gord Muir


White Belt
Jun 8, 2015
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Senior Master
Jan 20, 2013
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I know my instructor has a jian he practices with, it has a tassle. In my opinion it does seem to draw attention (like bob said, good for distractions)

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