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Background of Black Mamba's use of the Hanzo Sword

Sonny Chiba stated something in a interview to the effect that Uma’s use of the Hanzo sword was unrealistic because she was using one hand in some of the techniques and since the a Samurai sword is very heavy this would be hard for a female to do. Well, putting together what I’ve read from the 1st draft script of “Kill Bill”, it becomes known that Black Mamba (The Bride) is NOT samurai trained but rather trained in the art of Pak Mei Kung Fu by Taoist Monk Priest Pak Mei (pronounced Bahk Mei). In regard to weapon training, Pak Mei Kung Fu uses a traditional Chinese sword style, so the concepts and philosophy are different from that of a Samurai style such as Kenjutsu. A one hand approach is practical in the Chinese sword style because of the flexibility involved in the techniques.

This explains Black Mamba’s one hand use of the Hattori Hanzo sword in the certian spots of House Of Blue Leaves battle. Her aproach wasn’t that of a samurai but rather a disciple trained in Pak Mei Kung Fu. Even in Black Mamba’s showdown battle versus O-Ren Ishii, O-Ren states “You may not fight like a Samurai, but you can at least die like one”. Hell, If Black Mamba had Pak Mei’s mastery level of Kung Fu, she wouldn’t even need a sword. Finally, as far as a Samurai sword being too heavy for a female to swing with one hand, that may be true to the average female, however since Black Mamba is trained by Pak Mei, the hard rigorous training would make it possible for Black Mamba to swing the Hattori Hanzo sword with one hand.

I wonder why mr. Chiba would say this, he was, after all, he was credated as “Samuri Sword Technician” or maybe not tech. but something along the lines of him adding realism to the film’s sword battles.

I think Blaze Alphas post is right on the money.

I think Sonny mightve felt the mix of styles wasnt correct, but what the hell? Its QT’s film.

In the script Pai Mei was very Anti-Japanese and totally thought Samurai swords were for “Japanese fatheads”. He probably taught Black Mamba the Chinese sword styles using a single hand like you see in the sequence when she tries to stab him and he jumps on the sword.

So it makes sense that Black Mamba’s samurai sword actions were both traditional AND also based on the Chinese style swordplay. It was her using all the techniques of Chinese and Japanese swordplay put together. Also the reason she canm jump in the air and do all those fancy tricks is definitely from her learning from Pai Mei. Remember, she spends like 3 years with the old bastard.

she’s a trained assassin. She needs skills in different cultures n shit. The Chinese way, the Japanese way, the American way…ect. All this makes her a smarter more knowledgable warrior and harder to kill enemy. She had more skill than the Crazy 88 cause she was trained in so many different martial arts n shit.

Tough to say. On one hand it prob would be tough for a female to do, but on another, i have no doubt that Uma is taller than Sonny Chiba, and hey prob most japanese. I seem to remember reading 6 feet or so?

But then again, this movie is a movie. ONe guy jumps on a sword. How realistic can it be?

Could anyone inform me a little bit more on this Pak Mei dude? I havent read the script but would like to know a little more about it without spoiling the whole story for myself.

So could anyone tell me if you get scenes in Vol 2 about this training? When did she train with him etc etc.

Pai Mei (translated means White Eyebrow) is a character QT took from earlier kung fu movies. Like he took Hattori Hanzo from the Kage No Gundan TV series. In QTs Movie Movie Universe characters from other movies can show up.

Pai Mei is one of the traitor Shaolin monks who helped the Ching Government burn down a Shaolin temple back in ancient times.

Pai Mei aka Bak Mei was portrayed by the late Lo Lieh in several Shaw Brothers kung fu films including: Executioners of Shaolin, Abbot of Shaolin and Fist of the White Lotus.

In Volume 2, Pai Mei (now 150 years old, the last surviving member of the White Lotus Clan) trains the Bride in the ancient arts of Kung Fu. That is where she learns the ways of jumping in the air (like she did in the HOBL battle) among other super powers.

Sonny Chiba’s right on when he says it would be very hard for a female to utilize one handed techniques with a samurai sword…but then again, its probably impossible for a female to impale a man on a samurai sword, and lift the sword and man both - with one hand - into the air.

We aren’t going for any semblance of realism. Just a really cool, choreographed dance.

Here are parts of an article I read in “Kung Fu Qiong” magazine a while back. This provides a little history behind Pak Mei and the style. I’ve also included some information on Pak Mei Kung Fu and my thoughts on how it relates to Kill Bill. Enjoy!

The most notorious villain of Kung Fu is Pak Mei (Cantonese) or Bai Mai (Mandarin). Blamed for the greatest tragedy of kung fu history, legend tells us that Bak Mei was a Wu Dang Priest who betrayed the southern Shaolin Temple to Manchu tyrants during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911.) The temple was destroyed, the library burned and the monks killed. Actually, Bak Mei is a nickname that means “White Eyebrow.” Due to the legendary Bak Mei’s nefarious legacy, white eyebrows are now the hallmark of evildoers in countless kungfu movies.

Despite this stigma, Bak Mei kung fu master Zhong Luo remains passionate about his family’s art. The son of Bak Mei Grandmaster Mai Yu Qiang, Luo comments on Bak Mei’s infamy. “During the Qing, before the war started, all the Shaolin temples collected people from all the different kung fu circles, and created their own little world. So the government got intimidated by all these different martial artists who stuck together - getting bigger and bigger - hundreds of thousands - getting too big. The truth is that during the Qing Dynasty, 90% of the army, the bodyguards and those who worked for the government and the emperor, were all Bak Mei style. They don’t realize that the reason those guys got hired was because they could really fight.”

“Unfortunately, a lot of people think Bak Mei is a traitor because they killed all the monks and burned all the temples - thousands dead. After that, the Bak Mei style disappeared for almost a whole century. The people were saying ‘Anybody who does Bak Mei, deserves to die.’ Their houses got burned down, their wives got killed, their children disappeared. People got revenge almost the whole century.” Bak Mei practitioners who fought to preserve their kung fu faced bitter hardships until very recently.

There is more to the Bak Mei legend than the popular Shaolin versus Wudang story. Shaolin and Wu Dang Temple descend from the venerated Mount Song and Mount Wu Dang respectively. But there is a third mountain famous for kung fu, Mount E Mei. Beyond the defeat of Shaolin, it was at E Mei Mountain where Bak Mei kung fu demonstrated it’s formidable power. There, early Bak Mei stylists studied kung fu from a Tibetan Lama when formalizing this style. Master Luo retells the tale. “Every year, they (Bak Mei masters) beat everybody up in the E Mei Mountain tournaments. The Lama Temple in E Mei is huge. It’s the biggest temple on that mountain. Inside there were 4 or 5 different masters and they all have different loyal students. Everyone wanted to run the temple. The temple had money and reputation. Every year people go there, throw some money at the temple, burn incense, buy this, buy that. The temple made a lot of money and they never paid rent. So they created a tournament. Whoever wins got the most power, more land, whatever. So for almost 20 years, the Bak Mei guys go in and kick people’s asses. They fought so many years and never lost. Soft styles, other styles, big circle styles, they all lose.”

“Most styles focus on defense. In Bak Mei the defense is to attack. The block is the punch. The defense is to go off and attack, way different from most other styles. It’s aggressive - a lot of striking and killing moves. After they won so many years, the Qing Dynasty government wanted to kill all these martial artists, so they paid whoever they could. They hired a lot of Bak Mei style people to start a war with the kung fu circle. When the big war was going on, 90% got killed by the Bak Mei people, so the Bak Mei style got a huge reputation as a traitor style because they killed their own kung fu people. After that revolution died down, the Bak Mei style almost disappeared. That doesn’t mean nobody was studying and training - only that the people cannot tell others. If people knew you were training in this style, you would get killed. If someone’s grandmaster got killed by your style, and you’re Bak Mei, they come after you. So after 100 years, it comes back out.”


Bak Mei kung fu It’s considered to be one of the most powerful, dynamic styles. This rare system is one of few that combines Shaolin and Taoist principals and is thus classified as an internal and external style, combining hard and soft applications to deliver a complete martial art for health and self-preservation.

Apart from the physical techniques which are explosive in delivery, the system also relies on the correct use of chi energy and breath to maximize the effectiveness of this classic art. Techniques involve short and mid-range applications, a variety of kicks, ground maneuvers and quick hand work. The practitioner calls upon the sacred power known as `geing jak ging? which enables a speedy execution of technique from a relaxed position into a powerful movement.

Bak Mei training consists of basics to strengthen and condition the body. Correct breathing and movement is essential to the effectiveness of this art and is introduced early on in training. Forms, free sparring, weaponry and chi kung are also integral elements of practice. Techniques are executed between short and mid-range distances; hand movements are fast and powerful. Bak Mei also contains a wide assortment of kicks including: side, front, jumping, and ground fighting maneuvers.

The Bak Mei system is best known for its Eye of the Phoenix. The Eye of the Phoenix is different type of power in its self. The eye of the phoenix is a quick strike with knuckle of the index finger. This is an extremely effective technique when applied to pressure points and delicate areas of the body such as the throat, temple, and armpits also on sensitive exposed area such as the ribs, solar plexus and kidneys. This strike is so effective because all the momentum and power of the strike is focused in a small area of a single knuckle for deep penetration in comparison to larger areas such as the palm, fist or back of the hand. This technique is similar to that of driving a nail into a piece of wood, whereas hitting the wood with just the hammer just does not have the same effect. Both are delivered with the same amount of power and momentum, however, only the nail penetrates the board. In the same manner the Eye of the Phoenix is devastating, as the power of the blow is driven further into the target area. The concept of focusing power and energy into a strike is not only limited to the phoenix eye, at higher levels the practitioners may produce such results with the palm, fist and other parts of the body used for striking.

How does this relate to the Pak Mei in “Kill Bill” and the Shaw Brothers films? Well, in the Shaw Brothers films and a lot of Kung fu films in general if you were a master of a style your skills were enhanced to a supernatural level. Meaning you could jump high into air, and land in a tree or the roof of a building. You could develop your inner chi to a level where you could throw fireballs or you could move at will, the sensitivity of your vital points such as the heart, balls, eyes, etc, to other parts of your body to protect from harm. In the SB film “Executioners From Shaolin”, Pak Mei was able to move the vital point of his balls into the top of his head. Because of this ability, Pak Mei was able to kill many Shaolin rebels, until one rebel figured out where his vital point was hidden. Also Dim Mak or the death touch as it’s label it is apart of Bak Mei Kung Fu.

Because of this, Pak Mei was able kill many rebels by using Dim Mak tactics on vital areas. In the SB film “Fist Of The White Lotus”, Pak Mei is seen killing a female rebel with a palm strike to the back. Also this is the film where Pak Mei uses the infamous pace palm technique (This was renamed in Kill Bill by the name of the "Ten Point Palm exploding Heart " technique.) The pace can range from 1 to 100. In “Fist Of The White Lotus”, Pak Mei executes a 100 pace palm technique on Gordon Liu who just escapes death because his friend found him and carried him the rest of the way home. Therefore Gordon didn’t take the full 100 steps. Earlier in the film Gordon executes a 7 pace palm technique on some rebels and actually counts on his fingers the steps they take before falling dead. In Kill Bill, Pak Mei is a continuation of the Pak Mei from the Shaw Brothers films. This is similar to what Quentin did with the Hattori Hanzo character. I hope this sheds some light. PEACE!