The sword, saber, and staff weapons of Taijiquan are implements for improving your health, expressing qi, and issuing intrinsic energy (jin). Even though these three weapons are complete training systems of Taijiquan within themselves, each has a primary focus in its practice: Sword develops the skill of extending intrinsic energy through the arms and hands. The handling of the sword is likened to the skills of a Chinese calligrapher with a writing brush, making use of very refined yin and yang movements. Saber develops the skill of issuing qi from the spine. The handling of the saber is equated to the skills of a Chinese archer pulling a bow, making use of movements for drawing-in and releasing energy. Staff develops the skill of directing intrinsic energy through the waist. The wielding of the staff relates to the skills of a Chinese fisherman poling a boat across the water, moving the entire body as one unit with steady, relaxed, and flowing motions. All practicers of Taijiquan and other martial arts and health regimes should definitely consider training one or more of these incredible weapon arts. The Yang Family was truly genius in making these weapon practices part and parcel to their Taijiquan system of training. Without learning the skills inherent to each weapon, your level of skill can t reach its highest potential, as each weapon becomes an extension of the body, providing the skills of expressing intrinsic energy, qi, and spirit-whether within a self-defense situation or in your daily activities.
Stuart Alve Olson, longtime protege of Master T.T. Liang (1900-2002), is a teacher, translator, and writer on Taoist philosophy, health, and internal arts. In 2006, he formed Valley Spirit Arts to present his books and DVDs, and is the head teacher at the Sanctuary of Tao in Phoenix, Arizona, where he focuses on translating various Taoist texts, conducting lectures, leading retreats, and teaching.