In sword sparring or free-play, safety is a constant debate. Some people want more safety, others want to reduce safety in order to increase realism for more "authentic" training.
However, from what I've learnt from my teachers, you can enjoy safety yet train in a realistic manner, provided that you've been taught authentically.
In the video below, I will demonstrate how you can attack with full speed, but yet in a controlled manner without brute force. This is also why I'm constantly baffled when some "masters" insist that you have to spar until someone gets knocked out or heavily bruised before you can be considered as "serious martial artists".
Scroll further down for more insights that I didn't mention in the video.
Some key points to highlight (which I may or may not have mentioned in the video):
I demonstrated a Diagonal Cut which I'm able to stop at 3 stages:
1st Stage - ending the blade just about the opponent's shoulder
2nd Stage - ending the blade at the middle of the body
3rd Stage - ending the blade just after the stomach, finishing the cut.
At each stage, the sword ends where the swordsman intends it to be. It is a conscious decision. He has the ability to choose how much damage he wants to inflict.
No matter where the cut ends, the movement mechanics are always the same. So even if I always train myself to end the blade above the shoulder, it doesn't affect my ability to complete the cut.
Each cut or movement must be performed swiftly, but also cleanly & silently. Like a silenced handgun.
Each cut must be performed in harmony with the rest of the body. Notice in the video, each of my cut involved footwork as well. That is one of the reason why I'm able to retain control of my sword under full speed.
If you've been training authentically, which is the goal of all serious martial artists, being able to cut fast but yet controlled should be one of the top-most objectives in your list of priorities.
Not just because you want to increase safety for your training partner, but it is also highly practical in a real-fight. This skill allows you to make multiple attacks fast and react swiftly to circumstances.
If you have done sword sparring before, let me ask you this: "Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you know you're going to 'die' even before the opponent's sword touches you?"
To develop the skills to move fast yet controlled reduces the chances of the above-mentioned from happening. In fact, it also reduces the chances of the opponent from experiencing the above-mentioned, because you're so clean and swift that he only realizes he's dead AFTER your sword hits him.
The beautiful wooden 2-handed Chinese Straight Sword was made by Graham Cave from Tiger's Den. Check him out for high quality awesome wooden training weapons!
Ancient Chinese Martial Arts Manuals