Which sword is best in a one-on-one duel?

Longsword? Rapier? Sabre? Backsword? Assuming the fight is strictly one-on-one, no armour of any kind, only one sword-like weapon of medium length allowed…

Source: YouTube

Really well presented and interesting.  The man knows his swords and he’s into the presentation.  A great resource for writers!

It should come as a surprise to no one that the circumstances Scholagladitioria lists in his video favor the rapier because that’s exactly what the rapier was designed for. Take a specialized weapon into a situation that the weapon was specialized for and you’ll find the circumstances favor that weapon. Also, watch the video because there’s a lot of interesting information there about design elements for different swords.

Some important aspects I think our followers should keep in mind for their fight scenes when they watch this video:

1) The points where Scholagladitoria talks about reach with weapons. In the past some of our followers have had difficulty wrapping their heads around the idea of reach, such as the machete versus the longsword and how that affects the fight. This is mostly due to a lack of experience and the access to actual hold the blades in their hands, sometimes imagination can be difficult without concrete examples. Anyone who spars with a naginata versus a katana or unarmed versus a knife will recognize the difficulties right away, but it can be difficult when it’s just your imagination. I think this video makes some really good points about that aspect of combat.

2) The cross-guard hand protections. One of the big issues I see in a lot of fight scenes is that writers tend to place an over focus on going directly for the body’s vitals (throat, chest, heart, and head specifically) and ignore the process of opening up the defenses to get there. The points he makes about attacking the hands, arms, and legs are important because your hands, arms, feet, and legs are the means by which we use to defend ourselves even when we’re using weapons. In fact, when we’re fighting unarmed those are our weapons and initiating attacks to take away those options make the final killing blow easier.

3) There is no 100% or “best”. There are always going to be circumstances which heavily favor one weapon over another because that’s just the way humans work. It’s easy to assume “advantage = never” but you shouldn’t because that’s not what it means. You’ll always face situations where you’re at a disadvantage in real life and your characters will end up facing situations where they are at a disadvantage within your stories. They should because it makes things more interesting. All an advantage means is that you or your characters either need to work harder to overcome it or change their approach. Look at a situation and try to figure out how your character can take it and turn it to their advantage. One of my favorite examples of this is looking at the sets on the Highlander tv show, specifically for where, when, and in what spaces they choose to film their fights. A katana is a weapon primarily used for cutting, which means it strikes on a wide arc. Put it in a situation with limited space like a modern hallway, doorway, or room with a lot of clutter and it may end up getting stuck in things when the wielder tries to attack. This can create opportunities for a disadvantaged character wielding a knife or one who is unarmed to attack while the katana wielder tries to get their sword out of the dry wall.

It’s a matter of learning to use your terrain and set pieces in your scenes as opposed to being overly focused on what weapon does what with X plus stats.

4) This is a good time to remind our followers who are working on characters that are professional combatants i.e. they fight for a living that professional warriors of every time period learned to fight with a variety of weapons so they could transition between them depending on the situation. There’s a nasty habit developed by Anime and other sources where a character is only supposed to carry one weapon and be skilled at one type of fighting as opposed to many types of combat that feed back into each other. While this is helpful for defining a character’s relative position within The Five Man Band, it’s not particularly useful for creating a well-rounded fighter. Most martial arts involve training in different kinds of weapons as the trainee increases in rank and it’s always worth remembering that the collection of Japanese martial arts that subscribe to the Samurai Code of Bushido were, for the most part, all intended to be learned together as part of a whole.

5) Follow Tamora Pierce and Art-Of-Swords here on Tumblr and Scholagladiatoria on Youtube because they are awesome, also check out the Schola Forum for more discussion by HEMA martial artists on these topics.

I hope everyone is having a happy Nanowrimo!

Write! Write! Write!