Guest Author - Caroline Chen-Whatley
One of my favorite weapons, the gim (or jian or wu jian) is a beautiful long sword used in many Chinese Martial Arts styles. This sword has gotten many names over the years, including being referred to as the “scholar’s sword”, the “straight sword”, the “double-edged sword” or the “tai chi sword”.
The width of the blade is normally around 1 inch to 1 ˝ inches wide with both edges sharpened and the middle slightly bevelled. The end comes to a distinct point. The height of the blade varies slightly depending on how tall the practioner is, should generally rest around the temples when placed in resting position along the left arm. The hilt follows the lines of the blade to the pummel.
The shape of the blade provides it with versatility. The double-edge sides, allows for continual slicing motions in any direction. A common movement to see is a “figure eight” motion that utilizes the wrists to angle the blade in a continual downward V. The sharp point can be used for jabbing and piercing. When rotated with the edges, the piercing motion penetrates like a drill bit. As with many Martial Arts weapons, all parts of the weapon come into play. The pummel is effective for short-range , blunt attacks and the hilt is used for dislodging and locking the opponent.
Because of the length and use of the sword, it is important the sword be balanced when fully extended. The blade should be perfectly straight and inspected along each side and edge for alignment.
Watching someone play with the gim is as beautiful as the sword itself. The influence of Chinese styles along with the length of the sword, lends itself to very long, elegant movements. For those that study animals, the gim is often associated with various crane movements.
Because of this elegance, the gim is often featured in many Martial Arts movies and certainly finds a home among the internal arts.