Summary: How To Use A Chinese Straight Sword - this book points the way.
Comment: This book is a very useful resource, but for who? See below.
The book is detailed, informative, and has many historical sections that are interesting to read. The author, whom I traveled long distance to learn from after reading his book is a genuine sword enthusiast and expert fighter in the use of the Chinese straight sword. He is a historian with extensive knowledge of Chinese antiques and metallurgy. He also deals in authentic antique arms and armor from China, so he has a very in depth grasp of how swords work. In fact, a wide range of Chinese sword forges and other sword manufacturers currently approach him to evaluate and do reviews of the quality and authenticity of their contemporary sword productions.
WHO WILL THIS BOOK BE USEFUL FOR?:
1. People who are learning Chinese straight sword forms who want to learn how their system works.
Read the book then attend a seminar with Mr. Rodell. Then read the book again. Then apply what you have learned to whatever lineage you are studying. That's what I did about four or five years ago, and it has taken me a long way in my study of Chinese sword usage.
2.People who want to compare and contrast their interpretations of the widely practiced Yang Style "Public" taiji jian set, and see detailed applications. You will probably gain many insights from this book. You may also want to look at Yang Jwing Ming's Shaolin and Taiji(same form) books on straight sword and "The Art of Chinese Swordsmanship" by Zhang Yun (WU style). All these books complement each other well.
3. Any student of Yang Jia Michuan jian. A must have.
4. People who study any double edged sword style from any culture, or any other weapons system for that matter, who would like to cross-reference what they are doing.
5. People who think that Japanese swordsmanship is better than Chinese swordsmanship and that Kali is the only weapons system that really works.
YOU need to read this book and broaden your horizons a bit. These guys fight too.
6. Taiji and other CMA stylists who wish to begin studying swordplay and want to do it REALISTICALLY and SYSTEMATICALLY.
7. Curious people. This book still makes interesting coffee table reading if you are none of the above.
Summary: Another point of view
Comment: This book, unlike other books about Taiji and weapon forms, describes the sword form from the application point of view. How has the Jian developed to become what it is per today, who used it and what techniques are used in combat? He describes clearly the differences between the Yang family style and the public sword form. What I find remarkable are the differences between the public form described in the book and the public form described by (for example) Chen Wei-Ming. This book is worthwhile studying for those who want to have more background in Taiji sword.
Summary: as good a it can be
Comment: You can not learn a martial art by reading a book. That said, this book is a wonderful companion to a class.
Summary: Best Book on Chinese Swordsmanship to Date
Comment: I bought this book, read it and was utterly amazed that someone with the knowledge and skill level finally wrote a reference guide for those of us who haven't been able to go that extra mile because of lack of the information available. I really recommend this book for someone who is learning Taiji sword (from a teacher of course), because it will be of big help to you when you need to refer back to it.
The book is about the Yang Family Taiji Sword Tradition. Two different styles are presented: one which most of us are familiar with that was down from Yang Chengfu's lineage and taught to Mr. Rodell by Master T.T. Liang; the second one came from Master Wang Yen-nian of the Yang Jianhou (Yang Chengfu's Father) tradition. Those that are familiar with the history of Yang Taiji will understand that there is a difference between father and son's technique.
The book begins with the Author's Introduction and then History, Sword Ettiquette (which I found particularly interesting), Jian (sword) Anatomy, how to hold the sword and perform the secret sword fingers, basic stance and sword cuts. Then both forms and their applications(!) are shown using real antique weapons from the Ancient China. There is also some interesting stuff in the Appendices.
I hope you buy this book it will be of great benefit to your training.
Summary: Excellence in Martial Arts Writing
Comment: Without a doubt, Scott Rodell has written one of the most accessible and comprehensive books on swordsmanship (Chinese or otherwise) I have read. The book welcomes the novice reader and makes him feel comfortable with the subject, while the seasoned martial artist immediately understands the author's intended message, without feeling lectured to. Scott speaks the language common to traditional martial artists with quiet elegance and confidence.