I’m sitting in our cabin right now with the A/C blasting because it’s a lot hotter than I anticipated it would be in Pennsylvania. My friends and I arrived earlier this afternoon and just got back from doing some grocery shopping. Tonight it’s Al and Ei’s responsibility to cook dinner so I thought I could use this time to write today’s post. Since I’m on vacation with friends I probably won’t be able to do the prompt as well and posts will probably be much much later than I would like each day. Still I don’t want the habit to die and it’s important that I continue, as my fingers get fidgety if they don’t get their opportunity to type and the thoughts get congested in my head. Hahah.
I’m excited that the cabin has a huge field right outside because it allows me to practice the second half of my retreat weekend, the double broadsword! This is what I would like to discuss today.
The broadsword, or dao in Chinese, is one of the four main principle weapons of martial arts. Its versatility, lethality, ease of production, and ease of use made it one of the most popular weapons in Chinese martial arts for novices and experts and its wide appeal made it known as the ‘General of All Weapons’. The dao has some very unique design features. The first is the curved handle. The dao is held primarily with the thumb and pointer finger and the middle, ring, and pinky are used as ‘brakes’. Unlike the samurai sword which uses the shoulders to deliver slashing motions, the broadsword uses the wrist to generate speed and the fingers to brake for control. Contrary to what you might believe, the broadsword is more like the samurai sword, which slices and slashes, then the machete, which hacks. The broadsword also features a very dynamic blade with a slight curve and varying thicknesses. The straighter, thicker base is used to block and counter parry attacks. The blade thins and curves at the end for a sharper and longer cutting edge. The shape of the blade is often referred to as a ‘willow leaf’.
In form the dao is often used in circular motions to block, clear, and strike all in one motion. The flat side of the blade is used to parry and block and the attacks are primarily slashes or thrusts. Its versatility and applicability is also why martial arts schools today still love to teach dao forms. Even though we live in a world where spears, swords, and staffs are not readily available, the broadsword form can be applied to bats, canes, and any stick of similar length.
The form I learned was actually double broadsword. The especially fun and unique aspect of this was we used what are known as shuangdao, which is a sabre in each hand. The broadswords I use are actually half-handled, because their original intent was to wield it as one sword and, when necessary, to be able to separate them and surprise the enemy with a second attack.
But this is not what I wanted to discuss. Not everyone will have the opportunity to pursue a training in ancient Chinese martial arts weapons. But everyone will have experience in relationships, and the connection, though faint, does exist.
See many amateur martial artists love the idea of weapons training because they think they can pursue it in lieu of regular training. They don’t work on themselves as much and instead their unarmed, what we call ‘empty hand’ is weak and they rely solely on weapons training. But what should be immediately apparent is that not everyone will always have a weapon at hand. And so the person who relies on that as a supplement is at a disadvantage.
This understanding can then be applied to relationships. For example, I was very keen to supplement what personal shortcomings I may have possessed with the strengths of the person I was dating. I did not work on improving myself or fulfilling certain aspects of my personality that were lacking because I relied solely on the supplemental characteristics of another person. But here I am now, single and with no intention otherwise, and I must now realize that the responsibility of betterment relies solely on myself.
See weapons training is not meant to be a supplement. It is meant to be a way of strengthening that which already exists. Much like we should not look to relationships to improve that which we are lacking. There’s something to be said of complimentary relationships, of course. How the right person can balance who we are and bring completeness in that sense. But we should never content ourselves to rely permanently on others to finish what we are incomplete in. A weapon is only as good as the empty hand technique from which it is based. A relationship is only as strong as the individuals who make it.
I used to view relationships as a natural extension of my self. I would purposefully force the mantle of my shortcomings on the woman I was with. But now I am tasked with improving that which I know is a weakness, and pursuing as far as I can improvement and betterment. Sure I may not finish the journey, as no one is perfect. But I can say I have not relied on anyone else first before finding out what I am capable of.
Man: 40 Loneliness: 16