Fights and Weapons Masters: What you need to know to write a character who knows how to fight.

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A presentation from the symposium: Life, the Universe and Everything, about the mentality of master fighters, common misconceptions about fights, and other info you need when writing a book about …

A presentation from the symposium: Life, the Universe and Everything, about the mentality of master fighters, common misconceptions about fights, and other info you need when writing a book about combat.

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  • 1. Fights and Weaponsmasters: What to do when your character knows more about fighting than you.
  • 2. Further Reading
    • The Princess Bride (Good fights, Well-Written Fighters)
    • The Book of Five Rings (Mentality of a Warrior)
    • Iron and Silk (Pan Qingfu)
    • Bayuex Tapestry (Accurate visual depiction of Medieval arms and warfare)
    • Terry Goodkind’s “Medieval Lives” (Historical view of true medieval life)
  • 3. Common Misconceptions
  • 4. Fights go on forever
    • People get hurt and get back up
  • 5.
    • Depending on weapons, armor and style, fights last between 4 minutes and 4 seconds
    • Shotokan karate: 4 seconds
    • Fencing: until someone lands one good hit
    • Armor prolongs fights, but not indefinitely
  • 6.
    • Trained fighters are trained to kill, maim, or incapacitate
    • Bodies break
    • Fights to the death have no time outs
  • 7. Weapons and Armor: Maintenance, what maintenance?
    • Blades dull, get chinks, and rust
    • Armor needs to be polished, oiled, repaired
  • 8. A sword’s a sword!
    • Weapons are built around where the weight center is, which determines how they’re used.
  • 9. Armor is Useless!
  • 10. Plate Armor
    • Expensive
    • Custom-fitted
    • Curved to reflect arrows
    • Extremely good protection
  • 11.
    • Plate armor is heavy, but full suits of mail were designed to support their own weight
    • Knights could do ballet in armor (if there ever was a reason)
    • Three layers: leather, chain, plate.
  • 12. Chain Mail
    • Good at stopping swords, slashes
    • Bad at stopping daggers, stabs
    • Even boiled leather is good protection
  • 13. Some armor not always better than none
    • Armlets and bracers only good if actively used for defense
    • If they’re not aiming for your armored parts, and you’re not actively using it, it’s just dead weight
    • Celts fought naked
  • 14. Armor is like a protective coating!
    • Armor requires training
    • Armor is used to deflect or redirect blows
    • Good armor you go around, not through
  • 15. Training isn’t important/It’s ok, I’m self-taught!
    • The difference between a beginner and a master isn’t 12 years, it’s 200
    • No one can ‘teach themselves’, not even from a book
    • Training is the single most important element in combat
  • 16.
    • Training gives you access to genertions of technical refinement.
    • Average reaction time: .5 seconds
    • Master reaction time: .12 to .2
    • The ‘Fuzz’
    • No Master will fall to the untrained
  • 17. Notes on winning through numbers:
    • Fighting in groups takes it’s own kind of training.
    • Greek Hoplites, Phalanxes
    • Most times, if a group isn’t trained to fight together, a 6 on 1 match becomes 6 one on ones.
  • 18. People can/can’t do this, I saw it on the History Channel!
  • 19. Yes
    • Shaolin Monks bend swords in their guts, break pipes on their heads, and break 2 by 4s on their legs
    • They condition their hands and bones to be hard enough to break stone
    • They practice moves like the ‘death touch’
    • Men can cut arrows in half in mid-flight.
  • 20. No
    • No ninja on record has ever caught an arrow being fired at him at full speed
    • Yes ninjas trained in how to dodge bullets, but it was by watching hand movements and timing, not a DBZ thing
  • 21. How master fighters view the world
    • A soldier learns to use a weapon. A master practices for hours every day.
    • When training you learn technical names and forms
    • On the field you think about weight placements, muscle tension, tactical movements, and openings
    • Fighters learn to read each other’s stances, expressions, and movements
  • 22.
    • You are what you think about all day
    • Master fighters think about fighting
    • Fighters see the world in terms of how to beat people
  • 23. How to write a good fight
  • 24. Good Fight/Bad Fight
    • Pirates of the Caribbean 1: good fight
    • Pirates of the Caribbean 2: bad fight
    • Good film fights: Rob Roy, Empire Strikes Back, Prince Caspian
  • 25. A good scene
    • Develops character
    • Furthers plot
    • Conflict
    • Objective
    • Tactics
    • Events
    • Seen through the character’s eyes/knowledge and understanding
  • 26. Fights are scenes!
    • Conflict (Why are they fighting?)
    • Objective (What do they want?)
    • Tactics (Fighting style, weapons, tactical decisions)
    • Events (What changes/happens? What’s important?)
    • Structure (rising action, climax, resolution)
    • Who’s telling the story? How much do they know about combat?
  • 27. “If the writing is not exciting apart from the sword-work, it won’t be exciting with it. ” -Martin Turner
  • 28. Writing Exercise/Prompt