Jyanni Steffensen Her feet covered many cocoons...
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The Swordswoman of Gongti

Orlando Jones had always been pleased that the surviving characters in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon were the two swordswomen. She cared less about the tragedy of the star-crossed swordswomanlovers played by Michelle Yeo (one of the swordswomen) and Chow Yun- Fat. Maxine Hong Kingston has always known about women with swords. In The Warrior Woman, she had written: "And on Sundays, from noon to midnight, we went to the movies at the Confucius Church. We saw swordswomen jump over houses from a standstill; they didn't even need a running start."

At 6am one autumn morning Li Zhuo and Orlando Jones had gone to the park by the river in Jinzhou to meet Li Zhuo's mother and the taijiquan group with whom the mother practiced every morning at 5.45 (6am after October 1, National Day). The taijiquan master approached them and immediately offered Orlando Jones a place in the group. She tried to follow the others but was, as expected, graceless and uncoordinated. The master, as expected, was another of those graceful men who seem to inhabit Jinzhou - and probably most of China. Unfazed, Orlando Jones just keep bumbling along with her hands and feets never coordinated for more than a moment at first. Later, the group switched to the sword version (taijiquan with Chinese sword) and she practiced for a while just swinging her arms. Then a woman offered her a sword. The moment she grasped it she knew this was the taijiquan version for her. She felt more balanced somehow, no more graceful or elegant, but more balanced. She vowed to have her own sword, and so she did.

The white statue of the gong fu swordswoman outside the Gongti Hotel window was in a classic Yuenu pose. This form of gong fu sword was called Yuenu sword and was invented by a woman, Yuenu. She taught it to the Imperial army (Orlando Jones didn't know which dynasty). In all dynasties (Tang, Ming, Qing) the sword was popular with poets, literary people and scholars. It was never very effective in actual battle and was soon abandoned as the weapon of choice. It became more decorative and ceremonial. In the Worker's Stadium Park, by one of the stone bridges across the lake, Orlando Jones began to learn Yuenu sword - Spinning Sword, Parrying Sword, Resting Sword (thrust), Raised Sword, and Hacking Sword.
Much later she learned Uppercutting, Intercepting (left and right), Tilting Sword, Upward Chop, Spin Sword and Sweeping Sword.