^ (c) the hamster driving the cogs in George Lucas' head, circa 2011.
Master swordsman Bob Anderson, the Hollywood fencing coach who wielded Darth Vader's lightsaber, died peacefully in a West Sussex hospital on Sunday, aged 89. Described as "truly one of our greatest fencing masters and a world-class film fight director and choreographer" in a tribute on the British Academy of Fencing's website …
""The sword is the ultimate weapon. It’s not so threatening shooting at someone 20 or 30 paces away or while hiding behind things. When you get into a sword fight, you’re standing toe-to-toe with someone who’s trying to kill you and you’re looking him in the eye - now that’s thrilling."
This is Extreme Fencing? I don't remember body bags at the Olympic games, or for that matter hearing of much use of cutlasses in the Royal Marines of the 1940s.
But all respect to somebody who was very good at what he did. Too bad he's not around to take a saber (light or otherwise) to the NY Times obit writer who described his service as "a sailor in the Royal Marines".
To give the man full credit; even when dressed up in full fencing gear, holding a lightweight weapon with an electronic scoring system, facing another person over blades is an intimidating proposition. Force of will, the drive to dominate is every bit as important as athleticism and well-drilled reflexes. Fencing is for *aggressive* folks - far more so than most other forms of athletic competition.
During the battle of Cape Matapan, the destroyer HMS Jervis went alongside the immobile Italian cruiser Pola and the boarding parties were issued with cutlasses.*
Possibly more Marines drove tanks than used a cutlass in anger.
*They took off nearly 300 wounded before the Pola was sunk with torpedoes
The best few minutes of the original Arnie Conan the Barbarian was Sandahl Bergman character's rear-guard swordfight in the cave. A really good choreographed sword fight gets you as close to a skilled exchange of arms as possible, this side of the law. I don't, however, remember many lightsabre fights that showed brilliant swordsmanship -- mostly because the fun of the fights was in the clash of the sabres.
Sadly there are plenty of films like that, it's all big power blows that you can see coming a mile off. Generally you'd attack the closest part of the opponent to you could cause damage to, this would invariably be his sword hand or wrist; you can't hold a sword with fingers missing and there are some lovely blood vessels in your wrist.
Sadly most people don't really appreciate competitive fencing as there's a lot to get your head around with regards to priority etc. Which is one of the reasons why one touch epee is quite popular to watch.
but at an sf convention I once went to the masquerade interlude was a sword fighting choreography troop. I don't recall the exact phraseology, but it was rather scathing. It went something like this:
During the one fight sequence, they speak of a number of well known fencing attacks and ripostes. The fight scene would have been much improved if they had used ANY of them.
@Vehlin; I was a saber man, myself - while I could still be bothered to stay in shape and practice. Now, I'm more of a large slow target. :p My sister's man, however, is an epee-punk. Elegant stuff, the epee - yard-long straight-razors, and one hell of a mental game. You *need* a punk's mental attitude to excel with epee!
@Tom 13; Well, there are a *few* attacks in TPB - Just weakly executed without any aggression or elan.
I've always loved the fight, and the whole film's dialogue pretty much.
Inigo: I admit it, you are better than I am.
Man In Black: Then why are you smiling?
Inigo: Because I know something you don't know.
Man In Black: And what is that?
Inigo: I am not left-handed.
Man In Black: You're amazing!
Inigo: I ought to be after twenty years.
Man In Black: There is something I ought to tell you.
Inigo: Tell me.
Man In Black: I'm not left-handed either.
Surely a lightsabre fight wouldn't look like a sword fight? You wouldn't need *any* power behind a sabre strike as it would slice through anything with ease. Speed of the strike would matter to minimize the time the opponent had to act, but normal sword techniques would probably be pretty useless.
That being said, if sabres were real, I suspect the best method of attack would be to clash sabres, then slide your blade down theirs - the light sabre hilt has no guard, so the easiest kill would be to slice their fingers off during a clash.
Now where has realism got you?
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