Taijiquan > Yang Style Tai Chi Sabre

Yang Style Tai Chi Sabre

by Howard Choy

Sifu Li Iu-Ling demonstrating sabre


The traditional Yang family tai chi sabre (or broadsword) was passed down through the family via Yang Jiang Lou (who taught the 32 movements) to Yang Panhou (a set sequence of four movements) to Yang Cheng Fu who standardised the form into 13 movements or techniques, each with a description written in a verse form of seven characters.

I have translated the Chinese with a liberal interpretation. My aim is to hint at the techniques rather than strictly adhere to the poetic license adopted in the language.

I have also included the accepted name in short hand form (four characters only) for convenience of the memory.

The translation is taken from a small booklet entitled “Taiji Dao” or “The Tai Chi Sabre”, written by Cai Long-Yun (annotations) and Fu Zhong-Wen (demonstration), first published by the Shanghai Yongnian Taiji quan Association.

English reference “Chinese Kung Fu: Tai Chi Sabre for Self Defence” Edited by Captain Tom Marks, U.S. Army. Translated by Dominic Liu. Distributed by McLisa Enterprises, Honolulu, Hawaii 1975.

This text was written as a teaching aid for the students of my tai chi sabre class.

The Thirteen Movements of the Tai Chi Sabre

1. Changing the sabre over in “Seven Stars” and “Riding a Tiger” postures.

“Seven Stars and Riding a Tiger”

2. Soaring and turning, dodging and spreading in an elevated fashion

“Soaring, Turning, Dodging and Spreading”

3. Glancing to the left and to the right and spreading out

“Glancing to Left and Right”

4. White crane unfolding its wings with ‘Wuxing’ palm.

“White Crane Spreading its Wings”

5. The Lotus flower hidden amongst the leaves as the wind blows.

“The Wind Rolls the Lotus Flowers”

6. Jade Lady working at her shuttles in eight directions.

“Jade Lady Working her Shuttles”

7. Opening and Closing of the “Three Stars” of the body in a free display

“Opening and Closing of the Body”

8. Rising to kick followed by “striking the tiger” postures

“To Kick and to Strike the Tiger”

9. Covering body and turning sideways to kick like a mandarin duck

“To Kick like a Mandarin Duck”

10. Whipping the sabre like pushing a boat along with the current

“Pushing a Boat Along with the Current”

11. Co-ordinated horizontal movements with body, arms and legs

“Horizontal Co-ordinated Movements”

12. Parting water left and right and to jump up the Dragon Gate

“Jumping up the Dragon Gate”

13. Concluding the form like a phoenix returning to roost

“Phoenix Returning to Roost”


Sifu Howard Choy demonstrating Sabre