Science in Fiction: How Handy are YOU with a Sword? #scienceinfiction

Don’t be Sinister…

When I participated in martial arts years ago, specifically a branch of sword-fighting called Kendo, my first instinct was to invert all the directions the sensei gave me.  After all, I’m left handed.  I do that with writing, with catching a ball, going up to bat, crocheting, you name it.  As soon as I tried that with Kendo, though, my sensei corrected me.  I tried to argue with him, saying that I’m left handed.  Do you know what he said to me?

There is no handedness in sword-fighting.

Learn from History…

If we want to understand this, I suppose the first thing to learn is the animosity throughout the ages regarding anything associated with the left.

The definition for sinister is as follows:

  1. giving the impression that something harmful or evil is happening or will happen.
    “there was something sinister about that murmuring voice”
    of, on, or toward the left-hand side (in a coat of arms, from the bearer’s point of view, i.e., the right as it is depicted).

What this tells us is that throughout history, things associated with left (e.g. left-handedness), were considered evil and wrong.  In fact, even as far back as a few decades ago, teachers would actively force left handed students to learn to write with their right hands.  This resulted in some of the worst handwriting on the planet, but people honestly thought it wrong to use your left hand.

Getting to the Heart of it…

But more than anything else, anatomy defined how people practiced and taught sword-fighting.  Simply put, nobody would want to fight left handed because that caused the left side of your body to lean forward, with your left leg forward.  In this way, the heart is in perfect line for an instantly life-ending jab.

Conversely, on the right side of the body are the lungs (same as left), intestines (same as left) and liver (different).  A good strike to the heart will kill instantly or too quickly to be effective in a fight.  However, a strike to the liver would allow the person sufficient time to get revenge on their killer or protect their loved ones (should the stab be lethal).

Fact Checking in Fiction…

Don’t ever forget how important it is to properly fact check your writing.  I can think of three examples off the top of my head of left-handed sword-fighting characters in books I’ve read.  And, there are so many examples of little or no fact checking with sword-fighting in fiction.  Examples include:

  • Dual-wielding fighting styles with katanas (katanas are two-handed swords)
  • Using a katana to slice someone in half (Okay, even I’m guilty of this one but Kenjutsu and Iaijutsu rely on bleeding out an opponent to weaken them and win the battle)
  • And of course, left-handed sword-fighting

We don’t have to be experts, but as I always say, if I can prove you wrong in 30 seconds of Googling, you could have done better.


Discover more from Danielle Forrest | Sci-Fi Romance Author

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