Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Last week our featured FightWriter, Lisa Godfrees asked a question about knife fighting. I thought this week I should give examples of how an attack would go between educated knife fighters. In every one note the body positioning and the use of both hands. All of these are courtesy of Houston Stick Fighting Association who are some of the kindest people you will ever meet. And, with trained fighters, that's often the case. They are kind, gentle folk ... until the scenario demands otherwise. 

Video #1 - Attention FANTASY WRITERS, this video is not only a great example for a scene with short swords, but it shows how the art of judo came to be. If you are a fantasy writer and have a battle scene, you need to know judo. The Japanese art comes directly from the battle field and sword play. 

After de-swording an opponent, the dominant fighter would try to throw their opponent in such a way that he landed flat on his back. The weight of armor is especially heavy on the chest so if placed flat one's the back, it takes maneuvering to get back to one's feet. In that amount of time, the downed opponent would be dispatched. That is why throws were created. They used the weight of armor against the fighter to put them in a vulnerable position. In modern judo, the concept is the same: use the opponent's mass against them. 

In this video, my professor, Eddie Avelar, is "de-sworded." What follows is judo. You will see that he takes a blow but in armor it wouldn't be lethal. Without armor it would be injurious but not deadly. By the way, stick work translates to blade work as well as hand to hand defense.

Video #2 - Actual short swords

Video #3 - Dagger fight. Notice that the knives keep moving and although one fighter, Daniel, keeps his knife as an extension of his forearm in a ready position, when he strikes it moves at angles with his wrist. You will also see him switch grips from forward to reverse. (Remember what that is? If not, see last week's post Featured FightWriter: Lisa Godfrees)

Video #4 - General Grievous. Ok, not really. But each opponent has a stick in each hand.

Video #5 - Tomahawk. This video is especially good because it's slow. You can really break down the body movements.   

      Remember, serve the story. These videos give you the bones of an accurate scene, but if the skin overwhelms them, you've defeated the purpose. Your scene should never be so technical that a reader must do research to follow them. So, know what's right but, above all, write. Create snapshots of what is most interesting about a real scene. 
      While knife fighters are gaging one another's distance and there's more dancing than striking, put in visceral details, the surrounding smells, sounds, the feeling of being a god. That is a bit of what's it's like to fight this way. You feel greater than yourself. Everything else disappears except that moment and even that moment seems to stand alone in time. There's no fear, no emotion at all. There's just a mouth-watering fury that makes your eye teeth feel longer. 
     Don't just let your reader read. Make them a part of the scene. Make them feel the subtle shift in the air as the blade just misses their cheek. 

Until the next time at, get blood on your pages.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for these videos. It helps to have a visual.


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