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The Swordsmanship of Wudang Style

武当山位于中国湖北省,是中国四大道教名山之首。同时,武当武术是中国武术的一大名宗。许多武侠小说中都出现过它的名号。

Located in central China’s Hubei Province, Wudang Mountain sits the apex of the four sacred mountains of Taoism. Wudang is also home to one of the ancient martial art schools in China. It has been mentioned many times in swordsman fiction.

历史悠久的武当武术延伸出不少派别。其中,武当剑在众多兵器中独树一帜。

As time went by, the Wudang Sword became an outstanding weapon technique.

Chen Shiyu-5

“剑术是武当山的一种代表。”武当道家功夫传承人陈师宇说。“在兵器里面,剑是兵器之王,也可以说是兵器中的君子。”

“The swordsmanship is one of the features of the Wudang school,” says Chen Shiyu, inheritor of the Taoist kung fu in Wudang style. “The sword is considered as ‘king of weapons’. It has a sense of elegance.”

这是因为,和大刀长枪相比,剑能做到刚柔并济,以柔为美。“剑拔出来的时候是冰冷生硬的,但舞起来之后它可以很柔和,所以说有君子之风。”

Different from deterrent cold weapons like broadswords and spears, the sword achieves a balance between hardness and softness, manifesting special beauty. “When you pull out the sword, it feels cold and lifeless. Yet it can be very mild once you wield it well, like communicating with a virtuous gentleman,” Chen said.

陈师宇1994年来到武当山。他曾在家乡练过一段时间民间拳法。之后,因为向往仗剑天涯的侠客生活,他前往武当山习武。

He came to Wudang Mountain in 1994 to pursue his swordsman dream, having learned some local boxing in his hometown.

但习武的实际情况,和他当初想象的很不一样。“我们来的时候就是天天踢腿,蹲马步,冲拳。一天的练功时间超过七八个小时。”

But things were not as he had imagined. “At first, we spent more than 8 hours a day practicing the basic techniques, such as kicking, squatting and straight punching.”

练功6个月之后,陈师宇才开始正式习剑。

Six months later, Chen finally began to learn swordsmanship.

练剑之前先练拳,是因为从根本上说,武器是肢体的延伸。“什么叫人剑合一?就是说剑不能当剑,必须当成你的手臂。”陈师宇演示道,“我手腕出去的时候,剑尖就必须出去,刺的时候也是这样刺,收的时候也一起收。”只有这样,才能将剑练得得心应手。

Swordsmanship requires basic boxing techniques because the weapon is only an extension of your limb. “To merge the sword and the person, it is not a sword anymore, but a part of your arm,” Chen said, demonstrating. “Always point the sword at where your hand reaches out. You stab and pull back the same way like this.” That is essential in mastering the techniques.

除了练功之外,他们还要了解道家文化,学习琴棋书画,甚至亲自种菜。因为道家讲究取之于自然,还之于自然。武当剑里边的很多剑招也体现着这种天人合一的思想。

Other than martial art training, the students need to learn about Taoism and traditional art forms, as well as grow vegetables by themselves. Taoist philosophy argues that people take things from and return to nature. The Wudang swordsmanship also shows the concept of integration between man and nature.

“给剑招取名的时候,往往会从自然中找一种相似的来决定动作的名称。” 陈师宇介绍说,“比如燕子抄水。燕子飞过的时候,会俯身下来点一下水就过去了,是吧?一样的,我们剑撩起来,点一下就上去了。”

“Many names of the moves come from imitating other creatures,” says Chen. “For example, ‘the sparrow skims over the water.’ You see the sparrow fly swiftly and skim over the water, right? It’s just like that. You wield the sword, tap on it and go up.”

“还有灵猫扑鼠。练的时候也要想象生活里面猫捉老鼠是什么状态,要去理解它,然后运用到剑里。只有理解了这些,才能把招数发挥得淋漓尽致。”

“There’s also ‘the cat swoops on the mouse.’ Imagine how the cat throws itself on the mouse, try to understand the move and use it in the swordsmanship. When you get the essence of it, you master the techniques.”

如今,陈师宇在武当山习武已20余年,他平时在太极拳馆内教拳,闲暇时间自己继续着山中的修行。“人能常清净,天地悉皆归”。道家的哲学和剑法相辅相成,让他找到了理想的生活方式。

Chen has been practicing at Wudang Mountain for more than 20 years. When he’s not teaching tai chi at the club, he’ll undertake spiritual practice on the mountain. “When one keeps a clear and peaceful mind, he is embraced by the heaven and the earth.” Chen has found his ideal lifestyle by combining Taoist philosophy and swordsmanship.

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