A Shout-out to the Swordmaster

I have a Swordmaster as an alt, and I have to say that it is – without a doubt – my second favorite character class. (Perhaps you can guess my first favorite. NEVER GETS OLD.) It’s not just the elf-thing, or the cool-sword thing, or the fact that have always felt that Highlander was the coolest television series of all time. It is something I never ever expected from this type of video game: the Swordmaster is reminiscent of when I really used to fight…as in, in a ring, with gloves, shin-guards, and a mouth-guard.

It’s the mechanic. Each maneuver puts you in a position where you have a different set of maneuvers to strike with. Not just the punch-jab-cross thing…I’m talking about throwing a wide-swinging, hard-hitting Thai kick (i.e. a round-house kick in the style of Muay Thai) which puts me in a completely different balance than my standard at-ready stance. Certain moves keep me in the at-ready, others put me into different stances which feel very different, and from which you have a different range of moves you can use. (It’s weird trying to explain this to a non-fighter when I’m not actually demonstrating with my body.)

Anyway, don’t be all intimidated or impressed here: old injuries and the decision that I wanted an education instead of a pro-fighting career have long prevented me from continuing all of my cross-training from years ago. I don’t miss the injuries, but I do miss the frame of mind. The execution was beautiful, like a dance. Fighting video games don’t really do it for me (except for Tekken 3, that did it). Anyway, the Swordmaster hearkens back to that time in my life. I was in much better shape then, and extremely durable. Maybe it was just being 18. Despite all the milk I drink these days, breaking a bone isn’t as hard to do as I remember. All that conditioning waned away. QQ. Perhaps the SM won’t give you the same experience, but I certainly intend to play him, perhaps almost as much as Serra. I’ll comment on him more directly when I have a better handle on him (he’s currently lv10).

For those of you interested, here’s a little history of me and MMA. I Started training in traditional Okinawan Karate at 16. I also studied a little Kung Fu with a guy I met (that’s how this field works, really). I started to get a bit serious when a physics teacher of mine turned out to be a trainer and I worked with him on American Kick-boxing and Muay Thai (the latter of which is probably the most effective striking martial art on the planet). I continued this training into college and also got into Judo and Jujitsu, my first experience with what amounts to the ultimate 1v1 hand-to-hand: grappling. Movies are awesome and striking martial arts do look the coolest, but 1v1 in a real fight, you are going to the ground (you almost always do).

I’ll never forget this: I was on a mat with a guy and I was rockin his world but it wasn’t exciting for me…it was meditative. Focused. I realized at that moment that I’d achieved what I had wanted in fighting. A sort of Zen. Ironically it led to a weird decision…I thought to myself later “Why am I learning how to hurt people?” and I (srsly) bowed out of martial arts for years.

Three years ago I tried to get back into it just to get my body back into shape. I didn’t want to risk injury (which is libel when trying to train back into kick-boxing) so I took up Tae Kwon Do to get my legs back into shape. (It’s seldom effective for more than one hit in a fight, but c’mon…kicking is the coolest shit ever. I love kicking. @_@) And I met a guy who did what is all the rage now (since it constantly dominates the day in MMA) Brazilian Jujitsu (BJJ). So I got to try some of that out. Extremely effective. If you want to get into self-defense, I 100% recommend that you train in BJJ. You will very, very quickly learn things that are effective in combat, and you will be able to defend yourself in a fight. I don’t support violence as a solution, but it is at times necessary. It’s a good idea to be a little ready for it, because you never know who you might see being hurt and you might need to step in.

That was way off-topic, but hey: it’s a blog. Anyway, grad school and other interests really keep me from training to my fullest in a martial art these days, as well as the frustration with my body’s lost durability, so I only dabble now at best. Also, all the hours I burn a week on Warhammer, which I admit I do like more. Don’t tell my physics teacher. <3


~ by thade on October 13, 2008.

7 Responses to “A Shout-out to the Swordmaster”

  1. I was drawn to the SM because of the stances as well. Not because I ever did any martial arts, but because of. . .the Wheel of Time series. Yeah, it’s odd but they talk about different stances (which are probably all made up) when sword fighting and it just seemed like that was the way sword fighting would actually work. Well, at least if you’re looking to make it efficient.

    I was also drawn to the SM because he’s more of an Avoidance tank than a Mitigation tank (not sure if this is actually the case, but description wise he is). I’ve always been a dexterity > strength type of person and having decided on being a tank SM was the natural choice for that. Being graceful is easier to hide than brute strength is (throws an opponent off guard) and many times also requires a bit of brains to the actual application.

  2. Haha, now you see why i’ve been so torn between my AM and my SM. Just wait until you hit 16 and get Gusting Wind. It’s hella fun stand on a healer or a flag and constantly be sending enemies flying.

  3. I do wish it would knock people back a bit farther though. It seems more of an annoyance most times to the people I knock back than of any major help. I realize it’s AoE compared to Single target of an IB, but an IB can knock back about 3 times as far from what I’ve seen.

  4. Picking up the secondary thread…

    I have to disagree with several of your martial arts points. First and foremost, the most effective striking martial art on the planet is… strike that. It DEPENDS on the person. I’ve been awed by Krav Maga a couple of times. Muay Thai is extremely effective. But the most effective striker I ever watched in a fight (as opposed to spar – I’ll get to that shortly) was a master in Tai Chi. There are a lot of very good styles IF (big if) it fits the user and the user practices diligently.

    Re grappling, I’m mixed. I swallowed the line about “every fight goes to the ground” for a long time. I gradually learned, however, that this is true only if: a) one or both want to go to the ground; AND b) the one that doesn’t want to go to the ground hasn’t the skill or will to deny it. That last is important. BJJ is outstanding, but it tends to win UFC battles for a counter-intuitive reason; the game without rules has rules The strikers may not kill or use a crippling blow. No eyestrikes, no knee-breakers. No throat strikes or finger breakers. And for that matter, no runawaylikeamadman tactics.

    I’ve come to realize the primary advantage of martial arts as self defense training comes not from any particular style. It comes from the fact that the practitioner has learned he or she can take and still give, supplemented by the knowledge of a few ways to give effectively. Few I’ve met are taught the truly effective ways of actual fighting; a secret I’m going to pass on here.

    For the truly effective in a fight, you must begin by recognizing the difference between a fight and a sparring match. In the latter, when it ends you both get to go home. In the former… in the former, there are only three rules:
    1) Walk away. If you can avoid it – even if it’s running away – do so;
    2) If rule 1 is impossible ensure that you are the one that is able to leave, alive.
    3) There are no other rules.
    The training I received in this regard was spent learning that if I got into a fight – a training fight (neither sparring nor fight) – if I spent it fighting barehanded I was either desperate or a fool. Pretty much everything can be used as a weapon. (A cupcake does a nice job of giving a second or two of blindness to your foe, for example. Just an aside – and I wonder how long it’ll be till we see folk armed with cupcakes of doom in WAR.)

    Allow me to close this part of my comment with a note that I learned a lot with various grappling techniques, and think anyone going beyond basics should include both striking and grappling instruction; they also should include throwing and weapons skills if the others do not do so. The lessons inevitably display the blindspots in the previous skillsets.

    As to WAR and the SM – thank you. I knew the class appealed for some reason, and while I tend to healers this tank really, really attracts me. Now I know why – excellent point.

  5. Krav Maga is pretty hardcore…and involves grappling as well as striking. And it takes a lot from Muay Thai. =) So you are right.

    Fights going to the ground…if one guy wants to put it there and you can’t keep him away with strikes (very hard since strikes tend to be grabbable). Or if you knock him out with one kick/punch, that prevents a ground battle. =) That was one reason I trained my kicks so much….but I never could knock out with one kick (well, not vs a srs opponent).

    Man I do miss it sometimes.

  6. Hey! Stop talking about Fight Club!

  7. very good post
    great site brother!

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