Tai Chi Weapons

Weapons of The Tai Chi System: Tai Chi Sabre, Sword & Spear 

The weapons which are employed in the Chinese martial arts have many different names, are of various different types and of various different lengths. Furthermore because each school is different, in selecting a particular type of weapon we also find that there are differences between the schools in the use and sometimes also in the appearance or weight of that particular weapon. 

Over a long period of time, even where a tradition has been handed down continuously in one school from the same source, there will still be differences. For example, if there are two different teachers of the same school, and the first uses a plain and simple method for teaching and practicing the weapons, while the other uses a more daringly gymnastic and unusual approach, there will be both similarities and differences between them. The main aim is to keep the spirit of the art and its practicality for self defence.

When these approaches are passed down over a long period of time, those outstanding exponents who can fully and clearly understand the subtleties and at the same time who refine their skills without cease, will come to possess special ability. This led to great masters during the Ching dynasty being appointed combat instructors to the imperial household, and made these men famous throughout China.

The component parts of the Tai Chi martial arts system include Hand Form, Weapons, Self Defence (including grappling techniques), Pushing Hands and Weapons.The theory followed by the Tai Chi Chuan system in applying all these weapons emphasises principles such as "Use SMOOTHNESS to receive an attack"; "Use softness to subdue hardness"; and "Yin and Yang must complement one another." In applying this theory, we must also take into account the factors of timing, speed and force.

When we 'borrow' the opponent's force or dissipate it in order to defeat an attack, this is Yin. The method of counterattack lies in using Jing (focused power); when Jing is emitted it is like a rapid peal of thunder or a lightning flash. This is Yang. When Yin and Yang are in harmony this is Tai Chi. When Tai Chi is in motion Yin and Yang become manifest. If Yin and Yang are manifest then it shows that change is produced, so in attack and defence we have both dissipating (the opponent's force) and striking. Controlling the enemy in order to win a victory completely depends on this principle. So the Classic of Tai Chi Chuan states, "Yin does not depart from Yang; neither does Yang depart from Yin." 

All of a sudden, if you encounter a surprise attack, you must quietly await the moment, watch the oncoming force, then use the appropriate response. If you wish to understand this theory, you must first appreciate the technique; when the technique is clearly understood, then thoroughly investigate the basic principles. If you don't understand the basic principles, progress will not be easy and it will be difficult to achieve perfection. If you have a clear knowledge of the basic principles, spare no effort and avoid indolence.

When practice and theory are combined they serve to verify one another. When one has undergone many forms of training and experiences, they become second nature. Once expertise has been achieved, you should aim to become better and better and attain the Tao of skill so that you can ascend the highest pinnacles. The Classic of Tai Chi Chuan, states:- "From achieving familiarly with the techniques, gradually you can perceive clearly what is meant by understanding Jing (focused power). From understanding Jing you can attain the highest stage." Plainly this is true.


When practicing the Tai Chi Sabre, we employ movements such as spring up, shift, dodge and display. The sabre is entwined like a belt round the waist and then shoots out; when the steps change the body shifts, advance one step, withdraw one step; chop once, cut once. Hand and sabre in conjunction; coil and spin, rise and fall; like a long rainbow passing through the skies. Like a swirling wind rotating snowflakes.

The sabre method includes:-

1. Pi (劈) — to chop/split from various angles; 

2. Ci (刺) — to stab/pierce; 

3. Tan (探) — to search out -slashing upwards to the groin; 

4. Tuo (托) — to push up -left hand supporting the blade; 

5.  Ti (提) — to lift -an upward diversion; 

6. Liao (撩) — to stir -diversion and slash in a continuous movement; 

7. Chen (沉) — to sink -diverting an attack by pressing downwards; 

8. Lu (履) — to divert an attack to the side. 


When practicing the Tai Chi Sword method, the actions employed are chopping, stirring, stroking and stabbing. The techniques are finely linked together. One drawing forth (of opponent's attack) and one strike; one flourish and one presentation.

The body follows the movements of the sword which circles the body and can be seen on every direction. Lithe and graceful, surprising and subtle; body and sword are as one. Like a Spiritual Dragon, speeding like an arrow, or a male phoenix soaring and circling in the air. 

The sword method includes:-

1. Kan (砍) —to chop; 

2. Liao (撩) — to stir -divert and slash in one continuous movement; 

3. Mo (摸) — to stroke -subtle circular diversion; 

4. Ci (刺) — to stab/pierce; 

5. Chou (抽) — to draw forth -diverting upwards with a whipping action' 

6. Ti (提) — to lift -an upward diversion; 

7. Heng (橫) — to sweep across -horizontal diversion followed by thrust; 

8. Dao (倒) — to invert -diverting to the side, sword pointed clown. 


When training the Tai Chi Spear, adhere, connect, entwine and stab; one lift, one hit; one drag, one dot. Obstruct and cut, rapid and intense; in the midst of fullness, conceal emptiness. Like a snake coiling and striking; or like a willow tree swaying in the wind. In the finest stage, the changes can be infinite. In the spear method we use peng (掤), Lu (履), Ji (擠), An (按) as the warp (vertical and horizontal) and Tiao (挑), Tan (彈), Qian (牽), Dian (點) as the woof (diagonal). This means that the spear should be used in a three dimensional way and not flat. so we can defend and counter from any angle. The Tai Chi Chuan expert practices the hand form in order to cultivate the mind; he practices the sword to nourish the Chi; he practices the sabre to strengthen his resolve; he practices the spear to increase wisdom; he practices internal strength to develop Jing (focused power. The hand form is the foundation for the effective usage of weapons. If the hand form is skillful then nothing will go wrong.