A general way of measuring sword length is with the pommel on the floor, the point reaching near but not higher than your navel. However since the length of the blade is the most important element, and handles can vary from 5 to 10 inches long, a more accurate measure can be taken.
While in the opening position (the sword in your left hand, point up), the point should come to your earlobe. It can be a little shorter but if higher it may prove to be unwieldy.
Swords, wood or metal, should weigh between 1 and 3 pounds.
The blade should be balanced anywhere from 2 to 6 inches in front of the guard. If it is balanced close to, or at the guard, the sword will ‘wield’ easily but will be too easy to manipulate by using wrist strength (as in western fencing). If it is balanced too far toward the point the sword will be blade – heavy and consequently cumbersome.
A blade-heavy sword will cut well but thrust with difficulty. A blade-light sword will thrust well but not cut well.
If the blade does not get lighter toward the point it may feel point-heavy, even if it is properly balanced.
The guard may face forward (post Ming) or back toward the pommel (pre Ming). This is not important now but in actual combat the forward guard can be taken advantage of.
These measurements apply to both wood and metal swords. It is okay to start off with a light sword while learning the form, and it is good to do form with a heavy sword occasionally, as they can only be moved effortlessly if moved according to the principles.
Author and Images: Ken van Sickle
- Tai Chi Sword by Kenneth van Sickle
- EDITOR’S PREFACE -Tai Chi Sword 1
- Introductory Thoughts – Tai Chi Sword 2
- PREFACE – Tai Chi Sword 3
- KENNETH VAN SICKLE – Tai Chi Sword 4
- CHENG MAN CH’ING – Tai Chi Sword 5
- A ROYALTY OF ARMS – Tai Chi Sword 6
- SWORD DIMENSIONS – Tai Chi Sword 7
- THE SWORD MAIDENS – Tai Chi Sword 23
- THE SWORD AND CALLIGRAPHY – Tai Chi Sword 22
- Returning – MORE THOUGHTS – Tai Chi Sword 21
- Levels of TAI CHI SWORD – Tai Chi Sword 20
- FENCING – Tai Chi Sword 19
- Transcendence – Tai Chi Sword 18
- TURNING TRICKS – Tai Chi Sword 17
- Names of CHENG MAN CH’ING’S TAI CHI SWORD – Tai Chi Sword 16
- FORCE – Tai Chi Sword 15
- DIFFERENCES – Tai Chi Sword 14
- BEGINNERS’ MISTAKES – Tai Chi Sword 13
- MIND SETS – Tai Chi Sword 12