One of the best parts of being a writer is research. Research can take you to different cities (or websites when funds are low), unusual restaurants, meeting exotic people with rich history, or in my case, a longsword class. I wanted to share what I learned, not only to help others with their writing, but to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone a bit more.
I attended an ancient European longsword class taught by New York Times Best Seller, Melissa Marr. The sword, surprisingly, only weighed two and a half pounds. Light at first, but soon the weight of the sword burned my arms as my speed increased. Yes, my forearms were sore the next day. The names of positions were German, and we walk through several at the beginning of class.
Soon, we were practicing a particular set of strikes against another person. Then we walked with these attacks. The purpose was muscle memory and to strike at one’s opponent without thought.
One thing I learned was often the movies get it wrong. Opponents don’t clash in a bind (when two swords meet) and then proceed to struggle in that same position to give insults. There are many responses to a bind and they all happen very quickly. A few are: the void, where one steps back; disarming one’s opponent by a variety of methods; and maneuvering the blade to strike at one’s opponent (a few being the wind, undercut, or take off −where you try to behead your opponent).
Not only was this class a blast (yes, I’m going back), but I learned so much about fighting. When writers don’t do their research, whether it be about location, tools, weapons or even food, it shows. Next time I write a fight scene, I have so many more options in my toolbox. So work outside of your comfort zone, now and again. Like the saying goes: “We often regret what we don’t do.”