Friday, August 31, 2007

Chop and Slash

Got an email from a writer I know, not a martial artist, who said, "Yeah, okay, I can understand how you might want to know some hand to hand fighting. Maybe even how to use a pocketknife. But why would you want to spend any kind of time learning to fight with swords, as you mentioned? "

How often, he went on, is it likely you'll get into a sword duel with anybody?

Probably less often than I'll be struck by lightning. Or win the lottery. Dodge a falling meteorite ...

It is true. Not a lot of folks pack swords around these days. I do have one leaning by the door of my office. Were somebody to kick in the front door right now ... nah, probably I'd just use the gun.

And there's a big ole machete out in the garage I use to clear blackberry bushes by the back fence. Though I'd have to wonder at the sanity of anybody who'd attack me while I'm clearing brush with that two-foot-long machete in hand.

This why-do-it? question comes from somebody whose primary hobby is golf. And while I have nothing against folks who want to hammer a defenseless little white ball hither and yon over a well-trimmed, giant lawn, attempting to land the sucker in a series of holes, that's not me.

Chances are I won't ever need a sword to defend myself. But if that once-in-a-lifetime event should occur, better to have the skill than not. And in the meantime, it's fun to play, and, more importantly, it helps in the understanding of the root movements. Waving a sword around, cutting, stabbing, or blocking, comes from the same actions that you use if you don't have a sword. To do the bladework right, you have to have the basic moves right.

The ability to pick up something longer than it is wide and use it for self-defense -- book-fu, anyone? -- is just another skill notch on the old smoke-wagon's grips ...


Steve Perry said...

Oh, yeah, I guess I should mention that just the five Conan novels I wrote way back earned me enough to play for martial arts lessons for about forty years, give or take.

Knowing a little about swords and fisticuffs and things that go bang has found its way into many of my books and, in some cases, been the inspiration for them.

For me, it's an investment. Take lesson, write stories featuring what I learned and the scale is more than balanced in my favor.

Thus all that training is work-related and a legitimate tax-deduction for research. True.

Brad said...

Happy belated Birthday Steve. Sorry I'm late, but I was in the air and at work most of yesterday.

Irene said...

Hm. I gotta figure out how to justify martial arts training as a part of my job.

Much of the philosophy applies, both in software security design and in office politics, but the application of silat techniques are frowned upon in the corporate environment.