Swordfighting, As You See It In The Movies, Is A Lie

Swordfighting, As You See It In The Movies, Is A Lie
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The kind of swordfighting you see in movies and TV shows, where everything is graceful and balletic and entertaining, is fiction. Nobody ever fought like that. The real thing was messy.

Back to the Source is a documentary that’s going to look into the revival of traditional European martial arts, specifically the art of clanging swords together. The revival isn’t easy, though, as most of the records documenting just how people fought are incomplete, or not incredibly helpful.

As you can see, what they have pieced together isn’t pretty. Real combatants never bothered dancing and swinging. They just focused on getting the other person’s sword out of the way as quickly as possible then stabbing them. Or getting them to ground and stabbing them. Or just breaking them.

The doco is asking for a very modest £5,500, and is being made by someone who’s in the scene himself.


  • Something in a movie doesn’t reflect real life *AT ALL*? *GASP*

    But seriously, be cool to see this come to fruition.

    • Groups in Europe have been doing trying to revive the sword arts for years with varying degrees of success. (And without asking for money)
      It’s fairly cut throat throat too with quite a bit of competition.

      Went along to a seminar a few years back hosted by a German enthusiast/expert who had compiled a large number of old sketches and other documents. He has been trying to create a time line to show that European sword styles freely spread through Europe back and forth between many countries through out history.
      But you are constantly dealing with people who refuse to accept it less they lose a piece of their history

      • (And without asking for money)

        I’d like to point out that the money is so that he can make the documentary about it, and as far as film budgets go it is in fact a tiny amount of money.

        It’s so small that I’d guess a fair number of people are donating their time free of charge to get it off the ground including the guy making it.

        Of course I’m sure he’s hoping to see a profit on the back end, but if he makes a good film he deserves it.

        • Yeah, 5,500 is barely anything. I’ve heard of University level film projects that cost more surprisingly from students. One particular one, a cosplay documentary, clocked in around 7k. Camera equipment, storage etc that the Uni was OFFERING to provide, but the students decided they were going to rent elsewhere blah blah because they were going to change the world blah blah. Anyhow no idea how it turned out in the end, just found it humorous listening to these kids rant in a lecture around a year or so ago.

          Still amazed they could afford that to be honest.

          But seriously, this documentary looks very interesting.

  • Barring the obvious real fights aren’t beautifully choreographed like the movies, good luck getting a stab with a falchion.
    What your aim to strike is purely depends on the sword you’re using.

    • Err, isn’t that the guy who presumed to tell people that they were pronouncing “katana” incorrectly and called it a “kutt-un-a”? You know, using a pronunciation that’s impossible in Japanese? His credibility? Approximately zero.

  • So we don’t stick people with the pointy end? I am a fan of swords and did spend some time training with some in martial arts, not that I’d ever find myself using it, but the feel of the sword in my hand and the weight of the metals really had no comparisons to me until I hit puberty. I really would like to own a proper smith- forged sword though.

    • That all depends on the sword now doesn’t it? I still love the videos on youtube with the qualified smithies etc testing the swords against each other. Some stunning results.

  • Having watched fights from very competent scholars (it’s a rank) of the Prima Spada school of fencing, some sword fighting is graceful because the people doing it are trying to settle the argument of who bumped into whom. And also they where trying to show off. Admittedly in this style your only trying to lightly stab your opponent until he apologises and realises it was in fact he who bumped into you.

    Battle tactics vs showing off tactics are for obvious reasons two very different styles.

  • I believe these fights as much as I believe the fights in movies. Considering it won’t ever be put truly to the test we can only guess how to fight correctly with swords. TO explain what I mean is that if you had two combatants with REAL blades you would not just hack and slash recklessly(like these guys) nor would your form be all pretty and graceful(like in movies).

    All I really want is a real sword fighting TV show with real blades going for the kill… Yeah so my taste range from David Attenborough to wanting to see people die in blood sports…

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