Product review: Tigers Den Republic Era Mùjian / wooden sword
I have had the privilege and pleasure to receive one of Tigers Den's newest products. A Republic era mùjian. I have known Graham Cave of Tigers Den for over a decade and seen his range of wooden weapons grow and develop. They are highly regarded by those in the sparring circles. For many years, we have seen the decline of martial arts stores and it has become harder to obtain good quality wooden jian & dao. These rarely last long and usually too flimsy for forms work. Furthermore, they were not designed for sparring or application work. Through painstaking research and collaborations with Scott Rodell, Graham has produced a number of mùjians and later mùdaos that were fit for sparring and applications. You will not find a better jian or dao for the price, build quality, handling and historical accuracy. Furthermore, you would not find anything like this that will last as long (it was reported that a jian made of hickory lasted for 10 years in the sparring circuit, before it broke and somebody I know in Leeds has had his for over 10 years and its still going strong) .
Chinese martial arts did not die with the
end of the Qing Dynasty. But lived on
through the Republic Era (1912–1949) and modern guns did not halt the relevance of martial arts. This was also the time when Taiji become more popular and started to spread across China and abroad. The jian were still being made at this time and there are still many jian of this period that have survived. The design for Tigers Den's Republic Era mùjian was based on a number of difference jian from this period. Various prototypes were tested to get the best balance and handling. This is a painstaking process and it is one reason why paying for sound design vastly outweighs false economy or the appeal of gimmicks.
The Republic Era mùjian is very similar to two previous mùjian designs. The new mùjian is noticeably thinner and lighter than previous models, but no less practical. There are mùjians and there are Tigers Den mùjians. The former are generally lighter and feel nothing like a real metal jian (not the flexible wushu sort). The latter handles more like a real metal jian and they are better for training
understanding and using techniques. The turning of the wrists feels positive and after completing a form that normally takes over four minutes, I felt no fatigue. If you have trained with a real jian, then you will understand how a jian works. I have done a few drills with this new mùjian and its a joy to use. The balance is perfect and whilst a mùjian will never be as dynamic as a metal jian, this Republic Era mùjian comes close. I thoroughly enjoyed using this mùjian and recommend this to anyone who does Traditional Chinese martial arts, be it Taiji or any other style. If you love what you do, then invest in the best equipment you can afford and in the long term, you won't regret it.
In the past, the output from Tigers Den has been limited as each item is individually hand made. However, new processes are in place to speed up the production. If you are interest in purchasing from Tigers Den, please follow this link.
Thank for for reading my review.
Mù (木): Chinese for wood
Jian (劍): Chinese double edged straight sword
Dao (刀): Chinese single edged sabre, also known as a broadsword
Martial arts can be a lot of fun, and training with weapons makes it more exciting. However, wooden weapons are not toys and you should train and handle with them with care. It is still recommended that you carry adequate insurance as accidents do happen. Furthermore, train responsibly as the police have the right to question what you are doing, if you are training in public.
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