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Wudang Sanfeng Tai Chi Sword (Jian) – Introductory Guide

Mar 04, 2021

Once a practitioner has made happy progress in the bare-handed Tai Chi forms, the natural next step is to start learning a weapon's form. We talk about this in a separate post, which you will find here.

In this post, let’s look into the sword form that Master Gu teaches at the WTWA in the Wudang Mountains. This is the same sword form that is also included in the Tai Chi courses at the Online WTWA: Wudang Sanfeng 64 Sword Form.

This tàijíjiàn (剑 jiàn means “straight sword”) form not only has its roots in the mystical Wudang Mountains. It also takes its name from the legendary Zhang Sanfeng (张三丰), the Taoist immortal who is credited with being one of the founding fathers of Tai Chi.  

To find out a bit more about the form, here is a brief introduction.

Sanfeng 64 Sword: a whole world to explore

Little is known about this almost mythical Zhang Sanfeng, but we know that for the sword form, he is said to have borrowed elements from various existing Tai Chi sword forms. He then combined these into the 64 movements and positions that make up what we now call Sanfeng 64 Sword Form.

As always, each of these has a name; you will find them rendered in both Mandarin, pinyin, and English at the end of this post. Once you start to learn the form, take some time to read them a few times. Even saying them out loud while practicing; the poetry of the names can really improve your embodied comprehension of what you are doing. What’s more, they are just beautiful and highly enjoyable, from

 “Part grass, seek snake”

 to

 “Wild horse leaps over ravine”.

Oh yes, in Sanfeng 64 Sword Form, you get to meet or even be a boy fishing, a rider on a powerful steed, a monkey, a tiger, a dragon…even the giant bird Peng, whom you may know from the beginning of Zhuangzi’s Inner Chapters!

“It is named the Peng, so huge no one knows how many thousand li he measures. Aroused, it soars aloft, its wings like clouds hung from the sky.”  (from chapter 1 of the Zhuangzi)

Some moments the martial roots of Tai Chi are clearly present and can be felt, for example when executing an attack or by contrast blocking one. At other times, there are slow, careful movements that reflect the way you would imagine a snake and a crane to prepare for their next tussle.

Sanfeng 64 Sword genuinely tells dozens of stories that take you on a journey as you practice it. Remember to stay present at the moment, though, lest your attention weakens and your imagined opponent gets the upper hand!

Take the next step in your Tai Chi practice

In short, this form uses an instrument other than your body alone; Sanfeng 64 Sword is quite a bit longer than any of the Wudang Tai Chi forms you may have learned so far. It will take between 6 and 10 minutes to perform, depending on the emphasis you choose: martial aspect, meditative aspect, or general health aspect. It will definitely signal the next step in your practice.

You will spend more time, therefore, to learn the form and then to hone it further; you’ll need that much more physical space for it, too, so find a good training area where you won’t hit anything or anyone as you wield your sword. Just take it one step at a time and build on what you learned from the previous training session. Rinse, repeat, block, thrust.

When you have learned it, it will take much practice, as always, to master it, and as always, this is time well spent and well enjoyed. Who knew there was a swordsperson in you!

 ---

Eli van Dantzig, Taoist name: 丹宁资和

16th-generation Sanfeng Pai disciple and Taoist Wellness Instructor 

How to learn Wudang Taiji Sword with Master Gu Online

If you would like to learn Wudang Sanfeng 64 Tai Chi Sword Form with Master Gu, you are warmly invited to join the Online Wudang Taoist Wellness Academy. The academy is designed to help you live long and live well. It teaches Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Taoist philosophy from the Wudang Mountains, China.

In year 2 online academy students get in-depth tuition of the Sanfeng 64 Sword Form. You also can learn:

  • Wudang 8, 33, 28 and 33 Taiji forms.
  • Step-by-step tuition of 5 animal Qi Gong, Six-healing sound Qi Gong and Ba Duan Jin Qi Gong.
  • A powerful morning meridian adjustment Qi Gong  
  • “Tu Na” expelling the old and inhaling the new.
  • How to stand strong like a tree.
  • Linguistically guided Qi Gong meditations
  • Immortal’s Waterfall breathing technique
  • Taoist philosophy lectures
  • +more!

Students also get to join Master Gu for a live Zoom Q&A every month to ask their questions. If you are interested in becoming a student, click here to learn more!

Please note: the Sanfeng Sword tuition is in your second year of being a student of the online academy. Tuition is released over time to replicate how you would learn if you came to the physical academy. This means you get to enjoy new content over the time you are a student with us and get deeper into your practice.

 

三丰太极剑

Sanfeng Tai Chi Jian

顾师宁演练

Gu Shining Practice

 

1

预备起 式

yù bèi qǐ shì

Preparatory form

2

虚步托剑

xū bù tuō jiàn

Empty step, hold sword

3

上步合剑

shàng bù hé jiàn

Forward step, close sword

4

仙人指路

xiān rén zhǐ lù

Immortal person shows direction

5

三环套月

sān huán tào yuè

Three rings hook moon

6

上步点剑

shàng bù diǎn jiàn

Forward step, point sword

7

大魁星式

dà kuí xīng shì

Big Kui star form

8

左右拦扫

zuǒ yòu lán sǎo

Sweep left and right

9

童子提炉

tóng zǐ tí lú

Young boy lifts stove

10

转身刺剑

zhuǎn shēn cì jiàn

Turn around, thrust sword

11

双手捧剑

shuāng shǒu pěng jiàn

Double hands hold sword

12

野马跳涧

yě mǎ tiào jiàn

Wild horse leaps over ravine

13

金蛇盘柳

jīn shé pán liǔ

Golden snake winds around willow

14

燕子出林

yàn zǐ chū lín

Swallow comes out of woods

15

大鹏展翅

dà péng zhǎn chì

Big bird Peng spreads wings

16

虚步捧剑

xū bù pěng jiàn

Empty step, hold sword

17

左右旋风

zuǒ yòu xuàn fēng

Whirlwinds from left and right

18

太公钓鱼

tài gōng diào yú

Tai Gong goes fishing

19

拨草寻蛇

bō cǎo xún shé

Part grass, seek snake

20

左右磨剑

zuǒ yòu mó jiàn

Sharpen sword left and right

21

怀中抱月

huái zhōng bào yuè

Hug moon to chest

22

宿鸟投林

sù niǎo tóu lín

Evening birds return to woods

23

乌龙摆尾

wū lóng bǎi wěi

Black dragon waves tail

24

青龙出海

qīng lóng chū hǎi

Green dragon goes out of sea

25

风卷荷叶

fēng juàn hé yè

Wind rolls lotus leaf

26

狮子摇头

shī zǐ yáo tóu

Lion shakes its head

27

野马跳涧

yě mǎ tiào jiàn

Wild horse leaps over ravine

28

悬崖勒马

xuán yá lè mǎ

Curb horse at cliff

29

虚步亮指

xū bù liàng zhǐ

Empty step, show fingers

30

白猿献果

bái yuán xiàn guǒ

White ape offers fruit

31

迎风弹尘

yíng fēng dàn chén

Dust clothes into the wind

32

顺水推舟

shùn shuǐ tuī zhōu

Push boat along stream

33

流星赶月

liú xīng gǎn yuè

Shooting star chases moon

34

天马行空

tiān mǎ xíng kōng

Heavenly horse prances across sky

35

踏雪寻梅

tà xuě xún méi

Step on snow seeking plum

36

金花落地

jīn huā luò dì

Golden flower falls on ground

37

金猴挑帘

jīn hóu tiāo lián

Golden monkey raises curtain

38

燕子衔泥

yàn zǐ xián ní

Swallow carries mud with mouth

39

野马分鬃

yě mǎ fēn zōng

Wild horse parts manes

40

莺飞满天

yīng fēi mǎn tiān

Warblers fly in the sky

41

游龙戏水

yóu lóng xì shuǐ

Swimming dragon plays with water

42

海底捞月

hǎi dǐ lāo yuè

Get moon from beneath sea

43

夜叉探海

yè chā tàn hǎi

Ye Cha inspects sea

44

犀牛望月

xī niú wàng yuè

Rhino looks at moon

45

抽身射雁

chou shēn shè yàn

Pull bow string, aim at wild goose

46

白猿献果

bái yuán xiàn guǒ

White ape offers fruit

47

青龙探爪

qīng lóng tàn zhuǎ

Green dragon stretches paw

48

凤凰展翅

fèng huáng zhǎn chì

Phoenix spreads wings

49

白鹤亮翅

bái hè liàng chì

White crane spreads wings

50

仙人画图

xiān rén huà tú

Immortal person draws picture

51

白猿献果

bái yuán xiàn guǒ

White ape offers fruit

52

左右落花

zuǒ yòu luò huā

Flowers fall left and right

53

玉女穿梭

yù nǚ chuān suō

Jade maiden sends shuttle

54

白虎搅尾

bái hǔ jiǎo wěi

White tiger shakes tail

55

鱼跃龙门

yú yuè lóng mén

Fish leap over dragon gate

56

乌龙绞柱

wū lóng jiǎo zhù

Black dragon twists around pole

57

玉女探花

yù nǚ tàn huā

Jade maiden for flower

58

顺风扫叶

shùn fēng sǎo yè

Sweep leaves with the wind

59

平托天罡

píng tuō tiān gāng

Evenly carry Big Dipper’s handle

60

运转八卦

yùn zhuǎn bá guà

Turn around eight trigrams

61

力截金石

lì jié jīn shí

Forcefully cut golden stone

62

巧女缝针

qiǎo nǚ féng zhēn

Smart maiden sews with needle

63

白云罩顶

bái yún zhào dǐng

White cloud caps head

64

鸣金收兵

míng jīn shōu bīng

Hit drum to announce end

 

 

 

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