In China, it is said that one should not take on the study of the sword until you have put in ten years of Tai Chi study.*
I speculate that in earlier times when they used sharp steel blades in their practice, it would have been imprudent to wave these deadly instruments about without years of supervised practice.
I feel that push hands is actually a more difficult undertaking than fencing. Think about it, while fencing we manoeuvre about with the aim of contacting the O’s arm or body with the edge or point of our wooden blade. While pushing hands, contacting some substantive part of the O’s body with our hands is only the beginning of the action.
To have someone’s hands on our body is, to many, rather more threatening than being ‘touched ’ by a wooden blade. For me fencing feels freer, lighter, and less complicated.
If you observe Tai Chi people fencing you will hear more laughter than in any other Tai Chi action, and you may have noticed if you have seen the films of Professor Cheng fencing, that he was definitely ‘amused ’ .
While ‘crossing blades’ we consistently make silly mistakes. We think when we should be responding and attack when we should be defending. We encounter unexpected brilliance, curious ironies. We experience droll excesses, put up with inflated egos and hidden agendas, enjoy subtle innuendo and engage in out and out slapstick. We are corrected, admonished, consulted and praised, all in ‘the good fight’ to please the Sword Faeries.**
*Cheng Man Ch’ing began teaching the sword form within three or four years. ** The Sword Faeries “Tengu” are mythical, part human, part bird entities that live in forests and teach the subtle points of swordsmanship to whomsoever needs or asks.
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
- WHY AND HOW – Tai Chi Sword 8
- TIME AND HUMOUR – Tai Chi Sword 9
- HARMONY – Tai Chi Sword 10
- SENSITIVITY – Tai Chi Sword 11
- MIND SETS – Tai Chi Sword 12
- BEGINNERS’ MISTAKES – Tai Chi Sword 13
- DIFFERENCES – Tai Chi Sword 14
- FORCE – Tai Chi Sword 15
- Names of CHENG MAN CH’ING’S TAI CHI SWORD – Tai Chi Sword 16
- TURNING TRICKS – Tai Chi Sword 17
- Transcendence – Tai Chi Sword 18
- FENCING – Tai Chi Sword 19
- Levels of TAI CHI SWORD – Tai Chi Sword 20
- Returning – MORE THOUGHTS – Tai Chi Sword 21
- THE SWORD AND CALLIGRAPHY – Tai Chi Sword 22