Showing posts with label miao dao. Show all posts
Showing posts with label miao dao. Show all posts

February 22, 2015

Feidor S. Laview, Mike Martello, A Miao Dao, and Respect

Respect is one of the most overused, cliche words in the English pantheon, especially in the computer age.  That is why when folks like Feidor S. Laview and my student Cheryl show such unbridled, honest respect I feel the need to highlight such acts. 

My new Taiji student Cheryl was kind enough to ask if I minded her showing some of what I have taught her to a class of senior citizens she teaches weekly.  I was flabbergasted and humbled by this simple, yet often overlooked request in the martial arts.  Traditionally in most Asian Martial Arts you were forbidden to teach or show what you learned to anyone outside of your training family.  Now days that rule is a bit more lax, but it is refreshing none the less when a student asks out of respect. 
Miss you Mike

Similarly a gentleman I have never met Feidor S. Laview writes the Seagraves Journey, a web serial that has been described by David Schrock as:
“A turbulent, occasionally psychedelic, ride dotted by beautiful pools of reflection.”

As part of his research for Wu Ming, one of his characters whom uses a Miao Dao (a specific long sabre from the Chinese Martial realm) Feidor stumbled across my postings about my old teacher  Mike Martello who was an expert in the Miao Dao.  Long story short Feidor was kind enough and respectable enough to ask my permission to post a nice write up on the origin of the weapon and his research.  Much respect Feidor, and excellent writing!  

Click here to check out his post.

April 23, 2011

Book Review - "Ancient Art of Chinese Long Saber" by Jack Chen

The Chinese long saber, often referred to as the Miao Dao, has long been one of my favorite weapons within the Chinese martial arts (CMA).  Graceful, powerful, just holding it in your hands makes you want to move with it.  For the most part it is extremely rare and relatively unknown here in North America, but its popularity is catching on, and Jack Chen of the Historical Combat Association has translated a classic and made it available to the masses.   "Ancient Art of Chinese Long Saber" is the translation and interpretation of the book of the same name written in the Ming Dynasty by Cheng Zong You. 

I learned the Miao Dao from John Wang years ago while training with him in Denver, CO.  Later when I was training with Mike Martello I discovered his passion for the Miao Dao and we set out to collaborate on a number of projects regarding the weapon, as well as an immersion into the study of the weapon for myself.  Unfortunately Mike passed just prior to us getting together to train the Miao Dao.  I guess it was not meant to be.

I have seen most of what is commercially available on the Miao Dao which is not much, and is not saying much either.  Jack Chen's translation is the first step in many strides towards dissemination and sharing of information on the weapon arts of the CMA, many of which are in danger of becoming extinct in the next generation or so.  Mr. Chen is a self proclaimed novice to the weapon which I think keeps the translation clear to a certain point, but also threatens a lack an understanding of context in some regards.  This is the bane of all historians trying to recreate something that no one is 100% sure of.

Broken into approximately seven parts, Chen has translated the complete manuscript without annotation including:

  • Long Saber Sayings 
  • Details of the Long Saber
  • 22 Stances of the Long Saber
  • Long Saber Addendum
  • Long Saber Form
  • 12 Additional Long Saber Stance
  • Long Saber Stances Summary (say that 10x fast!)
These chapters represent the direct translation of Cheng's Ming (1368-1644) Dynasty work.  Jack Chen was sharp enough to also include a 30 page addendum to the back of the book offering supplemental information on the weapons and combat tactics such as the use of the crossbow and spear!  

Overall Cheng's work is rather superficial as you can tell it was meant as a reference to what a soldier already knew, not a manual to be learned from.  Basic descriptions of stances and positions fail to mention any body mechanics nor strategies, not even gripping!     

I confess no fluency in Chinese so my reading and translating skills are nothing to speak on, but my basic martial Chinese fluency finds no error in Chen's work.  Literal and direct, his translation is consistent throughout the text.  Matching the sayings along with sketch drawings one can get the general idea of the stance / position being explained.  Chen has re-traced many of the images, as the originals were starting to fade.  

The form itself would be very difficult to learn from this book (and you should always seek out an actual instructor anyways) and with no techniques offered one can only speculate on the actual application of many of the movements.  But overall Jack Chen's translation represents the first step in gathering information, sharing ideas, and helping build the weapon based arts of the Chinese culture.  So much has already been lost due to lack of interest, yet the CMA hold so many treasures and links to a fabled history that spans thousands of lifetimes!  In this regard Chen has created a gem for any of us who fancy such topics and interests.  

Coming in a little heavy at $35 (including quick shipping from Singapore) this 152 page book will make a welcomed addition to Chinese martial artists as well as weapon guru's the world over.  Click here to view sample pages or to order your copy today!

As an ending treat, the late Mike Martello teaching the Miao Dao.  Poetry in motion!  RIP mi amigo. 

June 15, 2009

Mike & his Miao Dao

One of the things that instantly drew Mike and I closer was our mutual passion for a relatively rare weapon; the Miao Dao (various translations, but essentially "Willow Leaf Sabre"). Mike and I had both learned the same form, though I must admit Mikes was so much more flowing and beautiful. The version I learned was via Taiwan as well, but more choppy, less fluid. Actually we were discussing a special camp here in the Pac NW where the Miao Dao would be the topic learning both form and function. Mike had spent a little time with me training the weapons intricacies and what not, but it was one of those projects that I said "later" to. Now I wish I had spent more time on it with him.

Their are videos all over of Mike teaching and training the Miao Dao, so I will not get too deep into it, but I wanted to share something with you all. The following text is an excerpt from a personal correspondence I had with Mike (though I do not think I was the only one privy to this info) via email. I am not going to share all of it right now because I have plans on writing an article about the Miao Dao in the future, but I think you may find this interesting:

"The Miao Dao may vary in size and weight, but a standard version would be approximately 128 cm long (blade 98 cm, handle 30 cm). When it comes to fierceness, the Miao Dao has no equal. Wielded with one hand or both, combining the characteristics of both saber and spear into one, it is not hard to see why this versatile weapon was unrivalled on the battlefield. The movements of the Miao Dao are fluent yet compact, with the body supplying power to the weapon, while the waist steers the blade in its motions. An attack is always wrapped inside a defensive technique, while a defensive movement immediately transforms into an attack. Its interlinking movements and rapid evading footwork makes the Miao Dao wielder an unpredictable foe. The Miao Dao is truly a great treasure within the Chinese martial arts world and also an invaluable part of Chinese history and culture." - Martello

I also want to share the following illustrations with you. I do not know the name of the illustrator (if anyone does, please forward it to me so I can give credit where it is due), but this is a beautiful rendering of the Miao Dao form as Mike taught it, and as it was passed on to me.

I hope you can enjoy objectively!