Similar thoughts transpire while practicing Cheng Man Ching sword form as practicing the empty-hand form. As such from my own experiences, I believe that students should not address the sword form until they have at least a workable understanding of Professor's empty-hand form. Many of the underlying principles are the same: fluidity, connectivity, balance, natural heaviness, the body (and sword) should be flexible and "ready" - not limp, the spine should be open, etc. In short, the sword becomes an extension of the body - all of the body's attributes and movement of Chi is to now be transmitted into the sword. Likewise, energy and sensitivity that practitioners listen to with their hands would now be heard from the blade. Professor's modifications to the classic Yang-style sword form were not as extensive as were his modifications to the empty-hand form, although Professor's teachings involving fluidity, connectivity between transitions, and subtleness are present in the movements.

Chen Weiming (a student of Yang Cheng Fu) documented the classic 55-movement Yang-family sword form in 1928. In 1955, a Chinese Tai Chi Physical Education Subcommittee used parts of this 55-movement form in the Yang style to develop a government standardized (simplified) 32-movement sword form to be used in physical education and wushu classes as an introductory Taijiquan swordplay form. Since then, the standard simplified 32 sword form has become very popular in China and all around the world. Numerous instructional media, books, and webpages exist for learning the 32 Taijiquan Sword Form.

You will find in your travels that some instructors teach the 32-movement form and some teach the classic form. As with most longer sword forms, the ordering of the moves and the numbering sequence differs a little from teacher to teacher. You may come across the classic 55-movement Yang Sword form in variations with 50 movements, 51 movements, 52 movements (Cheng Man-Ch'ing), 53 movements (Petra Kobayashi), 54 movements (Yang Jwing Ming, Sam Masich), 55 movements (Chen Weiming), 56 movements (Peter Lim Tian Tek), 61 movements (Stuart Alve Olson), 64 movements (Xin Qi Shen Dojo), and 67 movements (Yang Zhen Duo and Yang Jun, Jiang Jian-ye). It will depend on whether or not opening and closing movements are included, how some longer movement sequences are defined and numbered, added repetitions, deleted repetitions, and unique variations. The direction of some movements vary from teacher to teacher, but overall the sequence of movements is the same.

The Yang-family Sword Form :: Cheng Man Ching, 52-movement variation:
(...as taught to me by Sifu James Leporati of Brooklyn, NY)







  1. Starting position.
  2. Step forward and unite with sword.
  3. The divinity points the way.
  4. Three rings around the moon.
  5. The major "Literary Star" (the Big Dipper).
  6. The swallow skims the water.
  7. Block and sweep, right and left.
  8. The minor "Literary Star".
  9. The wasp enters the hive.
  10. The clever cat catches the mouse.
  11. The dragonfly strikes the water.
  12. The swallow returns to the nest.
  13. The Phoenix spreads its wings.
  14. The whirlwind moves left w/ minor "Literary Star”.
  15. The whirlwind moves right
    w/ the attitude of awaiting the fish.
  16. Parting the grass in search of the snake.
  17. Embracing the moon.
  18. The bird returns to the forest.
  19. The black Dragon wags his tail.
  20. The wind rolls the lotus leaf.
  21. The lion shakes his mane.
  22. The tiger covers his head.
  23. The wild horse leaps over the stream.
  24. Turn body and rein in the horse.
  25. Step up; The compass points south.
  26. Wave the whisk-broom against the wind.
  27. Pushing the boat with the current,
  28. The shooting star chases the moon.
  29. Pegasus and the spraying waterfall.
  30. Roll up the screen.
  31. Cartwheel sword, left and right.
  32. The swallow holds mud in its mouth.
  33. The Roc spreads its wings.
  34. Pick up the moon from the bottom of the sea.
  35. Embracing the moon.
  36. The Night-demon searches the sea.
  37. The rhinocerous gazes at the moon.
  38. Shoot the flying goose.
  39. The green Dragon stretches its claws.
  40. The Phoenix spreads both wings.
  41. Step toward two sides and block.
  42. Shooting the flying goose.
  43. The white ape offers fruit.
  44. The falling flowers, left and right.
  45. The Fair Lady weaves the shuttle.
  46. The white tiger wags its tail.
  47. The fish leaps over the gate of the Dragon.
  48. The black Dragon coils around the pillar.
  49. The divinity points the way.
  50. The wind sweeps the plum blossom.
  51. Presenting the Tablet.
  52. Embrace the sword; return to the starting position.




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