I was browsing Youtube for several particular clips from some movies I’ve seen, namely some sword fights and battle scenes. I must admit that there were a few films which caught my eye with the style of swordplay, particularly the Zorro films, and some Ancient Styled, such as Gladiator and Braveheart. Different styles of fighting appeal to me according to the proper situation. I am a big fan of brutal medieval combat, just the sheer masculinity of being able to wield a piece of metal with such skill and raw force, but just as I enjoy the warfare of the knights, I enjoy the elegent skill of the fencer, rendered by the hand of Zorro himself.
Medieval – Brute Force
I hate to use a scene from Kingdom of Heaven, but I must admit, the swordplay and weaponry were pretty accurate for such an inaccurate film. I want to point out the style of fighting scene in the below click. Watching the click, one can notice the force necessary to wield such a heavy piece of metal. Unlike the Rapier and classic fencing foil, the medieval sword was made to break through the armor of the opponent, whether it be chain mail, leather, or the basics of plate armor. There are several strategies to using this type of blade, the typical one being the use of gravity as your assistant. So instead of lunging and having to fully rely on your muscle to move the weapon, you could use the force of gravity to help bring it down as a powerful blow upon your opponent. So, by the nature of the style of warfare, it would have been necessary to have a strong build in order to constantly wield a sword in non-stop combat.
In regards to Kingdom of Heaven, the weapons and props were the most accurate part of the film. The storyline was nothing more than a Hollywood Twist-Up of Christian History. (Don’t worry, I have a plans for a post on Kingdom of Heaven coming very soon. Well, not simply Kingdom of Heaven, but the issue of the Crusades, Europe, and their importance for the survival of Christiandom as a whole.)
Rapier – Elegant Swordplay
Now I turn to the art of swordplay in which I am partially skilled. The Rapier, or in the modern sense of the exciting sport, fencing. This form of swordplay, unlike the style of fighting during the Middle Ages, deals with an elegant hand, rather than the brute force of the broad sword. With the growing popularity of gunpowder in warfare, armor eventually became inefficient, and a hindrance to the soldier. So a new type of sword was needed to fit in with the changing form of warfare. The rapier became that weapon of choice. I will not go into a discussion as to the change in the nature of warfare, but remain concentrated on the issue of swordplay. The main point of fencing, (Haha! Get it? Point!? *cough*) is to undermine your opponent’s movements and attacks, turning his imbalance, and speed, often enough against him. There are two most important parts in the art of becoming an exceptional fencer, constantly maintaining your distance from your adversary, and keeping in your natural defense position, so that you will always be in a position where you can quickly strike at your opponent, and avoid the counterattack of his blade.
The clip below is from the film “The Mask of Zorro,” and holds one of my favorite swordplay scenes to date. You may note that the characters are actually much closer than would be safe for an actual fencing duel, but that is explainable since they are fighting inside of a corridor. Also note that when you get too close, things turn nasty. That pommel comes in real handy.