It was there, leaning against the wall for a few weeks. I took note of it because previously it was not there. I didn’t know who put it there but in a lesson this week it became handy.

Emptyhand forms are emptyhand forms and weapon forms are weapon forms. Some movements will overlap but when playing weapons we should take advantage that the design of a weapon affords us.

Study the advantages, expand your understanding, and apply it to improving and refining your emptyhand techniques for your hand is the weapon and the weapon your hand. The practice of each can be mutually beneficial.

As with emptyhand forms we should play the form in a meaningful manner. For example, don’t play the straightsword like swishing a toothpick in space. Instead, take heed of how it can be used to stab, cut and slice. Observe, the similarities and dissimilarities to emptyhand movements, and the strengths and weaknesses of its design when pitted against other weapons.

Until this lesson my explanations of the use of the straightsword had been largely in the context of straightsword versus straightsword. But this lesson I wanted to highlight the issue of reinforcing the movement of the straightsword. This would be relevant when you need extra power to pierce your target or to control a potential loss of balance when missing a target.

For defending you will need to get more mass behind the straightsword to absorb the impact on the weapon and body if ever you have to block the strike from a more powerful weapon such as the long pole.

But alas, I didn’t bring a long pole along. So it looked like I could not illustrate what I wanted to talk about.

However, it was no problem after all. Just a matter of improvising. After all, we are learning live principles which if it to be useful to our everyday lives, must enable us to change and adapt to different circumstances. I was hesitant but learning took precedence.

Adjust and adapt, use what is at hand, and make it work. Yes, it worked well. Only thing I didn’t do was to make contact, something I would do if I had a long pole but it was understandable.

Still, it was useful and I was able to illustrate many points – why move this way, why hold the straightsword in this manner, how to control our space, how to step and cut, and so on. The red plastic twigs moved through the air – poking, swiping, turning – like the tail of a faux dragon jousting with the straightsword.

At the end of the lesson, against the wall it leaned in silent zhanzhuang until brought to life once more to fulfill its traditional function. A tool so ordinary, yet could a weapon be when used right.

An illuminating experience indeed from the ordinary broom.


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