A Writer’s Guide… to Sword Fighting by Morgan Morrow

Fellow fantasy writers, you won’t want to miss this fabulous article on sword fighting from the perspective of someone who actually does it.


A love of Swords

I’ve always loved stories featuring heroes wielding swords. That love eventually resulted in my finding and joining a dojo that teaches a school of kenjutsu dating back to the warring states period in Japan.

My years of practice have given me an insight into sword fighting that I think is fairly uncommon in this day and age. My experience is limited to the katana, but I feel like much of it could apply to other swords and other fighting styles as well.

Using a sword

Firstly, swords are generally expensive weapons and they are not indestructible. Trying to cut through someone’s sword is unrealistic, but hitting it broadside and shattering the blade is not.

Throwing a sword would be a last resort only for the most desperate of situations, because not only would you lose your weapon the blade may well shatter or bend upon impact.

The blade is not the only part of a sword that can be used to attack. The hilt can be used for offense; to hit the enemy in the face, solar plexus, or groin. It can also be used to defend against an attack that is coming too quickly to get the blade in front of.

For added realism, it’s important to remember that most swords, if not secured in the sheath, can slide out when the wearer leans forward.

Keeping one hand on the hilt and sheath to secure the blade is oftentimes necessary. It is not unheard of for someone to lean forward, have their sword begin to slide out, and then grasp the blade to stop it. This is not a good idea and will usually result in stitches…

Keep reading A Writer’s Guide… to Sword Fighting

Originally found on Chris the Story Reading Ape’s blog. (Thanks for always posting interesting stuff!)

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10 thoughts on “A Writer’s Guide… to Sword Fighting by Morgan Morrow

  1. leeduigon says:

    I studied the sword at a dojo for quite a few years.
    They didn’t let you even touch a katana until after you had worked with, and learned, the wooden sword (bokken). That takes about five years.
    No fighting of any kind was allowed–way too dangerous.
    When you first begin to use a katana, it’s rather easy to cut yourself.
    I don’t get into the ins and outs of sword-fights in my Bell Mountain books. A sword is serious business. So is Helki’s rod.
    Anyhow, in case you ever have any questions about Japanese swordsmanship, you know where to find me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • weavingword says:

      Very cool, Lee. You’ve done a lot of interesting stuff in your life. 🙂 Good to know I’ve got a swords expert to call on if ever I need it!

      I’ve tried to stay away from detailed fighting in my books, too. Sometimes it’s hard to find a balance between staying vague because I lack practical knowledge on a subject, and trying to overcompensate for that with too much detail. It’s got to be just real enough to envision/experience, without revealing my own lack of personal expertise.

      Like

      • weavingword says:

        It’s always fun to try things out, even if we’ll never be as good as our characters are. I was thoroughly enjoying archery until I got a frozen shoulder. Hoping the joint will loosen up again soon so I can get back to it.

        Like

      • leeduigon says:

        Ouch! Patty got one of those when she was weight-lifting. Her doctor had a masseuse who fixed the problem. I’ll bet a skillful massage would help your shoulder.
        Patty went twice a week for about a month.

        Liked by 1 person

      • weavingword says:

        I did a couple months of physical therapy at the hospital, but it didn’t really improve all that much. It’s really locked up tight. Ended up taking a break over Christmas (PT is REALLY expensive) and haven’t scheduled more sessions yet. I really should. Kind of hard to go through daily life not being able to lift my right arm above my head, or twist it behind my back. Can’t say it feels great either. *sigh* I really don’t want this to be a permanent thing.

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