The Tai chi sword, a variation of the Chinese Jian, can vary in price considerably from the basic $30 models to swords that cost many hundred. And until recent years, there wasnt anything in between...
But recognizing the gaping hole in the market, Paul Chens Hanwei Forge came up with their own interpretation and it has quickly become the sword of choice for those looking for something that is good quality, but not costing an arm and a leg.
In this review by new Canadian Tai Chi practitioner Brad Armstrong, we take a close look at this sword to determine if it is all that it is cracked up to be...
Review by Brad Armstrong BC, CANADA
The reason I was attracted to this sword is that I have started to practice Tai Chi and more or less needed a motivational tool to keep me going in my studies, also it seemed like the best Tai Chi sword for the money.
I purchased the sword through Warriors & Wonders in Vancouver, in my estimation the best store for swords on the west cost of Canada. The sword came in a cardboard box a little larger than the sword and scabbard, with packing tape all over it (for weather proofing).
I opened the end of the box and noticed a sponge with a small hole in it, this was to keep the scabbard and sword positioned in the center of the box, the rest of the box was filled with Styrofoam popcorn. All together a great packing job.
The stats on this sword are available in several different lengths depending on your height. Now as far as sizing goes the sword should be held in the back wards hand position, and the tip of the sword should be about the height of your ear. I really wish I would have know this prior to buying the sword as the 32 model is more for about a 6' man and I'm only 5'6.
Blade length: 32
Handle length: 6 ½
Overall length: 38 ½
Weight: 1lb 5oz
Point of Balance: 4"
Width at Guard: 1.09"
Width at Tip: .75"
Thickness at Guard: .21
Thickness at Tip: .11
Blade Composition: High Carbon Spring Steel
The blade is blunt from the bottom to about 2/3 the way up, then gently slopes to a sharp edge all the way to the top point of the sword. This is exactly how a Tai Chi sword should be sharpened - only the top 3rd of the blade should be sharp. Looking at it from the top down the blade is in a diamond shape. The blade also has a small bit of flexibility to it.
I have done some modification of the blade after the pics were taken and sharpened the blade all the way down to the guard. The biggest reason only the top portion of the blade is generally sharpened and not the bottom is that in the performance of tai chi the blade does sometimes touch parts of your arms, and knowing most people aren't as careful as they should be most tai chi swords are only sharpened on the top 3rd.
A word about balance, now in a Tai chi sword one of the most important things is the balance of the sword as you change hands many times in a form. Also the other important thing is the weight of the sword, usually not over 2lbs and not under 1lb.
The grip of the sword I believe is made from a polymer fibreglass and is very comfortable to hold and has lines to make sure you hold it correctly. The grip on a tai chi sword is very symmetrical and needs to be because the sword is held two different ways, frontward and backwards.
The guard is made from cast stainless steel and is in the Ching style (all this means is the little wings on the guard point up to the tip of the blade - Ming style guards point to the handle of the sword). The guard also features a small yin/yang symbol.
This is also made from cast stainless steel and is attached with a small nut. It features and open ended pommel so that one can attach a tassel. Although the sword doesn't come with a tassel I highly recommend getting one as it helps to tell you if your movements are correct. If they aren't the tassel will wrap around your arm or the sword.
The scabbard I believe is made from a polymer fibreglass or hard plastic, with a small metal end tip. It also features a frog type attachment for wearing it on a belt.
Being as it's winter here, I haven't been able to do many cutting tests. But I have tested it on a cardboard box, which it made short work of. One of the nicest features is the very audible hiss in a cutting stroke which tells you your form is correct.
Now I must explain that a tai chi sword is not so much a cutter sword as it is a slash and stab type sword. And being that it is made from spring steel it is more of a slap and hit type a deal than a cutter.
I really like this sword and would recommend it to any who practices Tai Chi. Complete package it is a very nice sword, well built, completely practical, and I find it a good buy as far as price.
I hope this review of the Practical Tai Chi Sword has been helpful. To return to Chinese Swords from Practical Sword Review, click here