SAFETY – Tai Chi Sword 50


SAFETY – Tai Chi Sword

At the beginning of each workshop that I conduct with new fencing students I usually make this statement: “I have witnessed one fencer get a small cut on his forehead. I saw another get his front tooth chipped and I have seen about a dozen nicks or abrasions on sword hand – and that’s all the injuries I’ve seen during 40 years of fencing.” I think this is a remarkably good safety record and I use the statistic to emphasise that caring for our fencing partner’s safety continues to be our first priority.

When we cut, and even more so when we thrust, we must do it softly, and never to the head. Be careful when hitting bones as the small bones on the back of the hand are very easily broken. If you feel that either your attack or neutralisation may result in injury, abort it, even if it causes you to lose the point. It is always dangerous and against the principles to build up pressure, blade on blade. Be aware, not only of your O, but also of your whole environment, and the people in it. Make sure that your wooden sword is splinter-free, sandpaper it when needed, and ensure that your sword always has a rounded point.

PARALLELS - Tai Chi Sword
THE GRIP – Tai Chi Sword

Some schools require the fencers to wear high-impact goggles, such as those worn for paddleball, and some require helmets. But the most important thing to wear at all times is your sincere regard for the O’s wellbeing.

When Professor Cheng saw fencers get cut he gave them a wave of his hand that expressed his contempt for their error, coupled with a facial expression which indicated that he wished he hadn’t seen it happen.

Both fencers can make mistakes. The initiator who has made a successful cut has simultaneously cut himself, having made the mistake of not respecting the O’s sword. He has made a cut without ensuring a safe withdrawal and ignored the presence of the O’s blade, being within striking distance. If they were using sharp steel blades this would not happen. The O has also made the mistake of cutting his attacker because he could, instead of defending himself, because he should.

Author and Images: Ken van Sickle

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