Just saw a wonderful documentary – Reclaiming the Blade. I’ve known this was in production for some time but I never knew that it was actually finished and available. Reclaiming the Blade is primarily about the renewed interest in Western Martial Arts (WMA). Although it does include some Eastern Martial Arts in the form of Korean historical fencing (Haedong Kumdo) and Japanese batto-do, some of the old, historical fencing texts are referenced. How those texts are being used as the basis for an historical fencing movement throughout the Western world is the focus of the film. The following is from the website:
Narrated by acclaimed Welsh actor John Rhys-Davies(Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings), Reclaiming the Blade features Viggo Mortensen (History of Violence), Karl Urban (JJ Abram’s Star Trek) and and Star Wars/Pirates of the Caribbean sword-master Bob Anderson. The film explores both European and Asian historic swordplay and offers an in-depth look at the fascinating world of stage combat on the silver screen.
Included in the 2-disc DVD edition (recommended) is a companion disc that has several special features on WMA training with the sword. There is also a section on happo giri (cutting in 8 directions) from batto-do. Frankly, the companion disc rivals the main disc in interest, as I found the documentary, itself, to be somewhat shallow. Of course, this may have been because of my interest in the subject and I just wanted more. What was presented was well presented.
Comparisons with historical fencing, sport (Olympic) fencing, and fencing for stage and screen are made. There are interviews with members of the Society for Creative Anachronisms and the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts, as well as an interview with the president of the Clemson University fencing club and Thomas Urso, who teaches Korean historical fencing, kumdo, and batto-do, also at Clemson U.
I have known Tom for several years (via internet) through our association with the Haidong Gumdo Forum and his presentation in the film is well done. As the only representative of Eastern historical fencing, he does a fine job.
Several WMA fencing clubs are highlighted in the documentary. Interviews with their members show the intense interest in WMA that is beginning to surface throughout the Western world, as diverse groups are discovering a sense of nationalism through the fencing methods of their ancestors.
In the companion disc, there is even a short film on the Jedi movement. The Jedi movement is basically a bunch of folks who run around pretending to be fantasy/scifi characters and swinging mock light sabers. While I prefer real blades and historical methods, I am in favor of anything that gets people off of their rears, out of the front of their computer screens and out studying some form of fencing with other real people, so more power to them, or, rather – the Force rules! They’re following their bliss and anyone who does that and doesn’t hurt anyone else in the process is okay in my book.
This is why I like Reclaiming the Blade. It sparks a renewed interest in fencing in a variety of forms. Check it out!
If you are interested in sport fencing then please check out the University of Tennessee Fencing Club or the Smoky Mountain Fencing Club. If you're interested in Korean historical fencing then contact me!
See you on the piste. En garde!