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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 combat.

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

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