Main Flynning Discussion

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11:37:53 AM Jul 9th 2017
"Note that in real, deadly, swordplay, pure blocking parries that stop the vigorous movement of the enemy's sword dead are practically unknown."

Could we get a citation for this? HEMA fencer here, wouldn't call myself an expert but in literally every system I've had experience with that features cutting (di Grassi with rapier, Hutton sabre, and passing knowledge of Polish sabre and German longsword) the main defence against a cut is literally what's described in the quote. Meet the opponent's sword edge-to-edge, your forte to their foible, and arrest its motion dead.
11:56:49 AM Jul 9th 2017
edited by TheBigBopper
I suppose the description went too far in trying to communicate the idea that you're supposed to parry efficiently. Will have to delete and/or rework that sentence. Parrying or blocking is not, in itself, flynning. Parry-riposte can be just as effective as single-time attack and defense, depending on the situation.

Flynning, to me, is kind of like Kayfabe in Professional Wrestling: it's a fight where the sequence of moves is choreographed and the result is rigged, but they're pretending like it's a real fight. In theory it is possible to rig a fight so that it looks realistic, but this trope is about when you see mistakes that would result in instant death if not for the fact that both fighters were obviously cooperating. That means attacking into an anticipated parry rather than directly at the target, or going out of your way to parry an attack that's not going to hit you. A dead giveaway is when you see one fighter start parrying before the other's attack has even given a visible tell, indicating that they already know it's coming and are cooperating with the other person to drag out the fight instead of winning as quickly as possible.

Olympic rules fencing and kendo, for all their arbitrary rules and unrealistic abstractions, are still legitimate competitive sports. While they purport to be based on the real fencing of yore and have rules that are holdovers from the days when it was supposed to be actual sword training, they don't literally ask you to suspend your disbelief and watch it as if it were a real fight. They also aren't rigged; both fighters are opposing each other, and each fighter can only guess what the other one is about to try. Therefore, any mistake you make is bound to be exploited if the other can recognize it. There is flynning in these sports, in the sense that some of the rules arbitrarily rule out things that would be legitimate techniques in a real fight, or allow you to saftely attack in ways that would be suicidal in a real fight, but they are still not 100% flynning because there are leftovers of real fighting and an element of earnest competition.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their clothes and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
01:13:01 PM Jul 9th 2017
Personally, I'd say delete altogether. All it does is perpetuate an idea I've seen thrown around in some works of fiction, that seems to me to be pretty inaccurate. This sort of parry does exist in more than one taught method of fencing and isn't indicative of flynning.
02:55:27 PM Jul 9th 2017
Do you think my edit adequately addresses your concerns?
04:44:12 PM Jul 9th 2017
I guess? My main issue was with the line about the mechanics of parries themselves, and that's been removed, so I'm satisfied with that.
05:01:37 PM Nov 29th 2015
edited by ArcaneAzmadi
Hang on, why so much emphasis that Flynning has nothing in common with even real sport fencing? I'm a former fencer and there IS a degree of overlap between Hollywood "hit your opponent's sword" swashbuckling and real foil and saber fencing (but not epee). Foil and sabre rules are based around fencing time and right of way where hitting your opponent's weapon is an integral part of establishing your right to score- the most common way of initiating an attack is to "beat" your opponent by tapping against his sword to move it out of defensive position. Additionally, if the opponent attacks you and you tap his sword before riposting that's counted as a "parry" and as long as your hit lands you get the point even if his initial strike goes on to hit you first, which is why even a mild parry will force the attacker to pull back his attack to counter-parry your riposte, leading to the "ting ting ting" back and forth exchanges you see in fencing bouts.

Of course, epee fencing is a different matter altogether (first point to connect wins, no questions asked), but that's beside the point.

And of course, there's still a great difference between fencing and Flynning (fencing motions are much smaller and less exaggerated because only a small contact is needed to count as a beat or parry and it's consequently much faster than you see in the movies) but there's still SOME overlap and I think emphasising "Flynning has absolutely nothing in common with fencing" is inaccurate.
07:21:29 PM Jun 19th 2015
edited by manhandled
Is it possible for sword fights to get drawn out because both fighters are that good that they can block/deflect all attacks, with the fight ending only when a lapse in either combatant's defense occurs?
02:32:24 AM Aug 6th 2014
There's a small Assassin's Creed mention about how much it averts the trope. I'm no expert, so I'm not sure what the standard is for Flynning versus real sword fighting. Here's an example fight: But depending on how you play the game, there's a lot of loud sword clashing with comparatively little actual death, even though you're sword fighting to kill.

So you're swinging around a sword and clanging against the opponent's an awful lot, with no real danger of breaking or dulling your sword. If you play defensive, you can do this for a really long time—just catching and deflecting your opponent's sword with your own.

Is that Flynning? Or is it closer to a real sword fight?
02:50:03 AM Aug 6th 2014
That is so fast that I can barely see it.
02:52:39 AM Aug 6th 2014
03:18:09 AM Aug 6th 2014
I've pulled the entry since it's a ZCE anyhow:

Maybe this forum topic can work out a better example.
10:35:48 AM Jan 12th 2013

Deleting this. Add examples from there to here if necessary.
06:18:29 PM Jan 12th 2013
Don't. They're not the same thing. The YKTTW is basically an Artistic License sports, while Flynning is about actual combat.

Now, whether the other thing is tropable? That's another question. But they definitely aren't the same thing at all.
08:19:07 PM Jan 12th 2013
Got it. Thanks for the second opinion. As stated, I deleted that. It was old, but I wasn't sure if the examples were related.
09:09:25 AM Dec 1st 2012
Wall of natter detected. Needs rewriting:

  • Referenced in "Prince Caspian"
    "It was not like the silly fighting you see with broad swords on the stage. It was not even like the rapier fighting which you sometimes see rather better done. This was real broad-sword fighting."
    • Unfortunately it then goes to explain how in this kind of swordfighting you aim for the enemy's unarmoured legs, and they must quickly jump out of the way. Any real swordfighter knows that no matter what the style, sacrificing your balance for acrobatics is the worst tactic imaginable.
    • It does, however unintentionally, point towards a valid technique. When using two-handed swords, going for an adversary's legs is a bad idea. Your upper openings are unprotected, and your sword makes a diagonal line towards your adversary while theirs makes a horizontal one. In short, striking to the legs opens you up and reduces your range. The correct response to this, according to the medieval German style, is to step out of the way and strike to their head.
    • The exact type of sword-fighting is not well described, since C.S. Lewis has the characters in hauberks of mail but most illustrations show something that looks like an arming sword being used in one hand. It doesn't matter, as 1) nearly every style of swordplay would have the opponent simply avoid the low cut while using their greater reach to counter high, 2) Edmund is supposedly at a disadvantage when doing this to Trumpkin, since he's taller, raising the question of why try that technique, 2a) and the mechanics of that would mean Trumpkin should have a hell of a time trying to get close enough to try it, and, 3) why are they risking a medieval form of I Just Shot Marvin in the Face with deadly weapons? C.S. Lewis never describes them checking their movements to avoid devastating, crippling injuries, something that should have been done even if they were too reckless to find old training gear in the castle, use cut branches, or just realize this is a terrible idea. Aside from damaging their gear, they could sideline, maim, or kill a friend. Presumably a former Narnian king and warrior dwarf learned how to respect their weapons at some point.
    • Lewis might actually be partially justified, wound pattern analysis of the remains of the dead recovered from the Battle of Visby shows that the majority had some form of leg injury, in most cases not sufficient to be life threatening especially through armour, but maybe just enough to knock someone off their feet, where upon they can be dispatched them with a blow to the head. At its heart its a technique to get through hordes of red shirts quickly.
01:43:54 PM Oct 21st 2012
Mercilessly cut this load out of Star Wars Lightsabre Natter:

  • Actually, the initial Star Wars standoff between Vader and Kenobi was fairly decent swordfighting, both opponents watching for an opening before attacking, jockeying for position. It Got Worse from there, though.
  • Taken Up to Eleven when one of the duelists have two lightsabers, and they just use the second one to miror the first one. Especially obvious when they have a stand off with blades crossed, it never occurs to them to take the second saber and go for the head.
  • Flynning is remotely justifiable in lightsaber combat, since lightsabers do not have crossguards (or indeed any protective measures), despite a much bigger need for them. Traditional fencing techniques would quickly result in the dismemberment of both combatants. Another potential justification is that the Laser Blade of a lightsaber presumably has no weight to it, possibly allowing for a lot of fancy moves you wouldn't be able to do with a weighty metal blade.
  • Some of the Jedi *cough* Anakin *cough* also have a tendency to stretch out their arm and point the tip of their lightsaber at the opponent's throat, holding the tip about six inches away. Then they act surprised when the opponent jumps away or pulls out a weapon of their own and the two inches they gain by lunging don't help. Ahsoka actually did it right early on, holding her lightsaber lengthwise against the enemy's throat with her arm bent so she could extend it, only she held it backwards.
    • It is arguably handwaved in the Star Wars verse as The Force is said to partially control its users
  • One thing that should not be present in light sabre combat, however, is feints. Against a person able to use the Force properly, a feint won't work, and against someone who can't use the Force properly, they can't be needed.
    • Not quite; the Force might be in conflict with their other senses, and in the middle of a fight to the death even a master might distracted, to saying nothing of the many novices and intermediates that pop up in the series, or characters like General Grevious who are master lightsaber fighters but cannot use the Force at all. There is still a level of skill involved and though lightsaber combat relies on prescience, some Jedi are more prescient than others, and many that are skilled with a lightsaber are less likely to rely on that power. Essentially, there are lots of people in-between those two extremes.
  • Thoroughly mocked by this video
06:06:34 PM Aug 25th 2012
There's an intentional difference between choreographed/theatrical/TV/film swordfighting, and the "sport" of fencing. "Flynning" is not an accurate portrayal of the sport, and it's not trying to be. The goal of theatrical swordplay is to entertain, and to tell a story. Although it is true that even some swordfights for TV/film are poorly/terribly choreographed, the overall goal is still the same. Roberta Brown (who has experience in both the sport of fencing AND choreographing swordplay) gives an excellent explanation about the differences between the two:

Amy Boyle also gives some insight about the differences in target areas:
06:09:02 PM Aug 25th 2012
...Wrong link for the second video. It's actually this one:
04:27:58 AM Apr 28th 2012
The Samurai fighting in the Music Video for "Too Close," by Alex Clare is painful.
04:53:58 AM Feb 24th 2012
Does anyone know what broadsword fighting is meant to look like? The swordfighting in Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Game of Thrones looks pretty good to me, but I know absolutely nothing about that style. Can anyone help?
06:23:41 AM Mar 12th 2012
edited by LooneyToons
Check out the archived discussion (the button up at the top right under the "collapse" and "back" buttons). In the months (years!) after I wrote this trope, there was discussion back and forth on that very topic. I don't know if any of the video links are still active, but the text should help.
09:02:52 AM Jul 13th 2011
Is the Princess Bride epic sword fight at all realistic? I'm not an expert but it doesn't appear as flashy as most flynning examples, though the end result is pretty similar.
09:07:24 AM Jul 13th 2011
It was made up by the two actors rather than anyone with actual fencing experience, so I'm gonna go with 'no'. Cool as hell, yes, but not realistic.
07:44:50 PM Dec 26th 2011
The two actors were taught how to fence for the film, but they pretty much just run through a basic warmup drill.
06:22:22 AM Mar 12th 2012
Oddly enough, all the citations they make in the dialogue are real — those are all real masters of swordsmanship and various tactics/moves/whatnot. William Goldman (author of both the original book and the screenplay) definitely Did His Research. Even so, IIRC, he always intended for it to look like the classic movies anyway.
09:36:56 PM Jan 7th 2011
Didn't want to add to the natter, but I just a thought about lightsaber fighting — the blade is made of energy, right? So the only part of the weapon that has any weight to it is the handle. Is it possible that the decreased weight / balance / whatever would alter the way you fought with a weapon like that? It strikes me you could do a lot of moves quicker if 80% of your weapon doesn't weigh anything, so it would lead to a fighting style with a lot of quick attacks and the opportunity for flashy moves that would look a lot like flynning. Sort of an in-universe justified trope, I guess?
11:45:54 AM Dec 9th 2011 This is more Flynning for lightsabers. And it's also Instrument of Murder
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