Gilman Studio On-Line Lessons



Yang Style

Tai Chi Dao/Saber/Broadsword


This Lesson Contains:

Movement # 29 Snow Covers The Head

Movement # 30 Turn Around And Spiral Cut

Wow! This has been the hardest lesson yet. The spiral cutting spin was a challenge to explain in still pictures. A video would be helpful, yet by itself, a video would probably not do the trick either. So study these pictures carefully and I’m sure you’ll be able to work it out.

The first movement – Snow Covers The Head is rather simple. The opponent uses a reverse slash to the upper back/neck region. The saber blade is used to block this attempt.

The second movement – Turn Around and Spiral Cut is a beautiful, flowing spinning motion ending in a horizontal cut across the opponent’s mid-section. This is one of those wonderful Tai Chi movements where we join, lead, gather energy, and finally release it back to the source. I have attempted to show this stepping in and spinning in still pictures. There is one point where both feet are pivoting on the ground together that I couldn’t show, but hopefully you can work it out with my verbal explanations.

# 29 – Snow Covers The Head

The opponent slashes towards my neck using a backhand cut.









I block the attack.

In picture #1 you can see that I put the right foot down in order to get out of the way of the slash. At the same time I brought up the saber to block and guard the rear of my neck.

Picture #2 actually shows the start of the next movement. I am starting to move to the side, and ultimately, behind the opponent.






#30 Turn Around And Spiral Cut

Viewed from the front

1) Following the block of the attempted neck cut, Stephie withdraws.

2) Stephie now attempts a trust to my center. I start to move in and around the opponent by joining, sticking, and leading her to my right.





1) Keeping contact, I start to spin in and around Stephie.

2) Now inside her saber blade, I break contact and start my attack.








Using my spinning energy, I slash across the opponent’s waist.










# 30 viewed from the side.

1) As the opponent thrusts, I start to move to the side and join.

2) I have joined and start to spin in and by her. Notice that the left foot has been swung around and is now in a T-step.







1)       I am now inside so I break contact as I continue my spin.

This is the moment when both feet would be pivoting at the same time.

2) I slash across the opponents waist.







Snow Covers The Head – From the front

This is a rather straightforward little movement. At the end of Golden Pheasant, the body faced slightly to the right of the beginning direction (north).  The opponent is behind or to my right.

Turn the torso to the right and step down the right heel. It is placed to the right and slightly in front of the left toe. The right toe will actually face as far to the rear as possible. The feet will end up almost parallel to each other with the left toe facing forward and the right toe facing almost to the rear. This movement requires good flexibility in the hip rotator muscles.

As you turn right and step down, bring the saber up to block. Your hand will be twisting in a clockwise direction as you bring the pommel end up over the head. The saber blade will face downward covering the neck and back. The left hand comes over to give support to the right wrist.

Focus on the saber blade for blocking.





Turn Around And Spiral Cut – Front View

1)       Shift the weight onto the right foot and roll up onto the left toe. The torso is turning to the right. The right arm is making a circle over the top of the head in order to bring the saber around the body. It feels almost as if you are making a circle around yourself with the blade.

2)       This is the start of the most difficult part of the spin. Using your torso swing the left foot around to the right as far as you can. It ends in a T-step. The left foot makes the top of a T in relation to the right foot. The toe faces about to the west.  The weight is still on the right foot. The saber has finished its circle and is now in front of the body to block the opponent’s saber. The point still faces down.

Focus on the flat of the blade for joining.





1)       Shift the weight onto the left foot and continue to turn the torso right. The saber is sticking to the opponent’s so it gets left a bit behind at this point. I am actually spinning inward in relation to the opponent.

Focus on the saber for sticking.

2)       I am now in far enough so I can now start my attack. I continue to turn to the right. All weight is on the left foot and the right starts to roll up on the toe. The arms move to the waist level and the saber is parallel to the ground with the sharp edge outward.

Focus on the target to your right.





1)       The body continues turning to the right.

Focus on the target to the right.

2)       Step out the right heel with the toe facing slightly to the right of east. The saber has just moved with the torso. I now have plenty of torque in the waist for my cutting motion.

Focus on the target.

Note: This spinning around is hard to describe. You need to practice this step by itself by trying to step in a tight circle to the right, over and over, until it feels natural. Don’t worry about what the saber is doing when practicing the spin.






The movement is complete.

Shift the weight onto the right foot and turn the torso until the nose faces the direction the right toe is headed (east). This step can be quite long. Be careful to step far enough to the right with the right foot to provide a solid brake for all the torque that is released during this spin.

The saber moves with the waist turn. The cutting edge of the blade is in front of your center which means that your hands are quite far to the right. Keep the saber blade parallel to the ground.

Focus on the cutting edge.





Turn And Spiral Cut – Side View

1)       Blocking the cut.

2)       Shifting to the right foot and starting to circle the saber behind the body.








I’m sorry to say that I’m missing a couple of pictures here that would show the swinging step around of the right foot. I apologize for this. Refer to the pictures above.

1)       I am now getting ready to step in. The saber is at the waist level for the cut.

2)       Step out the right foot quite wide to the right. Keep the weight on the left foot.





The movement is complete.

Notice the hands quite wide to the right. The torso faces slightly to the right of east. The cut is at waist level. Focus on the cutting edge.








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