Is that a Pirate Sword? I spy in your bag!

Is that a Pirate Sword I spy in your bag
The T’ai Chi Weapons weekend with T.A.O got off to a good start this year, its emphasis ended up being sword and attempting to learn how to express with a sword in your hand.  The first session was using the straight sword and with a partner, we took turns to open the wrist joints to express.  This involves being able to move the tip of the sword, or create pressure with the slightest of movement. 

So to push the expression into the top of the sword, you must open the area of the hand/wrist to do with the thumb.
For the bottom end of your sword, it is the little finger side of the wrist that must open to express.
For the centre of the sword, you must express or open through the middle portion.
We all went through top middle or bottom chosen by our partner, with them telling us if they felt the pressure.

To be able to do sword form well, you really do need to know how to wield your sword.  Unfortunately for me, my misspent youth was in books, not in the garden waving a stick about, unlike it seems most of the gents there!

The further sessions that day, continued a similar theme, using the broad sword to feel the differences on how this works. We should also if possible, try the different swords, there are wooden and metal/alloy ones and each has its own feel.
The broad sword has a similar way to produce the top and bottom, through the top and bottom of the wrist.  The middle however, is done by rolling the knuckles as if you are punching; in particular to me it was like the twist at the end we are taught to do in karate.

We also spent quite a lot of time doing sticky swords, but only one of you had the sword.  We did this with the broad sword and it really was quite hard work, setting up the strike, then it being deflected and controlled, for you to then attempt to get out of that control and set up the strike again.  We spent about one hour taking turns with our partners, and we all ended up getting rather warm.

The second day sessions were spent with the Broad sword, attempting to get to grips with how you handle this sword as it is different to a straight sword.  With the broad sword, you do use your other hand to reinforce the blade when necessary with the flat of you palm against the flat top of the sword, it is a one blade sword, as opposed to the straight sword with 2 blade edges.  After spending some time with one of the black jackets, we all had to have a go at the form, I have done this before, but it is three years ago, and unfortunately, I have not been practicing this at all.  It soon became apparent that the 3 red jackets were not on the same level as the black jackets on the course, so one of the black jackets was chosen to teach us the beginning. 

We spent around 4 hours or possibly more, learning a number of moves, I have put down all the steps I think we made and it is around 30 stances worth.  The technical director was very pleased with our progress as he did not think we would have managed to pick up that much.

We made errors; of course, I was tending to let my left hand hang down, so I will attempt to move it in some manner to make it look like it is doing something, the other two were both given things to try to make better, and that the technical director could see.  My friend's was, to stop looking at the floor :)

We left happy to achieve something and even though feeling a little achy, we went away smiling. I know that if I want to retain this portion of the form, I will need to do it at least once a day for the next week.  My first attempt was disastrous, however, I have looked at my notes and the small piece of video I have of our black jacket doing it and I think I have managed to remember the movement. Little steps are all it takes to build a foundation and I hope that I am doing that.


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