Worldbuilding: Or, the Mind-set Necessary to Make Medieval Fiction Realistic

To fight effectively requires the proper state of mind. Any martial arts or firearm instructor will tell his students this fact. If you are not aware of your environment and prepared to defend your life and/or the lives of those close to you, then you look like prey.

And prey only exists to feed the hunter.

What was true of past civilizations and cultures is true today; a perspective modern man has lost. This is why, even when peace had been established, medieval societies across the planet maintained a warrior class. The men who made up this class knew how to fight and had the means to kill, whether they were armed or not. They were living weapons prepared to deal with any threat which came their way – in peace time or in war.

The post from Benjamin Cheah below explores some of the details which authors ought to keep in mind when writing about any kind of combat, but especially that found in medieval times. For the more things change, the more they stay the same. Just because the settings have altered, this does not mean the basics have become obsolete.

Be attentive and stay alert – in your writing and your day-to-day activities, future authors. In both cases, your life may literally depend on it.

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Worldbuilding with Real World Martial Arts

Sep 12, 2019

The average author treats martial arts simply as a collection of techniques to be displayed in fight scenes. But martial arts is more than just techniques: it is a way of life, one that resonates throughout the individual and society. The superior writer recognizes that, and sees opportunities for worldbuilding and characterisation.

Sigmund Ringeck’s Knightly Arts of Combat is a comprehensive combat manual, covering swordsmanship, spear combat, armored fighting, wrestling and more. An invaluable martial arts treatise, it provides insights into how 15th century knights and men-at-arms would have fought — and, more importantly, how they would have thought.

A basic unarmed Ringen, or wrestling, technique is to rush an enemy, wrap your left hand around his neck and grab his genitals, then twist and pull his sensitive parts. To throw him, jerk upwards with your right hand and pull his head back with your left.

Alternatively, you could smash your left arm across his throat instead of wrapping it around from behind.

The translators of my copy (Peter Lindholm and Peter Svärd) added a note: If you want to be truly wicked, drop him but retain your hold on his genitals as he drops.

This technique is designed for crippling and killing. In one stroke, you crush his testicles, strike his throat, and slam his head into the ground.

This technique would never be allowed in a ring today. You’d be hard-pressed to see anyone teach it outside a HEMA re-enactment group. On the other hand, the brutality of the technique reflects the harsh reality of a time and place where warfare was constant and killing was done face-to-face. If you can’t eliminate the enemy quickly, he will do the same to you. Moreover, even if one offensive aspect fails, you’ll still do at least some damage, creating an opportunity for a finisher.

Read more….

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