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Jian is a double-edged straight sword used during the last 2,500 years in China. Although the early origins of the weapon probably emerged in North China, this imminently classical weapon is popular throughout China. Thus most of its major techniques are shared by diverse styles. Many Chinese martial arts, such as Taijiquan for one well-known example, still train extensively with jian, and expertise in its technique is said by many of them to be the highest physical expression of their martial skills. The jian is very often the weapon of the hero in Chinese martial arts movies. In folklore, it is known as "The Gentleman of Weapons" and is considered one of the four major weapons, along with the staff, saber, and the spear. The straight-bladed jian became known as a weapon of the aristocracy, high-ranking military officers, professional martial artists and the wealthy for personal defense, training, ceremony, and prestigious decoration.
Historical one-handed versions have blades varying from 17.7 to 31.5 inches in length. The weight of an average sword of 28 inch blade-length would be in a range of approximately 1.5 to 2 pounds. There are also larger two-handed versions used for training by many styles of Chinese martial arts.
Twin Straight Swords (Shuang Jian) are two mirror-image weapons, one held in each hand. In modern kungfu, the practice of twin weapons balances out the left hand with the right, since many styles have a predetermined dominance.