Swordfighting Without Civility

Think swordfighting is two people faced off, lightly tapping each others’ blades, highly choreographed – En garde SHING, SHING, ching ching ching ching ching ching ching, oh, I say, you got me, but ’tis a flesh wound…

Right? A hundred taps, side to side, side to side, then maybe one thrust if a character is supposed to die?

That’s great theater – those hundred taps are dramatic and let the characters dance around the stage, maybe delivering a few witty ripostes as they do so.

But is it real? Was that how things looked in the days when people actually fought with swords?

No, it wasn’t. A new team of documentarians has gone back to historical sources to determine just how swordfighting actually worked. And it turns out that in the middle ages, swordfighting was brutal. Clang, bam, straight for the throat.


This was all put together as a Kickstarter project on Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) by Cédric Hauteville. The entire movie is available now on Youtube:

Any directors out there brave enough to alter the way they stage a swordfighting scene? (Just not The Princess Bride. Don’t touch The Princess Bride!)

Onward and upward!

h/t kotaku.com.

5 thoughts on “Swordfighting Without Civility

  1. Sharpe, British TV series that ran through the 90’s
    One scene stood out in terms of sword fighting; a gentlemen using proper etiquette is cut to size by more battle styled fighting technique and highlights just how brutal it really was
    And for sword fighting check out ‘Scaramouch’, most epic ten minute fight ever

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Duels and sword fights in battle were different things…except the blood and death possibly.
    Those skills now often kept alive-ish by drama students and stage productions.
    (But very cool serious sport…with the object of points and winning the match rather than all the blood and guts…no one likes messy anymore…)


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