Tai Chi Sword and Jedi Warriors: Apply Within

Tai Chi sword and Jedi Warriors how to Apply Within as Si Gung Charles Tsui-Po talks about how to get the ‘ping’ or ‘shpang’ noise to ring forth from one’s straight sword…

Tai Chi Sword Charles Tsui-Po

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, a wise and wizened teacher uttered the phrase, “Use the Force”. His name was Yoda.

Not that long ago, in our very own galaxy, another wise teacher also said, “Use the Force”. His name was Si Gung Charles Tsui-Po.

At the time, Si Gung was talking about how to get the ‘ping’ or ‘shpang’ noise to ring forth from one’s straight sword. The choice of phrase took me straight back to my childhood. To the first Star Wars movie ever screened. To young Luke Skywalker, a small town farm boy who has inherited a legacy of awesome powers. (Not to be confused with Superman, Harry Potter or any of the other multitude coming-of-age stories with similar beginnings).

So there Luke is, his spaceship crashed in an unlovely swamp, being tutored by a green wizened character with long elfin (and fluffy) ears called Yoda. Yoda has Luke do a handstand… and then simultaneously attempt to lift his spaceship out of the swamp using only his Jedi mind powers. This is when he “Uses the Force”.

Seeing this moment on the big screen just blew my mind. Fifty kinds of desperate wishful longing blew through me. Because, frankly, who doesn’t want awesome mind powers? And to be the last Jedi warrior? And to be hunted by the entire armed forces of an evil multi-galactic Empire? Ok, that last bit isn’t so fabulous. But the rest is just incredibly delicious. (And for the gals who weren’t so keen on the male-centric environment of the movie Star Wars universes? Go on and read the books. Princess Leia kicks serious butt and her daughter becomes known as the “Sword of the Jedi”.)

Where was I? Right. Luke. Handstand. Swamp. Levitation. Spaceship. Tai Chi. There is a link here, I promise! (Note to the faithful: a Tai Chi sword is not a lightsaber, no matter how many humming/crackling ‘zwoom zwoom’ noises you make).

Now, to me, Luke’s situation is not unlike trying to learn aspects of Tai Chi (or any martial art): produce tangible results through inner mastery, while also fully engaging the body in a physical strength and balance feat. Sure, it’s no handstand, but a 4 minute routine in full 90 degree stances is no walk in the park, nor a jaunt on a speederbike.

Tai Chi Sword Jedi Warriors

“Use the Force”. In that moment, Si Gung Charles was trying to get us to generate power through the rotation from the hips, rooted in the floor, in order to drive the force through our swords. In turn, this would make the metal vibrate and chime its beautiful ‘shpang’ noise. You can make a milder ‘ping’ noise through just shoving at the sword with your arm, but the richness and intent only comes when you apply the principles of Tai Chi sword.

Si Gung Charles is no Yoda (For a start, he doesn’t talk the same way: “Turn your waist, you must”. Oh, and he’s not green and doesn’t live in a swamp). He is more of an Obi-Wan: quietspoken,but with that undercurrent of hidden power. A wise teacher, dedicated to passing on his knowledge to the students in his care.

So when I heard “Use the Force”, I immediately thought of the Tai Chi notion of force. (Ok, not immediately. Immediately, I thought about little green men and Jedi warriors. But after that, I thought about Tai Chi). Intent. Chi. Internal power.

Using the waist, grounding the feet, uncoiling energy through the waist while still leaving the limbs relaxed just enough.

… Aaaand… SHPANG!

I may have jumped up and down in excitement, just a little, at that point. I had pinged my tai chi sword for the first time in forever. And in my world, that means I’ve levelled up. I am now a JEDI WARRIOR.

My tai chi sword is totally going to glow and make the humming noise of a light saber any day now.

(If this article contains references unknown to you, go watch Star Wars. It’s a movie classic, containing the basic tropes of epic storytelling, with a wry and humorous young Harrison Ford utterly stealing the show.)

Nicola Nye, Rowville Tai Chi student