Tag Archives: othersidhe

othersidhe said: What is out of line for one group may be perfectly reasonable in the minds of another. That’s just society.

Exactly! Society is what defines the concept of “dirty fighting”, it defines honorable versus dishonorable conduct. Honor is just a rule set, a code of behavior meant to protect some aspect of society. When we fight dirty, we’re not doing anything the combat form doesn’t include, we’re breaking with the societal expectations of how we’re expected to behave.

This is true whether we’re looking at a large scale war or a duel between two individuals. The rules that govern a tournament are there to protect the participants. The Code of Chivalry existed to protect the nobility and a lot of what governs the European/Western definition of honor, even today, comes out of that social construct.

A dirty fighter breaks with those conventions, in many cases they are using those conventions against their opponents. But to write one, you have to have a deep understanding of what the conventions are and you’ll only get that by studying history, both of the culture and the martial art. Understanding the rules and laws that govern the society we live in, knowing the difference between what level of violence we consider culturally acceptable versus what we don’t is as important to knowing how to fight as being able to break someone over your knee.


In response to OtherSidhe’s question about whether Character B stabbed Character A with Character A’s sword, it’s a good one but then the shoulder stops making sense.

If it’s Charcter A’s sword, then the question is: why don’t they just kill them? If Character B didn’t want to kill Character A and merely wanted them out of the way or force them to watch something gruesome as they died, they might sacrifice their own sword to the cause and use the secondary weapon that they were carrying. However, if Character B goes through all the trouble of disarming Character A and then stabs them with their off hand (while holding their own sword in their sword hand) then they may simply just kill them. Very few fighters are truly ambidextrous, the off hand will see less use for the business of sword fighting and they will be less skilled with it. There are fewer reasons to keep someone around by stabbing them with their own sword (more work) than stabbing them with your sword.

Think about this: a character goes through all the trouble of not killing their opponent in order to disarm them, so that they can then stab the other character in the shoulder with their own sword to lock them down (instead of…you know, giving them a debilitating injury to their arm or leg so that they can no longer fight) and then just wanders off.

It doesn’t make sense either way because killing them is more expedient, cutting their muscles is more expedient, carving up their body is more expedient, and it takes a very specific personality type to want to go through all that (at risk of losing) just to watch the other person suffer in this particular way.

It’s the sort of setup that feels dramatic but leaves most everyone wondering why?

If they really need to have Character A get stabbed with their own sword, Character B can crush a hand under their boot and stab the blade through the sword hand (thus easily negating their opponent’s ability to use the sword after they’ve given it back, in a strike that’s much easier to manage than the shoulder). Then, they can go about their day.

Maybe Character A will pull a Wesley (See Princess Bride). But in Character B’s mind, they’ve already finished the job. It’ll still be almost impossible to fight though if they’re not ambidextrous and if they are, then that needs to be set up before the fight happens instead of pulling it as a surprise.


othersidhe said:Can you block something and still get seriously hurt?

Oh yes, yes you can. The goal of the block is to nullify damage and redirect it to somewhere the fighter cares less about. In the best case scenario, using blocks that push or guide the blow away from the body (usually pushing down on the top of the incoming hand or pushing the wrist outward) you completely redirect the force away from your body. But most of the time, you’re just choosing to take a blow somewhere that won’t be serious and allow you to keep fighting.

During a mostly full contact sparring match (hands gloved, feet gloved, no chest gear, no headgear) after my third degree test, I “deflected” a roundhouse with my forearm instead of taking it in the gut. I didn’t have time to stop the kick completely so I took the full force of the blow. I had a very large, dark bruise the size of my forearm for the next three weeks/nearly a month. It was a matched set with my other arm.

That’s when you get lucky, other times, a fighter might be forced to block an incoming blow that will save their life but leave them crippled. The world doesn’t always work under the rules of best case scenarios and just because a fighter does block that doesn’t mean they’ll be successful. The other fighter might overcome it, they might fail in their timing (as many blocks rely on stopping a hit before it gets going), or they fall for a feint.

The block a character is using may even be inappropriate to the situation that the character is facing and ends up hurting them more or fails to help at all.

There are many things that can go wrong. There are no 100% rules or super techniques that never fail. For every block, there are multiple counters. For every attack, there are multiple blocks. A new technique will only have the element of surprise to those who have never seen it before and techniques that are proven to be effective will be adopted, studied, and overcome.


meltedwaxwing said: I figured the asker meant if an assailant has you by the hair, what is the best way to get out of it (have them let go so you can escape)? At least that’s what I wonder.

I interpreted it as “Someone is pulling my hair and I want to punch them, what do I do?”. Not, “if someone is pulling my hair and I’m in danger and I need to fight back, what do I do?”. The question was vague enough that it could mean anything. They could be getting their hair pulled by their best friend, the high school bully, or their little sister. So, it’s best to cover the bases to make sure. However, we did do an article on that. So here, have fun.

Fight Write: On Hair Pulling

For the OtherSidhe, nine times out of ten whoever gets to the nearest authority figure first to report the incident is going to look like the victim to that person, regardless of what actually happened. The guilty party is already framed in the mind of the authority figure, they’ve already made the decision by the time the second person gets to them and they act accordingly. They’re own prejudices also influence that decision.

But “hit them, then run to a teacher and lie your ass off” is a far more devious suggestion than I feel comfortable giving. Nevermind the fact that what we say on the internet can have real and lasting consequences in the “real world”.


othersidhe said: Is that why in the anime ‘Bleach’ all the guards in the palace have a long, two-pronged staff instead of using their individualized swords?

It could be, but I’d actually guess that it was a design decision made for stylistic purposes of visually distinguishing them from the other characters in the anime. Similar to how the Emperor’s Imperial Guard dressed in red and carried force pikes in Star Wars, even though we never saw them in actual combat.

Both the spear and the naginata are traditional weapons in Japan that were used by both the Samurai and their soldiers. Spears generally saw more combat than the katana itself because they were more durable and cheaper to produce due to Japan’s limited iron deposits, but that’s probably not relevant to how the katana or any weapon is being used in Bleach. It’s important to remember that when dealing with most Japanese anime, we’re looking at the idealized version of the katana in their religion and culture much like the singular important swords of European myth like Durendal and Exacaliber. Realistic combat tactics just aren’t relevant.

It could be that guards in the Emperor’s palace did traditionally carry spears, but I don’t know. Sorry.


othersidhe said: weren’t they mostly used for suicide?

This is one of those great historical ironies. No, they actually weren’t. Much like the Gladiators of Rome, whose matches in the arena rarely ended with death, Samurai didn’t actually commit suicide as regularly as it’s commonly believed they did. There are many different warrior codes in many different cultures across the world, the Code of Chivalry for example also includes a passage on suicide for failure. But the knights weren’t committing suicide left and right for failing, that would be a waste of resources and manpower. The samurai weren’t either.

Here’s why: the period of time when the samurai existed in Japan, there existed a caste system that broke people down into different classes. Peasants were peasants, merchants were merchants, and samurai were samurai. A samurai, for the most part, could only come from the samurai class. Japan has never had an extremely large population, especially not when compared to other countries in the region. China can kill for failure (if they were dumb enough to, they’re not), Japan can’t. They didn’t have the manpower, the options, or the replacement candidates for a samurai to kill himself every time he failed his liege lord. There was a little bit of flexibility, but not much. This is what happened to the Spartans, Spartans were supposed to die in battle and they did. Eventually, the Spartans ran out of Spartans because they were all dying. If samurai were really killing themselves with any regular frequency, Japan would have run out of samurai very quickly. Plus, if this were also true and everyone was behaving the way they were supposed to there would have been no ronin.

The concepts of suicide and the Bushido code we have today come out of the period shortly before WWII, when Japan was reinventing itself. They looked back to the past, to “when they were great” and repeated the same mistake that every culture does when they look back on who they think they are with rose tinted glasses. They readopted the Bushido code, but much more rigidly. The No Failure State was a response to that. The mass suicides that happened during WWII were unique to WWII. However, the concept of No Failure still exists today in Japanese politics.

So, while the wakizashi was used for suicide, that wasn’t it’s primary purpose. It can’t have been. Japan didn’t have enough iron to really waste on two swords that a single samurai wasn’t really doing anything with.

The Gladiator problem is this: it’s inverted. Thumbs up you can kill him, thumbs down, you didn’t perform well enough for him to die. Hollywood screwed it up for dramatic reasons.