Names for 32-sword

I’ve put together a list of the 32 movements in the standardized short sword form. The contemporary forms have two sets of names, descriptive and traditional. Descriptive names are instructions, like Feet Together Point Sword. The traditional names are mostly poetic, often idiomatic, and sometimes make reference to folklore and legendary gods and heroes.

Heavenly Horse Crosses the Sky

Heavenly Horse Crosses the Sky

For descriptive names, I have used the list written out for me by a friend (below). For the traditional names I have relied heavily on Michael Garofalo’s excellent blog, Cloud Hands. He has compiled an extensive list of names for each movement–these older names appear in many forms and have numerous translations. I have chosen the poetic names used at my school for the Yang sword form.

photo (15)

起势, Qi Shi (Commencement) is not one of the 32 movements. For 32-sword, 三環套月 (San huan tao yue) is a form of Three Rings Around the Moon, which also varies in traditional forms, but is mostly the same in contemporary sword forms.

Long Feng doing 32 sword

Three Rings Around the Moon

Here’s the list, in Chinese, Pinyin and English, as a PDF: 32-Sword Names of Movements

If you are confused by the two different names for Da Kui Xing—Big Dipper and Major Literary Star—Michael Garofalo explains how and why the great scholar Kui Xing took up residence in the constellation. See Cloud Hands.

Interestingly, the MDBG dictionary translates 海底撈月 (Hai Di Lao Yue), which we call Scooping the Moon from the Bottom of the Sea, as an idiom for a hopeless illusion, which makes sense, since the moon in the sea is just a reflection that you couldn’t scoop up.

Push Boat with Current is an idiom for taking advantage of a situation for one’s own benefit, and Shooting Star Chases the Moon is an idiom for swift action.

Heavenly Horse Crosses the Sky ia an idiom for boldness and imagination, unrestrained style, especially in calligraphy. Garofalo notes that a number of words for sword techniques are also terms for strokes in calligraphy, and that many sword masters have also been accomplished calligraphers.

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