RAN by Akira Kurosawa (1985) is the best siege warfare movie I’ve seen so far.

This morning I watched Ran (directed and written by Akira Kurosawa) and I must say it nearly made me cry! Lately I’ve been growing more appreciative of the epic filming style of older movies. Modern movies like to zoom in on individuals during warfare, but movies like Ran like to zoom out and show the whole picture. Without CGI, these movies rely heavily on good acting and directing. Indeed, directing a movie of this scale must require similar skills to directing an army.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who appreciates the art of siege warfare. The visuals are beyond impressive and the acting is some of the best I’ve ever seen. I rate this movie 9.5 out of 10! It’s hidden gems like this I hope the modern world will never forget. I bow to you, Kurosawa!

ran!

Sir Eveland shows you the Four Basic Guards or Stances with two-handed Greatswords or Bastard, hand-and-a-half Longswords: the Plow, the Ox, the Roof, the Fool. (How to hold a Claymore or Broadsword)

The plow, the ox, the roof and the fool are real sword stances from medieval treatises and historical manuals (check out the famous Solothurner Fechtbuch) and are still used by HEMA students today. These four sword positions are also similar to the basic stances used by samurai in different periods. There are many, and some would say an unlimited number of stances a swordsman can hold, but these four guards below are the universal ones, and I believe understanding them can empower any novice sword owner. Now I will briefly explain their uses and applications.

The Plow

The Plow.JPG

The plow is the most common guard because it is the most defensive. With this stance, it is much easier to parry or rebut an attack compared to the other three guards. The one disadvantage of this guard is that the thrust is your only set form of attack, and so a trained swordsman may be able to predict your next move. This stance also serves well for binding and winding, allowing the ease of counterattacks or ripostes.

The Ox

The Ox.JPG

This is the ox! Can you see why? Now you can probably also see why it would be slightly harder to parry or block an attack from this stance. And once again a trained swordsman could easily see your attack options. A good use of this guard would be to accompany it with good footwork (that goes for any guard) in order to outmaneuver and deliver that one deadly thrust. Also, this can be a very intimidating stance for some, and so a peasant with a messer may just runaway from you.

The Roof

The Roof

Some fencers would say my elbows are out of place and the angle of my sword is all wrong, but the main purpose of this pose is to enable the most deadly chop or downcut your muscles can supply. The disadvantages of the roof are clear. To parry something like a rapier with this guard would be near to impossible. The roof should be used sparingly. It would be a good guard for civilian control or tight formations (so long as no one is right behind you), especially if you’re wearing steel armour because most attacks would just glance off your breastplate or vambraces anyways. But either way, you wouldn’t want to hold this guard for too long, even in front of a lummox.

The Fool

The Fool

It’s easy to see why they’d name this the fool, but you’d be surprised to know this guard is actually the one with the most options. Not only is it ready for parrying, my opponent has no idea what I’m about to do next. If your quick, one feint could spook an opponent and give you just enough time to deliver that final blow. Many novices hold their swords like this as if it’s an instinct or something. I think this pose is great because depending on your facial expression, it could either be nonchalant, a prideful insult to a foe’s skills, or just a plain old “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing!”

Thanks for reading. I hope you learned something, if not I hope it was entertaining.

Happy daydreaming.

My ideal sub-genre: hemapunk

My ideal genre would be a sub-genre of historical fiction called hemapunk. Hema as in H.E.M.A or historical European martial arts, and the punk is just because … authors get goofy. Hemapunk would be medieval fiction focused more on historical accuracy, not so much focused on actual events of the past but more so on proper descriptions and realistic war tactics. Hemapunk fans would frown at giant blazing fantasy swords. They would smile at realistic, period accurate blades. Fencers and Lindy Beige fans would dig it, I’d think. “For crying out loud, you can’t draw a sword from the back!” Movies are ruined for some people because of things like bows creaking and cutting ropes to loose mangonels. GRRM’s universe would be similar to hemapunk. It would be hemapunk if it didn’t have fantasy elements. Some could say this is nothing more than historical fiction. They’re wrong because hemapunk is focused sacrificially on medieval Europe and realism. Now the word punk in the title might imply that it should have fantasy elements, because that’s what cyberpunk and steampunk do, and they should. I still think the word punk fits in hemapunk because, although you can’t have totally innacurate fantasy elements, you can create your own time and place, which means having the monicle invented 300 years before it actually was invented. In a way that is fantasy, kind o’, right?

hema