So my main character in my story, is of a more aristocratic type house. Not necessarily in attitude, but in theme. So victorian style long coats and vests etc, while also being rogue/thief information gathering types, think assassin's creed 2.My question is mainly that I would like him to use an Estoc style weapon, thin, long thrusting sword. Normal fencing is very much at odds with the fighting style I would like him to have, fast, acrobatic, mobile, low, high, basically attacking from all angles with reflexes and precision to match. The issue is coming up of thinking up say low floor level attacks and the blade being too long to position well without hitting the floor, or if there needs to be dodge rolls or flips or any other movements in which a long blade is already an annoyance, is there a fighting style in existence that looks more like this, a type of ninja like or more animalistic on the fly fencing/thrusting, or what are some suggestions on how to make this work?

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    $\begingroup$ Your description of his fighting style is pretty spot on for swashbuckling in movies which is based on European fencing. What makes you think that it would be incompatible? $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 17:16
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    $\begingroup$ I feel like the issue is that you have a very narrow idea of what fencing is, based presumably on modern sport fencing, combined with a strange notion of being unable to do any acrobatics whilst holding an object? I'm also not entirely certain than an estoc is quite the sort of blade you want for the style you're describing... rapiers are more the swashbuckling style, no? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 19:42
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    $\begingroup$ You're describing the difference between Kendo and Kenjitsu. Kendo is basically Kenjitsu, but without the parts that old people with bad knees can't perform. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, swashbuckling is kind of the idea. I just like the aestetic of a thrusting weapon. Also the world has alot of highly armored and thick skinned monsters/enemies so I wanted to maximize ability to cause damage (piercing), while also not leaving the weapon as entirely flimsy like a rapier. Estocs are usually more rigid and durable since they can be a solid spike basically, so that was kind of my idea for it. Also he's technically a vampire, so I liked the parallel to Alucards signature weapon as well. I'm undecided on magic ultra tough metals as well. $\endgroup$
    – Mythror
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 1:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Joachim it's becoming more apparent that I may not get everything I want in the style itself even if I modify it, so I'm currently adjusting it around, i think i can make up for it with general ingenuity, ruggedness and versatility on the main character's other skills that he will come off still as more than just a fencer, but retain the elegance and efficiency of one when needed. Letting fencing become one of many tools, just his most default one. $\endgroup$
    – Mythror
    Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


Modern Fencing is Not Historic Fighting

I am a Historic European Martial Artist, and modern sport fencing is not the same as what was actually performed. They stay on line, you cannot grab blades, the area is perfectly flat, there are illegal actions, and there are rules to make it a sport of blade feeling, reaction time, and speed. That's all well and good, but it is not the only thing to fighting.

How do I know what was actually performed? I am so glad you asked! In addition to historical accounts, we have treatises in various languages from WWII knife fighting manuals all the way back to the early medieval period sword-and-buckler! Check out the free resource of wiktenauer.

Fighting Was Already Dynamic

The truth is that historic fighting is intense, totally capable of engaging every capacity and sense a human has. It already has so much of what you are looking for. I know this because I have practiced it.

Fighting was also very dynamic. It is general advice and practice to hit people from multiple angles (see the Meyer Square Drill) while moving around them. Yes, the Meyer Square drill usually does cuts, but you can also mix thrusts in! Other systems offer similar advice. You see this in most HEMA tournaments, which you can readily see on YouTube. (Try "Swordfish tournament" for a well known one.)

Better yet, you can go to the HEMA alliance page and find a local club. Local clubs may have introduction classes which will give you more than you need to write a good European swordfighter from any time period. The longsword (or "hand-and-a-half-sword") is a gateway weapon: if you understand it, you can reasonably use a lot of other weapons.

What You Do Not See

You will not see rolling, diving, or spinning on anything like a regular basis. These are bad, bad, bad options in combat! They take too long, remove your ability to defend, and prevent you from seeing what your opponent does!

Put simply: rolls, dives, and spins are mostly suicidal. While your butt is in the air because you elected to perform a dive-roll, your opponent will slice you open and thank their lucky stars for such a foolish opponent. In rare circumstances, it may work, but it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. (Especially when it fails.)

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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, the dodge-rolling thing is basically a big indication that what the OP wants isn't really real, but larger-than-life badassery. I feel like there should be a page somewhere about common misconceptions about swordfighting that keep appearing in fiction (I get grumpy about shields you can't bash with, and offhand weapons that somehow make you forget how your main weapon works) but I've never found a particularly good resource for that. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ Just to add a different perspective on this - as an Avid viewer of MMA and with some familiarity with HEMA - Dives, Rolls and Spins can work - however the general rule of 'They are suicidal' is 95% correct. I've seen a beautiful divng/rolling foot trap into a Leg lock and submission, Spins, if setup correctly (e.g. with distraction and working with momentum) can work. The only caveat is that if such a move works, it generally will work just once. There are a few MMA Fighters who can consistently use spinning backfists/heel kicks - but they are the exception. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, this is one of my main problems is that from pictures and forms, i can tell that historical fencing was more about the killing blow, vs the touch point system of modern fencing. As per the dodging, im thinking more like dynamic dodge and counter style fighting, ducking under a low swing while jutting the blade out and then quickly jumping back for an example, the character will have some less than realistic abilities and flexibility to achieve this, I just don't see fencing, let alone actual combat fencing portrayed very often, and especially not portrayed well to get a proper idea $\endgroup$
    – Mythror
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 1:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Mythror An hour of a basics HEMA course is worth many hours of research, and I feel I cannot emphasize it enough. A good HEMA course will cover things like footwork, timing, feeling, distance... All of which is best explained in person. It's worth the time to know what reality was like before springing into fantasy, like Shad Brooks in Shadow of the Conquerer. He did it so well that Brandon Sanderson consulted him for (at least) one of the scenes in Rhythm of War and it's so good. $\endgroup$
    – PipperChip
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ @pipperchip Shad is actually a huge reason I even care to learn the reality and want to take my ideas beyond simply fun head imaginations. I'll take your advice, and I already have. Thanks to your answer I've discovered Spanish fencing as well, which has some nice subtle differences to Italian. I have in past taken I believe it was a french épée class, but i never realized there was so much variation until your advice, thank you $\endgroup$
    – Mythror
    Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 16:04

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