Rochester Chen Style Taijiquan

Chen Village Broadsword

The image of the broadsword is an angry tiger charging down a mountain.  This form is intended to be fierce and vigorous.  The form is often executed with long, low stances, which are intended primarily for conditioning.  When focusing on the applications the stances should be higher and more nimble.

  1. Opening [dan dao qi shi]
  2. Broadsword protects the heart [hu xin dao]
  3. Green dragon comes out of the water [qing long chu shui]
  4. Wind whirls the withered flowers [feng juan can hua]
  5. White clouds cover the head [bai yun gai ding]
  6. Black tiger searches in the mountains [hei hu sou shan]
  7. Su-Chin bears sword [su gin bei qian]
  8. Golden rooster stands on one leg [jin ji du li]
  9. Rolling away from the blade [ying feng gun bi]
  10. Cut the white snake at the waist [yao zhan bai sge]
  11. The sun braces three rings [ri tao san huan]
  12. Scatter the clouds and see the sun [bo yun wang ri]
  13. Separate the weed to seek the snake (left) [zuo bo cao xun she]
  14. Separate the weed to seek the snake (right) [you bo cao xun she]
  15. Green dragon comes out of the water [qing long chu shui]
  16. Wind whirls the withered flowers [feng juan can hua]
  17. Swallow separates its golden wings [yan bie jin chi]
  18. Flesh eating demon explores the sea [ye cha tan hai]
  19. Separate limbs to expose body and chop (left) [zuo fan shen kan]
  20. Separate limbs to expose body and chop (right) [you fan shen kan]
  21. White snake spits its tongue [bai she tu xin]
  22. Embracing the moon [huai zhang bao yue]

Clip of Chen Zheng Lei performing Chen Village Broadsword

Separate limbs to expose body and chop

Black tiger bounds down the mountain

3 rings protect the sun

Visit the International Chen Style Taijiquan site (Ren Guang-yi) to order a video of the Chen Village broadsword form.

Recommended Reading

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Technical Notes

Nature of Saber: The form is intended to be executed very fast and vigorously. Leaps are used to rapidly close distance or nimbly to evade with your legs. There is a saying “The image of the broadsword is an angry tiger charging down a mountain.” Tiger is often used to denote a youthful energy of power and speed. A similar youthful brashness is observed in western saber: “Foil fencers talk about the technique of fencing; Epée fencers talk about the esoterics of fencing theory; and Saber fencers talk about themselves.

Benefits of broadsword practice
- Fun way to exercise.
- Allows you to develop more focus than empty-hand practice.
- Develop dynamic footwork due to need to cross between mid-range and short-range.
- Strengthening due to its weight
- F
lexibility of wrist for chin na.
- Cardiovascular: It is intended to be fast and furious
- Part of a martial and self defense program.

Conditioning vs Martial Applications: You can perform moves differently depending on your goals. Here are several considerations:

Fa jing – The broadsword can be used as a mass with inertia that you move around or rapidly thrust to gain strength from the resistance and develop fa jing, respective. If that is your goal, you may alter the moves to stress that component of training at the cost of lessening the martial aspect.

Low stances – Good for conditioning, but not very mobile. Best to practice over a range of heights to acquire different attributes.

Striking opposite hand – A training technique that is excellent for developing a strength and sense of impact while enabling you to control the nature of resistance. In BS work, it is sometimes used in chopping, and striking with the pommel (rhinoceros horn.), where the right hand strikes into the left hand.


  • Chinese term for this weapon is “dao” which means knife, not sword or broadsword. It could be translated as “saber” and shouldn’t have been called broadsword, but this misnomer seems to have stuck.
  • Primarily a slicing and slashing blade. Knives slice, slash, and stab, but rarely chop and hack. Be wary of broadsword forms with a lot of chops and hacks.
  • It is intended to be a fast foot-soldier weapon. Thinner lighter versions (like ours) were fast foot-soldier weapons often used against spear. Thicker heavier versions were slower, less articulate foot-soldier weapons used more for chopping and hacking
  • Curved blade for draw cuts and slashes.
  • Thinner, sharper near the end because that is the slicing part of the blade.
  • Sharp tip for stabs
  • This form assumes a broadsword that has its upper third sharpened on the backside. That sharpened region allows for back cuts. Care must be taken with placing the left hand in reinforced moves.
  • Most of back is dull which allows the dao to be used at very close range (against the body). The feature dictates the rapid footwork that must cover both short and midrange. It also leads to the rapid coiling around the body for smooth parries and counter attacks.
  • Mid portion of the blade is thicker for chops.
  • Part near guard is thicker and duller so it can be used for blocking and intercepting.
  • Other parts: Blood groove, guard, handle, pommel, tang.
  • Center of gravity is about 2-4 inches from the guard to allow easy wrist control
    In a chopping blade the COG is moved farther from the guard to prevent the leverage from causing a bounce.
  • Chopping blades tend to be thick and heavy, e.g., Southern Chopper and Kwan dao.
    A jian, a “real” sword. Jian is light and razor-like at the tip. It is more of an aristocrat’s weapon that could be worn with fine clothes. Fine articulate moves are performed to make razor cuts of the opponent’s hand. You can’t reel it around the body or you would slice yourself.
  • The primary focus of the broadsword is along its long edge, while the primary focus of the jian is its razor-sharp tip area.

Left Hand: There is a saying “To know single broadsword follow the left hand.” From this saying note that you can more clearly understand the applications by knowing the use of the left hand. Common uses of the left are as follows:

  •   Grabbing
  •   Reinforcing the back of the blade
  •   Balancing the movement of right hand
  •   Keeping it out of the way

More on Left Hand: In form practice it is said that the left hand should often mimic the spirit of the weapon so that the body is balanced. Specifically, for broadsword the left hand is often held with fingers straight out forming a chopping or slicing palm. Double-edged sword is pointier and straighter and that leads to the two-finger “secret sword hand.” Despite these common rules, a serious martial form will vary the left hand depending upon the specifics of the applications. It is said that in a serious application form you will understand the application by watching the left hand; and for double-broadsword work, you will understand by watching the footwork.

Grips: Three main gripping techniques
Full Grip – Fingers and thumb all grip the hilt firmly, and tiger’s mouth is close to the guard. A slice would use this grip
Half grip – Fingers and thumb grip the hilt firmly. Hilt is diagonal across the palm, with second knuckle of index finger against guard. Used for thrusting.
Pincher grip – Thumb and index finger grip firmly and are against guard. Other fingers are more relaxed. Example of use is when the sword tip is down as in “entwining the head.”

Relationship to Spear: Broadsword is often used against spear. In visualizing the applications, they are often clearer when you can imagine a spear. Consider the following:

  •   Length
  •   Your ability to grab it
  •   Ability to slice along its length to get at the opponent’s hands
  •   Ability of your sword to bite in and draw its wooden shaft.

Chan Tao Dao: Important term to BS practice: chan tao dao - literally “reeling about the head, knife” The broadsword has one dull edge, which leads to a usage style of reeling the dull edge around the head and body to divert and attack. In chan tao dao to the left, the point is down; the back of blade goes around the left arm and close to the back while remaining vertical. It will then either slice across the front or down the front. The vertical aspect allows for broad protection. The closeness allows for strength and control. The left hand can be grabbing and pulling. In chan tao dao to the right, the sword points down and circles around the back to the right and down the front.

Flicks: Broadsword usage is not as articulate as the light double-edged sword. One articulation that is sometimes used is a flick. One type of flick is used to attack the root of the thumb junction with the wrist. Hitting it disables the thumb and it cannot grip the weapon. Another flick aims at the base of the palm, at the ulna nerve, where any force causes the muscles of the hand to weaken and drop the sword. In double-edge sword usage it often precedes coiling about their sword to flip it away. You need to weaken the grip before you can flip away the weapon. The same technique is used to attack spear or club holders. So this sort of flick is mainly used not so to flip away the enemy sword, but rather attack the wrist, then possibly follow up with a disarm.

Gaze: Gaze on your opponent from his eyes to shoulders, wrist, and hips. Don’t look at your own sword. You should be able to feel your own sword.

Two-person work: We typically think of broadsword practice as solo work on forms or drills.  Some recent experience with kendo showed me that for my movements to be spirited, filled with jing, and well aligned I needed two-person training analogous to two-person training needed in empty hand practice.  I brought the kendo practice weapon (shinai) into training and teaching broadsword to enable two-person work. It has enriched the practice.  For information on local (Rochester) Kendo classes contact Sensei Jose Rivera at Shoshin Martial arts.