In the history of the development of the no-powder weapons in ancient China, sword appeared earliest. Early in the years of Shang and Zhou dynasties, there appeared the sword made of bronze.
During the periods of Spring and Autumn and the Waning States, the sword had become the most important weapon with the rising status of the infantry in the battles. That the infantry had to fight closely with the enemies with bare hands made swords have more advantages because of its mobility.
When it came to Han dynasty, the cavalry became the main force in battles and the broadswords and spears, which were long and could cover a long distance, had become the major weapons in the battles. So the sword had retired from the wars step by step. But the retired sword is not discarded. On the contrary, it was attached importance to some special fields. It had become a special pendant due to its agility, prettiness, the convenience for carrying and the decoration.
There are different forms of jianshu performance. It can be played single-handedly, and still by many people according to certain sets of jianshu. Or it is played between the jianshu practitioners.
In the years of Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, jianshu practice and performance had been widely accepted in the world. Besides, the sets of jianshu had become more and more standardized and systematized with the constant summary done by the jianshu masters and the further development of jianshu theory. Meanwhile there appeared a lot of new sets and styles such as qingping sword, wudang sword, Damo sword, taiji sword and eight-trigram sword etc.
Now jianshu is the competitive game in the World Wushu Championship. But Chinese jianshu is different from the fencing as an official competition in the Olympic Games. Though they take swords as competitive instruments, the fencing is from Europe and mainly accents on the actual combats when fighting, and Chinese jianshu puts weight on the show of the sets.