So I'm considering putting a character into my story who is a swordsman and proficient with a pair of falchions (short, broad, single-edges swords that are curved and good for slashing; a historical example found in England weighed less than 2 pounds). He's part of an almost ninja-like society that trains warriors to fight with short dual weapons (like falchions, short swords, dirks, daggers, and throwing axes). But I was wondering, how unrealistic is this, really? I'm a huge fan of Salvatore and I love reading his Drizzt books, but I'm aware that some of the stunts performed are downright ridiculous. Do you think it's okay to have a character like this in my story? After, all, it's a magic-rigged fantasy!
January 29th, 2007, 04:14 PM
Yeah, the key word there is fantasy. You can do it, Salvatore proved that. To make it "realistic" you'll need to have the character train to dual-wield effectively but, otherwise, go for it. I'm semi-ambidextrous myself. I can do almost anything with my left that I can do with my right, but I do have to practice at it some.
[ Case in point, back in college I used to play a lot of racquetball and I would love to beat someone with my right hand and then challenge them to play me left-handed. Usually I'd still win. But if it was a really tough opponent I would use both hands, left or right depending on where the ball went in the court. You should have heard the howls of protest at that. :) Sometimes I would use two racquets but that was just for laughs. I can also switch hit in softball, thought it generally goes farther as a righty. ]
Hey, one other thing you can do with this character is have him (or her) switch hands with a single weapon to gain a tacitcal advantage. Ever see The Princess Bride?
January 29th, 2007, 04:21 PM
Yes it is feasible. There are a lot of examples of historical texts discussing dual weapons. Usually they are referring to unequal weapon lengths, such as sword and dagger, but there are western texts discussing dual rapier use and eastern styles discussing dual sword use.
I like the idea of multiple dual weapon use, go for it, get it written and post some up for us to see.
January 29th, 2007, 04:28 PM
Are you starting with the dual talented character or starting with story? If the latter, then the problem becomes to create characters that fit the story; if the former it's a non-issue because the story grows up around the character.
When that happens, either way, folk cannot reasonably crit the character as realistic or non-realistic because the story couldn't be told without the character being who the character is.
Which is a long winded way of saying what Katherine the Great or the Sheep would say: write the story and see if it works.
Sorry, J, you snuck in there when I wasn't looking.
January 29th, 2007, 04:41 PM
After, all, it's a magic-rigged fantasy!
If carrying and fighting two swords is good enough for Skillgannon in Gemmell's Swords of Day and Night, it should be good for any other hero.
Seriously though, you remember that humans are not naturally ambidextrous so in theory they would favour one blade for attack and for defence. I guess then the society trains its members to not to fight like this, ie be truly ambidextrous. That could of course have spin offs in other ways.....
January 29th, 2007, 04:55 PM
Wow, thanks for all the quick responses. You've definitely encouraged me. The society does train them to do this, and I suppose if real people can sort of do it with the case of rapiers than he can do it with shorter swords which might actually—somehow—weigh less than them. I'm hinting at my character being ambidextrous; he uses a pair of knives in the beginning of the story, albeit in a haphazard way. When he begins his stupid training (yes, it's a spinoff of a billion of other coming-of-age-18-year-old-who-kicks-butt story, but frankly I don't care because it's only one of a whopping eight major storylines) he kind of goes through a physical purging, almost like The Matrix when Neo wakes up and goes, "I know Kung Fu," but deeper. (Classic line by the way.)
PS I know there are some people who freak over this, how there's no credible historical example, but a pair of butterfly swords is commonly used in Chinese martial arts. I wouldn't want to get gutted by one of those suckers, let alone Olek Skilgannon, Drizzt Do'Urden, and Iñigo Montoya.
Anyway I'm starting to rant now. You guys have helped me realize it's the character and the story, not the scraps of steel, that matter. Now it's off to the races.
January 29th, 2007, 05:29 PM
One other thing worth suggesting is that although an oft-used cliche, children's aptitude for quicker learning may work into the story. Spacial recognition and coordination are equally important aspects of wielding two weapons simultaneously, as opposed to just being physically able to do it. So if the Ninja sect only accepts children that are ambidextrous or trains them from a young age (I'm thinking of the Shaolin temple's approach and other intense martial arts) then it's undoubtedly possible to be trained to a high enough level that being ambidextrous becomes a mute issue.
January 29th, 2007, 07:22 PM
Maybe I'm missing the point, but what would be so difficult about using two swords? Just because a person is right or left handed, doesn't mean the other hand is useless. In fact, I'm typing with both my right and left hands right now.
As others have said - it's all in how you write it.
Now - a character that has a three sword fighting style with two hands... the juggler/fighter - that's something that might raise an eyebrow or two.
January 30th, 2007, 08:14 AM
Now - a character that has a three sword fighting style with two hands... the juggler/fighter - that's something that might raise an eyebrow or two.You get a cookie for making me laugh.
January 30th, 2007, 08:20 AM
This has come up before, oddly enough: http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14377&highlight=niten
I can think of a good few examples of historical fighting styles which made use of a weapon in each hand:-
In the East, the Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū school of swordsmanship was founded by legendary swordsman Miyamoto Mushashi, and makes use of long and short sword in conjunction with one another.
This is actually very out-of-the-box in comparison with other, more orthodox schools.
There's also the húdié shuāng dāo, or butterfly sword, of Chinese martial arts. A pair of these were used in conjunction with one another, and this is still commonly taught in Wing Chun, Lau Gar and Hung Gar schools. As seen in a few kung fu movies, and briefly in Jason Scott Lee's 'Dragon: The Bruce Lee story'.
Also there's Daab Song Meu, the Thai martial way of using double swords in addition to a selection of other weapons. More commonly called Krabi Krabong, although Krabi Krabong also includes a variety of other weapons.
Going west, there are a lot more general examples of this approach to combat. In terms of historical fencing, Florentine style or Main Gauche have been used to refer to the use of a second weapon or other instrument.
A dagger or dirk would seem to have been more common than a second sword of similar length than the first. Daggers specifically called Main Gauche daggers typically seem well-adapted for the role, designed in such a way as to aid the parrying and sometimes trapping of an opponent's weapon.
In contemporary or more recently historical material, there has also been a common pairing of tomahawk and bowie knife or stick and knife.
So there would seem to be no practical difficulty with the idea of a fantasy style making use of two weapons at once. The other recurring factor that does seem to crop up is that typically only one of the weapons tends towards any considerable length, or both are shortish in length, perhaps because of the technical difficulties of drawing two long blades at once, let alone manouvering them.