|Famous Chinese Swordsmen|
|Wu Ji Zhe|
596-506 B.C.Wu Ji-Zhe was heir to the kingdom of Wu who renounced his claim to the throne in order to become a scholar and well-known swordmaster.
One poem describing Wu Ji-Zhe’s swordsmanship depicts it as “Having the feeling of a dangerous Tiger and the movement of an aggressive Dragon, able to kill one person every 5 steps. His finely crafted blade was said to shine like sunrise and cut steel as if it were mud. It’s speed was so great that when it penetrated metal or chest, it left a cut so clean that no blood would spill.”
|Chang Tao Ling|
Taoist ImmortalChang Tao Ling had a vision in which Lao Tzu came to him and told him to take the title of “T’ien Shih” (Heavenly Master). He was to organize religious communities, forgive sin, heal and most importantly exorcise ghosts, demons and evil spirits. For this last duty Lao Tzu gave him a scroll of talismans and a demon-slaying sword.Once when attacked by a demon army who fired flaming arrows and threw spears of fire, Chang drew a talisman of power in the air with his magic sword which changed the blazing projectiles to lotus flowers that floated harmlessly to the ground. Chang drew another talisman of power which brought the demon army to its knees.
Upon seeing the failure of their minions the six evil spirits who lead the army attacked. Clutching his magic sword, Chang Tao-Ling he drew the Great Seal of Power. The sword emitted a shaft of glowing light that formed a net binding the six evil spirits.
It was said that Chang Tao Ling captured all the demons he vanquished and imprisoned them in jars. In 1927 the communist Chinese National Army, attacked the temple on Lung Hu Shan, where Chang Tao Ling had settled, forcing the monks and the hereditary “T’ien Shih” to flee for a time. The soldiers smashed thousands of jars and containers that according to the monks released the evil spirits back into the world and they were the cause of World War II.
Spring and Autumn Period 500 B.C.” The ways of swordsmanship, are shallow and easy, its intents are mysterious and deep, it has doors and windows, as well as yin and yang, and when doors are open and windows are closed, yin is declining while yang is rising. When fighting, gather strength on the inside, show tranquility on the outside, appear like a calm woman, attack like an enraged tiger.”
Taoist Scholar“A good swordsman makes a display of emptiness, draws his opponent out by giving him an obvious advantage, his strike begins moving after his adversary’s, but arrives at its target first.”
King of Wei
r. 220-226 A.D.As a young man Wei Wen-di was very fond of swordsmanship. He studied with a number of teachers, including his father general Cao Cao, and a man named Shi-ah, who’d been a student of Wangyue, a famous Han dynasty swordsman.In the “Records of the Three Kingdoms”, by the historian Chen Shou, in the “Chapter of the Wei Dynasty”, there is a story that is an account of a friendly sword match between Wen-di, the King of Wei, and one of his generals Den Zhan.
One evening after a bout of heavy drinking and a long discussion on swordsmanship, Wen-di described his general Deng Zhan’s skills with a blade as lacking. The proud general offered to demonstrate is skill for the king and requested a friendly match.
The two faced off using sugarcane stalks as swords. After striking three unrerturned blows to the general’s shoulder the king critiqued himself stating that he had only struck Deng Zhan on the arm because his own movement had been too hectic to allow him to accurately strike the chest. Frustrated, Deng Zhan requested a rematch.
When they engaged a second time the king correctly assessed that Deng Zhan would make a quick forward advance and strike for the chest. Wen-di pretended to move forward, drawing the general in, then quickly stepped back and struck Deng Zhan on the head. The king said “I hope General Deng will let go of his old ways and learn the correct Way.”
|Lu Dong Bin|
Taoist ImmortalOne of the Eight Taoist Immortals, Lu Dong Bin was one of two great swordsmen in Chinese history. While traveling to Mount Lu in the south, he met a fire dragon who gave him a magical double-edged sword called Chan Yao Kuai, which means “Devil Slayer” and taught him many formidable sword skills and advanced magic. His sword, that he wore upon his back, possessed supernatural powers that enabled Lu to make himself invisible to evil spirits which allowed him to capture and tame them. He is said to have traveled the earth for over 400 years slaying demons and dragons.
|Zhang San Feng|
Tai Chi ChuanZhang San Feng, a Taoist monk from Mt. Wudang noted for his exceptional sword skill, who is also credited with creating Tai Chi Chuan. It is through Tai Chi that most Chinese straight sword (jian) movement is practiced today.The following “Five Steps to Taoist Gold” are also attributed to Zhang San Feng.
1.) Sword Dancing in the Moonlight (Develops Energy)
2.) Tai Chi Chuan in the Dark of Night (Develops Vigor)
3.) Climbing Mountains on a Windy Night (Lengthens the Breathe)
4.) Reading the Classics on Rainy Nights (Cleanses the Mind)
5.) Meditating at Midnight (Brightens the Nature)
A well known poem on Chinese swordsmanship tells us that…”The art of the sword is easy to learn.
Like dragons and rainbows it is mysterious.
If you use the sword to hack and chop
Zhang San Feng will laugh until he evaporates to dew.”
|Li Jing Lin|
Wudang SwordLi Jing Lin, was perhaps the most famous swordsmen in China’s modern era.
Li Jing Lin learned his swordsmanship from Sung Weiyi who taught the “Wudang Sword Style”. Sung Weiyi’s teacher, Pi Yueh Hsia, was known within Taoist circles as “The Wild Crane Taoist. Li Jing Lin received a copy of Sung Weiyi’s Sword manual called “Wudang Sword” in which his teacher traces his martial lineage back to Zhang San Feng. The system was called Nei Chia Chuan, which some claim was based on Kuen-Wu fencing.
For many years, General Li improved his skill by inviting all the leading swordsmen from far and wide to his home to discuss effective techniques for combat and for sword contests where he honed his skills to such a degree that he became known as “Miracle Sword” Li.
General Li was the head of a group of seven masters, renowned for their skill in the sword, known as the Seven Swordsmen of Wudang.
Through his positions as general of the Hebei-Shandong Army, director of several Martial Arts Institutes, and vice president of the Central Martial Arts School, General Li taught Wudang swordsmanship to many of the most respected masters of the internal systems in China.
|Yang Cheng Fu|
Yang Tai Chi SwordYang Cheng-Fu was the grandson to Yang Lu Chan the founder of Yang style Tai Chi Chuan. It was Cheng-Fu who finalized this style into the present-day form that is so popular all over the world. Yang Cheng-Fu taught martial arts at the Beijing Sports Society and afterward he traveled throughout the country to teach the Yang style Tai Chi Chuan. Yang Cheng-Fu was also known to be an exceptionally skilled swordsman.Once when visiting Wuhan, Yang Cheng-Fu was challenged by a local kung fu master to test his swordsmanship. Wielding a mere makeshift sword of bamboo; Yang easily defeated his well-armed opponent and apologized profusely for having hurt his wrist unintentionally during the fight.
During a Wushu convention at the Central Wushu Academy in Nanking in 1931, Yang Cheng Fu was coerced into crossing swords with one of the special guests in attendance, Master Li Jing Lin, a Wudang swordsman who had earned a reputation for being the “God of Sword.”After performing a sword form Master Li asked for volunteers from audience to fence with him. Two martial artists from Hunan approached the stage with their swords. Within seconds the first swordsman’s blade went sailing across the auditorium. The second swordsman lasted for three or four minutes, but with the same result.
The host of the convention, Mr. Chang, asked for more volunteers, but when no one would come forward, he went to Yang Cheng Fu who, being modest and humble, declined several times before reluctantly accepting the invitation.
Yang Cheng Fu faced Master Li on the stage, and saluted with his sword to show his respect. Master Li immediately assumed his defense, which was his invitation to Yang to approach with his sword. Rather than rushing in, like the previous two opponents, Master Yang simply held his sword and intently examined Master Li’s movement. At what he judged the approriate time, Yang extended his sword. There was a loud, “clang,” and Master Li’s sword went flying across the room. The audience sat in stunned silence, but soon thunderous applause erupted mixed with sounds of awe.
Afterwards Professor Cheng Man Ching who had been watching was stunned as well and asked his teacher how he did it. Master Yang explained: “Let me just tell you one phrase, that is do not separate your mind from the sword therefore your spirit can be focused. What do you focus on? When you swing the sword, you need to use your wrist. When you turn the wrist, there must be a gap. Therefore, I focused on the gap and sent my sword into it. Since his sword was still turning, but my sword was still, he deflected his own sword by his own force.”
|Cheng Man Ching|
Yang Tai Chi SwordProfessor Cheng was indeed the Chinese version of the Renaissance Man, excelling in five fields: poetry, painting, calligraphy, tai-chi chuan, and medicine. Some people believe him to be the most outstanding individual in Chinese cultural history, since the founding of the Republic of China in 1911.
Professor Cheng was a disciple of master Yang Cheng Fu. What he is perhaps best known for in the west is developing a short 37 move Tai Chi Chuan form. This form is very popular because it’s brevity enables the art to be learned more quickly and practiced in less time which is well suited to hectic, modern day schedules. The shortened form retains the theories and techniques of the Yang style Taijiquan he learned from Yang Cheng Fu, but with the repetitions and some postures removed. Many of Professor Cheng’s students are now noted masters of the art and continue to promote his short form for both health and self-defense.Professor Cheng was also noted for his swordsmanship and once had a sparring match with a French fencing champion. It was feared that taiji straightsword techniques would not stand up to western fencing, and so Professor Cheng was discouraged from entering such a contest. Cheng, however, persisted. The first time they crossed swords Professor Cheng cut the Frenchman’s wrist. The second time he placed his sword tip on the Frenchman’s heart and the third time he was also successful. The Frenchman, it is said, was very impressed.According to the 1994 book Gateway to the Miraculous written by one of his disciples Wolfe Lowenthal, Professor Cheng said “The goal of swordplay is to combine our Tai Chi quality of stable, heavy rootedness with rapid movement. Be as solid as a tree but quick as a cat. Work to develop a sense of root even when the form has you leaping off the ground. The chi sets the sword in motion. After that, like a hawk sailing on wind currents, let the sword ride the currents of gravity and centrifugal force.”Professor Cheng having witnessed Yang Cheng Fu’s duel with Li Jing Lin took to heart his teachers phrase “Do not separate your mind from the sword therefore your spirit can be focused”, and when teaching sword to his own students always emphasized that the swordsman must “connect the focusing to the sword, because when you see the gap and send in the sword, the gap is already gone. No, you must have the sword already there when you see the gap”.