Edge damage is a big thing among swordfighters. It’s a given that…
So I got talking to one of my swordfighting buddies about two-weapon fighting again, and he mentioned that the latest episode of A Game of Thrones had some pretty silly swinging going on in a fight at some place called the Tower of Joy. Of course, I had to go and look this up for myself, and I believe it’s rather silly in many places, but it has some redeeming qualities.
You heard me right.
First of all, what is the katana? It’s a traditional Japanese sword, characterized by a curved, single-edged blade, a short guard that can be round or square, and a hilt that can accommodate two hands. Due to some incredibly good marketing, there are legions of idiots out there with stupid ideas about katanas.
So, Season 6 of Game of Thrones has debuted, and everyone is predictably losing their marbles over it. Except for me, of course. My lack of interest in grimdark fantasy continues, and with it, my lack of interest in following along with Game of Horrible-Things-Happen-To-Everyone-And-Everything-Sucks-Balls.
Time to show off something very interesting – my family sword! There’s a story to go with the sword, but as to the exact provenance of it – no one really knows. This is basically the result of my research, based on info gleaned from Google, what my father knows about it, and some help from swordforum.com.
Let’s have another movie swordfight breakdown! One of my faves is from, I kid you not, the Bond movie Die Another Day. Really! Swordfights show up in odd places sometimes. Now, all things considered, Die Another Day was a pretty terrible movie in most other respects – all flashy action shenanigans – but hey, it was a good waste of a few hours and the set pieces were fun to watch. Plus, no one ever said that a Bond movie had to be high thinking entertainment!
So, part of the reason why I started training in the salle is that I needed to know how to fight, like I’ve said before. But I also needed to know the limits and purposes of various weapons – whether a dagger would be effective against a polearm or a longsword, what techniques would be appropriate in a pitched battle, that kind of thing. I wanted to avoid ‘unrealistic’ representations of combat.
Of course, I’ve since realized that it really doesn’t matter as long as the combat serves the story, but I still appreciate the richness of my education, and how it allows me to write combat with more conviction. It informs how and why things work the way they do, in armies and in one-on-one fights, when I’m doing world-building. But it presents a whole host of problems when you realize that the fantasy weapons you’ve spent so much time on are now completely wrong!
This is my longsword.
It’s 51 inches long, 38-inch blade. Leather wrapped hilt, scent-stopper pommel, unusual triple fuller. It’s loosely based on the 15th century Oakeshott Type XVIIIb longsword, so it’s basically a regular hand-and-a-half sword with an extra long hilt. Made by Szymon Chlebowski, a very talented Polish swordsmith. (It does not have a name, and I refuse to give it one, so don’t ask!)
It’s about 3.5lbs, and that puts it on the HEAVY side for a longsword.
First of all – yes, it is possible to hold it out straight in one hand. I do it all the time! But you can’ t do it for longer than a minute before your arm starts burning like it’s been dunked in lava. 3.5lbs doesn’t seem like a lot, but holding it out like that is hard! It puts a huge strain on your bicep and forearm.
Take a look at this – something to think about when you’re writing about swordwielders 🙂 Long story short, swordplay requires a certain amount of basic strength, but after that, swordplay requires skill and dexterity.
Yes, lightsaber ballet, people. I have a particular dislike for the Star Wars prequels. Honestly, I remember sitting in the cinema, my head full of stories that my dad had told me of what it was like to see the original Star Wars – how much he had loved it, how it had completely blown him away because it was so incredible and new and just… revolutionary. And then I remember being so horribly disappointed that I wanted to find George Lucas and slap him with a copy of Screenwriting for Dummies.
So, as some of you other gamers may know, Awesome Games Done Quick 2015 is running now. For those of you who DON’T know, it’s basically like the Olympics for video gamers. Look it up on www.gamesdonequick.com if you’re curious. It’s a marathon livestream of gaming speedruns through various popular games.
I’ve been watching it a LOT. Did I mention that I really love video games? I also get a lot of enjoyment of watching other people play games as well, especially speedrunners who play at a truly terrifying level of skill. One of the best runs this year is a run of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – done while blindfolded! Amazing! And it got me thinking about the swordplay that we see in the Legend of Zelda.
More required watching for the interested: how knights moved in plate armour,…
Let’s take a break from movies, and delve into books for a second.
This comes up every once in a while in the salle, among people who know Dungeons & Dragons (hi Matheus!): the double cross down parry, and the counter executed by Drizzt Do’Urden. This is of some interest to me because I do some training with a case or pair of rapiers, though I use smallswords because it’s hella tough on the arms. Dual weapon fighting is very interesting! Here’s what I’ve said before about it, while I was musing about random stuff:
So… I’d like to talk about lightsabers.
First of all – look, they’re basically magical sword-like objects wielded by space-mages. They have only one real purpose in the Star Wars canon, and that’s to be a marker of otherworld-ness associated with Force-users. They look cool. If you’re happy to accept them as just being this cool Star Wars thing, then more power to you. Enjoy them! But don’t read the rest of this post because it will probably make you sad or angry at me.
I have the greatest respect for the fight choreographers of Hollywood. They don’t have an easy job of it – and I know plenty of people like to talk crap about the fight scenes in movies being silly and unrealistic, which is especially unfair when those fight scenes probably took months of work to get right.