View Full Version : Swords and fighting styles...

02-12-2009, 02:46 AM
Again i might be planning to much detail so early but here goes anyway...

My MC and sidekick/s will be fighting either using swords or magic or both...now should i be doing research into how to fight with particular sword types???Is there a difference in styles???

I ask because their swords are sort of unique to their races and i dont want to get it wrong...

Any suggestions where i can get info from would be great...


02-12-2009, 03:02 AM
Tough question to answer without more specific info...

Would sword sizes and weights decide the fighting style? For example, a twin pair of light dueling swords (darting in to stab and slash) vs. a two-handed broadsword (wide, long-range swings).

Define the weapons and think how their owners will use them in a fight -- and also how effective or how constrained they will be depending on the location.


02-12-2009, 03:06 AM
Straight swords are for stabbing, curved swords like sabers are for slashing. Both have sharp edges and points but the styles used in wielding them are quite different. I train in Japanese Iaido (not to be confused with kendo) . If you want to see some neat sword play look up Iaido. The outfits are way cool!

If you're thinking of a light saber ala Star Wars it won't matter.

02-12-2009, 03:31 AM
There are different types of fencing (apart from around the farm) so you could look each one up on the internet and work out which you will use for your story. In the Three Muscateers they use more of a foil. I learnt foil at school and the only way to score is with the point. Broadsword and magic with a knowledge of the martial arts is what my MC uses in the fourteenth century. I watch films and go to re-enactment pagents to watch how they handle their weapons, how they carry them (back or on the belt, strapped to the horse when riding etc). Most of this I'll never need but it's good to have the background knowledge for book signings when you could be talking to an affectionado.

02-12-2009, 03:35 AM
I wanted quick fast movement but the ability (in style) to hold their own against other fighting skills...Also they would be fighting with no shield...

02-12-2009, 03:46 AM
Fighting styles evolve to suit the weapon AND the armor of the opponent. Decide what level of technology your world is dealing with, and you'll have a handle on the sort of weapon they will be likely to carry. From that you can extrapolate a fighting style.

A 'quick fast' style would indicate a lighter blade. Typically a blade that favors the point over the edge. Think in terms of a Rapier or Short Sword ("Court Sword"). Even in Europe, there were overlapping styles and weapons in a period. For instance during the high point of the Rapier - there was an English 'Master of Fence' (George Silver) who HATED the "Italianted style" of the long (42inch) Rapier Blades - and said no "True" Englishman would be caught dead duelling with them - or rather WOULD be caught dead duelling with them. He favored the 'cut and thrust' sword more popular in England. Shorter, slightly wider and with a simpler hilt.

A military man might use a heavier blade (Think Pappenheimer, or 'broadsword' style) while a gentleman might carry a lighter dress weapon.

There is a scene in ROB ROY, the final duel - where Rob Roy is fighting with a basket hilt broadsword against an expert with a very much lighter Colichemarde. It is a fantastic examination of the stylistic approach and strengths and weakness of one weapon against the other. I highly reccomend studying that film, as well as Ridley Scott's THE DUELLISTS. Again, you will see the use of broadbladed cavalry sabres, and very fast very light duelling swords. (Both films choreographed by my favorite - William Hobbs.)

02-12-2009, 06:22 AM
My WiP is fantasy...so traditional swords design isnt something that i would be using...i have an idea on what it would look like...so with that in mind can i make up my own style that it is used in...or should i stick to one already there???

02-12-2009, 06:48 AM
The style is determined by the weapon. All you need remember is a sword is not a toy. It has one purpose and that is to inflict pain and death. Let your imagination run wild.

My WiP is fantasy...so traditional swords design isnt something that i would be using...i have an idea on what it would look like...so with that in mind can i make up my own style that it is used in...or should i stick to one already there???

02-12-2009, 07:19 AM
Kendo is a legitimate Japanese sword fighting art. There is a component of it that involves a long AND short sword for two handed fighting. There is a Phillipino art, escrima, or kali, that many think is stick fighting. The sticks are dummies for swords.

02-12-2009, 07:51 AM
I know its fantasy but can i make up a sword similar to a katana and use it in what ever way i see fit (ie sort of like wushu and lightsaber use in starwars) and not have readers get annoyed??

02-12-2009, 08:19 AM
I know its fantasy but can i make up a sword similar to a katana and use it in what ever way i see fit (ie sort of like wushu and lightsaber use in starwars) and not have readers get annoyed??

Yes, you can make up whatever kind of sword you like, but it's length and weight will influence how your character uses it and how he fights.

If you give your character a sword with a long blade length, then have him wield like like a short sword, your readers will be annoyed and your fight scenes won't make sense.

It will also help you, the author, write your fight scenes if you model the fighting after an existing system (or systems). Describing movements, advances, etc, will be much easier.

02-12-2009, 08:22 AM
Readers will get annoyed if their willing suspension of disbelief is abused.

If the sword looks like a katanna, then it handles like a katanna, and that's where you should start with structuring the martial art.

It's sharp all the way down the leading edge, it has a sharp tip, is there a false ricasso? Is there any edge behind the tip? Its primarily a cutting weapon, does the style involve a lot of parrying or mostly avoidance? What about the GUARD, simple or complex?

What is the 'bushido' - the 'code' for the civilization? Is it primarily offensive or defensive? Is it better to kill your opponent in a simultaneous attack, or survive the encounter to fight another day?

The martial styles are a reflection of the weapons, the armor AND the martial philosophy of the culture.

02-12-2009, 05:37 PM
If it's a fantasy world, then you aren't going for historical accuracy. However you should be going for internal accuracy. Make up what you want, but make sure it won't conflict with the real thing or it will turn off or confuse people. If the blade is katana-like and that is important, then maybe describe the blade but don't use the word katana unless it is to explain how it is different.
(e.g. "Look at that katana!"
"Look closer, it is not a katana, because the concave is sharpened instead of the convex. This is a hackoffa.")

But please make sure the blade should be able to do what you describe it doing. e.g. don't have a character get decapitated in a single stroke with a dagger.

Read up on fighting styles so your scenes will work better, but use a made up name for your characters'. If you want to toss out a real name (maybe you want to show that you did read up on stuff, whatever) then have the next line be something like, "Bushido? He wouldn't have lasted a minute against Master Tokojido (I hope that wasn't a real name. I'm too tired to google it, but if it were my story I would have).

02-12-2009, 08:20 PM
Even if your story is a fantasy, going to a renn faire or re-enactment demo and watching their combats is always a good thing. (Or the movies previously mentioned.) This way, you will have an idea of what the characters will be doing when you're writing the scenes. Also, if you can actually pick up a sword similar to what you had in mind for your characters will give you an actual feel for what you're dealing with. Re-enactors love it when people are interested in what they do since they've put the time and effort to learn about their chosen subjects in the first place.

Also, going to a demo or faire might give you other ideas, world building, character creation, and the like, that you might not have had.

02-14-2009, 02:40 AM
On you tube, you can find the Rob Roy duel Writeknight mentioned. Also search for SCA combat, and you will find many many videos of people in armor fighting with weapons of different sizes and lengths, from daggers to twelve foot spears.

02-14-2009, 03:04 AM
Tai chi sword in china is a great fit. Many practitioners were confucian scholars at the imperial court, so it is a light sword for self defense. Its also got a nice mystical undertone to it...and it works. (that is to say, its a functional martial art, unlike some of them)

02-14-2009, 03:14 AM
AHhhh YouTube.


Thanks Prawn! Been a while since I've watched it. Even better than I remembered!

Classic fight for heavy blade versus lighter blade, Point vs Edge. In the end, it's the bad guy's own ARROGANCE that defeats the bad guy.