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Dangerous Flowers of Double Saber

The Story of the Double Saber Lady General

On the isle of the green sea there were three groups of warriors totaling 100,000 who all perished.

A woman general from Tian Zhou came with thousands of soldiers to aid the little country. Her soldiers were disciplined and brave. On a snowy night with a new moon she battled in person waving her double sabers. She and her soldiers wiped clean the entire island.

So begins the, 'Song of Double Sabers' recounting a story of a powerful woman warrior who fought with a pair of sabers. This is the opening of a short section of some history and methods of the double sabers. Written in Wu She's book Shou Bei Lu (published 1662). A book famous for its details on spear fighting and training methods.

Double Saber vs. Spear in Taiwan

Before learning how to use the steel weapons we undergo a long period of using nothing but sticks. In this picture I train double saber vs. spear of Tian Shan Pai style of longfist. Photographed at Tainan City's Confucius Temple.

Click to enlarge

Magical Footwork of Double Sabers

The essential attacks of double saber are based on three types of footwork.

  • Traveling on a straight line directly toward your opponent.
  • Moving diagonal left and right.
  • Leaping and turning.

Straight line means that you move directly toward the opponent in your attack and directly backwards in your retreat.

Diagonal means that as you advance forward your footwork doesn't bring you toward your opponent, but off to their side.

Leaping and turning is similar to diagonal travel in that you don't  move in the direction of the enemy. Use leaping and turn before you land to the opponent's side.

Wrapping Sabers

The sonnet of double sabers gives hints to the the proper handling of the weapons.

Use left and right as if they are one.

The two arms circle and wrap around each other.

Don't use your weapons like you are chopping vegetables, but in a smooth continuous flowing motion.

The application is described in logical detail.

First comes your right saber. As soon as it contacts or passes its target follow with the left hand. Keep your eyes clear, body rapid and feet nimble. Like a stream flowing out of the valley or how wind shakes fire.

Just like the ancient description, our first attack often starts with the right hand. Below is a pictographic explanation of this method. This two person drill is first taught without walking. Once the students master that, they can begin walking forward and backward.

Ready to Attack







Steve, wearing the white shirt, is the attacker. Jim, in black, is the defender. The the solo diagrams on the side show how Jim or Steve would be performing these moves in their solo training.

Both the attacking strike and the defending parry of this sequence are the same movement. In the end it comes down to getting there first. Whoever gets to the target first is the attacker. Steve's first strike shows him chopping Jim's neck.







Jim Defends







Jim's saber intercepts before Steve has a chance to apply his strike. Like the black and white diagram off to the side, Jim and Steve's saber will follow through past his waist and continue to swing up to their left side.

Follow with the left hand

Steve's left hand immediately follows his initial right hand chop. This time his target is Jim's unprotected wrist.








Jim also follows with his left saber to parry Steve's swift attack.









Like the quote above, The two arms circle and wrap around each other.' Steve's right saber never hesitates and comes around to strike Jim from the other side.







Jim's own saber follows like Steve's does.

The Other Half of the Circle

This strike to Jim's wrist is the beginning of the other half of the circle. As long as Jim can keep his circle going he will defend himself, as shown below.












Difficulty of Strikes

These drills require a precise accuracy as a slip up will cause an injury to your partner's hand. A major blunder will chop his shoulder, neck or body. For these reasons, students must master the solo moves with pinpoint accuracy before they can move on to the two person drills.

In actual combat, proper understanding of the footwork goes a long way in saving your life.

The focus on footwork is essential training in the training of double sabers and gives insight into the similar footwork of Mantis Boxing and how Mantis Boxing uses footwork for proper positioning to overcome the enemy[

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