Mystery Solved: "Bury Head" and "Enter Cave" stances of the Chinese Long Saber

The Chinese Long Saber manual was the 1st manual that I translated and interpreted when I started this website 9 years ago. The one thing that bothered me all these years was how similar the "Bury Head" and "Enter Cave" stances looked like. Surely either one can perform the job of the other, so why the need to waste a valuable page by separating them into 2 different stances? There must be a reason. And I believe I found the reason.

If you prefer to watch a video, here it is:

But if you prefer to read instead, continue further down.

The first 4 stances of the Chinese Long Saber manual are:

  1. Mutual Draw Stance (2 swordsmen drawing each other's sword)

  2. Draw Sword Stance (1 swordsman drawing his own sword)

  3. Bury Head Stance

  4. Enter Cave Stance.

As the first 2 stances are for drawing your sword and preparing yourself for combat, thus the first 2 combat stances are actually the "Bury Head" and "Enter Cave" stances. Why are these 2 stances significant enough to be positioned as that?

The answer was found, when I referred to the Crossbow manual.

Master Cheng Zongyou actually authored 4 manuals. The first is the Shaolin Staff manual, which is his first, and stands alone by itself. The next 3 actually comes as a set, in the following sequence:

  1. Crossbow

  2. Long Spear

  3. Long Saber

The Crossbow manual talks about constructing and shooting a Crossbow, but it also talks about formation tactics. It mentioned that when it comes to melee combat, every Spearman has 2 Swordsmen on his sides to protect him (one on the left, one on the right). This is because if the enemy gets too close, the Spearman will then be at a disadvantage.

My guess is that there are 2 variations.

1st Variation: Between 2 Spearmen, there are 2 Swordsmen. This means:

  • the Swordsmen can help to draw each other's Long Saber by using the "Mutual Draw" stance.

  • each Spearman has 2 dedicated Swordsmen to protect him

2nd Variation: There is a lack of Swordsmen, so there's some sharing going on. Each Swordsman will have to protect the Spearmen to his left and right. Busy day for the Swordsmen. And they have to draw their own sword using the "Draw Sword" stance.

The important things to note about the "Bury Head" and "Enter Cave" stance are that:

  • "Bury Head" is used for deflecting the enemy's Spear thrust towards the left.

  • "Enter Cave" is for deflecting upwards.

  • You start off with either of the 2, so that everyone (Spearmen or Swordsmen) are standing with their left arm forward, creating an uniform formation.

  • With either stance, you shorten your Long Saber, so that the only weapons which are extended forward are the Spears, and your Long Saber will not interfere with them.

Mystery Solved

The mystery can be easily solved when you consider yourself as a Swordsman whose primary job is not to kill the enemy, but to protect your Spearmen. The significance of these 2 stances is that:

  • you may only deflect to the left (Bury Head Stance)

  • or deflect upwards (Enter Cave Stance)

You must NEVER deflect the enemy's Spear thrust towards the right.

  • Because this will bring the enemy's Spear to the back of the Spearman on your right, making it difficult for them to block.

  • But if you deflect to the left, the enemy's Spear is going towards the front of the Spearman on your left. If he wants to block, it is at least more convenient for him to do so.

You may watch a video of this in the above YouTube link.

Thank you for your support for the past 9 years, and I look forward to work on this website for many more years to come.

Jack Chen Ancient Chinese Martial Arts Manuals www.ChineseLongsword.com

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