Home Discussion Forum What's the difference between a Wushu and Tai Chi straight sword?

What's the difference between a Wushu and Tai Chi straight sword?

I’m not talking about the forms, I’m talking about the actual swords and how they look. And how do you know if the sword is balanced right?


  1. I believe that both disciplines use the Jian.
    The Tai Chi Jian usually has a tassel on the pommel, I’m not sure about the Wushu Jian.
    As for balance…
    The walking stick is my preferred weapon so I can’t say.

  2. Well that’s a hard question since there are a lot of different types of straight swords and it’s always debated which is better.
    However one big difference is if you mean wushu as in the performance sport, not the traditional Chinese martial arts. If you mean wushu like Jet Li’s background, then the weapons they use are always lightweight, often spring steel–ever notice how they shake and quiver? Now that does not mean tai chi straight swords are necessarily better but a true tai chi adept should be able to use a combat steel sword–much heavier than a wushu style sword–and something that can be more effective in a real fight.

  3. My knowledge of Tai Chi is limited, but from what I understand, the Tai Chi sword is divided into 3 parts, the tip is very thin and razor sharp for cutting and stabbing while the middle part of the blade is slightly thicker and sharp for parrying and sliding, while the bottom part near the hilt is thick and dull for blocking. Basically you cut and stabbed with the tip, parry, slide and slash with the middle part and if all else fails, block with the bottom part near the guard. The Wushu sword I guess is like most basic straight swords, only thinner and lighter.

  4. Since i practice both wushu and taiji i think i can help you. the actual design of the sword or jian is the same. certain makers use different alloys for different reasons. typically i would use two swords, a heavy one for training and a light one for competitions. spring steel is good for competing because of its durability and its ability to transfer your force to the end of the blade. looks great. by the way one way to check your swords integrity is to put the point of the sword on the floor and hold the tip of the pommel with one finger. if the sword stays balanced and strong you’ve got a good sword. if not, the sword probably wasn’t made very well. hope this helps.

  5. They say a picture is like a thousand words. The three swords on this page are tai chi swords. One is a dao and the other two are jian. The middle one is an antique jian and the bottom one is a modern reproduction. I use these swords for tai chi.
    Click on the first thumbnail on this page for a full length picture. http://www.chinese-swords-guide.com/tai-chi-sword.html
    These are real tai chi swords, called jian. They are strong, not like the wobbly, thin sword shaped things people use for wushu. It depends what you want the sword for. Real tai chi is a martial art and people who train in it as a martial art use a sword that would keep them alive in a real battle.
    Back in the days when Yang Luchan was developing what we now practise as tai chi (taiji, Taijiquan), he would’ve had a sword like the antique in that picture from the Qing dynasty, if he had a sword at all. We try to train with the actual weapons the tai chi sword forms were created with. We train with wooden replicas when swordfighting, using the moves from those forms because we want our partners for next time.
    There are all sorts of things labelled “tai chi” sword that I wouldn’t look twice at. It depends what you want it for.
    A jian usually has the point of balance about 6 – 8 inches down the blade from the guard. This varies, of course. the right balance is the one that allows you to move the sword to a new position quickly. The sword should almost have a springy lively feel. Obviously, a real weight jian will not move in the same way as a “pretend” tai chi sword. This is where wushu becomes rhythmic gymnastics with a sword. It’s beautiful to watch and very skilfull but it isn’t swordsmanship. You couldn’t use those moves with a full weight jian against a real swordsmans and hope to stay alive. Again …. it’s what you want it for …. everything has its own purpose. Wushi isn’t swordsmanship so don’t expect it to be and don’t expect to learn real swordsmanship if you decide to learn wushu.


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