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Mike O'Hara




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PostPosted: Mon 31 Jan, 2011 12:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have used similar moves to Mikko to deal with linear attackers - my general rule of thumb in Eastern is use circles against straight lines and straight lines against circles. So from that respect spinning backfists/elbows and kicks are great to deal with linear attacks.

I do remember another turning move (its certainly isn't a pirouette Big Grin ) in Ni-ten (Ni-to as I've also seen it) where the defender turns into the attack and redirects with the short sword and either continues the move or cuts from behind/below (kind of the equivalent to tail with a longsword) over their head and into the attacker. I've heard it called waterwheel but not seen it written in Japanese texts as that. The second weapon and change on angle as well as the weapon appearing out from behind your body foxes people if done smoothly


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mike

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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Mon 31 Jan, 2011 2:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
There are other movie moves that are just as suicidal, but perhaps this one stands out more.

My favorite has always been twirling thrusting swords around like... well, as Guybrush Threepwood so memorably put it:

"Soon you'll be wearing my sword like a shish-kabob!"
"First you'd better stop waving it around like a feather duster!"

Yes, The Mask of Zorro, I'm looking at you.

Quote:
Remarkably, I've seen this done in serious (sport) fighting, a stationary spinning kick as an initial attack, within range. In professional kickboxing. The opponent's response was to move just out of range, and then close and punch to the face. (Perhaps the rules prohibit hitting in the back mid-spin?) 1/2 a loss, just like that.

On the other hand, I've seen many (sport) fights ended instantly with a well-timed reverse sidekick or back kick to the torso, usually after the opponent has committed to an attack that is then interrupted from an unexpected angle. And I've done it a few times, myself. Of course, in this case it also helps that reverse kicks are effective at a shorter distance than "regular" forward kicks.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Mon 31 Jan, 2011 2:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike O'Hara wrote:
I have used similar moves to Mikko to deal with linear attackers - my general rule of thumb in Eastern is use circles against straight lines and straight lines against circles. So from that respect spinning backfists/elbows and kicks are great to deal with linear attacks.

The spinning backfist is really kinda interesting. It's surprisingly quick when done right, with an awful lot of power behind it, and your head actually remains quite well guarded, first by your off-hand and then the shoulders and finally the striking arm - the very spin itself negates most potential attacks at your back.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 31 Jan, 2011 3:57 am    Post subject: Re: Pirouetting in combat         Reply with quote

Jeff A. Arbogast wrote:
I am no expert in medieval hand-to-hand combat, and I'll be the first to admit it, although I tinker with it a bit. But one thing I see constantly on nearly EVERY movie that has ANY sword to sword combat is the ridiculous but apparently mandatory "twirling about" in a 360 while dueling your opponent. Somebody tell me this never happened. I find it maddening to watch, thinking "If I was facing a ballerina like that, my sword would be rammed through his ribs before he was halfway through his spin." Am I correct finding this to be totally absurd? I know that Hollywood could care less about historical accuracy, and this sort of flashy but STUPID move is considered a necessity, but it drives me crazy. Can you imagine a Roman soldier in formation doing this? WTF?! He'd be flogged half to death by his Centurion for it. Or a viking in a shield wall? I would NEVER turn my back on someone trying to kill me, then or now. This, to me, is even worse than the mandatory "SHHIINNNNG" of a sword being pulled from it's scabbard. I have three of 'em, and NONE of them do that. They shouldn't. That's just MORE Hollywood B.S. Any authorities on swordplay please confirm my assumption that heavily armed ballerina's are pure fantasy, as I assume.


No, of course not- not as you're talking about, anyways. But you already knew that on some level. ;-) You don't need a sword authority to tell you that. If anyone pulled a Hollywood style of spin on me in a real fight, they'd suddenly find themselves with an inch or two of sword in their torso, or a sword splitting open their head.

But remember, what (some) of the audience really wants is stuff that looks sweet. From a certain, stylized, non-realistic perspective, spinning around before attacking someone looks cool. Yes, it may be nonsense, but we're talking about human beings: appearances are important to us.
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Mon 31 Jan, 2011 4:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Spinning kicks don't always, but can often result in an automatic dodge with the upper body as well, which can be useful as a counter to certain unarmed attacks. I'm sure similar techniques could also be done with a weapon in hand.

It's also important to discern from twirling on the spot right in front of your opponent as seen in most movies and stepping and turning to create new angles or depth of attack. Typical Taisabaki movements occur frequenty in Aikido, Aikijutsu, even on occasion in Okinawa Karate, but then more as sidestepping and rolling around for better and safer leverage for a throw or counterstrike. These are not standing in front of the opponent but rolling around their attack to the side of them.
Spinning is also used in Indian Sikh swordsmanship against multiple opponents in a very similar way as seen in the Jogo De Pau clips.

In the sport fighting in SCA heavy combat I've seen and myself used several surprisingly effective spin strike attacks, often these are only effective against sword and shilend after making the shield partially obscure the field of vision of the opponent by using proper high head attacks or even feints to drive it up. If you don't start with something else you usually just get clobbered. After the shield setup you cross your ankles right foot behind the left and snap spin in place and deliver either a backhand (often easily parried) or a deeper false edge attack that can go behind the block and still connect.
Still, this is what I call a low percenter, a high risk technique with low chance of sucess compared to many others. You get the one chance to connect, you lose track of the opponent for a split second, if it doesn't suceed you're often stretcehd out and become wide open. This works best on someone who's never seen it done properly or even better never seen it at all, and as a one time attack and against someone not left handed. For some reason spinning into the right side on a leftie if you're a rightie is a very bad idea, he has the time to execute multiple strikes on you with your back turned.

Ironically while someone is spining it's very difficult to connect on them solidly with a thrust (with SCA blunt padded tips). Even though this is very tempting and seems like a good counter a turning opponent will often have the tip slide and glance off his/her turning body. I expect this is the same effect Mikko is referring to above with spinning backhand fist attacks (kick boxing/ MMA?).
Unarmoured in a real combat situation a thrust to a spinning torso may still give a wound with a real sword, but even there not allow it to go deep because the body is turning, unless delivered with the exact angle to make use of it. With armour on I'd guess the motion makes a solid thrust almost impossible to land. Still, I've never tried it with real weapons in a real life and death fight, I hope no one has to find out like that nowdays, so who knows. Wink


As always, execution is everything, it needs snappy high speed, it need a lot of trainig on aim especially to work at all, and it requires you to be able to deliver a decisive devastating blow at the end of it that ends the fight, or there's no point to it at all. Often neither of these are there when stunt men in movies do showy spin attacks, but you can sometimes see good ones done in asian martial arts movies. Can it work with real swords? Maybe. It's not something I'd ever try in a real fight though. This is more of a showoff technique for the benefit of an audience than anything else.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Roger Norling




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PostPosted: Mon 31 Jan, 2011 4:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think this strongly relates to the style and weapon in use. With shorter weapons or weapons primarily designed for thrusting, there is less use for this. However, with staffs and longer longswords I can definitely see it working, and as described earlier, it is certainly described in several medieval and renaissance sources, and is still in use in Jogo do Pau, which is fairly closely related to Figueyrido's Montante sword techniques. One thing that connects these three, is the fact that they are at least in part designed for work against several opponents, so you constantly change sides and directions.

"This rule serves against thrown weapons, or against hafted weapons for two hands. Planting the body firm with the montante in obtuse posture, the body a little inclined, and ready to give a talho on the weapon that is hurled at you or that is thrust at you, you will deflect it to the left side. Then giving a large jump while turning around, another talho that reaches the person who threw it; or else deflect with a revez, according to which side the opposing weapon is aimed, to give another revez with another jump with the body turning around and making a circle, in such a manner that you offend the adversary with a blow."

- Taken from Dom Diogo Gomes de Figueyredo's manual of 1651, as translated by Eric Myers and Steve Hick.

It is tricky to master, and seems perhaps foolish, but I have myself been deceived a couple of times by a HEMA fencer who likes to do this occassionally. It is easy to protect against if you know that the fencer likes to do this, but harder if you don't expect it and he does it well. The trick here is that your opponent makes two quick steps off line while moving diagonally forward, but you perceive it as a single step off-line...Alternatively he makes two steps back, but remains in range since he has changed from a two-handed grip into a single hand grip.

As has been mentioned several times already, it is best used if the opponent's attack is voided first, either by a bind in the forward part of the weapon, or by stepping back.

Furthermore, the movement can be done in different ways, depending on how you want to strike. You can lift your weapon high with a hanging point and twirl around this, which will offer you some protection, while you step off to the side of your hanging weapon and strike down straight from above. Do this by watching your opponent as long as possible, and then quickly turn your head around, so you miminize the time you do not see your opponent.

The second version involves a horisontal or diagonal strike, where you twist your body before your weapon so you can keep the point aimed at the opponent as long as possible. You then use your full body rotation to make a very powerful strike.

This is basically how it is done in Joachim Meyer's section on Halber Stangen and it is remarkably similar to the JdP "Tornado".

"Do this as well in the Onset; as soon as you the furthermost part of his staff can reach with yours, then keep your forward point straight at his face and with this turn well off to your right side.

Also, when you turn your back against him, and as you have turned fully around, then at the same time step well off with your right foot behind your left towards him. With this step, turn your self fully to your right side and strike with one hand, going around, straight from above at his head.

You may also, as you turn around, deliver this strike straight across."

-Joachim Meyer " Gründtliche Beschreibung des Fechtens 1570 as translated by myself. Happy

Meyer also has another sequence going the other direction which is initiated by having lured the opponent into thrusting, since you turned your back against him thereby offering an opening.

This of course is not how it is usually done in the movies, but if we want to discuss a realistic use of what is misrepresented in the movies then these are good examples. Looking at medieval and renaissance fencing there is precious little that is well-represented in the movies, at least with single combat. So, misrepresentation of a technique shouldn't cast shadow on the validity of the actual techniques . If so, almost all combat could be ridiculed based on what we see in most movies, since timing, distance and weapon handling is almost always "off".

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 31 Jan, 2011 12:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Simon G. wrote:
Eric Myers wrote:
For example, the montante work of Diogo Gomes de Figueiredo uses a spinning jump against a polearm, and there are other montante references which include it when fighting against multiple opponents.


Ah thanks, I had forgotten about this one! Over on SFI, Antonie Dvorakova posted a link to a video of someone demonstrating this technique :
Antonie Dvorakova, on SFI wrote:
Did you want to see the spinning jump--XIVsimple Figueyredo's rule? I have a recording for you. No worries, although Puck was taking pictures of me doing the same, this my recording shows him :

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/505564/SpinningJumpFigueyredoPuck.flv

Rather strange, but there you have it. Perhaps Timo can tell us if that is similar to the move, also against polearms, in Chinese martial arts.


I haven't seen the Chinese one done live - there's a series of stills showing an application of a spinning move in a Taiji 13 posture dao form in Zanhg Yun's The Complete Taiji Dao. (The whole form is mostly an anti-spear form, which seems to be common in Chinese arts - if you can defeat a spear, you can defeat lesser weapons.)

But more or less similar, turning while closing. From the clip, I think the jump should either be further, or closer (almost on the spot? on the spot?). As is, the jump is pretty much at the distance at which you'd step most easily (so why jump?). A jump can take you further than a single step, so could be good against a very long spear. But with a long weapon yourself, perhaps a big jump or big step would take you too close - maybe it can be good to spin on the spot. Jumping might let you do this faster, without multiple stepping.

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
Timo Nieminen wrote:
Remarkably, I've seen this done in serious (sport) fighting, a stationary spinning kick as an initial attack, within range. In professional kickboxing. The opponent's response was to move just out of range, and then close and punch to the face. (Perhaps the rules prohibit hitting in the back mid-spin?) 1/2 a loss, just like that.

On the other hand, I've seen many (sport) fights ended instantly with a well-timed reverse sidekick or back kick to the torso, usually after the opponent has committed to an attack that is then interrupted from an unexpected angle. And I've done it a few times, myself. Of course, in this case it also helps that reverse kicks are effective at a shorter distance than "regular" forward kicks.


It can be the right move at the right time, but in this case, it was clearly the wrong move at the wrong time. Mediocre execution, over-telegraphed, didn't help either. But this was by a fighter who also led with the face in a falling-forward, hands-at-waist "recovery" from a front kick (which was the other 1/2 loss).

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 31 Jan, 2011 12:24 pm    Post subject: What to do against a spin?         Reply with quote

So, what do you do if you thrust with your polearm, your opponent blocks or voids and comes at you with a spin?

The best option is to move forwards, past your closing opponent. Having exchanged places, you are now behind your opponent, and got there largely out-of-sight during the spin. Should be plenty of openings.

This is not so easy to do - a polearm user will tend to be somewhat condition to go back when the opponent tries to close. One will tend to be going the wrong way by the time you realise just what they are doing.

Otherwise, move left or move right, either into the spin to disrupt it, or away from the spin to avoid the attack at the end. To stand still or move back a little bit is the worst option. (Those with experience of spinning attacks in unarmed MA might be well aware of left/right motion as a counter.)

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 31 Jan, 2011 2:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I vaguely remember doing something like a spin sort of by accident in rondel dagger training where I blocked with my left hand the opponent's dagger hand and closed really close to the side and ended up rotating with my back in contact with his forearm and ended up behind him with my " wooden " practice dagger in a perfect position to stab him in the back of the neck.

At least this is how a " vaguely " remember it: The details may be wrongly remembered but I do know I blocked and ended up rotating with my back in firm contact with him and ended up being him still in physical contact but behind him.

I guess I could have stabbed or slashed him then in a multitude of place, or if unarmed done something nasty to his neck. Wink Eek! Laughing Out Loud

Oh, my opponent was the one teaching me wrestling and dagger based mostly on Fiore and this was in a training context and I don't remember accurately if this was the " planned " move or just how it ended up as we where playing with variations and options and I think we where both surprised by what actually happened.

My trainer was really pleased about what he seemed to consider as good application of general principals or improvisation when an opportunity presented itself.

Not sure I could have pulled it off as a " planned " technique but it did seem like a good idea at the time. Wink Laughing Out Loud

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Mike O'Hara




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PostPosted: Mon 31 Jan, 2011 7:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote


Jean Thibodeau wrote
:

Quote:
I vaguely remember doing something like a spin sort of by accident in rondel dagger training where I blocked with my left hand the opponent's dagger hand and closed really close to the side and ended up rotating with my back in contact with his forearm and ended up behind him with my " wooden " practice dagger in a perfect position to stab him in the back of the neck.


Nice description Jean, I can even picture what you did Big Grin

As Johan said, I can certainly picture a tai sabaki moves (circle into your opponent's attack and then continue the circle away, usually having done something unkind on the way through) working unarmed and armed with a short weapon. The close orbit makes you difficult to follow.

With a longer weapon and further away you have to be a) good b) practiced and c) a little lucky. If you're slightly off you can be interrupted readily.

There are some very nice winding/turning movements in le Jeu de la Hache and with a jo (5 foor staff) that work very well indeed. I know the German longsword system uses them extensively.

The great thing about these moves is that once you get someone turning, as long as you stay just slightly ahead of them re-gaining their balance you can keep it up for some time.

cheers

mike

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Jeff A. Arbogast





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PostPosted: Tue 01 Feb, 2011 4:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Pirouetting in combat         Reply with quote

But remember, what (some) of the audience really wants is stuff that looks sweet. From a certain, stylized, non-realistic perspective, spinning around before attacking someone looks cool. Yes, it may be nonsense, but we're talking about human beings: appearances are important to us.[/quote]

Okay, fair enough. But this leads me to my NEXT question-How dumb do you have to be to think this looks cool? (I don't mean you, I know you know better). I never did anyway. The first time I saw it I thought "Whaaat?" It immediately struck me as silly looking as well as suicidal. I just can't imagine Brian Boru cleaving Danes and Norsemen in half while doing a triple split on the field of Glenmama. But maybe I'm expecting too much. Maybe I'm being elitist in thinking that a well-choreographed REALISTIC fight scene can be enjoyable to watch as well as educational-wait a minute, this is Hollywood...um, never mind.

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PostPosted: Tue 01 Feb, 2011 8:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I definitely think that there is room for Hollywood to improve on their European sword choreography. Unfortunately to go very far though, it will require retraining the audience. Most audience members in my experience cannot decipher what is going on in a sword-fight using real techniques. I've done demos where in freeplay I managed to disarm my opponent, and had members of the audience believe my opponent had just handed me their sword, and refuse to believe that it was unchoreographed. I've been in and seen freeplay bouts where untrained spectators simply could not follow the action. I've also had real adults who seemed intelligent suggest sword moves they saw in a teenage mutant ninja turtles video game as valid options. Hollywood has trained audiences to believe that a good move with a sword requires a spin or a roll or something. When they see a small motion that is actually effective, they just can't parse it.

But this is true of anything. I remember watching a guy skateboard in a half-pipe years ago. He went up to the edge, and then went back down. All my skateboarder friends freaked out, because he apparently did something nigh on impossible that I either didn't catch or didn't understand how hard it was or how perfectly he had done it. Then he did some other big flashy move that looked really cool and all my skateboard friends were unimpressed. I get the same thing when I watch football or baseball or most sports. I just don't get it.

I've mostly come to terms with the fact that Hollywood cannot right now make a movie with swordplay that I will appreciate very easily, because most of the audience won't get it.

If swordplay ever becomes a mainstream spectator sport again (I'm not holding my breath), that may change. Or, if movies start to gradually move towards realistic swordplay, it could change, but that would require planning and co-operation towards that goal, which ain't gonna happen.

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 01 Feb, 2011 10:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Shackleton wrote:
I definitely think that there is room for Hollywood to improve on their European sword choreography. Unfortunately to go very far though, it will require retraining the audience.


Improving their sword choreography will retrain the audience. (Just European? Doesn't it all need work? Especially SF and fantasy sword scenes!)

Look at the different ways gunfights are choreographed and edited. Some realistic, and some rather less so. The audience doesn't reject the realistic ones because they're not flashy enough. The audience didn't reject The Seven Samurai. The audience didn't reject the sword fighting in Star Wars (the first movie, I mean, i.e., Episode IV, which had reasonable sword choreography).

If Hollywood does it, the audience will learn.

Craig Shackleton wrote:
Most audience members in my experience cannot decipher what is going on in a sword-fight using real techniques.


However, this is true.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Moses Jones




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PostPosted: Tue 01 Feb, 2011 10:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not an expert. From my limited experience I would think that spinning would not be a good idea, it really violates the "economy of motion" principle plus you loose sight of your opponent and have to orientate once the maneuver is complete. However, during fee play with a longsword I found myself in an awkward position against a much more experienced opponent and ended up spinning taking him by surprise and scoring a solid hit. I did not deliberately put myself into a position to spin and I freely admit that under most circumstances spinning would equal getting beat but it just seemed like the only option I had and it fortunately worked.

I think that part of the fun of sword fighting is the tactical game and adapting your skills to any given situation. Is spinning recommended? No. Can spinning be useful in a fight? Maybe one time in ten thousand it might save you but the other 9,999 times it will probably get you hit.
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Mike O'Hara




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Feb, 2011 12:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is something else about Hollywood vs what we study and that is the rather scary emotional impact of a real fight.

There is a New Zealand movine called Once Were Warriors where the violence looked and was choreagraphed real. It is a very disturbing movie. On the other hand, for all the skill involved in setting up the movies for (say) The Matrix it feels fake. Batman Begins with the Keysi Fighting Arts (very effective) was almost all shot dark and hard to follow and the headbuts didn't lead to exploded noses.

So while we may downcry what we see - do we think people would actually enjoy it done as we feel it should? I'm not sure.

It would be nice to find some middle ground

Quote:

Craig Shackleton said
Most audience members in my experience cannot decipher what is going on in a sword-fight using real techniques. I've done demos where in freeplay I managed to disarm my opponent, and had members of the audience believe my opponent had just handed me their sword, and refuse to believe that it was unchoreographed. I've been in and seen freeplay bouts where untrained spectators simply could not follow the action.


Craig's spot on here - well executed attacks are very hard to follow. That's why they beat our opponents defences and s/he is trained!

cheers

mike

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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Feb, 2011 4:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike O'Hara wrote:
There is something else about Hollywood vs what we study and that is the rather scary emotional impact of a real fight.

There is a New Zealand movine called Once Were Warriors where the violence looked and was choreagraphed real. It is a very disturbing movie. On the other hand, for all the skill involved in setting up the movies for (say) The Matrix it feels fake. Batman Begins with the Keysi Fighting Arts (very effective) was almost all shot dark and hard to follow and the headbuts didn't lead to exploded noses.

So while we may downcry what we see - do we think people would actually enjoy it done as we feel it should? I'm not sure.

It would be nice to find some middle ground

You mean like Rob Roy or The Duelists? Both movies with relatively realistic yet impressive swordplay that I, for one, enjoyed immensely.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
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Jeff A. Arbogast





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PostPosted: Wed 02 Feb, 2011 6:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
Mike O'Hara wrote:
There is something else about Hollywood vs what we study and that is the rather scary emotional impact of a real fight.

There is a New Zealand movine called Once Were Warriors where the violence looked and was choreagraphed real. It is a very disturbing movie. On the other hand, for all the skill involved in setting up the movies for (say) The Matrix it feels fake. Batman Begins with the Keysi Fighting Arts (very effective) was almost all shot dark and hard to follow and the headbuts didn't lead to exploded noses.

So while we may downcry what we see - do we think people would actually enjoy it done as we feel it should? I'm not sure.

It would be nice to find some middle ground

You mean like Rob Roy or The Duelists? Both movies with relatively realistic yet impressive swordplay that I, for one, enjoyed immensely.




I also liked Rob Roy. The swordplay really showed off the advantages (and disadvantages) of a rapier vs. a claymore. At least it seemed so to my relatively untrained eye. I wondered about gripping the rapier blade long enough and hard enough to fumble for his claymore and chop the guy in half (man, did he ever have it coming), but as I said, I don't know enough about that to comment. A very enjoyable duel to watch, I agree. And no spins! Big Grin

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PostPosted: Wed 02 Feb, 2011 6:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Okay, fair enough. But this leads me to my NEXT question-How dumb do you have to be to think this looks cool? (I don't mean you, I know you know better). I never did anyway. The first time I saw it I thought "Whaaat?" It immediately struck me as silly looking as well as suicidal. I just can't imagine Brian Boru cleaving Danes and Norsemen in half while doing a triple split on the field of Glenmama. But maybe I'm expecting too much. Maybe I'm being elitist in thinking that a well-choreographed REALISTIC fight scene can be enjoyable to watch as well as educational-wait a minute, this is Hollywood...um, never mind.


Well, we're all bashing Hollywood (I too have done that a number of times), but what about ancient epic poems, sagas, romances, etc? There certainly are a lot of instances of unrealistic elements, especially cleavings in half, in medieval texts. Roland at Roncesvalles, with his sword Durendal, is described as doing such things as cutting in two (lengthwise) a man and his horse in the same blow :

Anon., The Song of Roland, trans. C. K. Moncreiff wrote:

Then Durendal he bares, his sabre good
Spurs on his horse, is gone to strike Chemuble,
The helmet breaks, where bright carbuncles grew,
Slices the cap and shears the locks in two,
Slices also the eyes and the features,
The hauberk white, whose mail was close of woof,
Down to the groin cuts all his body through
To the saddle; with beaten gold 'twas tooled.
Upon the horse that sword a moment stood,
Then sliced its spine, no join there any knew,
Dead in the field among thick grass them threw.

(Available at Project Gutenberg)

And there are other things plainly ludicrous from a realistic standpoint, such as this comic/dramatic scene from The Saga of Burnt Njal, which sounds right out of Monthy Python and the Holy Grail to me :
Brennu-Njáls saga", trans. George W. DaSent wrote:
Thorgrim the Easterling went and began to climb up on the hall; Gunnar sees that a red kirtle passed before the windowslit, and thrusts out the bill, and smote him on the middle. Thorgrim's feet slipped from under him, and he dropped his shield, and down he toppled from the roof.

Then he goes to Gizur and his band as they sat on the ground.

Gizur looked at him and said -

"Well, is Gunnar at home?"

"Find that out for yourselves," said Thorgrim; "but this I am sure of, that his bill is at home," and with that he fell down dead.


These are just two exemples that I can think out of my very limited knowledge of medieval literature. Certainly there are many, many more. Probably not of people spinning about in a swordfight, but doing equally unrealistic, "ludicrous" things, because just as realism is not Hollywood's main goal, it wasn't that of many a medieval author. Back then just as now, people probably expected some impossible feats of heroes - and what can be seen as ludicrous can also be seen as epic (or "way cool"), in some cases even if you know it's impossible (that's the famous "suspension of disbelief" - because frankly there are many many more impossible things in movies than just pirouetting!). Yes, pirouettes can be seen as cheesy or useless. I certainly am of this opinion. But we must also remember the argument of artistic license, and the fact that Hollywood is certainly not the first instance of it being used this way.
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Craig Shackleton




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Feb, 2011 8:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Regarding Rob Roy:

I also think that this movie has excellent swordplay, although it has been years since I saw it.

The only part that disappointed me was the second fight in the pub, where Rob Roy turns the guy around and stbs him through the back so fast that you can't see what happens. The truth is, nothing happens. I've watched it at really slow speed and they simply cut from the two men moving together to one of them with a sword through him. I am sure this was to transition into the special effects, but they could have put in the set up at least!

I used to argue with my old rapier instructor about the final scene with the sword grab all the time. He hated it, I loved it. There is enough manuscript evidence and has been enough testing to show that you can safely grab a stable blade that I hope that's not a question any more, but part of my friend's criticism was that he holds the blade for so long. I'm pretty sure that as long as you don't let the blade slide, you are fairly safe. But this is a situation where I think they actually dragged the scene out a little so that the audience could get it. Instead of doing slo-mo like in Troy or 300, they just let the action go a little longer than normal, and everyone knew what was happening.

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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Feb, 2011 4:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
Mike O'Hara wrote:
There is something else about Hollywood vs what we study and that is the rather scary emotional impact of a real fight.

There is a New Zealand movine called Once Were Warriors where the violence looked and was choreagraphed real. It is a very disturbing movie. On the other hand, for all the skill involved in setting up the movies for (say) The Matrix it feels fake. Batman Begins with the Keysi Fighting Arts (very effective) was almost all shot dark and hard to follow and the headbuts didn't lead to exploded noses.

So while we may downcry what we see - do we think people would actually enjoy it done as we feel it should? I'm not sure.

It would be nice to find some middle ground

You mean like Rob Roy or The Duelists? Both movies with relatively realistic yet impressive swordplay that I, for one, enjoyed immensely.


Once Were Warriors is a very disturbing movie. The fights in that movie were so realistic that it almost seems like the Director actually let Temuera Morrison (the lead actor, playing character Jake "The Muss" Heke) really beat the other characters up to get the effect.

You find yourself feeling bad for the victims (best way to describe them) and you feel that slight adrenaline-fuelled bloodlust/sympathy-type feeling like you would from watching a real fight on the street. I suggest watching this movie to see what Mike and I mean.

Very few movies give the viewer this type of feeling with fight scenes. What looks good doesn't work good in most cases... But simple fight scenes don't sell tickets in 2011, do they?

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

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