How to Practice Tai Chi Sword Combat
In general, we rarely practice Tai Chi sword with combat applications, but in reality, this is very important. During my Tai Chi classes, I found out that my students learn much faster when we go through every little section and its combat application. This is not common in traditional schools, but I want to present you a method that may benefit your training.
Swords for Tai Chi are generally too light
This is a fact, but this does not mean you should buy the next solid steel blade which is around three times as heavy! The thing is the balance point, without a decent balance point the whole practice is wrong. Let me explain:
The connection between the sword hand and the sword is necessary, the sword hand is always the other hand on the opposite side which is for directing your sword. The connection between these two never changes, and because of this connection, the hip can generate power from the Dantian to move into the tip of your blade. As long you keep the connection between sword and sword hand centered you can direct your power in all directions with the help of the hip movement.
This is precisely why we use flexible blade sword which is cost efficient for daily practice. You can look at such a sword in our shop here.
But with flexible blades, you cannot practice combat methods
This is partly true, but indeed, it is not the best way to practice the combat applications. Regarding technique, sword alignment and posture the flexible blades are more than enough. But, if you want to apply pressure and test out the technique for the students to learn than you might consider another type of sword.
The sword for combat applications!
Blank weapons with a reinforced blunt edge are not really a cheap and good way to go since the balance point would be way too off for realistic practice. A much cheaper variant to achieve this is polypropylene swords. Polypropylene is an unbreakable material, it will bend when extensive force is added but can always go back to its shape. The material is prone to scratches, but besides that, it will last for a very long time, it is the material often used for Kali stick sparring. The thickness of polypropylene will decide its amount of pressure resistance.
In Tai Chi sword the posture and technique are decided by the type of sword. The most common is the modern Tai Chi sword like these:
Click the pictures to buy the swords on Amazon!
This design favors passive movements decided by force applied by the attacker. Feeling the pressure and going around the opposing blade to attack second but strike first. The blade is not made for long striking movements, instead, the longer blade helps to keep your distance pointing always at your opponent. Similar style to french fencing but always going around in circles to find an opportunity.
Here are some product links for modern polypropylene Tai Chi swords, I ordered best to worst in the list below:
- Polypropylene sword with a silver blade
- Polypropylene sword black with no color
- Another brand slightly more expensive and different design
- Budoten version of a polypropylene Tai Chi sword
- DEPICE version of the polypropylene Tai Chi sword
Historical sword combat practice
It was common during the early Han dynasty to have bronze swords looking like this:
This design is the ancestor of the more popular Han swords which came right after. You can read my article about Han swords here if you are interested a little more about their background!
The closest polypropylene sword I could find to match these properties is here.
Click the picture to see this product on Amazon!
This design is quite short but thick and combined with the polypropylene material this is perfect for powerful sparring matches. The Han sword type promotes fast striking and stabbing movements, make sure to use the knob on the hilt to support your striking and for applying pressure when needed! It is very similar to old roman fighting methods. There is no guard needed since you defend yourself with each strike. Striking technique and angle alignment are the keys in this combat method.
I hope you enjoyed this article, always fully utilize your weapon! Combat applications are important also when you are simply practicing Tai Chi for health. Turn this “magic” movements into movements that you understand.