Chinese Swords & Swordsmanship: Jian – Historical Reality

Scott M. Rodell, noted authority on Chinese Swords and Swordsmanship, cuts through the common misconceptions and dojo-lore surrounding Chinese swords, presenting Qing Jian (double edged straight swords) in their historical context using period examples.

Miaodao Steel Swordplay Presented by Scott M. Rodell & Poney Chiang

The techniques demonstrated are from the Four Roads Miaodao form. Teacher Rodell, in blue on the left, employs a běng tiāo (繃挑) deflection in a kǎn cut (砍), follows with a circular jiǎo (絞) deflecting into a pi cut, then slips to his left with a jià hù (架護), countering with a jī cut (擊) to the next neck, then circles into a second jī (擊) cut as his duifang responds to his first.

Swordsman vs. Arrow- Sword Cuts Speeding Arrow

Speed is one of the five essential elements of Chinese Swordsmanship (Jiànfǎ, 劍法). Cutting an arrow in flight is the ultimate test of a Swordsman’s skills. The Japanese refer to this skill as Yadome no jutsu (the military study of arrow cutting or blocking), considering it an indicator of superior martial prowess. Scott M. Rodell, director of the Great River Taoist Center, draws his jian (sword) slicing an arrow shot at him from just over 15 meters away. Traveling at 70.2 mph (113 kph) the arrow flies 51’ (15.5 m) in .48 of a second. Drawing his jian (sword) from the scabbard, his Liāo cut (撩) sliced it neatly in two.

Chinese Swordsmanship: Quick Draw Cutting a Candle Wick

Precision is one of the hallmarks of Chinese Swordsmanship (jianfa, 劍法). Testing Cutting was a nearly forgotten tradition in Chinese Swordsmanship that has been revived at Great River Taoist Center. Cutting a Candle wick requires the greatest accuracy of any target one can choose. Hitting the top of the wick will not extinguish the flame. It is one of the few cuts that missing by 3 or 4 MM means failing. Chinese martial oral tradition speaks of quick drawing the sword from the scabbard, however these techniques appear to have been lost to time. The method presented here is a reconstruction based on the oral tradition as well as primary sources.