Friday, July 07, 2006

The first two deadly techniques: Splitting and Pointing

There are people who say you only need to learn one punch really well in order to win most fights that you might get into. I tend to agree with this. Fighting seems really easy: hit the guy until he falls down--and it is in concept, but what one discovers when they get into a full-contact fight is that it is really, really hard to land a solid hit on your opponent on purpose. People move, people block, people hit back. However, if you have a punch that is strong and practiced to the point that it is not only very reliable, strong and consistent but that you are able to place it wherever you desire with accuracy, you may have more to work with that your opponent from the moment the fight begins.
The same may be true for swordsmanship, and I think the two most fundamental techniques in Tai Chi gim are the Pi and Dian techniques. Pi mean "splitting" and is most likely used like when the magistrate in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon splits the tea cup with the Green Destiny. Dian means "pointing" and is basically a stab. I'm grouping these two moves together because they are mechanical complements to eachother and because they both aim to use the extreme two or three inches of the sword. This to me means they are your longest weapons and therefore your first line of attack or defense.
The two mechanics I'm talking about are bringing down the point of the sword and extending with your elbow. Beginning with Pi, from your guard stance, extend your arm from the elbow and then bring down the point. Try to cast the sword like a fishing reel, not chop like with an axe. You should end up with the arm and blade extended without having to put the breaks on the sword to keep it from overswinging. If you were to put a cupcake (or a tea cup) on a table, you should be able to cut the cupcake without hitting the table. The extension should be without force and be a smooth motion. Do not pop the blade back up at the end of the swing, but let is stop at full extension.
I prefer to use the dian as the same two movements in opposite order. Beginning in your guard stance, lower the tip of your sword so that it is pointing at your intended target, then push the blade forward from your elbow until you reach full extension. This should allow you to drive the tip of your blade accurately into the target. Practice by hanging a small object from a string and poking it head on.
Spend as least one session where you do the cut 500 to 1000 times. Just be relaxed about the motion and to not muscle the blade so you can learn how to move it. After a while, you should be able to "swish" the air without effort--this will show that your movement is fast and clean.

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