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Tuan Lian Jian 團練劍 – Sword (Jian) of the militia (Tuan Lian)

Tuan Lian literally means ‘coming together and training’. This was the name for the civil groups who were responsible for the defense of villages and cities which were inaccessible to the military. The members were often resilient men (and sometimes women) who were naturally strong. Some came from martial arts backgrounds; others beginning their martial arts training with the militia.

Primarily during times of internal rebellion, the defense of hearth and home fell upon the Tuan Lian groups. They also served as the so­-called ‘harvest surveillance’, the day and night guarding of the fields and harvest against thieves. A member of a Tuan Lian group was called Yong 勇, which means ‘brave’ or ‘hero’. These ‘braves’ were arranged into units which were called Yong Ying 勇營 (‘hero unit’).

Hans Lauxen with a Jian Sword

The militias were often under the auspices of the local mandarin, a civil officer of the government and member of the literary elite of China. Because their sword was the Jian, they often trained the militias with the Jian rather than the Dao. These local mandarins functioned also as a kind of ‘local mayor’; whereby the Yong were set in for police work such as guarding and arresting people.

Straight swords were normally for the elite en had beautifully decorated brass fittings. The swords which the militias were issued were more simple examples with iron fittings; however, often with good, heavy fighting blades.

The swords which are offered through Tai Chi Nederland are straight swords typical of such militias. It appears to be that the swords often had no scabbards, using a central storage for safekeeping instead.

The blunt practice sword will be offered under the name Yong Jian 勇劍; ‘Hero Sword’ and has no scabbard. It can be ordered separately though.
The sharp sword will be offered under the name Yong Ying Jian 勇營劍; ‘Sword of the Hero units’ and will be delivered with a scabbard.

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