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Wushu Weapon Manual

Wushu Weapon Manual

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Published by: Дориян Александров on May 04, 2011
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Wushu Weapon Manual by OscarReyesPractical Manual for the Assembly and Conditioning of Wushu Weapons
© Text and drawings copyright by Oscar Reyes and ChinaTown-Shop
 
Foreword
Wushu
(Pinyin: wu3 shu4; Chinese martial arts) adepts are always in search of an ideally inexpensive,source of the great diversity
whushu
weapons.Low-price brackets naturally impose limitations on quality. The construction of a "ready-to-use" weapon,though easy, is work-intensive, which greatly raises the price tag, though not necessarily the quality of theweapon parts. The Chinese have solved this dilemma in an original way:Low-priced Chinese
wushu
weapons are almost always delivered as packages containing just that minimalnumber of parts that require very specialized labor. Such a package contains a blade made from mass produced blanks, partially finished by an artisan blacksmith. The wooden parts, lathed or machine-carved by the hundreds, are summarily adjusted to the blade with partially finished mass-produced fittings, andmade by casting or semi-artisan procedures.In these parts, provisionally assembled to prefigure the finished weapon, there is no pretense of acomplete product; indeed all precautions in the quality of the adhesives involved, and even in the weapondesign have been taken in order to make this assembly provisory; the product is clearly intended for oneor more additional steps requiring low skills, in an hypothetical production line.Such a weapon package, as delivered, is usually worthless for training, though has the potential to beconverted into an excellent practice weapon. In this regard, it appears to represents the Chineseconception of a weapon in kit form, and so it will be called hereafter.For the Chinese
wushu
adept such form of weapon presentation provide, in addition to the ancienttradition in which they grew, all the instructions they need to re-assemble these parts into a good andserviceable weapon. All the extra parts eventually needed to finish the assembly of these Chinese weaponkits are assumed to be locally available –in China.There is no Western equivalent of a Chinese
wushu
weapon kit.
Wushu
weapons made in Westerncountries are assembled from parts made by industrial techniques more elaborated than those used for Chinese weapons; thus these parts are better finished. Also the weapon designs are modified as toeliminate all need of conditioning to produce a serviceable exercise weapon; Western made
wushu
weapons are ready for practice as bought.One disadvantage of the "ready to use" approach is a sacrifice in the diversity of weapons available,which is much reduced in the Western facture. Other sacrificed feature is the price, which is at leastdoubled comparatively to that of Chinese-made weapons kits including parts of equivalent or even better quality. Finally, the most important sacrifice is the disappearance of that appealing artisan aspect of theChinese
wushu
weapon facture, which is absent from the Western production.In this regard, always the blades of even quite cheap Chinese weapons are decorated with incisedcalligraphy and drawings; often these are even inlaid in copper and brass. The patterns for these drawingsare transferred to a batch of blades, and then manually incised on each one. This is true for other decorations sometimes incised in the scabbards and handles. It result that is impossible to find twoidentical weapons in a batch dryly described by the supplier as by catalog designation, as if it were astandard mass produced object.
 
Considering the fast rate of China's industrialization, we may belong to the last generation that has accessto such kind of affordable Chinese semi-artisan crafts. Exercise
wushu
weapons define on themselves aclass objects whose interest, as decorative items, goes beyond their original utilitarian purpose. In thisregard, many affordable
wushu
weapons of interesting facture, whose continued availability I toounfortunately for granted in the middle 1980's, now are almost impossible to find. Kits for rare exercise
wushu
weapons also are good investments for the weapon collectors.However, this semi-artisan nature of the parts of Chinese
wushu
weapon kits often disconcerts the averageWestern buyer, who is accustomed to a better finishing. Also the Western
wushu
adept would appreciate akit where other parts needed to complete the weapon are included, as pre-cut weights made of high-density metal to assist in the weapon balance, and materials difficult to find locally, as lengths of cordor leather strap adequate to wrap the handle, finishing products, traditional weapon decorative items, etc.Above all, a
wushu
weapon in kit should provide that most essential component in a kit: a carefully writtencomplete Instruction Manual intended to guide the buyer through the steps to complete her -or his-weapon.A misunderstanding of the Chinese kit concept bears a large share of the responsibility in the Westernmisconceptions of 
wushu
weapons. The most likely outcome of these frustrating, but charming and potentially excellent weapons in Western countries is a humiliating life as a misbalanced rattling weapon,often cobbled together with bits of twine and electrician's tape. Such weapons are seen even in hands of highly competent Western
wushu
adepts.My intention here is to provide the serious Western
wushu
adept with a first draft of that so long needed"
Practical Manual for the Assembly and Conditioning of 
wushu
Weapons"
.The most usual choices as first
wushu
weapons learned are double-edged straight swords and sabres;hence is for these that this first installment of the "
Manual
" is principally devoted. On a near future it will be extended to cover others examples of the rich fauna of 
wushu
weapons.I practice T'ai chi intensively since nearly 22 years; I become amateur repairman and restorer of exercise
wushu
weapons first by need, later by pleasure. The examples in this
Manual
are mostly illustrated withthe rich diversity of weapons found in the ChinaTown-Shop (CTS) catalog; however the solutions proposed in the
Manual
are susceptible of being applied to similar generic exercise
wushu
weapons thatcan -at least in principle- be obtained elsewhere.I'm connected to the CTS staff only as benevolent contributor. I took a personal interest in the CTSventure as being a valuable educational tool, which may at last shake off some received ideas from theWestern
wushu
community.CTS achieves this goal just by offering the richest and most affordable source of 
wushu
weapons in today'sWEB. A supplier worthy of continued attention. CBS staff realizes innovations may change forever themarketing of 
wushu
weapons. For example, CTS offers a limited possibility of realizing affordablecustomized combinations of parts taken from diverse weapons from their catalog. I hope this interestingidea will further develop, and that will continue to be other hallmark of ChinaTown-Shop.Other unique feature of CTS is that its staff's acknowledges the gap existing between the Chinese
wushu
weapon products, and the expectative of the Western
wushu
adepts. Thus CTS staff currently considers tofurther enrich their catalogue with accessories that facilitate
wushu
weapon conditioning, but are of difficult access in Western countries (for example, lengths of specialized woven cord or leather strap towrap weapon handles, stone rings, to assist in ballasting sword tassels, etc.; these points will be further examined in this
Manual
. In this regard, feedback on these pages would be welcome, both by theChinaTown-Shop staff and me.My qualifications as first contributor and self-appointed editor of this
Manual
are:
 
First, a formation in Biology, Chemistry and Physics, which gives me a good understanding of thematerials I use, and some experience in delicate manual work.Second, more than 22 years of theoretical and practical study of T'ai chi.Third, I'm an avid builder of high-end kits of historic Western keyboard instruments, which as a class present many similarities to the Chinese weapon kit concept.Fourth, and most importantly, I'm blessed with a select group of Chinese and Sino file friends alwayswilling to lend me their knowledge of Chinese traditional arts.However, the historical and technical points of view raised here are exclusively my own responsibility.Please do blame for them neither the ChinaTown-Shop staff, or my friends.From the point of view of a
wushu
weapon repairman doubled of a aging swashbuckler, often theexperience acquired in the shop seems to contest some sources and commonplace notions about
wushu
weapons. This is not surprising, since most of the available information on extant historic weapons is of little relevance to
wushu
practice.The description of the ideal weapon that our assembled kit emulates must be inferred from fragmentaryevidence that includes actual shop experience, historical sources that often do not raise over the anecdoticlevel, and actual performance with arguable reconstructions of historic weapon. The approach justdescribed has proven its value in other fields [Reference 6].Lost in this maze, the
wushu
weapon repairman and performer must steer its own way. In these cases,since I must produce at a workable weapon as end result, I apply the principle that "a decision perhapswrong is better than no decision at all".If you don't agree with these 'techno-historic' considerations, or have better technical solutions than mine, by all means write to me, and correct my mistakes. If the situation requires so, I'll apologize in these pages,and present your solutions here under your byline.Given to my limited time availability, I CANNOT keep these pages as one more weapon forum. However,if you have specific questions relative to your own weapon project, I'll put them in my "urgent" mail list,and I answer them as soon as I can.
Shop, Tools, materials and measures
What I pompously call "my shop" lives in five boxes stored in a small cupboard (64 x 31 x 70 [cm]). I useas a workbench a sturdy restored cable spool of 65 cm diameter lying on a side, which doubles as coffeetable. The spool's central perforation is useful to keep vertical the weapon under work. I own anarticulated lamp equipped with a large reading glass, a luxurious item that can be substituted by ahand-held reading glass and a good spotlight. In fact, except for small tools as the couple dozens metalfiles of different shapes, and a small hand-held powered drill with flexible transmission, my "shop" issimpler than that of the average French citizen.The tools needed even in a major project are simple and inexpensive. Given the small sizes of the parts to be shaped, the tools used do not need to be of prime quality. Buy your tools as you need -and found-them. If some sculpting is needed, a common cutter with an adjustable blade that can be secured in place,and a provision of blades, might be all you will need.Small pincers and clippers for electric work will be useful for building ballasts from lead/tin soldier adjuvant in wire form, as will be described in the corresponding section.An indispensable special tool is a fine-toothed rib saw; the best, equipped with a cutting box, are made for hobbyists. An assortment of cheap metal files of different sections (round, flat, triangular), and anassortment of wet abrasive paper (between 360 - 1200 grit) will cover most of your needs for sanding

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