In most Chinese sword forms, the sword is held in the left hand and the right hand is held in a position (剑指 in Chinese, not sure if an English translation exists) that looks like this:

hand with two fingers extended illustrating the hand position in question

I have found that the right hand movements are just as, if not more complicated than the left hand. I understand that this is mainly for stability but is that really all there is to it? The movements seem too complicated for stability to be the only purpose.

  • 1
    I'm curious if there's anything resembling an authoritative answer. I have come up with perhaps a half dozen theories of my own, but none of them have any serious backing in historical text.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 2:05
  • @MarkC.Wallace Thankyou for the translation! The strength and complexity behind each of the movements certainly does resemble strikes, but why strike with only two fingers?
    – as4s4hetic
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 12:50

2 Answers 2


Chinese Swordsmanship, by Scott Rodell refers to that hand position as "sword talisman". The illustrations of the sword talisman used for strikes. (Mr. Rodell has an international reputation as a scholar of Chinese swordsmanship. Obligatory self disclosure; I am a student of his student)

Aside from its overall function of balancing the jian's movement, the sword talisman is employed to strike whenever a duifange moves inside one's jian length. It is also used as a brake or measure to prevent one's movement from carrying too far and overriding the target when executing a thrust or other long, powerful movement. And it is used to join with the sword arm to re-enforce it during deflecting movements. Chinese Swordsmanship, Rodell, pg 31


This particular hand position, I couldn't say. But in Wushu (don't know if you had a specific "Chinese sword form" in mind), many of the positions and movements are not purely for martial purposes. They hold some symbolic or spiritual significance. Remember, though used in combat, the training was a spiritual practice.

  • 3
    Some specificity would improve this answer.
    – mattm
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 19:33

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