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1st August 2011

Sword Evolution

Old meets new as National Geographic explores "The Link"
Lion Television asked ID Fight Choreographer Ronin Traynor for some handy tips for an episode of a new eight part series called The Link. Commissioned by National Geographic the series looks at the history of how science and technology have evolved through time and across the world. The concept is to take two seemingly unrelated technologies, one ancient, one contemporary, and forge a path between the two via a series of interconnected links.

One of the episodes will see the crew head to China to explore the construction of ancient Chinese Swords from the Qin Dynasty where the presenter will be involved in a choreographed sword fight. Having spent last summer in China training with the Shaolin monks, Ronin was able to offer tips on visiting China, working with Chinese swords as well as practical advice on the safe filming of fight sequences.

Swords have played an important part in Chinese history and ancient methods were very effective and always evolving. The use of chromium oxide as an anti-corrosion protective coating dated back to 700 BC, around 500 years before the Qin Dynasty and was lost for 2000 years before modern similar processes were developed during the late 1930s and the 1950s by Germans and Americans respectively. In the Qin Shi Huang Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum in China you can view the original weapons which were still sharp and shiny after being excavated.

Today the construction of swords for theatre and film is equally an important scientific process as there are numerous options to choose from depending on the intended usage. Common materials include carbon steel, aluminium, wood and latex with a carbon fibre core. It’s important to choose the right weapon for the job as the wrong choice can end up with some serious accidents. Maintenance is also crucial both for antique and stage swords and in China you can find old and rusting swords aplenty hidden away in market shops.

You can read about the ID Fight Unit’s Shaolin adventures in earlier ID news articles.

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