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Skallagrim is the YouTube channel run by Skallagrim Nilsson, aka Skall, a YouTuber who has, in his own words, "a camera and a passion for swords, knives, firearms and other weapons / tools, as well as gaming and other random stuff."

Of these, Skallagrim focuses primarily on bladed weapons, offering reviews, demonstrations and testing, myth debunking, and critiques of fantasy weapons based on Skall's experience as a practitioner of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA). He also demonstrates basic self-defense techniques. He employs friendliness and snarky humor while offering informative content. His spouse, Cara, appears when they are part of Skall's demonstrations.


Skallagrim provides examples and discusses the following tropes:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: While he loves making fun of fictional conventions regarding weapons and fighting, he often points out one place where he accepts the inaccuracies by necessity: telegraphing or overly slow movements in video games. The reason is that if they were one hundred percent accurate, then it'd be nearly impossible to actually play them due to how fast the reaction time is needed.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: He owns a few, and how sharp a sword comes is one of his criteria for reviewing swords. Of note is his Albion Knecht, which he and his friends call a "cheat code for cutting." He later gets the Albion Principe, which outdoes it.
  • Anti-Climax: Brought up in his widely requested The Lord of the Rings video, where he admitted viewers would likely be disappointed because he didn't have much to say about the films' weapon designs. Nonetheless, he still gives a reasonable analysis of the weapons in the series and mostly ends up giving a clean bill of health (except for the Morgul Blade and the Witch-King's Epic Flail).
  • Armor Is Useless:
    • Averted all over the place. Many of his videos emphasize the usefulness of armor, not only in historical settings but also in modern-day martial arts.
    • In this short, Skall shows that, contrary to popular belief, the trope is at least Older Than Print, with Medieval artworks depicting swords cutting through mail and even plate armor just like games, films and shows today do.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The basis for his "Fantasy Weapons Scrutinized" and "Weirdest Knives" series. Then there's also the strategy of trying to "end him rightly".
  • Badass Normal: Deconstructed in this video, in which Skallagrim analyzes fight scenes from several animated DC films; in fictional settings where superpowers exist, characters like Nightwing will be established as just (badass) regular humans, but then subjected to attacks that would realistically result in serious injury no matter how tough they are, judging by the damage to the surroundings (or even just by plain common sense), only to be no worse for wear and continue like hardly anything happened. Skallagrim's point is that you can't have your cake and eat it too by claiming someone is this trope but then essentially giving them Super-Toughness in practice.
  • Beard of Barbarism: Skall's signature Viking-style beard matches his credentials as a weapons expert. Several viewers have asked whether it qualifies as neck protection.
  • BFS:
    • Pretty much every real-life example of such swords has been at least discussed at some point; Skall even owns a few accurate reproductions.
    • A more traditional example occurs when Skall critiques Cloud's Buster Sword and Guts' Dragonslayer in one episode of his "Fantasy Weapons Scrutinized" series.
  • Blade Lock: In How to defeat the dramatic sword clash, Skall notes how absurd this trope is in real life and explains several moves you can perform from a bind (the technical term for when blades come into contact) while demonstrating them on both Cara and a dummy named Bob.
  • Boring, but Practical: He's very much in favor of this, particularly in his "Fantasy Weapons" videos, where series like The Lord of the Rings films tend to get a thumbs-up from him for sticking to basic tried-and-true historical weapon designs.
  • Brain Bleach: Says he needs some after (very briefly) analyzing a fight scene from Highlander: The Source. Anyone who watched the film can relate.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Owns several maces and similar weapons in addition to swords and has gone into detail about their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Skall has said several times that he isn't a fan of this trope: while he understands why creators may want to depict fantasy characters in skimpy outfits, he would prefer if they didn't pretend like it's armor.
  • Cool Helmet: His avatar wears a helmet based on a Migration Period original, with striking details such as a nasal bar incorporating "goggles" and gold appliqué eyebrows. He would eventually get an actual replica of this helmet, which he considers one of the crown jewels of his collection.
  • Cool Sword: Collects them and has some standouts. Despite his critique of fantasy designs, he does enjoy fancy, ornate swords that don't sacrifice practicality for beauty.
  • Crossover: He appears on Lindybeige's channel via Chroma Key to complain about discussing such a mundane topic as the historical value of salt. Lloyd returns the favor by appearing in his video about the comparative advantages of straight versus curved blades, saying that the type of blade doesn't matter as much as getting the first hit until Skall gets fed up and ends him rightly.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Skall's humor is often characterized by sarcasm, dry jokes and snide side comments, and his tone when making jokes doesn't sound very different from his regular speech.
  • Deceptively Simple Demonstration:
    • Skallagrim makes it clear that while slashing or smashing various objects like fruits and glass might be visually impressive, one should be wary about taking it as an indication of how actually useful something would be in a factual context. A weapon breaking through actual armor or armor deflecting the strike? Impressive. Cutting through a watermelon, which can be accomplished even by a dull-blade Kukri given sufficient force? Not so much.
    • As for the trick of cutting a 0.4 mm steel plate in half with a katana, it does require plenty of skill to do so cleanly and without damaging the sword, but that plate is flat, relatively thin, held in place by a sturdy frame, and struck edge-on. That's nothing like trying to cut through armor, a sword, or a gun frame. Skall can point to fellow YouTuber Thegn Thrand for proof that the katana isn't the only sword that can cut such a plate: Thrand—responding to a viewer who claimed that a traditionally made Viking sword wouldn't be able to cut a 20 ga. steel plate in half, but a traditionally made katana would—decided to do one better and cut through the plate using a Mycenaean-style bronze sword made by Neil Burridge. The bronze sword's edge was mostly undamaged, and while Thrand had to settle for cutting through a six inch wide plate instead of one that was a whole foot across, that was simply because he knew that the less massive, one-handed sword he used would have less momentum than the larger, two-handed katana.
  • Diagonal Cut: Skall and his friends have performed this trope in several videos. One particularly impressive example can be found here, though not by Skall himself.
  • Double Standard: Discussed in his panel interview of Nicole Smith (Blood & Iron Martial Arts) and Brittany Reeves (Mordhau Historical Combat), where they note that men will often assume a woman in a HEMA match doesn't stand a chance because she's shorter, lighter, or less muscular than her opponent, yet if they see a male fighter who's that small they'll be much more willing to believe that he could have what it takes.
  • Exact Words: In one of his shopkeeper parodies, A weeb walks into a blade shop, the weeb in question eventually just tells the shopkeeper to bring him the sword with "the nastiest cut". The shopkeeper comes back an instant later with a piece of cardboard in the shape of a blade, saying that "the only thing nastier than a paper cut is a cardboard cut", and runs him out of the store.
  • Fun with Subtitles: In Light Bow / Medieval Crossbow Tested on Ballistic Gel and Padded Jacket, whenever the crossbow is loaded, the subtitles have things like "Clank", or "Satisfying Clank" or "THAT CLANK YO", as well as other subtitle notes.
  • Glass Cannon: The Albion Principe. It earned its title as the best cutting weapon in Skall's collection, but the thin cutting edge is also remarkably fragile, and actually got damaged when Skall misaligned the edge during a cutting test. In a later video where he tested weapons on a zombie head, the damaged area broke off entirely when Skall cut into the zombie head with that exact part of the blade.
  • Guns vs. Swords: As part of his shopkeeper parody videos, he has argued (and made fun of) both sides of this argument. See here and here.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Discussed in A "tough guy" walks into a blade shop. The "tough guy" tries to claim guns to be the best weapons at everything, and brings up silencers after the shopkeeper cites stealth as a situation where a gun's loudness is a liability. The shopkeeper then explains that while suppressors do reduce noise, they don't make the gun quiet enough for stealth, and the resulting sound is still very distinctive.
  • Hypothetical Fight Debate:
    • Like many students of historical martial arts, things like the "Knight versus Samurai" debate tend to annoy him because people who pose this question often fail to specify all kinds of variables such as the time period, social rank, and wealth of the combatants, where the fight would take place, what equipment they would be allowed to use, etc. He doesn't find it particularly useful to discuss a fight between two warriors who were unlikely to encounter each other in the first place, nor does he think this kind of thought exercise necessarily leads to a better understanding of any warrior culture.
    • Subverted in A "tough guy" walks into a blade shop, where after having all of his attempts to disparage melee weapons refuted, the "tough guy" starts proposing a hypothetical scenario where he holds the shopkeeper at gunpoint... then actually pulls a gun on him, making the scenario no longer hypothetical. Fortunately, the shopkeeper's assistant disarms him right away.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: In What unholy tacticool mall ninja edgelord trash is this?, Skallagrim points out that even if you suspend your disbelief for an Absurdly Sharp Blade, it should still be physically impossible to completely slice in half an object that’s thicker than the length of the blade.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Discussed frequently. Skall isn't a fan of stylized weapons that fly in the face of all realism but will often analyze them in detail because it's fun to listen to. He does claim to appreciate, for example, the weapons in Monster Hunter for being so patently silly and creative in their design.
  • Improvised Weapon: Skall notes the ease at creating these is one reason many weapon bans are ultimately pointless: if someone is that determined to harm someone with a weapon, there are numerous perfectly legal ways to create equally lethal options from readily available, unrestricted items that if anything is far easier to obtain than the banned weapon would be if it was legal.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Happens frequently, to Skall's chagrin, with all the discussion of "thrusting" and "penetration" that comes up. One of the highest innuendos-per-minute scores comes in his "Scale Armor" video, where he demonstrates the titular armor... using Cara as an armor dummy. And at one point Skall has to explain the target of his strike by placing his hand on the armor's chest area...
    Skall: (preparing to test the armor with one of his swords) Don't worry, I'll be careful.
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: In "Yes, Women Do Sword Fight" with Nicole Smith and Brittany Reeves, Smith talks about how certain men in HEMA are so afraid of appearing weak because of losing a match to a woman that they'll use excessive roughness to try and gain the advantage. It's potentially dangerous for everybody, and it's demeaning to the hard work that a woman puts into her training if it's assumed that she couldn't have won unless her opponent sucked. Skall shares his annoyance at how two men engaging in a practice match are treated as individuals whose abilities and performance only reflect on them, yet when a match happens between a man and a woman, people will view them both as representatives of their entire sex.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Averted. Though Skall acknowledges katanas as good swords for their intended purpose and historical context, he has a strong dislike for this trope and its associated memes and often begins his reviews of Japanese swords by saying that he has little interest in them. He does not consider them inherently superior and will not hesitate to mock this attitude or people who believe it any chance he gets. He even made a whole video about it.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: With so much talk of "thrusting" and "penetration" going on, Skall is generally good about heading off the obvious jokes before commenters can make them, if only out of necessity.
  • Look Behind You: At the end of Swordsmanship: The basic types of defense, Skall's Evil Twin snaps and pulls a gun on him. Skall distracts him by saying "Watch out, flying pommel!" and smacks him down while his back is turned.
  • Martial Arts Staff: Examined in his "Sword vs. Guard" video, where he analyzes how an unarmed foe with a staff would do against an armored one with a sword. It turns out, the advantage is immensely in the favor of the staff user, because 1) the staff's effective range allows them to keep any sword user at a distance, 2) the ratio of exertion required vs. output in force for each weapon greatly favors the staff, 3) a staff user can jab multiple times much quicker than a swordsman can swing a heavy blade, which makes it very difficult to defend against and 4) a heavy staff of strong wood can put out immense force when swung with any degree of strength, even one-handed.
  • Mutual Kill: In "The myth of the easy one-hit kill in sword fighting", Skall explains exactly how and why this could happen in sword-fighting (also briefly mentioning the "stopping power" of guns for the same reason). According to him, most sparring matches between novices (assuming they avoid simple Flynning) would have ended this way had they been real.
  • Mutually Assured Destruction: This short proposes that the trope applies just as much to knives as it does nuclear weapons, because a Knife Fight is almost certain to result in a Mutual Kill.
  • Never Bring a Gun to a Knife Fight:
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Fistfight: Deconstructed. Skallagrim has debunked videos of dubious disarming techniques and reviewed actual historical documentation of unarmed self-defense against weapons. He stresses that while there are unarmed self-defense techniques that can work, they should be considered a last-ditch move, as the odds are still against you, especially if the weapon user has proper training.
  • Offhand Backhand: In This move is ridiculous... here's what works!, Skall explains that this trope doesn't work very well in a sword fight because it results in you having less reach than your attacker due to not being able to fully extend your arm. If you need a fictional character to pull a flashy move in order to deal with an enemy sneaking up on them, he instead suggests having them pivot to quickly turn around, which also creates distance and thus gives them a little more time to react.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: If his commenters know his legal name, no one seems to address him as such.
    Skallagrim: I don't care about my birth name, and you don't have to either.
  • Parrying Bullets: In Can I "parry" a Medieval crossbow bolt with a sword?, he demonstrates that it is possible, but very difficult, to block a crossbow bolt with a sword. He recommends stepping to the side at the same time to try dodging the bolt in case the sword misses it.
  • Pistol-Whipping:
    • In "Empty Gun vs. Sword?", Skall's springboard is the final fight in Sukiyaki Western Django, which The Gunman catches Yoshitsune's katana strike using the frame of his just-emptied revolver. Skall points out that a sword would never be able to chop that deeply into the frame of a revolver, which is thick steel, but more to the point he shows how difficult it would be to block or parry a sword strike using a handgun, or to close the distance enough to bludgeon a swordsman with one's pistol. He certainly wouldn't try to catch a cut under the barrel near the trigger guard like The Gunman does, since that exposes the hand to being cut, nor is he confident in his ability to stop a cut dead with a static block; his preference is to dodge to one side while using his barrel for a deflecting parry at the same time, enabling him to close in and pistol whip his opponent in the head. Success is doubtful, however, since the sword has so much more reach and can quickly change trajectory to slip past the tiny area on the gun that Skall can use for parrying. A decent swordsman would kill him before he could ever club them with his handgun. It's a different story with a long musket, however, since even without a bayonet it has reach, a large area for parrying, and enough heft to inflict severe bludgeoning damage.
    • Discussed in A "tough guy" walks into a blade shop, where the "tough guy" tries to use this trope to argue that carrying a melee weapon just for stealth is pointless. The shopkeeper proceeds to ask him if he's seriously trying to claim that such an improvised and short bludgeon would work as effectively as a dedicated melee weapon.
  • Power Fist: In Knuckle dusters: underrated or overdesigned?, he presents his thoughts on the practicality and effectiveness of the title weapon in a self-defense context, and shares insights into how the traditional design could be improved.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In his video on Monster Hunter, he admitted that he couldn't critique it from a practical perspective because it was so ridiculous that it's incredibly obvious that the creators had no interest whatsoever in creating something that looked like a person could use it.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Has some nitpicks about how this trope is used in films and television, pointing out that most motor functions are focused in the cerebellum near the back of the skull and parts of the brain other than the frontal lobes, and that it seems unlikely to him that shooting or stabbing a zombie in the forehead would incapacitate it in the same way as a human since they've lost most of their higher brain functions already. He also notes an example from The Walking Dead where a character stabs a zombie in the head with a small knife which immediately kills it, saying that even if you could punch through the bone of the skull with such a flimsy thing, the damage would be superficial and insufficient.
  • Running Gag:
    • Ever since his video on a bizarre fighting technique that involves unscrewing the pommel of your sword and throwing it at the opponent, pommel-throwing and the phrase "end him rightly" is mentioned in the comments of nearly every one of his videos. Even those that don't have anything to do with swords. This joke has even spilled over to other YouTube channels like Schola Gladiatoria.
    • In his first impression video for the Xiphos sword and the A&A knightly pole, Skall takes note of this joke about the pole's pommel-like attachment — and then immediately lampshades his own playing along with it.
    • Skall will occasionally point out how his Albion Caithness flips the bird, what with its pommel shape.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: In Swordsmanship: The basic types of defense, Skall's Evil Twin is named Llaks, albeit this is only revealed at the very end of the video.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: At the start of "Empty Gun vs. Sword?", Skall pops up from the bottom of the frame and points a musket right in the camera's face. Later in the same video, he attaches a bayonet and pokes it at the camera. (The viewers were lucky he didn't throw a pommel at them.)
    "Suprise!"
  • Self-Deprecation: At the start of "Everybody Fails," he clarifies to his viewers that "I know that I’ve gotten fat again. Alright?" The picture he shows is a hilariously overweight black bear in someone’s backyard with the caption, "Bro. Roll me over to your garbage cans."
  • Simple, yet Awesome: He greatly prefers this kind of sword or other weapons compared to the alternative, and praises the sword designs of The Lord of the Rings for either sticking fairly close to actual historical weapons or designing something new in a way where form follows function rather than the other way around.
  • Slow Motion: Some of his videos involving testing weapons are filmed at least partly in slow motion. This seems to be almost a requirement for videos where the target is water bottles. Got much better once his videos began using actual slow-motion cameras rather than slowing down standard frame rate video.
  • Spoiler Title: One of the zombie head videos is titled I ruined the Principe and ended a zombie rightly. As one comment notes, knowing what will happen makes each cut harder to watch as the anticipation builds up.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Skall discusses with Nicole Smith and Brittany Reeves how this attitude persists both in the HEMA community and the culture at large, the topical example being Daily Wire host Andrew Klavan's complaints about Queen Calanthe and women fighting with swords in The Witcher (2019). Nicole and Brittany have seen and experienced the way that some men in HEMA don't take female fencers seriously, whether by claiming that medals won in women's-only tournaments "mean nothing", or by not giving a female student the kind of respect they give to a male student by default until she's gone out of her way to prove herself.
  • Sticks to the Back: Mentions this trope in his video on bucklers, specifically that a point in favor of bucklers is that this trope does not happen in real life, making full-sized shields more of a pain to carry around in a non-military context.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Discussed.
    • Often points out how weapons and techniques from fiction, especially fantasy, would or wouldn't work in real life. One subject he brings up a few times in this regard is the BFS, noting how heavy it would be in real life, and even if granted the conceit that it's supernaturally light or the user has super-strength, the design is inefficient due to the laws of physics.
    • In "Being a Time Traveler in the Middle Ages - Probably Sucks!", he deflates the classic Connecticut Yankee fantasy of a modern time traveler going back to Medieval Europe and making himself the boss using modern weapons and technology. Topics would include the Middle English language, lack of currency and knowledge of prices, suspicious lack of any social connections, funny clothes, ammo limitations if you brought a gun, and your story sounding like you're in league with the devil.
  • Sword Plant: In "Everybody Fails... And That’s Okay", Skall has a moment of frustration after a series of bad tatami cuts. He puts the point of his Chinese longsword on the ground and rests his forehead on the pommel, letting out a long sigh. After a few more attempts, he accidentally knocks the tatami off the stand without cutting through; this time he sticks his sword into the ground so that it stands on its own and says, "fuck this" while he walks over to get the tatami mat. He lampshades that "That was a terrible thing to do, by the way. [...] Particularly, it sounded like I was hitting a rock or something."
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Deconstructed in "The Weapon Triangle in Fire Emblem - Realistic?", where he breaks down the actual advantages each weapon has over one other; and concludes that skill, experience, and physical fitness greatly outweigh the merits of said advantages.
  • Take That, Audience!: Skall's shopkeeper sketches are meant as parodies of specific crowds within his following. A weeb walks into a blade shop mocks weebs and the idea that Katanas Are Just Better; A "tough guy" walks into a blade shop mocks pretentious gun-toting types and the idea that guns are the best weapons at everything; and A sword nerd walks into a gun shop mocks knight fanboys, the Honor Before Reason mindset and the idea of guns supposedly not taking any skill to use effectively.
  • That Came Out Wrong: In his video review of the Knecht Kriegsmesser by Albion, he commented that you would have to "pound [the guard] quite hard to get it off." He then comments, "that sounds... Wrong."
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Made a video showing how this actually can work. The key is not to toss it so it spins end-over-end as seen in the movies, but to grip and throw it like a spear. Nevertheless, the fanbase agrees that throwing the pommel would indeed work every time.
  • Wall of Weapons: In the shopkeeper sketches, the backgrounds for both the blade shop and the gun shop have a wide array of their respective weapons displayed on the wall.
  • Weapon Across the Shoulder: One of his various poses, as with the Gallowglass in "Everybody Fails".
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: "I was born in Europe, but you don't need to know where because it doesn't matter." He doesn't identify with his place of birth and says all you need to know is that he lives in Canada. Judging by the accent, it's very likely Bergen, Norway. Most viewers automatically assumed he was a Viking (or at least Norse in some degree) because of the beard.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Played straight in his early blade shop videos, but averted in A "tough guy" walks into a blade shop, where the shopkeeper pronounces "Ye Olde Blade Shoppe" correctly.
  • You Get What You Pay For: Repeatedly mentions this in regards to swords and other weapons, as typically the cheaper the weapon, the worse the build quality, and generally the worse quality steel or metal made of. However, when it's Subverted, he will mention it and praise the weapon for bang for your buck.

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