Chen-style Dan Dao

The Chen-style single broadsword (單刀 Dān Dāo) is an exciting form that lasts only about a minute. I first learned it (a slightly different version, actually) about five years ago. This year I have been practicing and correcting my form with the help of Hu Pei Yi and Jesse Tsao’s excellent teaching video.

Here is a beautiful demonstration by Chen Zhenglei:


Chen Zhenglei performs Chen Saber

He also offers a YouTube instructional video with English subtitles: .

Here is the list of names of the movements, of which there are just 21: ChenSaber (PDF).

Michael Garofalo offers a thorough, interesting, and ultimately bewildering discussion of broadsword techniques, dao fa, on his excellent Cloud Hands tai chi blog: He lists 18 altogether; the Chen style seems to employ 13 (read the source notes that follow his list). Chen Zhenglei lists “slicing, hacking, blocking, cutting, pricking, rolling, closing, scooping, cross-cutting, twisting, shaking, supporting, and tilting”—but these are not his words. This is English, and as usual, the translation muddies the water.

I come away with the following vocabulary for saber. These are terms that I think I understand (meaning that I know what to do with the saber). I list them here in roughly the order that they are introduced in the form.

  1. 刺     Cī (Stab)
  2. 缠     Chán (Wrap)
  3. 划     Huá (Slash)
  4. 挂     Guà (Hang)
  5. 托     Tuō (Support)
  6. 撩     Liāo (Lift)
  7. 切     Qiē (Slice)
  8. 扫     Sǎo (Sweep)
  9. 劈     Pī  (Chop)
  10. 拦     Lán (Block)
  11. 截     Jié (Intercept)
  12. 扎     Zhā (Stab)
  13. 砍     Kǎn  (Hack)

The wrap, chan, is chan tou, wrap the head. The saber passes close around the head, protecting the back and head and positioning for a second slash (hua). The chan tou/hua combination is continuously repeated in Yang saber. Here, it occurs only when the wind sweeps the wilted flowers (and in closing form).

Chen Yi Dao

I’m reviewing Chen Saber for a demonstration next week. For video, I’m looking at Chen Zhenglai. This sequence is slightly different from what I’m used to, but it’s mostly the same.

Chen Zhenglei performs Chen-shi Yi Dao

Chen Zhenglei performs Chen-shi Yi Dao

Also, Master Gohring has an entire playlist from a workshop that Master Blue Siytangco held at our school a few years ago.

Master Siytangco teaches Chen Saber

Master Siytangco teaches Chen Saber

I’ll combine this post with an earlier one on Chen saber to make a page for the form and link to that from the Moving Forms page.

Chen ZiQiang Videos

Chen ZiQiang is the son of Chen Xiaoxing and nephew of Chen Xiaowang. He’s also the great grandson of Chen Fake. (In case you’re wondering, as I was, that’s pronounced Fah-kuh.) has a good article (from 2006) on Chen ZiQiang: What it Takes to be a Taiji Master in Chen Village.

Chen ZiQiang step-by step Pao Chui

Chen ZiQiang step-by step Pao Chui on YouTube

A lot of video has been posted, and continues to be posted (he is young and active), on YouTube. As recently as May 2015, an hour-long tutorial on Laojia Erlu was posted. He demonstrates each move multiple times, slowly, with names in both Chinese and English.

The intro is long, with history of Chen Taiji (interesting!) and Chen ZiQiang’s lineage and credentials. The actual breakdown begins around the 18-minute mark. The English translations of names vary from what I’ve seen elsewhere, but the Chinese names are the same. It’s my first opportunity to learn how to pronounce them correctly.

Chen ZiQiang Double Saber Demo

Chen ZiQiang Double Saber Demo

I learned about Chen ZiQiang when Grandmaster Gohring (my teacher) sent around the link to Chen ZiQiang’s demo of the double sabers, which we are working on in class. Other Chen ZiQiang video links to study:

The Chen sword demo is another step-by-step tutorial. Laojia Yilu and saber are just demos. For those who like to do push-hands, YouTube has a whole slew of Chen ZiQiang Tui Shou video.

Chen Saber

This short, flashy form is required for the second degree black sash. It’s performed with a flexible broadsword and lasts only a little more than a minute. A section can be repeated to add length for purposes of competition, where a minimum time of two minutes or more may be required.

Chen SaberVideo resources for this one are scant! On Master Gohring’s YouTube, you can see Mister Hunter and Mister Rodriguez performing at Black Sash Graduation 2010. Very dark! And shot from the back.

Master Blue Siytangco studied with Grand Master Cheng Jincai along with Master Gohring. A few years ago he taught a class in Chen Saber at Master Gohring’s school. Here’s a video–wonderful instruction but doesn’t cover the whole form.

Here’s the list of movements:

  1. Preparing Form
  2. Protect the Heart
  3. Blue Green Dragon Leaps from the Sea
  4. Wind Sweeps the Wilting Flowers
  5. White Clouds Overhead
  6. Black Tiger Searches the Mountain
  7. Su Chin carries the Sword on His Back
  8. Golden Rooster Stands Alone
  9. Turn to Coming Force
  10. Cut the White Snake at the Waist
  11. Three Rings Around the Sun
  12. Part Clouds to See the Sun
  13. Search Grass for Snake
  14. Blue Green Dragon Leaps from the Sea
  15. Wind Sweeps the Wilting Flowers
  16. White Crane Inserts Golden Wing
  17. Nei Zha Searches Sea Bottom
  18. Turn and Chop Left
  19. Turn and Chop Right
  20. White Snake Spits Poison
  21. Embrace the Moon
  22. Close Form