Tag Archives: michael janich

Aside from Lord of the Rings what movies/books have good depictions of sword or knife fights?

Anything involving Bob Anderson as the swordmaster or fight coordinator. That includes all three Lord of the Rings films, the Pirates of the Caribbean films, the Antonio Banderas Zorro films, the Highlander TV series, and a lot of Errol Flynn films.

Also you should check out the ARMA instructional videos. They’re useful for providing a functional understanding of sword fights you’ll need to write them.

For using swords, my first thought is actually Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher books. The fight scenes themselves aren’t that useful, but there’s some solid information scattered through the books.

We’ve got a couple questions pending about knife fights, but the short version is: they don’t happen. At least not the way they’re presented on film or in books. Knife fights are about shanking someone and wandering off, to the point that the hidden blade kills in the original Assassin’s Creed are about the extent of “realistic” knife fighting.

The best source on knives is probably from Michael Janich. He’s developed quite a bit on the subject. It’s not going to historically appropriate, but for using knives in a modern context, it should be helpful.

-Starke

I’m the fighting supernatural anon. Thank you so much for your help! The creatures my character fights are mostly humanoid/human shape (but there’s a reason why she’s the one to fight them). They’re still faster and stronger, but I’m thinking of creatures she could overcome with some strategy. The fighting is not the focus, but I want it to be plausible. So, which skills should she develop, including for defense? Which fighting styles are more fit to those needs? Thank you very much again :)

The short version is; there isn’t one. As far as I know, there isn’t even anything vaguely relevant. Forms like Judo focus on dealing with opponents that are stronger than you, but there are practical limits, and a human being can only take or deal so much punishment.

This is a big part of why there are no hand to hand styles for dealing with bears, or wolves, or lions, or any other apex predator. (No, wrestling alligators doesn’t count.) Putting yourself that close to an animal like that will end badly. In the real world, we’ve dealt with that by using ranged weapons, and polearms; which is why I suggested those earlier. They allow you to kill a creature without getting close enough for it to disembowel you.

If she’s using hand to hand when dealing with other humans, and only using the blade on monsters, I’d suggest aikido, it has a strong focus on non-injury, and while it’s not terribly practical, it might philosophically fit, transitioning into junkyard aikido or jujitsu if she’s willing to harm people who get in her way.

Now, I keep pushing the whole “don’t go into hand to hand” thing, and here’s why: It depowers your monsters. If they’re supposed to be foot soldiers of a greater evil that anyone can deal with, and your character is just one of many people fighting them off, then it’s really fine. And, I’d offer the same advice as above, junkyard aikido or jujitsu.

But, if they’re a scourge upon the world, and no one else can oppose them, having your character take them out unarmed is going to risk doing seriously unfortunate things to your audience’s suspension of disbelief (unless there’s some really good justifications in why everyone can’t deal with them).

I’d recommend looking at The Last Wish, by Andrzej Sapkowski. Though, I’d be slightly more cautious about suggesting any of the adaptations of his work. But, Sapkowski does almost exactly what you’re describing, and has some excellent justifications.

For use of the Katana, I’d recommend Kirasawa’s Yojimbo (though there isn’t much sword combat). Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol I might be worth looking at, if you want the more mythical version of the blade. (Though, as with all of Tarantino’s work, you’ll need to bring a strong stomach.) Michi’s recommending Rurouni Kenshin. She’s also recommending you look into the underlying cultural history of the katana, that’s The Book of Five Rings, and spending some time looking at Bushido. There’s a lot of cultural context with the katana, so if you’re setting your story in an amalgam of historical Japan, or even just using a Katana, it’s probably worth doing some further research.

-Starke

If you’re insistent on working with the katana, then The Book of the Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi (circa 1645), it’s a philosophical text on the kenjutsu arts and conflict. I’d also recommend looking into Iaijutsu: the art of drawing and sheathing the blade (Iaido in a modern context), Kenjutsu (Kendo), and Battojutsu as a study of sword combat in Japan. Do yourself a favor and pick one.

She can pretty much learn the sword or the hands, but she’s only got time for one unless she’s been practicing continually and doing nothing else like in a good old fashioned apprenticeship like in Medieval Europe with pages.

If she’s been training to fight monsters specifically, I’d look into a variety of other supplemental weaponry. If you’re going Japanese, stay with Japanese weapons as supplements. The naginata or some variant of glaive would be her pole arm, they might also train her on the bow, and practice with a wide variety of other useful skills like poison brewing and trap-making, spike traps, pit traps, etc.  All the useful extras any good hunter needs to give them an edge. I don’t know if the Japanese ever did actually attach a kunai to the end of a rope and used it as a whip like the Chinese did with the Shaolin rope dart, but you know it’s not a bad idea.

Just try to stay within the Japanese frame and you should be fine, it’s a bad idea to play mix and match with martial styles unless you’re really willing to do the leg work (all the leg work) to understand all the themes they bring into play in your story.

(Edit: an investment of time, if you haven’t already done so, into some of the Anime and Manga that deal with Japan’s mythology and monsters might also be worth it. Digging into the monster ideas used in Claymore and Inuyasha might be helpful.)

-Michi

For the use of a katana, another good movie might be Ame Agaru (After the Rain, in English). Its fight scenes are considered to be incredibly well choreographed.
Anonymous
 

Focused Impact Volume 1: A Practical Course In Self-Defense With Tactical Pens (by StaySafeMedia)

We haven’t had a lot of time to come up with anything new. (Moving sucks!) Anyway, I’m leaving this here for you guys. In this video, Michael Janich (a self-defense expert) talks about using a tactical pen (any metal pen will work) as an alternate form of self-defense.

We’re still planning on doing a write up on improvised weapons, but I thought this would be good to get some of you thinking about what sort of weapons a character can carry that won’t be immediately identified.

If you can, watch the video a few times to get an idea, not just on how to fight with a pen, but how to control an attacker.

Notice: when he grabs, he grabs to the upper arm, this greatly limits the possibility of movement by the assailant by eliminating their ability to use their elbow. While the shoulder can be dangerous without the rest of the arm, it’s difficult, especially if you take out the legs. The upper arm also has a pressure point half-way up the inside where the bicep and the triceps connect. This is also why he suggests striking to the inside of the thigh half-way up the upper leg, again, to a pressure point. Also, when he traps the foot while attacking.

These are all ways a smaller, weaker fighter (any fighter really) can nullify the strength advantage and control their opponent’s movements to limit their avenues of attack.

Warning: Please, do not go searching for your pressure points if it’s your first time. The pressure points connect to your nervous system, messing around with them can be highly dangerous to the continual functionality of your body. If you insist, never cross-grab (search for two pressure points on different sides of your body), pick the left or the right, never both. With a cross-grab you’ll send two different signals through your heart, which can get crossways and damage it. So, don’t. Write it only or take a class. This stuff is very dangerous, so always practice under the eye of a trained professional.

-Michi

MBC Guerrilla Video Volume 1: Concepts (by StaySafeMedia)

So, I’m posting another Michael Janich video. This one is about basic concepts that have to do with self-defense and his own personal style that bases itself in knife fighting.

I’m a big fan of self-defense training for everyone, but on a craft level for writers especially. The difference is that many martial artists will focus their training on how to do a technique and not the focus of what it’s for until after the student has developed a decent base. This is fine, even good, for martial artists because it’s a necessary step. But it can make researching MAs rather obtuse when trying to divine how it works without the necessary years of training. Practice for real world situations often won’t happen until the upper belt ranks and sometimes, not until black belt. For example, I didn’t start working knife disarms until I started training for my second degree black belt test at 15.

Compare to self-defense, where training focuses on techniques that can be picked up easily and puts a primer on user understanding. The focus is not just on how to do a technique, but what it is and what it does, how it can be used practically and with different variations. This is the sort of information a writer needs to be able to write about fight scenes well.

Also, studying up on body mechanics and basic physiology never hurts.

I’ll be posting an article of my own later today. If you have any questions either regarding writing or self-defense, our askbox is always open.

JUNKYARD AIKIDO: A Practical Guide To Joint Locks, Breaks, And Manipulations (by StaySafeMedia)

This is the last video I’m posting, but hopefully you’ll take a look. There’s a lot of overlap between self-defense training and writing about combat in learning simple basic techniques that you understand and can use effectively in multiple situations in both real life and on the page. Some of the best advice I have on writing fight scenes is very similar to the advice Janich puts out for self-defense. There’s also the added bonus of seeing a few techniques in action that will hopefully help you build better fight scenes.

I’ll be doing my own discussion of how joint locks work and how to write them in stories in the near future, but for now take a look at this video and the other videos I posted today to see if anything here may be helpful for you.

Remember, these are just bite size chunks from his full self-defense courses that are helpful to get you started. If you’re interested in more, you can check out his website and his other videos on Youtube.

PRACTICAL UNARMED COMBATIVES VOLUMES 1 & 2: Critical Skills of Damithurt Silat (by StaySafeMedia)

I’m gonna take the day off tomorrow, so I’m going to post a few of Michael Janich’s self-defense videos to the blog for you lovely folks to look through. Remember, the information in these is split up because it’s part of a larger video set. Janich has, though, in my personal opinion some of the best practical advice for developing self-defense skills and establishing a plan. And because he can communicate clearly and coherently, and is mostly easy to understand, this makes his stuff really useful for you writers as reference.

If you’re interested in home defense, I’d also suggest checking out the show The Best Defense currently airing on the Outdoor Channel. There’s some useful info to be had there too.