Tuesday, July 25, 2006

You missed me ya, ya, ya!

Alright. Bad joke.
Here we are at the third and final block of Tai Chi Sword. This might feel weird to you who know martial arts or fencing. In Wing Chun, there's probably six core blocks and then a dozen additional ones. In foil fencing there are nine parries. How can Tai Chi get away with just three? I think other systems are more mechanistic about they way they define their defenses. In fencing, you have high inside parry with palm up (Parry 4), high inside parry with palm down (Parry 3), high ourside parry with palm up (Parry 6), etc. In Tai Chi, I've approached each of the techniques in a more generalized sense. Instead of high block left, high block right, high block with drooping wrist, high block with point toward the sky, etc., we have one energy concept: carry their attack high enough to miss.
Let me remind you that I'm aiming to get to a place where I can use the gim and the general methods of the Tai Chi Sword. My interpretations may be totally non-cannonical or just plain wrong. However, if it helps us get some useful perspective on the weapon and fighting style for our own training, I think that's valuable.
My thinking on Dai (Carrying) is that it represents a preference for the energy of the parry while disregarding the actual move used. This might be appropriate for a style that focuses on sensitivity and harmonization. The different shapes and positions you might get yourself into during an engagment might be so numerous that it's impractical to try to name them all. Therefore, think of the idea of guiding your opposite's blade into a harmless empty space, or carrying it to where you want it to go with a smooth, gentle contact not a harsh block or bounce between blades.
Ya is the opposite of Dai. Ya means to "press." It exploits the low bridge the same way the Dai exploits the high bridge to make your opposite's blade too short to hit you. When executing the basic Ya, rotate your sword so that the front edge is facing away from you and the back edge (thumb side) is facing toward you an the blade is parallel to the floow as if you were going to put it on a table. Then simply press down. I prefer not to press beyond the level of my belt. If the attack is particularly low, I will bend at my knees to lower my blade and maintain balance rather than bending over. Execute to your preference.

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