Monday, July 13, 2009
Review: The Complete Taiji Dao
Now here is a book that arrived on my desk at exactly the right time!
"The Complete Taiji Dao - The Art of the Chinese Saber" by Zhang Yun is the most complete book on swordsmanship that I have seen yet. At a hefty 429 pages, this comprehensive study of the Chinese Saber is my new study material as I prepare to go to a weekend-long Wudang saber seminar with our Taiji instructor Michael Gilman.
While I have had training in the Japanese sword in Aikido, the Chinese sword is still new to me. Unlike the "Jian", the more delicate double-edged sword most often seen in Taiji practice, the Dao or saber is a large single-edged blade handled with powerful slashing motions.
In "The Complete Dao", Zhang Yun provides us with his background, and then procedes to explore the history of this weapon from crude jade and bronze models to the beautiful "Yao Dao", or slender waistcoat swords of the Royalty. As implied, there are many types of Dao, from heavy chopping cleavers to longer and narrower Dao's such as the ones used in Taiji practice. Zhang Yun explains this type allows him to more readily project his Chi to the end of the sabre, and is more nimble. Most Dao's are used single-handed, but Yun also demonstrates with a beautiful double-handed model with a ring pommel. (I want one!)
Zhang Yun provides very clear photos of all form work in the book, something that is usually difficult to read and put into practice. As the saber and spear were both the soldier's battlefield weapons, the applications from the form are against an opponent with a spear. Further in the book, the application work against both a heavier chopping broadsword and the slender "Jian" sword are demonstrated.
For me, this book arrived at a time when my interest in learning the Chinese sword is really growing. The book explains in great detail how Taiji principles are extended to weapon use as well as how the Taiji Dao is unique and different than conventional broadsword use. This book will stay with my collection forever.
You can read more about "The Complete Dao" at this link for Blue Snake Books, along with hundreds of other martial arts titles, please check it out!