Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Jie: Way of the Intercepting Sword

I tend to be very reductionist in my learning. I try to figure out that the smallest reasonable unit of knowledge is for a subject I'm studying and then try to group things into small, conceptual sets. For example, of the 13 cuts of Tai Chi Sword, I've broken them down into eight attacks, three parries, and two add-on or miscellaneous techniques. Yet of the eight attacks, I tend to think of five of them as useful core techniques. Of those five, two are first-choice long range techniques, and three are middle range techniques. See if you can sort them out based on what you've read about them.

When I get beyond the core ideas, I tend to ask myself why bother expanding? Every additional idea should add value to the whole, and we should resist adding things indiscriminately.

Now we're getting into the reeds a bit with the next three attacks. I left these out when I was describing the other attacks because they're a little more special purpose and they're also a little harder to use. You might call them advanced attacks. One of them, which I will describe last of these three, is particularly weird and I'm still not sure how it fits into the pantheon of moves we're learning.

So you have some attacks and some defenses. You can move on your feet and you're developing a good feel for position, distance and timing. Time to pull out the gutsy moves that get you bonus points during the battle. Next time your opposite winds up for a swing, either because they're slower than you or they're wasting energy on a big windup, hit them with Jie. Jie means to "intercept."

Imagine if you will a baseball player ready to take a swing at a fastball. Now imagine that the fastball is you and your organs are the strike zone. Now imagine that the bat is sharp. As the player takes his swing, what if you could just put out your sword so that as he moves his wrist crashes into the front edge of your blade? You wouldn't have to do very much work and the player would probably be handless, putting him at a distinct disadvantage against your next move. This move may exemplify the saying "the kung fu man does not strike first, but hits first."

No comments: