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Edged weapons are not pretend lightsabers.
June 15, 2012 5:16 PM   Subscribe

Today's I09 has a guest column by John Clements titled "Swordfighting: Not What You Think It Is." And it isn't.

So who is John Clements? Well, according to The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts page (an association he directs), Clements "is a leading authority on historical fencing and one of the world’s foremost instructors of Medieval and Renaissance fighting methods." (Of course, he is not without his supporters and detractors.)

Where do you get that sort of specialized knowledge? As it turns out, in the Medieval era, impreesively titled "Masters of Defense" (a professional guild; example) actually wrote it down. (More samples.)

It's nothing like the gentlemanly fencing long-favored onstage and in films; neither is it the rough hacking and slashing found in grittier historical dramas and fantasy films. As Clements writes in I09: "Rather, Medieval and Renaissance sword fighting was a hell of a lot more violent, brutal, ferocious, and astonishingly effective. "

If only we could see samples of this fighting. OH WAIT. Clements has some unexpectedly (and accidentally) hilarious videos online that nonetheless show a lost form of martial combat that just ... looks ... old timey are foreign in the way that, say, barknuckle boxing looks odd to us.

Schwetzel. Oooooooh.
The Scale and the Key
Receiving Strikes on Flat
10 minute flourish
We trust John Clements
Grabbing Edge During Half-Swording
The Sword is a Tool
2010 Blade show
posted by Bunny Ultramod (72 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, I would put my money on (SLYT) this guy any day over Mr. Clemens.
posted by snaparapans at 5:32 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This reminded me of Neal Stephenson's Kickstarter to produce a more accurate sword-based videogame.
posted by flipper at 5:34 PM on June 15, 2012


You are using Bonetti's Defense against me, ah?
posted by paladin at 5:42 PM on June 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


More like accidentally awesome
posted by starman at 5:43 PM on June 15, 2012


I have a sneaking suspicion that while you were attempting to do all these violent, brutal, ferocious, and astonishingly effective things, some long haired ponce in tights would stick you in a manner that you would consider entirely unfair.
posted by ethansr at 5:45 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure it is.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:51 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This reminded me of Neal Stephenson's Kickstarter to produce a more accurate sword-based videogame.

They either would get on really well or would hate each other.

If its the later, well... TO THE DEATH!
posted by Artw at 5:51 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


So basically Bushido Blade meets Rob Roy.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:57 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just in case you're in the market.

Overenthusiastic bladehawkers aside, Renaissance swordfighting is an amazing combination of science and art. The competitions are pretty great, too.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 6:26 PM on June 15, 2012


Some of this makes alot of sense. Edge on edge just seems stupid when you think about it.

That 10 minute flourish video looks like the starwars kid.
posted by stratastar at 6:30 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


If its the later, well... TO THE DEATH!
NO! To the PAIN!
I'm sorry, really
posted by deliquescent at 6:53 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you want to get at the primary source for most modern Historical European Martial Arts reconstructions, the wiktenauer.com is a good place to start. My impression of ARMA and Mr. Clements in the large HEMA community is that he's a bit polarizing, but he definitely works to clear up the misconceptions about the art.

I don't practice swordsmanship myself, but I certainly watching videos about it. Hammaborg is my favorite because the focus on sword and buckler.
posted by Mister Cheese at 6:58 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow. He's as annoying on video as in print. But I just finished a class in self-defense techniques, and I can appreciate the practical aspects of what he is studying. I'm also appreciating the practical aspects of scotch and ibuprofen.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 7:07 PM on June 15, 2012


I wrote a bit about the wild inaccuracy of the sword fighting people see on film and at most renfairs a while back - particularly about the insanity of really hard swings with edge-to-edge attacking and blocking.

I haven't looked at the videos, but judging from the photos and what this guy is saying in the article, he's legit. Some of the photos show the binding/grappling I was talking about in my comment about this.

He's telling the truth about medieval/renaissance sword fighting. Basically people were wrestling and brawling with edged weapons. There weren't really codes or rules of conduct. If you could grapple/bind an opponents sword and headbutt them, bite them, knee them in the jibblies, kick them, trip them - it was all considered fair game.

Having seen live steel sword practice by people who cared about historical accuracy, they basically would emulate all of this "dirty" fighting just short of breaking bones or drawing blood.

It just makes logical sense. People weren't play-fighting with swords back then. They didn't duel with "honor" unless they were some poncy git of a landowner too foolish and thick-headed to hire someone to fight for them. They were actually trying to kill each other. Usually that means brawling/grappling until you could bind up their sword and still keep your own sword freed up enough to drag (not chop) a whopping big nasty cut across a major vein or artery. Or even a small cut. Or be fast enough to drop their sword and draw the dirk or dagger in their belt and just shiv their opponent. Yes, with the point, artistry be damned.
posted by loquacious at 7:32 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah, dang, that should read "larger HEMA community" since it's actually not plain "large". Mr. Clements article is okay for dispelling misconceptions if you just want to take his word for it. But for more specifics, if you want a taste of what the older arts were like, a good place to start is MS_3227a. It's in the Liechtenauer tradition (German). It's all there: various wards to fight from, initiative and timing, feeling your opponent through the bind, understanding when to be strong and when to be yielding.

For the brutality, see the illustrations in one of the Talhoffer manuals. Search the text for "Which at last is ended by dagger-stab."
posted by Mister Cheese at 7:39 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am the world's leading proponent and foremost authority on the use of historical European arms and armor. I've made study of swords in the Renaissance —their forms, techniques, and wounds —my special focus. It's my life's work, my career, and my passion. I am an accomplished martial artist teaching authentic art of Renaissance fencing following the genuine source teachings. I am no stunt-fighter, costumed performer, nor showman entertainer. I am a swordsman.

I think he has sword fighting confused with dick swinging.
posted by LarryC at 7:52 PM on June 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yes, with the point, artistry be damned.

I always thought that was a rather odd point of view.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:57 PM on June 15, 2012


That article was as irritating as the subject is fascinating.

I mean did he say anything other than UR DOIN IT RONG?
posted by Sebmojo at 8:02 PM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Early gun-fighting was about awareness, cover, and shot placement! The techniques we see today were mostly invented by late American Republic fantasists, and modern duelling is actually just a descendant of primitive simulation games, that moved into the real world once medical nanorobotics advanced enough! it has nothing to do with how people actually fought with guns!"
posted by Grimgrin at 8:13 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Stick em with the pointy end.
posted by cacofonie at 8:27 PM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


I always thought that was a rather odd point of view.

There's a lot of odd things about the Dune books, like Feudalism existing in an age of easy space travel, atomic weapons and high technology. It's fiction, and they practiced a codified, rule-based form of dagger dueling (Kanly) that involved the use of weird energy shields with weird rules.

Which now that I think about it, killing with the point might be the only effective way to duel with those kinds of shields on.

That article was as irritating as the subject is fascinating. I mean did he say anything other than UR DOIN IT RONG?

Yeah, people who study this stuff in depth tend to be irritating, but the film version of swordfighting has been "doing it wrong" pretty much since Errol Flynn, so I'm not entirely sure how he's supposed to word things differently to not be irritating or a know-it-all.

I'm not entirely sure why people in this thread are finding the article so irritating. I found it authoritative and informative. Maybe people are reacting somewhat defensively and challenging what they thought they knew about sword fighting from movies? Maybe it's just the same kind of irritation when practical FX nerds dork out on bad FX in films? Or the same sort of irritation people experience when ubernerds dork out on bad SF films and say shit like "You can't hear explosions in space or dodge laser beams."
posted by loquacious at 8:27 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Previously - and the thread on that post was pretty good, too.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:33 PM on June 15, 2012


Incapacitate seems to be the thing. This site has some interesting - and vital - information regarding sword wounds and the circulatory system.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 8:50 PM on June 15, 2012


>I'm not entirely sure why people in this thread are finding the article so irritating. I found it authoritative and informative.

His assertions are quite plausible.

His tone, however, is hectoring; and worse, since he elects not to delve too deeply into specifics, it comes off as

>I mean did he say anything other than UR DOIN IT RONG?

...yeah, exactly.


At any rate, I can understand his desire to keep things a bit vague, so as to avoid exposing too many of his Forgotten Elite Swordfighting SecretsTM... but the ultimate effect is that the article reads like a press release.
posted by darth_tedious at 8:59 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


So basically Bushido Blade meets Rob Roy

I absolutely loved Bushido Blade. Such a different game, with pretty brutal results. Sadly, the load times were equally brutal. If you're fight lasts ten seconds, but the load time is 30, something is off with the game.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:06 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are still active blade dueling cultures in North America. For example, there are still machete fighting matches in some California farmworker communities.

That stuff doesn't make it onto TV or the internet though.
posted by wuwei at 9:09 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really wanted to learn about why swordfighting isn't what I think it is. I didn't want to learn it from a hectoring pedant. The whole thing reads like: "GOD you IDIOTS don't even GET what real swordfighting IS!" Not to mention he contradicts himself on what REAL swordfighting is and isn't in every other sentence.

Also...Hollywood's prerogative isn't textbook historical accuracy...it's to make shit look cool. Based on this clowns youtube videos historically accurate swordfighting looks like a coniption - as inelegant, quick and spasmadic as an actual barfight.

This guy has a head full of interesting info but needs to check his tone.
posted by jnnla at 10:51 PM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


You be the one to tell him.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:57 PM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


but the film version of swordfighting has been "doing it wrong" pretty much since Errol Flynn

That's kind of debatable. Violence and swordfighting exists as a means to an end1. The entertainment version of swordfighting has been doing it very entertainingly for a very long time, and the brutal version of swordighting has been doing it very brutally for a slightly longer time.
You knew that, but it still seems weird to say movies do it wrong. They're experts in their craft in their own right.

1. But I suppose that would mean the people doing it wrong are people for whom it's a hobby in and of itself? :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 12:16 AM on June 16, 2012


I like John Clements' supposedly accurate Renaissance techniques. I like Hollywood stuntmen. But which is better? There's only one way to settle this: FIGHT!!!
posted by Segundus at 1:02 AM on June 16, 2012


I'm not entirely sure why people in this thread are finding the article so irritating.

For me, it's because any person making it known they're The expert on swords is not only such a painful cliche, it's a bright burning red flag that you're probably talking to the least interesting person in the room. I call him "Sword Guy", and this is my story -

Lots of my social circles liked dressing up, and I did too, so there were lots of theme/costume parties where I didn't know many people there. I accumulated various things I could throw together to make a costume at short notice, including a sword.
The sword was a nice costume touch, but I eventually learned to just leave it behind, because to Sword Guy - and there was always a Sword Guy - merely wearing it was a turf challenge. In his mind, he was the expert, swords were the thing that made him special, and someone actually wearing a sword was muscling in on that, and might erroneously get the attention and respect that really belonged to sword guy. (Swords don't really command attention and respect, but if sword guy understood that, he wouldn't be sword guy).

So at every fucking time, Sword Guy would make some kind of excuse to start up a conversation, and his sole purpose during the entire "conversation" was to communicate to me, faux-friendly, that he was the expert and establish a pecking order in which it was acknowledged he was at the top. And most of the time, not always, but most of the time, sword guy was no more than a layman enthusiast, with a head of full of popular misconceptions from reading without doing, or basic history he thinks is 301. But he doesn't want to go away until his pecking order has been established, and I want to be polite (as well as not prolong the lectures), so I try to let him get through his thing, but it's kind of excruciating.

I've never had a [insert any other part of my costume] Guy introduce himself and do that shit. But Sword Guy? Every. Time.


Now getting back to your question, maybe this particular guy is genuine alpha sword guy. Maybe he's not socially retarded, maybe he knows his stuff, maybe he's genuinely interesting to talk to, and maybe he's secure enough to not talk about his expertise on swords.

But I ask myself - if he and I both ended up at a party, and I was wearing a sword, would he introduce himself to me and try to establish a pecking order because of my costume?
Because if it feels like he's the kind of guy who even might do that, then that's probably what people are reacting to.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:11 AM on June 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


(I assume he's just doing the obnoxious martial-arts style self-promotion as the one true way, ie it's business as much or more than the self-identity thing I describe above, it's just close enough to wave several of the same flags)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:33 AM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I found obnoxious is the confidence that he is doing it right. Even in traditional Japanese budo, where schools of swordsmanship, jujitsu, and other weapon use have been passed down not only via documents, but by a string of experts teaching new experts, anyone who said they were performing textbook 16th century combat would be a laughing stock. When you live and die by your technique, the technical details and the tactics aren't going to be learned just from reading a manual and one shouldn't lose sight that you are doing historically influenced 20th/21st century techniques.

As an aside, I found it a bit surprising how basically all of the "this is how it was really done" points could also be lifted straight from Japanese sword traditions. The general physics of trying to injure someone with a long, sharpened pointy thing presumably suggests a number of convergent solutions.
posted by Schismatic at 2:13 AM on June 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, until he's actually killed a fair number of reasonably skilled swords-peopswords battle I'm not going to really believe all his sound and fury about his expertise.
posted by Chekhovian at 2:43 AM on June 16, 2012


But Sword Guy? Every. Time.

Heh. If the SCA had its own Tarot deck, "The guy who hasn't been around for long, wears a lot of black, and would love to take up armoured combat but he's afraid that with all of his special forces / martial arts training he might accidentally kill someone" would be one of the major arcana. (My personal favorite was the collegiate fencer who just didn't get that armour possessed mass and kept offering the helpful advice that I'd win more fights if I just moved faster than the other guy, but who was highly resistant to the idea of putting on armor and demonstrating this to me.)
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:01 AM on June 16, 2012


So I'm more of a materials culture guy, but I have friends who are in to this sort of thing (but whose egos haven't swollen to a point where they can no longer parallel park). Based on interacting with them, I think it's fair to say he's probably doing it right.

There is a large enough community of people out there interested in this stuff, trying to decipher the same texts, coming up with different conclusions, and then getting together to compare their results semi-regularly. What you find when you do this is that one interpretation looks great until somebody says "what about...." and then you realize that you're interpretation opens you to some dirt simple ripost that the other interpretation does not.

When materials culture types get together, we establish dominance by casually revealing which museum catalogs and such we own. As a result I can't help but believe that my dick would grow three inches if I had a copy of Lightbown.

We also go on about furniture design and the like.

posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:31 AM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think everyone on MetaFilter is Sword Guy about something. Probably several things.
posted by fleacircus at 4:38 AM on June 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


There's a lot of odd things about the Dune books, like Feudalism existing in an age of easy space travel, atomic weapons and high technology. It's fiction, and they practiced a codified, rule-based form of dagger dueling (Kanly) that involved the use of weird energy shields with weird rules.

Well, it was the weirding way.
posted by Thistledown at 5:30 AM on June 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


And with weirding modules, what do you expect?
posted by Thistledown at 5:30 AM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I recollect reading about a period in recent history -- maybe the 1960s and '70s? -- when it was the mode amongst certain British or UK criminals to carry large edged weapons and administer the sort of tissue damage that one would expect with such weaponry. The thrust of the article was that historians of the sword fightin' era were able to hang out around emergency rooms and see some real sword fightin' wounds.

But what I'm curious about, although not curious enough to even attempt to do any research myself: were these modern era sword wounds commensurate with what is supposedly the historical precedent? I mean, I'm assuming that the modern criminals were looking to do the sort of damage that one does with a sword, but am curious as to whether their (presumably) intuitive style resembled the historically martially-informed variety.
posted by mr. digits at 5:47 AM on June 16, 2012


Speaking of the historical truth of fighting with edged weapons, there was recently a brief article in The Economist concerning a fellow who had been killed during the Wars of the Roses and detailing the nature of his wounds. A sort of post-mortem, if you will.

Anyhow, he had been disabled and mutilated with extreme prejudice, which was the historical norm, but more interesting to me was that he seems to have gritted his teeth with such force, probably in anticipating combat, that his dentition exhibited a series of minute cracks from the pressure.

Also, it is said that a third of soldiers in the modern era either vomit or experience incontinence when they receive fire, especially when they are unfamiliar with it. Could the rates have been (much?) higher among dudes carrying heavy weaponry who would have been likely to approach and see their opponents approaching from some distance, perhaps on foot, and perhaps accompanied by "preview" deaths of one's allies as a result of arrows, javelins, or other projectile weapons? I know that some of the soldiers would have been pros, but understand that nobody objected to throwing a lot of riffraff out front to absorb some damage.

It doesn't sound like a very pleasant prospect at any rate.
posted by mr. digits at 5:57 AM on June 16, 2012


I think everyone on MetaFilter is Sword Guy about something.

e.g. the anti-circumcision advocate, aka Pork Sword Guy.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:15 AM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Continuing on with the discussion of real life sword wounds, it's worth looking into the Battle of Visby/Wisby. The battlefield became the largest archeological site of its kind in the early 20th centruy. Researchers exhumed some 1000 bodies, about 70% of which had severe leg wounds.

Essentially, most battlefield fights probably ended with hacking someone's leg or foot off. This makes sense when you think about shields and the most common armor types probably available.
posted by Telf at 7:41 AM on June 16, 2012


I'm not sure the Visby injury ratios are necessarily representative since it was a battle between professional soldiers vs. the home town guard. Raising your weapon high to draw up your opponents defense, and then nailing them in the leg is a great strategy if your goal is to rough up the inexperienced.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:09 AM on June 16, 2012


experience incontinence when they receive fire

Dave Grossman addresses this in On Combat, in the context of the overwhelming desire to void one's bowels before anticipated violence, presumably because if your intestines are going to be pierced, it's better if they're empty. According to him, in the SWAT community it's known as a "battle crap".
posted by adamdschneider at 8:20 AM on June 16, 2012


I call him "Sword Guy", and this is my story

Oh my god...I had no idea this was a thing, but I met "Sword Gal" last week at a masquerade. I was dressed as The Dread Pirate Roberts, complete with rapier, and there was Sword Gal, who went out of her way to challenge whether or not I knew how to use it (I didn't) and then go on to bemoan how sucky it was that people wore swords as costume accessories but didn't know how to use them properly.

By the time she was done with her rant I wanted to bust a Capo Ferro in her ass.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:31 AM on June 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the only way to settle this is in the octagon. Steel cage matches with swords.
posted by empath at 8:39 AM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


"And it isn't."

It sure as hell "isn't" an informative article. The only point it raises is about using the flat, and even as a non-swordsperson, I knew that.
posted by Ardiril at 8:41 AM on June 16, 2012


I think the only way to settle this is in the octagon. Steel cage matches with swords.

No, I think the only way to settle this is the one used by Indiana Jones when facing a seemingly expert swordsman with an ego.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:39 AM on June 16, 2012


Disappointed. I watched all the OP vids and read the links. I don't know if he's "real", he certainly can talk a lot, but what gets me is this - has he ever REALLY fought with swords? Even the most realistic fight (the parking lot video, near the end), they are holding back on follow ups. Most of the time he is "calling the shots" to his partner, who always stops everything at the moment of blocking. While he does his ongoing blah blah blah.

What would actually convince me is if they suited up with some heavy leather armour and blunted or wooden swords and really did try to kill each other, or at least fight to the point of calling for mercy.

But that would be really dangerous, which this doesn't seem to be. How can you be a sword fighting expert without fighting, really fighting?
posted by Meatbomb at 11:00 AM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think that's a pretty legitimate criticism, although by that measure there are no sword fighting experts alive today. Also by that measure, there are vanishingly few unarmed combat experts in the world, including, I'd guess, virtually no martial artists as we generally understand the term. It is, however, still possible to know more than nothing about it from practice, research and experimentation. If we ever get truly, fully immersive virtual reality, maybe we'll be able to rebuild this stuff to such an exacting standard. Until then, I guess we just have to make do without killing anyone.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:54 AM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, apart from the various special forces guys who use unarmed combat in their day jobs...

But yeah, the real weakness in this guy's arguments is the idea that just because you follow the rules laid down in period textbooks, you're actually fighting as people would've done in said period, when everybody researching any craft knows that knowing the textbooks is only the point at which you start to learn your craft.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:09 PM on June 16, 2012


It sure as hell "isn't" an informative article.

Yeah. I kept expecting the article to finishing up with the self promotion and get down to the business of giving some information, instead of finding yet more new and imaginative ways to repeat "everything anyone else says is wrong. Only I know anything", but... there wasn't anything beyond that, it was just vapid. No meat on the bone. All bark and no bite. Some of the videos at least had a demonstration of some little thing or other which is at least something, but the article was WTF?
posted by -harlequin- at 12:09 PM on June 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Incidently, in the context of fictional depictions of swordfights, Mary Gentle, who seems to specialise into early modern fantasy contexts, has based hers on the same sources mentioned here.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:11 PM on June 16, 2012


Well, apart from the various special forces guys who use unarmed combat in their day jobs...

Hence my hedging, though I wager even those guys generally don't do much of what we'd call "fighting" so much as "murdering" (i.e. taking down unaware people).
posted by adamdschneider at 1:46 PM on June 16, 2012


By the time she was done with her rant I wanted to bust a Capo Ferro in her ass.

But I find Thibault cancels out Capo Ferro, don't you?
posted by nathancaswell at 2:01 PM on June 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


it was just vapid. No meat on the bone. All bark and no bite

The 10 minute flourish video was particularly amusing that way. "Look at me, a grown up star wars kid with no sense of shame!"
posted by Chekhovian at 2:07 PM on June 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


There have been mêlée fights in the wars of this century -- in the trenches, and during the Falklands, for instance. Does anybody know if they interviewed the Polish cavalrymen who charged infantry (always infantry, never vehicles, at least not intentionally) or the Germans who were on the receiving end?
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 2:35 PM on June 16, 2012


I imagine you would have had to have been pretty good at sword techniques were you to have been that annoying in medieval and Renaissance times.
posted by moonbiter at 2:43 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


... and survive. (man, I sure ruined that joke)
posted by moonbiter at 2:45 PM on June 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, this guy would be amazing to pull into film and TV production. If he wants to get the UR DOING IT WRONG out there, that would be the best way possible.

Also guys, PROJECT CLANG.
posted by stratastar at 4:39 PM on June 16, 2012


Question for the SCA types out there:

If you were to wear a reasonable set of armor, say what 40-50lbs, and do sword training stuff 4-5 times a week for an hour, do you think that would be the ultimate workout to get you skinny and buff? With the weight distributed like in armor I imagine it would be an excellent total body workout. But would you get sword swinging RSIs?
posted by Chekhovian at 5:30 PM on June 16, 2012


I'm sure it wouldn't hurt, but for "ultimate workout" you'd probably want Crossfit or something. Although swords are probably more fun.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:58 PM on June 16, 2012


Certainly this sword-guy asshole is not exactly skinny and buff from his videos, so maybe I'm totally off base with my workout idea. But he doesn't seem to be wearing head to toe plate armor during his workouts either.
posted by Chekhovian at 6:35 PM on June 16, 2012


But would you get sword swinging RSIs?

If you're actually hitting something, I think you'd be fine.

I think the most realistic sword fight bit on TV is the bit in the Star Trek Voyager episode "Heroes and Demons" where the viking dude swings for the fences to smite the holographic doctor soundly, but being non-solid, the sword goes right through the doctor and viking dude ends up clutching his arm in pain while the doc gives advice on icing his elbow. Trying to stop a weapon with just your arm is a stretching thing, and we respond to being compressed much better than being stretched.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:55 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well (and this is my limited, untrained reading talking here), I don't think "swinging for the fences is very realistic, either. It doesn't take a whole lot to cut skin, and Guy Windsor, at least, seems to think training ought to involve a lot of punch-pulling.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:12 PM on June 16, 2012


It's fiction, and they practiced a codified, rule-based form of dagger dueling (Kanly) that involved the use of weird energy shields with weird rules.

Technically. "Kanly" is a formal vendetta between two Great Houses, one with strict rules of how it is to be carried out, so as to cause al little collateral damage as possible.

The knife dueling was an artifact of "personal shield" technology. Rapidly moving objects wold be deflected by the force field, while slow moving object could penetrate. Learning to fight that way meant that Paul had an off-beat knife style when it came to fighting Fremen who didn't use shields.

So the "Slow attack, rapid defense" was not so much an obscure rule as a practical development of what fighters were facing. Kind of like when European knights got all armored up in plate, you started seeing more maces and hammers weapons aimed at cracking open a shell and getting to the meaty bits inside.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:01 AM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Chekhovian: "Question for the SCA types out there:

If you were to wear a reasonable set of armor, say what 40-50lbs, and do sword training stuff 4-5 times a week for an hour, do you think that would be the ultimate workout to get you skinny and buff?
"

I know dozens of mobidly obese people who've been doing exactly this for over a decade. So, no.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:49 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


LarryC: "I think he has sword fighting confused with dick swinging."

I think you have sword fighting confused with something other than a lethal form of dick swinging.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:51 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Technically. "Kanly" is a formal vendetta between two Great Houses, one with strict rules of how it is to be carried out, so as to cause al little collateral damage as possible.

The knife dueling was an artifact of "personal shield" technology. Rapidly moving objects wold be deflected by the force field, while slow moving object could penetrate. Learning to fight that way meant that Paul had an off-beat knife style when it came to fighting Fremen who didn't use shields.


TECHNICALLY I believe you are referring to the Holtzman Effect.

/Dune Guy.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:43 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you really want to go all "Dune Guy" on things, then I'm going highlight this old comment, because its amazing, and I seem to be the only person that's ever read it:
The interview contains no mention of a rather obscure history book which appears to have provided significant inspiration, as well as detail bits, to "Dune." This book--perhaps more timely today than in the 1960s--details the efforts of Caucasian Muslims to escape subjugation by the Russian Empire in the mid-19th century. "The Sabres of Paradise," published by (Ms.) Lesley Blanch in 1960, centers on the exploits of the Imam Shamyl, legendary leader of the Daghestani/Chechen "Murid" resistance, a larger than life figure until his surrender in 1859.

Against the backdrop of Islamic jihad led by Shamyl, inter alia, it describes the bond that each Muslim warrior had with his sword--like the knife cult of the Fremen of Dune--and described the institution of vendetta called kanly in the Caucasus; even the term was directly borrowed by Herbert. Quoth Blanch:

"[U]pon becoming Imam, [Shamyl] had tried to stamp out the the whole tradition of kanly. The Russians, on the contrary encouraged it, cynically. It was a practical method of wiping out the more explosive elements of the tribes."

When first I read Dune c. 1967 or so, I was bowled over by the great imagination embodied in the story. Alas, some of what I thought was original was not. I came across "Sabres" quite by accident, but as soon as I read in it of "kanly" I knew that Frank had read it too. Just as Shamyl led his ultimately unsuccessful jihad against the Empire, Usul led his nouveau jihadis in a rather more successful enterprise.

I have never seen any article which reflects on the apparent connection between "Sabres" and "Dune."
So Kanly was an actual thing, done by actual people.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:55 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh! That is truly interesting, Chekhovian.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:13 AM on June 19, 2012


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