SENSITIVITY – Tai Chi Sword 11


It takes some skill to trim branches with a machete. It must be sharp, it must be wielded with speed and accuracy, it must move through the air in perfect alignment, and it must contact the branch at an angle for optimum severance. The tree does not help or hinder you in your ambition, it remains passive, and with practice it becomes easy to trim.


In duelling / fencing the O’s do not care to be trimmed. They are sentient beings and will do whatever they can to thwart your efforts. The more they practise the more difficult it becomes to ‘touch’ them and the more we need to improve our own skills. This is the process.

While fencing we are trying our skills as to the manipulation of an instrument and our ability to feel. We perceive the O’s energy and intentions, involving a transmission from person to blade to blade to person.

We are sending each other particular intelligence on our intentions, skill level and vulnerability. This feedback is apparent in all aspects of personal combat / sport, but it is the “Sine Qua Non”, the most important aspect of Tai Chi push hands and fencing.

There are many styles of Tai Chi and they may all practise different sword forms, but they do not necessarily practise fencing with the same goals in mind. Some people fence in order to become ‘duellists’, capable of life and death combat. Others are concerned with competing and with winning. They will ‘get us’ if they can, they will resort to the use of strength, speed and favourite techniques to win.

Those of us who follow the way of sensitivity can learn much by practising with fencers of that humour, but it must be done carefully.

For thousands of years swords were used with shields until it was discovered that the sword was capable of defence as well as offense, not only by blocking but also by sensing through the blade. Many of the most renowned swordsmen who have written books or have been quoted on the subject have spoken of this skill.

Author and Images: Ken van Sickle

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