Everyone’s has heard of samurai and ninja. Hell, there is even a car and motorcycle named after them. But even most dedicated Chinese martial artists draw a blank when asked the Chinese term for swordsman. The same goes for most other Chinese names for everything from the training hall to warrior.
In the following days and weeks, I will present a variety of traditional Chinese terms, most are drawn not from common modern usage, but from period texts. The first in this series is Jianke, swordsman.
Jianke, 劍客, is swordsman in Mandarin. Jian refers to the double- edged straight sword. Ke is used in combination with other characters to means polite or a guest. Ke implies a certain level of refinement. To be a jianke means much more than being able to cut up things with a blade. A jianke is some one who has devoted him or herself to cultivating a high level personal refinement in body and mind. The jianke’s skill with a blade comes as much from this personal refinement of his or her as it does from training his or her muscles.
The above text is quoted from my unpublished, “Swordsman’s Notebook.”
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