1. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Need some opinions about a fighting stance description.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Malisky, Aug 3, 2016.

    I'm kind of new to the genre of martial arts and I've been having trouble describing some scenes.
    I have a reference picture of what I'm trying to describe but I'll post it later (if all fails) because I want to know if what I'm describing is good enough to be "seen" by the reader. This is the scene:

    "He unsheathed his pair of butterfly swords that were concealed under his loose sleeves and after a well composed motion, he transitioned smoothly into a sideways fighting position. His front leg was stretched out straight and slightly placed behind the vertical line of his upright torso, while his back leg was bent, giving him a solid stance that made him look like an arched bow, ready to fire. He held the hilt of the leading sword at the level of his waist, blade parallel to his front leg, while the other one, he held in a reverse grip behind him at the level of his head, blade parallel to the ground."

    Is this too complicated? Is it nicely written? Furthermore, do you think that a description like this is too much and better avoided or do you like "seeing" exactly what happens?
     
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  2. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I think I can picture the stance from what you've written - I know it from yoga ('double block' pose - not sure of the technical name - and obviously that's without weapons).

    I wouldn't say it's nicely written though, mostly because I think it's too much description and better avoided - there's a lot of technical, physical detail that would probably just break my engagement when I'd rather be thinking about the character and the mood of the scene. The part I liked was the simile, 'like an arched bow, ready to fire'. IMO, you'd be best just saying something like, 'He unsheathed his swords and got into a fighting stance, like an arched bow, ready to fire.' (obviously more elegantly than that). Let the reader imagine the rest for themselves; does it really matter if their mental image isn't exactly the same as yours?

    Small side-note: my martial arts training taught me never to fully straighten a limb (opens you up to easy hyperextension injuries to what joint you straighten). Only speaking from my experience though. I know your sentence just said 'stretched out straight', which doesn't necessarily mean 'fully straight', and I'm probably just pedantically quibbling, but that's what immediately entered my brain :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2016
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  3. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    Forgive the very crude drawing, but this is what I see when I read it:

    [​IMG]

    The description isn't bad, but I'd simplify it a little bit. Edits in blue

    My 2 yen, hope this helps.
     
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  4. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Thank you for your insight and sharing of knowledge upon martial arts. I've never taken lessons myself so your information is valuable and greatly appreciated! :) I agree that the description might be too much (and to be frank, way too difficult for me to explain nicely. It took me so much time to put it into words that in the end I got out of my original inspiration), but I want to describe at least to an extend some scenes in order to show the beauty of the art behind it. Or maybe I'm just testing my writing skills. I hope that in the future I will come up with descriptions that balance better between technicality and beauty in writing.
     
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  5. Seraph751
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    Seraph751 If I fell down the rabbit hole...

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    He Unsheathing a pair of butterfly swords that were concealed from their places under his loose sleeves and after a well composed motion, he transitioned smoothly he fell back into sideways fighting position resting stance, making himself a narrow target*. His front leg was stretched out straight and slightly placed behind the vertical line of his upright torso, while his back leg was bent, giving him a solid stance that made him look like an arched bow, ready to fire.* He held the hilt of the leading sword at the level of his waist, blade parallel to his front leg, while the other one, he held in a reverse grip behind him at the level of his head, blade parallel to the ground."

    *If you are working with swords this is a necessity!

    *His front leg was stretched out straight and slightly placed behind the vertical line of his upright torso, while his back leg was bent, giving him a solid stance that made him look like an arched bow, ready to fire. This could be considered a resting stance, or the basic stance you take before you start moving in martial arts.

    *
    His front leg was stretched out straight and slightly placed behind the vertical line of his upright torso, while his back leg was bent, giving him a solid stance that made him look like an arched bow, ready to fire. As a martial artist, I do not like to tense up my body. It slows down your reflexes. Muscle memory is faster than you walking yourself through the steps of tense muscle group A, B, and C to move in this way. You want your body loose and limber especially with sword wielding. The more relaxed your muscles are the better. Not to say that you cannot tense, but that is usually to add more impact to your blows or movement. If you are concerned about the ability to be hit, hit, or how they move, then consider your character may have received rigorous sparring time.

    Hope this helps some!
     
  6. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    I'm dumbfounded! That's the stance! :cheerleader:
    Also, your edit makes my scene read much better. Thanks! I'll re-edit the parts that are unclear and re-send it.
     
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  7. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    I agree with Sifunkle almost verbatim. I don't really care exactly what he looks like, and I'd skip over it if I came across it in a book.
    I liked the simile, though. Keep that and play with it.
     
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  8. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    "He unsheathed his pair of butterfly swords concealed under his loose sleeves and transitioned smoothly into a sideways fighting position. His front leg was stretched out seemingly straight, while his back leg was bent, giving him a solid stance that made him look like an arched bow, ready to fire. He held the hilt of the leading sword at the level of his waist, blade parallel to his front leg, while the other was held in a reverse grip behind him at the level of his head, blade parallel to the ground."

    I left out the torso position and wrote "seemingly" straight, since it's considered as a stance flaw to have it completely straightened out. Can you still see the stance? Does this read better?
     
  9. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Thanks for your feedback and knowledge sharing.

    To tell you the truth, I didn't know this was a necessity. (Good to know now). I just picked intuitively a picture from google that seemed more fitting for my scene and tried to describe it. I didn't even know that it was called a resting stance.

    Although your description is very explanatory, since I want this book to be understood by people that may know or may not know things about martial arts, I prefer to describe what happens in the scene as how one sees it, than with terminology and logic behind the stance. Maybe, later on I will get to explain (most likely I will find an excuse in order to do so) part of the logic behind some movements and stances, but it's too early for that since it's the beginning. Maybe, I' ll put in some training scenes in order to do so. I don't know yet. I' ll see where the story leads me.

    Thanks for explaining these things to me. This knowledge is valuable and helps me understand martial arts better, which is important. :)
     
  10. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    By the way. Since we already got into it, this is the pic:

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Lol. Just noticed that I read the picture wrong. Small correction:

    "He unsheathed his pair of butterfly swords concealed under his loose sleeves and transitioned smoothly into a sideways fighting position. His front leg was stretched out seemingly straight, while his back leg was bent, giving him a solid stance that made him look like an arched bow, ready to fire. He held the hilt of the leading sword at the level of his waist, blade tip facing upwards, parallel to his front leg, while the other was held in a reverse grip right above it on eye level, blade parallel to the ground."
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2016
  12. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    One thing to be careful of, since you don't really know much about your topic (that's not an insult), is not to try and get too technical. It won't help the readers who don't know about sword fighting, and you're bound to mess up somewhere and upset the ones who do. Describing a stance is one thing, but if/when you get to the fight, you'd probably be best off going with "flurries of blows", "rapid parries", and "opponent slipped, giving him an opening for the fatal strike" sort of thing rather than trying to describe the fight blow by blow.

    Or make good friends with someone who really knows the style of swordplay you're portraying, and buy them a nice dinner or two in return for helping you with fight choreography.
     
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  13. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    I'll try to keep it as simple as possible. Besides, once the fighting action begins, the pacing picks up otherwise it loses it's effect. I won't be having long, step by step choreographies. Too tiring to write, too tiring to read. After looking at this description again, I feel the urge to butcher it some more. Maybe it's indeed unnecessary to be so technical. I'll try to make it shorter and more dynamic.
     
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  14. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've made a few suggestions...hope they help.

    Years ago, my children attended martial arts classes, which I would see the last few minutes of whilst waiting to collect them; as a result, I would see the sensei demonstrate moves. It was like ballet. He never seemed to move fast, but he flowed like a river, body under perfect control, limbs always precisely placed to execute the throw. A bit later, I drove past him as he was walking to work - as a security guard - and he moved like an old, arthritic man. Don't know if this helps?
     
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  15. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Thanks for your suggestion and your entertaining story. :)

    All this time (since I first posted this) I've been re-editing non stop. Keeping some of your ideas in mind:

    "He unsheathed the pair of butterfly swords he concealed under his loose sleeves (meaning that the butterfly swords were regularly hidden there) and transitioned smoothly into a dynamic defense position. One leg was stretched out forwards, while the one at the back was bent, giving him a solid stance that made him look like an arched bow, ready to fire. His blades were arranged in a circular display, holding the hilt of the leading sword at the height of his waist and the other one, on eye level in a reverse grip, parallel to the ground."

    I also tried:
    "One leg was stretched out forwards, while the one at the back was bent, giving him a solid stance that made him look like an arched bow, ready to fire."

    What concerns me with this version, is that the subject might be confused to be the "stance" instead of "him", meaning that instead of having him looking like an arched bow, we get the stance looking like an arched bow.
     
  16. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    I agree with others earlier that theres too much description, also words like 'transitioned smoothly ' read like a training manual not a description of an exciting fight scene, I'd say less is more...

    "ripping his butterly swords from his sleeve sheaves he dropped into the dynamic defence position, body quivering like an arched bow ready to fire, one sword reversed at eye level, and the other ready at the waist..."
     
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  17. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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  18. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    Also whats a butterfly sword ? I've gone across butterfly knives (aka the basilong) but you wouldnt keep them in sleeve sheaths. If its not critical you might want to just say "ripping his swords from their sheafs"
     
  19. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    Getting a real Boris Vallejo / Frank Frazetta feel off of that...
     
  20. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Combining possibilities:

    "He unsheathed the pair of butterfly swords concealed under his loose sleeves and transitioned smoothly into a well-balanced fighting stance, like an arched bow, ready to fire. His blades were arranged in a circular display; one held parallel to the body apt to guard, the other held horizontally in a reverse grip on eye level, apt to slash."
     
  21. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    They are Chinese short swords, that usually come in pairs. They were used by assassins due to their light weight and small size that made them easily concealable. Check it out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_sword

    This is a more traditional design. [​IMG]
     
  22. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    Still too descriptive and wordy for me

    "Unsheathing his butterfly swords, he moved swiftly into a well balanced fighting stance, his body like an arched bow ready to fire, his blades in circular display one apt to guard and one apt to slash "
     
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  23. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    I like your thinking but it's missing the pacing I want to give. Sure I want to make it less wordy, but I don't want to surpass on basic info. But it's still inspiring. After your latest post I've come up with this:

    "He unsheathed the pair of butterfly swords concealed under his loose sleeves and transitioned smoothly into a well-balanced fighting stance, like an arched bow, ready to fire. His blades were arranged in a circular display; one held vertically, apt to guard, the other held in a reverse grip horizontally, set to slash."

    This is the calm before the storm. It's not in the context of this phrase, but his actions are in harmony with the overall psychology of the scene.

    And now it's time for me to transition abruptly into an off-balanced sleeping stance, since my ability to judge my writing is doubtful. I like the last one though better than the rest... For now at least.
     
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  24. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    For me the word "transitioned" isnt working .. also i think you are too heavy on the basic info . Have you read the Barry Eisler John rain books ? - for me he gets the balance right between martial arts info and not describing so much that it interupts the flow of the action.

    Now I need to spring dynamically into my working pose, fingers poised over the keyboard like a leopard stalking its prey.... laters ;)
     
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  25. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    You would need to be really big to draw butterfly swords from sleeved forearms, also swords are not drawn nor carried that way. Based on the picture @Malisky posted, it suggests that they were possibly across the small of the back for ease of access. Also easily carried and hidden, based on the design of the scabbard being open at both ends unlike most swords. The most recognizable/common carry is at the hips (like pistols). Drawing from the upper back is not correct, but this tactic is used primarily for long distance transport. As well as how dangerous it is to draw/re-sheath a sword in this position (not too mention you would need long arms to do this anyway).

    Some have already helped you to rewrite the bit you posted so it flows more evenly. Also take into account that Butterfly Swords are a defensive weapon, not an offensive one. Go with the more pointed blade which is good for thrusting, as opposed to the much more broad and uniform blade that is better for push and pull cutting.
     
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