Thursday, September 07, 2006

How to Interpose

I got to weighting my swords last night to get a better understanding of what I'm working with since I want to add an edged sword to my "armory" to eventually practice test cutting. I was pretty surprised by the results. My wooden practice sword weighs just under one pound. My Paul Chen practical sword weighs 1lb, 6oz, and my old display sword weighs 1lb, 10oz. Thing is, my wooden sword feels as heavy or heavier than my Paul Chen, and my display sword feels like it weighs a lot more than my Paul Chen, not just four ounces! Upon further examination, the balance is much further away from the hand in my wooden sword, as is the balance in my display sword. This apparently makes a huge difference in the maneuverability in your hand! Therefore, weight is not the only factor in deciding the speed of the sword, but the balance as well. Huh.
So, I said I've been thinking a lot about Ge lately. The character for Ge literally translates to "to block by interposing an object." One might think of it in this sense: if someone is giving you the evil eye from across the room and you bring up your newspaper to block their gaze, you have used Ge on them.
Here's how I've been practicing it: Hold the sword with two hands, in front of your body, with the point facing straight up. The height of your hands is up to you, but start about navel level. Now stand square in front of a partner and have that partner slowly thrust and cut horizontally at you. Block by rotating at your hips, causing the sword to pivot and be interposed between you and the attack. When you are done with the block, a line drawn from your nose through your sword should be perpendicular to the line of your partner's blade. This will also train yielding and body alignment.