Last month we introduced Taichi Sword, and this month we will move on to Taichi Knife, also known as the Taichi Broadsword. As with the sword, this will be a general introduction to help you understand what you are working towards, as well as some guidance as to what to look for when purchasing a Taichi Knife.
The main focus of Taichi Knife practice, is to help you learn to use the whole body in your Taichi practice. A Taichi Knife ideally weighs thirteen pounds, but you usually start with one weighing about half that as a beginner. In order to do your practice correctly, you need to use your whole body, not just your arm to move the knife. This requires you to really connect with the Lower Dan Tian in order to do this properly. The weight of the knife helps you know whether you are doing the form properly, because, should you feel the weight of the knife, you automatically know that you are not doing the form correctly.
Knife practice helps to develop your Single Hand Push practice. In order to do the knife form properly, you must use circular movements driven from the Dan Tian. The weight of the knife is designed to help you develop this type of movement, as well as a "heavy hand". You want to then take these concepts, and put them into all of your practice.
Where the Taichi Sword form is Yin on the outside, and Yang on the inside, the Knife form is the opposite of this. Taichi Knife is considered a metal form, where the sword as you remember, is a water form. While it is very dynamic and Yang on the outside, you want a relaxed Yin energy on the inside. Remember in Taichi you are always balancing these two energies, and these two forms help you to practice that, reversing the inside and outside, so that not only are you balancing both energies, but doing it with these energies reversed.
You also practice Two Person Roll Knife in order to develop your skill at Single Hand Push. In addition to learning to hold the knife in a horizontal position using your energy, and not you arm strength, you will learn to push your energy outward as you do your circles. The "heavy hand" mentioned earlier will make you not only feel heavy to your practice partner, but will develop real power in your Single Hand Push practice as well as your other practice.
Buying a Knife
Finding a good Taichi Knife is extremely difficult. Unless you can find one of the increasingly rare hand made ones, you will have to settle for a factory made one. The problem with these is that, not only are they too light, but also unbalanced. Unless you have the proper weight and balance, it is difficult to really do the form properly and get all the benefits from your knife practice.
The knife you buy should be listed as a Taichi Broadsword by what ever source you choose to purchase one from. Like the Taichi Sword, it should have a wooden handle and a brass pommel. Balance is also very important. If you swing the knife, it should feel like it is floating as you get to the height of the swing, not like it is pulling you along after it. The heavier the weight you can get, the better to keep you from doing the form strictly with your arm. Try to consult a qualified instructor to get guidance for finding a source for your knife, as well as advise you on what to buy.
This should give you an idea what to look for in a Taichi Knife, and illustrate some of the benefits of Taichi Knife practice. Try and find a qualified instructor to help you select a good knife as well as teach you the form properly. A good knife, and qualified instructor will allow you to reap the many benefits of this auxiliary training practice, and help with your Taichi power development.