Sword Novels - Fighting in Fiction
I know she's not European medieval--but she's awesome looking so I added her.

While writing the prequel to ShadowLight, I realized the only knowledge I have about sword fighting is what I’ve seen in movies, tv, or read about in books. Yep.  All my knowledge comes from fictional fights and sword novels.  Sad, but true. And let’s face it, when’s the last time you’ve seen anyone do a slo-mo triple flip with two battle swords in hand, consequently wiping out a hoard of oncoming baddies–all while dressed in a skimpy skirt and tummy shirt?  Um. Never. (In real life that is–incase you weren’t sure, we’re talking about reality right now.  I know. I try to avoid it too, but that ole’ reality check keeps popping up on me.)

So I set out to discover everything I could about the art of medieval sword fighting. Shocking as this may seem–nothing we see in the movies is accurate. Basic things, like never turn your back on an opponent. Then how is one supposed to do a mid-air turn and plunge? Or never lose contact with your sword, which makes those toss your blade, turn, kick, catch and jab scenes just silly.

I thought I’d share a few real-life and totally awesome sword fights with you.

First we have two fighters. Since there’s no description of who they are or why they’re fighting, I can only assume I’d be happy to never meet them, especially in a dark alley…unless of course I’m a damsel in distress and they are coming to my rescue. Then by all means… 😉


Medieval Sword Fight


Secondly, we have my personal favorite — the making of the Princess Bride sword fighting scenes.  You don’t love the Princess Bride? Inconceivable!

Sword Play in the Princess Bride

And third?  I included this because it’s wrong, and cheesy, and I am wondering if anyone can figure out how these women lose their stilletos?  (But then again…once they get to the fighting, they are pretty phenomenal if you can get past the cheese-ball arrival and walking swagger.)
Hot Female Sword Duel (seriously – I did not make that up – they did)

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  1. Yeah, I knew all the movie stuff was crap! I’ve never bothered to research sword-fighting because a blow by blow swordfight description isn’t very interesting anyway. The gaps should be filled in with emotion and other action. I DID, though, have to research Japanese jujutsu for my fantasy assassin. And before that, I had to research martial arts in general so I could pick one that worked best for her! I now know more about fatal strikes (points of the body that can cause death when struck properly) than I ever needed to know….

    1. Ah…and author after my own heart–writing female jujutsu heroines! Which series? I’d like to check her out, but wasn’t sure from your website?

  2. It’s true that most movies … well certainly most modern movies just go for style rather than accuracy and that’s fine because the fight exists to build tension not to portray accurate combat techniques. But the clip below is an awesome example of a sword duel… one that rivals the Princess Bride though its a little more brutal in the end.

    Fights in fiction need (in my view) to convey both emotion and accuracy insofar as it does describe the action. If you’re going to write about a fight then at least have what the combatants do plausable within the context of the world you have created. Some research is crucial to getting that right.

    Thanks for the post. It’s a subject I am quite passionate about.

    1. Goran,
      Great video…yeah a little gory at the end for someone faint of heart! LOL! Point well taken on accuracy. You are the first one I’m coming to for the realistic details.

  3. […] fantasy fiction without swords? Swordplay is so cool, even Jedi have to get in on the action. Mande Matthews has posted a few video clips of awesome sword fights, from a Con demonstration to the background behind the epic battle behind Inigo Montoya and the […]

  4. HI Mande
    Love this topic. Yeah I came to realize the same thing, so we have to learn while we can.
    I also decided that next year I will take up fencing to get into the role for one of my books. To make it believable we have to gain as much knowledge as possible.

    happy writing

    1. Oh! Carlyle, what a brilliant idea. I wish I lived closer, and we could go together. 😉 Film it and put it on your website for your fans!

  5. Great post. Sword fighting in fiction is one of my favorite things in the universe.

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