Tag Archives: fight club

Q&A: Double Bladed Weapon

Is it realistic to have a bladed weapon that operates sort of like a double ended light saber? As in you press a button or lever in the center of the hilt and blades come out of either end? Furthermore, could you see a bladed weapon fight club as something that may exist (it doesn’t have to be legal and definitely probably wouldn’t be)

On the first part? Not really.

You’ll see collapsing knives that are designed for push button deployment, out the front of the grip. But, for a full sword? No, or at least not with modern technology. Wear and abuse from normal use would quickly wreck the mechanical components. To say nothing of the blood and gore getting forced into the mechanism when you collapsed it after use.

So, again, limited to modern technology, it would be theoretically possible, but they’d have an incredibly short lifespan (maybe only single use), and be extremely annoying to clean and care for (if not outright impossible).

If you’re talking about some kind of hypothetical future tech, then, it will probably be an option some day. Self cleaning tolerances, and a mechanical stability that can’t be achieved with modern materials may make this viable. Though, at that point, this would probably be more of a novelty than a practical combat tool.

Double bladed weapons do exist. Well, I should say, double bladed knives exist, I have one somewhere. It’s awkward, difficult to hold, and I’ve still got a scar on my index finger from the first time I picked it up. These are a novelty. You buy one because you think it looks cool, not because you intend to use it.

There are a few examples of weapons that are designed to be double ended, mostly polearms, which would sometimes include functional spikes on the reverse end. It’s also not unheard of for a sword to have a sharpened, spiked pommel. That said, mounting an entire reverse blade onto a sword is something you’d usually only seriously consider if you’re either a Sith or Klingon.

On the second part, about fight clubs, “No, never; except they did.”

The basic idea of a fight club where people who don’t know what they’re doing wander in and start beating the ever living snot out of one another? Yeah, that can happen. I’ve actually been out on a farm in the middle of the night, dueling friends with plastic bokken because it seemed like fun at the time. It’s not exactly what you’ve got in mind, but that’s possible.

Thing is, there’s a huge difference between dueling with a high impact plastic katana, where screwing up means you’ve got new bruise on your knuckles, and screwing around with a live blade, where a mistake means critical injuries and death.

Organized, underground dueling also has some real world history. The only examples I’ve run across came out of 19th century military academies. I assume the reasoning is roughly the same as why I was on that Indiana farmyard in the middle of the night, it seemed like fun at the time.

Of course, in the case of military academies, we’re talking about students who’d actually been trained to use their blades, so it’s not exactly a fight club. Still stupid and dangerous, but they (kind of) knew what they were doing.

So, my first impulse on this subject is wrong. I’d say, “no one can possibly be that stupid,” except of course, I have been exactly that stupid. I also knew a couple idiots that decided to fight each other with a fire axe and cheap katana in their living room, without ever considering that, maybe, this was a horrifically bad idea. Tragically, they both survived unharmed.

As for a full on fight club? Not so much. When you have people who don’t know what they’re doing throwing punches, the potential risk of injury is, somewhat, limited. Untrained combatants are not a huge threat to one another. They can get some good shots in, and can make it hurt, but actually messing someone else up requires concepts like power generation and a vague idea of where to connect. Without them, it’s just guys flailing impotently at each other.

Blades are inherently dangerous. You don’t need to know how to put together an effective defense, or understand how to generate force, driving four pounds of steel into some poor schmuck doesn’t require training. Training does help; it teaches you how to put up a defense, and how to circumvent your opponent’s, but it’s not necessary for accidental death and dismemberment.

The fundamental problem with a bladed fight club is that the participants need to survive. They need to be in a condition where they can fight again next week. Getting carved up by a stray blow will put a damper on that. To say nothing of a stray death.

In Fight Club, the titular club was an expression of violent catharsis. For random guys who’ve never experienced real violence, it was an escape that presented the illusion of danger, without putting the participants in actual jeopardy. This kept the attrition rate fairly low, and allowed the group to grow. For something like this, that is absolutely critical.

If you start arming the participants, it would only take watching one guy getting opened up, and spraying blood all over the place before you might think, “maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.” When you start hemorrhaging members like this, it becomes impossible to keep the numbers up, and the club would die off quickly; figuratively or literally.

-Starke

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Fight Club is a good book in terms of literary technique. But it is also grossly inaccurate in regards to the mental health issues it attempts to put across. As is understood by psychology, multiple-personality disorder (correctly termed Disassociative Identity Disorder) is a result of extreme childhood trauma, not a man-tantrum. It would not be possible for the Narrator to form the identity of Tyler Durden without that childhood trauma, and it would have manifested far sooner.

Yes. This is something worth keeping in mind. Even without going into DID in detail, the book operates off a pop-culture view of mental illness. From what I remember, Jack’s behavior is more in line with a schizoaffective disorder than DID.

But, even then, this is not how mental illness works. It does however add an element of discomfort to the book. Which is intentional. I said, in passing, that Fight Club is a book that needs to be read critically. I mean that. Palahniuk is a very provocative writer. Literally, he seeks to provoke a response.

I’m actually going to step back a little and say, in broad strokes, Fight Club is not a book you should enjoy. It is a book that should make you stop, and think about what you just read. In many cases, it’s a book you should disagree with. And, near as I can tell, that’s actually the authorial intent.

This is a book designed to get you talking, and get you questioning what you just read. Not a book you should endorse.

It’s worth noting that Palahniuk’s own experience with mental illness was insomnia. That informs his perspective and how he approached the novel. As someone who’s suffered from bouts of insomnia over the years, his insights there are on point. It’s not analogous to the characters he’s writing, and it doesn’t excuse the book of anything. But, if it got you to start talking, it did something right.

In direct response to you, I think Fight Club accurately reflects the way society perceives and stigmatizes at mental illness. Telling people to turn it off, and pass for normal. Within that context, it’s arguing that doing so is inevitably destructive, or at the very least self-destructive. Not the reality of how mental illness functions, but the subjective sensation of being marginalized because of it. I’ll admit, it’s not an easy subject to broach.

-Starke

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I’m sorry, but I can’t take you seriously anymore. Fight Club is an expression of toxic masculinity that is worth nothing? Hell, everything about that ask is wrong, but that one in particular… Wow.

Just so we’re clear, this is the book about a man who feels
so emasculated by modern society and consumer culture that he visits a self
help group for men who have, literally, had their testicles surgically removed.
When he encounters a woman invading his territory, his only response is to
engage in increasingly violent and destructive acts, culminating in a failed
terrorist bombing? We’re talking about the same story, right?

Yeah, can’t imagine how anyone could consider that toxic
masculinity.

The novel is actually quite good. It’s not a pleasant read,
and I wouldn’t recommend it as entertainment, but it is worth reading. Chuck
Palahniuk is a very skilled writer. He has a visceral, “gross-out,” style that obfuscates
just how sharp his material is. It’s easy to pick up Fight Club and soak in the hyper-aggressive elements and miss just
how critical the book is.

But, that’s not what we were talking about.

We were talking about the fight club itself. The organization
in the novel and film. The one which morphs into Project Mayhem. That is
worthless, and without redeeming value. The fight club started by the narrator
is an expression of toxic masculinity. It doesn’t teach people how to fight, no
matter how awesome it makes the narrator feel about himself in the moment.

(I’m just going to refer to the narrator as Jack from here
on out. The name comes from the film, not the book, but it’s faster to type.)

The fight club itself, is a tantrum, being thrown by a man
child who has no model for what it means to be an adult, and isn’t satisfied by
the options he sees in the world. Looking for a venue to release his pent up aggression,
he resorts to violence. Jack moans about how, because his father abandoned him,
he has no concept of who he should be. Ultimately, he is terrified of being an
adult. Everything that follows is Jack acting out against the world.

There’s a weird element where you can intentionally read Jack
as a teenage rebellion, a few decades too late. This is probably why the Calvin & Hobbes misread plays so
well. At several levels, Jack is still a child, and written as such. Remember, before
the novel opens, Jack’s job is to look at horrifically mangled bodies (auto
insurance investigator). This is an adult version of a little kid looking at, “gross
stuff,” and then enthusiastically inflicting that on people around them for
shock value. Which should also sound familiar when discussing Tyler Durden and
Marla.

So, yes, the novel Fight
Club
is about toxic masculinity. The fight club itself is an expression of
the same. It’s easy to read the surface message and run with the idea that the
book is advocating the position of the protagonist. Until you remember that the
entire third act of the book (and film) is Jack losing control of Project
Mayhem, and trying to stop them from bombing buildings.

Fight Club isn’t
exclusively about toxic masculinity. There are very strong themes of
establishing a personal identity, and learning to communicate with others scattered
through the novel. They’re mixed in with large quantities of puerile behavior,
and aggressive missteps by the various characters. Toxic masculinity is a major
part, because it’s the first place Jack goes, and it colors the rest of his
experiences, even after he’s decided on a different approach.

It’s a very good, and quite challenging book. Certainly not
for everyone. However, the fight club itself is, ultimately, a self destructive
exercise. You don’t learn to fight by punching your imaginary friend.

-Starke

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The film adaptation is pretty good as well. As with the
book, it requires some critical thinking to fully parse, but don’t let that
scare you off.