Tuesday, May 06, 2014

No, it's not real.

So, with Sunny being away for a week, I took advantage of my time alone by having my yearly Star Wars and Lord of the Rings marathon (I know, I’m a crazy party animal).

After nearly a full day of swashbuckling sci-fi fantasy action, I watched all the cool sword and lightsaber fights and thought “I wish I knew how to do that.”

Just to be clear, I’ve no real interest in actually learning to sword fight. I took a few Kendo lessons as a teenager, and made the discovery most teenagers do when they go to learn something they’ve seen in a movie: real life is a lot different to the screen.

I don’t want to learn how to actually sword fight. I want to learn how to stage-fight…with all the cool spins and flourishes thrown in.

So I went to the internets and looked up stage fighting. There are a lot of expensive courses for actors, lots of expensive course materials you can buy, so I thought ‘fuck it’ and went to Youtube.
There’s always some twat who takes things way too far.

So I stumbled across a youtube channel where some guy had put up a few hundred videos on how to fight with a lightsaber. I thought it was the exact thing I was looking for, until I realised something: This guy was taking it seriously.

I don’t mean he was taking his craft seriously. Stage combat is serious business. The sword you’re swinging might be blunt, but you’re still swinging a hefty piece of metal around. I mean he was trying to teach lightsaber combat as practical self defence.

It was pure unintentional comedy as this guy inexpertly swung a plastic lightsaber around, talking about how to get real power into your strikes. How to avoid incoming attacks, etc, etc. How each of the five lightsaber forms was based on real world swordfighting techniques and how he was a master of this and that.

If that guy had ever touched a sword before putting up these videos, I’d be surprised.

Here’s the thing. I’m no expert, but I’m sane enough to know real sword fighting and stage fighting have very little in common. Stage fighting is about looking good and putting on an exciting show. Real fighting is about killing your opponent as quickly and efficiently as possible while exposing yourself to the least amount of danger possible.

It’s why it annoys me when some armchair expert watches a movie and feels the need to tell you the way they’re fighting is totally unrealistic. Of course it’s unrealistic. Real fighting is boring as baboon ass to watch. 

If you want an example, go find a Kendo competition video online. Here’s what happens 99% of the time: The guys face off, then one attacks, the other gets hit and it’s over. Occasionally you may get one or two parries in there, but that’s it. Even fist fighting is boring in real life. Watch a UFC fight. The guys square up, throw a couple of punches, then they go to the ground and roll around for a bit. The end. 

(Ok, UFC can be fun to watch, but there’s always the big build up about how ‘Guy A’ has learned Brazilian ju-jitsu and the other guy has mastered the ‘Twisting Tiger/Hidden Ferret technique’, then 2 minutes in it’s down to the same old sweaty dick-punching).

My point is real fighting is not that interesting to watch. When you take the actual rules away, it’s extremely fast, simple and over in a few seconds. There are no epic 10 minute battles in real life. Even the average shoot-out with guns lasts less than a minute with around 5 shots fired.

I even read something recently about gladiator fights in ancient Rome, in that they had more in common with WWE wrestling than actual fights to the death. Only about 1 in 10 gladiator fights ended with someone actually dying, because entertainment was the primary reason for them to fight…and you can’t have a beloved champion to pull in the crowds if a defeat meant dying. 

Gladiators were trained to fight in a way that looked incredibly stylised and flashy and they learned how to cut each other in a way that looked dangerous, produced a lot of blood but wasn’t actually life threatening. In fact, gladiators deliberately got extremely fat, because that way they could take big deep cuts that went nowhere near their vital organs.

Anyway, I’d love to see the lightsaber guy in an actual swordfighting competition…because while he was in the middle of his first pointless flourish, or doing the classic movie thing of turning your back on your opponent to do that totally cool spinny-maneuver..the other guy would just hit him over the head with his wooden sword.

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