|Taichi sword class in action at the Singapore Tai Chi Society at Balestier Road. Picture taken in September 2011.|
|This is the 30-year-old sword I got from a shop at Bras Basah Road. The blade was slightly blackened by age, but a bit of sandpapering helped to bring back the shine.|
I JUST bought a sword for $40 at Bras Basah Complex. It doesn't look much like what Chan Poh Choo or Siu Fong Fong wielded in the Cantonese movies of the 1960s (or earlier, but we kids only watched the re-runs on TV during the 60s). Nothing like in the movies -- you can only pull it from the shield with great difficulty -- and without that "sha-a-a-nk" you hear when the heroine draws her sword. And when you pull it out, there isn't that glint which tells enemies that it is a "special" sword (a bao jian). So, that was why it cost only $40. The lady who runs the shop said the sword was made in 1984, and it was stashed away in a corner as nobody had wanted to buy it. Guess it was kind of short for a normal swordswoman. But it fitted me to the T as it reaches the height of my ears -- which should be the correct length -- when held against the body.
The bits and pieces of memories associated with this newly bought old sword was of course, those fantastic scenes I remembered from the old Hong Kong movies. The heroines always wore a black cloak which didn't get in the way of their fighting one bit. And the clang, clang, clang as they exchanged sword with the villains was such a joy to watch. We kids would make miniature swords made from the metal stands of mosquito coils. (Every night, we had to light those coils. You have to place the coil on the metal stand which could be a bit tricky as the coils were rather brittle and would break before they could be mounted. The most popular brand then was Goldfish (?) -- anyway, the box had a big gold fish drawn on it.)
So now, at this ripe old age, I have started taking taichi sword class. It has been a little more than a year now, but I haven't reached half of the 108 movements yet. But I have great joy learning it from the 70-plus teacher (the one you see dressed in white and black shoes in the picture). We have been practising with wooden swords -- I can't wait to try out my "real" sword this Friday!