(reproduced from https://shaolin.org/general/legends-of-southern-shaolin/legends39.html)
In relation to clarity of mind which I discussed in my earlier post, I would like to introduce an appropriate weapon that trains shen, the chinese sword or jian.
I must stress that the chinese sword is very much different from a western sword or samurai sword. The western swords and samurai swords are usually very heavy, and are used to chop, slash and hack at opponents. The chinese sword, on the other hand, is a dainty weapon that is light in comparison. It is used to slice and pierce at specific targets of the opponent. The western sword, or saber, and samurai sword more closely resemble the chinese dao.
The chinese dao is compared to a ferocious tiger whereas the chinese jian resembles a nimble phoenix.
Roaring fiercely with courage
A tiger’s strength and will
Dancing nimbly with clarity
A phoenix’s grace is tranquil
For example, I composed the short poem above to give poetic meaning to the functions and essence of the dao and jian in a short, concise manner. I credit my Shaolin Wahnam training which gave me the sudden inspiration and clarity of shen to create the impromptu poem. Training with the respective weapons long enough will eventually imbue upon the practitioner the qualities of the weapons. A person training with a dao will eventually become more courageous and firm. A person training with a jian will develop his mental capabilities, hence the jian is the choice of weapon among scholar-warriors.
In closing, I would like to point out that our school uses the term knife to apply to the dao to maintain the chinese flavor. The jian is labeled as a Chinese sword. In Chinese, the sword refers to a light, straight, two-edged weapon, whereas a knife is heavier, curved and single-edged. The techniques and skills in using a Kung Fu knife are, naturally, different from those of a Chinese sword.