Wednesday, August 1, 2012


OK ... Sabre fencing is TOTALLY cool ... there are some odd things about it that go completely against my natural instincts (possibly from the sportification of how and when to hit), but hopefully I'll get to see the 'why' behind them soon as I get to spar more ... but it's definitely fun as hell.

See, I really wanted to be Errol Flynn (Captain Blood or Robin Hood*) when I was young ... and now, many years later, here I find myself parrying and cutting, retreating and chasing the evil Basil Rathbone down the stairs and over the rocks.... OK it's not Basil, he's not evil, and there are no stairs or rocks, but that's not important - we're dueling with sabres ha HA!!

Swords are fun, they just are, and after watching the hours and hours of VHS tapes I have of my training sessions, I have come to notice that though there are moments where I am obviously concentrating really hard, or am confused, or disheartened, mostly you'll see me grinning away like a mental patient ..... it's rather odd really if you think about it, but I will say that I have observed this effect in others too.
When new students start to duel, it's actually fairly easy to tell which ones are going to stick with it ... it's the ones that have this ear to ear grin on their faces as soon as you put sword in their hand. The overly serious, the super timid and the squeamish tend to be the ones that drop out .... but the grinners .... they're pretty much hooked.

Where does that come from ....?

Check it out .... Errol and Basil are grinning too: 

* - Yes, I know Rathbone was the better fencer, but I was 7 and Flynn played the hero. And yes, there are better sword fights in the movies .... but like I said, I was 7.


The European Historical Combat Guild said...

To see Rathbone in better action the fight in Zorro against Tyrone Power is a better display of skill and as a fight, even if a little under cranked... sure you have seen it but it's worth the watch for anyone who hasn't..

Maija said...

A good one indeed! Zorro was one of my favorites :-)
Here's a link: ... Tyrone is grinning too, though Basil looks more serious in this one, I guess he knows it's the end of the movie.
Many, many other to choose from of course ... The Duellists, Tim Roth in Rob Roy come to mind .... And I have a particular soft spot for the duel in Sharpe's Honour

The European Historical Combat Guild said...

Never understood why Sharpe used the heavy cavalry sabre, heavy and unbalanced so a poor cutting weapon, with a horrible clipped point so a poor for the thrust, though some did grind the point to make it better, Sharpe hasn't. A more common choice in the Rifles and Light infantry was the Light Cavalry sabre, a really nice weapon to handle and a savage cutting weapon!

Maija said...

Why Sharpe forgoes the traditional weapon of the Rifles and instead uses the sword he does is explained in the books - though whether it's a 'good idea' is debatable.
I guess it adds character to his street urchin upbringing, and separates him yet more as the rare officer who comes up through the ranks rather than given it through birthright and money.
I've read the whole series of course - Great tales of derring do! Wonderfully including real incidents found in papers and diaries of real soldiers at the events depicted ... though the books are of course pure fiction.
Highly recommended.