While Japanese katanas are the most well known Asian swords, China has also produced a variety of swords and bladed weapons, one of which is the Taijijian. This decorative sword typically wasn't used in combat, though. Rather, the Taijijian was used primarily in Chinese martial arts.
History of the Taijijian
The origins of the Taijijian remain unknown, though some historians believe it originated sometime during the Qing dynasty (1636 to 1644). Back then, the Yang and Wu families set up martial arts schools to teach students how to use this sword. Known as taijiquan, this form of martial arts became increasingly popular, as it emphasized the use of the Taijijian.
With taijiquan, practitioners performed training drills using the Taijijian. Some of these drills were performed solo, whereas others were performed with other practitioners. Regardless, taijiquan was centered around the use of the Taijijian. And even today, thousands of people throughout the world practice this traditional Chinese martial art while using the Taijijian.
As shown in the photo above, the Taijijian is a straight, double-edged sword that's often decorated with a colorful tassel at the bottom of the pommel. This is in stark contrast to many traditional Japanese swords, including the katana, which feature a curved, single-edged blade.
Straight swords like the Taijijian were easier to create since they didn't require the use of differential heat treatment. The downside is that they were more susceptible to breaking. Without a flexible spine, the Taijijian and other straight swords often broke upon impact. But considering that the Taijijian was designed for martial arts, this wasn't a problem.
Taijijian vs the Wushu: What's the Difference?
There's also the wushu sword, which is similar to the Taijijian in terms of appearance and design. However, these are both two unique swords with their own characteristics.
The wushu is a lighter, more modern version of the Taijijian. It still features the same straight, double-edged design as its counterpart, but the Taijijian is lighter because it's designed with a thinner blade using less metal. Additionally, the wushu is specifically designed so that it produces a loud noise when used in martial arts competitions.
The Taijijian rarely saw use in combat. Instead, it was reserved primarily for martial arts like taijiquan. Today, it remains a key piece of China's culture, reflecting the region's emphasis on martial arts during the Qing dynasty.