The Eight Cutting Knives: Does it unlock your ability?
Baat Jaam Dao means eight cutting knives. Although, the weapon is a short Broadsword with a guard. The name of the form refers to the number of different angles the blade cuts through. However, this martial arts form represents the highest pinnacle of Wing Chun study, where only the chosen few are taught this unique approach to fighting. In order to learn this form a prerequisite understanding of the earlier open hand and wooden dummy form is required. In fact, introduction of this scheme of movement to early in your Wing Chun training may have an adverse effect on learning or perfecting Wing Chun skills. However, what makes this weapon form so special and can it really make you a great empty hand fighter?
There are also eight sections to the form each with a differing emphasis on angle and footwork. This is because there is a greater risk of attack to the legs of a Wing Chun practitioner, and this leads to techniques to defend the lower part of the body with the blades. However, it is the eight fighting actions emphasised in the form that are of more importance. Baat Jaam Dao practice begins with learning the eight basic movements, which are combined and trained as clear line of attack or defence. These eight basic techniques are: (1) Qi-Stabbing; (2) Jam-Chopping; (3) Gan-Block and cut; (4) Kwan-Double block; (5) Bon-Deflection; (6) Biu-Line deflection forward; (7) Jaam-Stopping; and (8) Tan and Qi-Deflect out and stab.
As in the Dragon Pole form the Wing Chun practitioner typically holds a slightly sideways when attacking with both knives which creates a differing physical structure. This is due to the fact that the Dragon Pole relies on the development and use of internal power for correct structural alignment. In contrast, the actions within the knife form are almost entirely dependent on moving the edge of the blade for power. In this case, the emphasis is less related to the development of body power, but instead precision, technique, and position.
Footwork is modified in Wing Chun knife training. The objective when stepping is to turn your body sideways which, brings the body off the attacker’s forward line. This places the body safely behind our knife actions, providing maximum protection from being cut or stabbed in return. Regardless, the emphasis of the footwork in Wing Chun weapons footwork must be on never facing our opponent’s weapon.
Overall, this Wing Chun form is practical and functional for empty hand fighting, not only because it relates to the shapes in the hand forms, but because of the emphasis on a differing type of footwork. In essence, this form contridicts the footwork, emphasis of structure, weight distrubution, and angles taught in earlier hand forms, which in effect completes a full circle of understanding of the Wing Chun system. Since, the form is typically taught as the last form and often only to the chosen few, it may be true to say that only the few practitioners have a complete understanding of Wing Chun martial arts system. Therefore, in this sense, the form does unlock your empty hand skills in Wing Chun.
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