Re: Knife & Tomahawk

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Posted by Bill R on September 11, 2000 at 22:33:40:

In Reply to: Re: Knife & Tomahawk posted by Dr. Uncle Mark (with whisperings from Many Flags) on September 11, 2000 at 19:19:49:

: Benjamin...the hawk and knife sequences in LOTM and Patriot have to be highly choregraphed. As reenactors, we are not allowed to use edged weapons on the field, knives cannot be drawn, hawks must stay sheathed, once in a while bayonets can be fixed. We have "played" at this stuff in camp, and talked about it at length, slow motion stuff to see how it would work. But, in the heat of battle, I can't imagine keeping my head about me that I would slash and cut like Hawkeye and Mel. And I don't believe longhunters, frontiersmen, etc. would do it in such fluid movements. Fights with weapons like hawks and knives were bloody and unpredictable affairs, using every trick in the book (butting, kicking, biting, stabbing, rolling around and mangling, etc.), every nasty way possible to take out the enemy. What we see in LOTM and Patriot is VERY stylized, I can't believe it would have been like that at all, especially from accounts I have read. Also, hawks were rarely thrown, cause if you throw it there is a good chance you will do little if no damage to your enemy, then the enemy picks up the hawk and comes back at you!! This is one of the things we educate the public about. We DO throw knife and tomahawk for fun, nephew Half Breed (Chrons I) has actually won PA state competition a few times.

: So, my final comments, for what they are worth....the knife and hawk fights would not have been as "scenic" in real life as what you see in the movies...they would have been a nasty cut and slash affair with a lot of luck involved if you came out alive!! Seamus and Three Tales, what think ye??

: (I believe Allan Eckert's books...The Frontiersman, etc. gives one a flavor of the "messiness" of real slash and cut battle.)

: Pax Aye!

: Dr. Uncle Mark and Many Flags

Hey Drunkle (not a slam - my term of endearment),

I would have to agree with you on all you said. Certainly in the filming of such things they are choreographed. And in reenactments as well when on rare occasions such things are done for effect - which is seldom. All the safety points you made are there to keep folks from hurting themselves and one another.
However, I do disagree a tad on the actuallity of such things.
Indeed they are messy. However, where I learned was with the SF and we practiced bare blades. And yes, sometimes there were accidents. Not often, but sometimes. It got a bit rough. Mainly we faced the risks in order to be prepared as best we could. A chop to the throat could hurt for instance and it was supposed to even when pulled. The attempt was to learn to disable or kill as quickly as possible with as much realism as possible. You sorta really focus and concentrate when the blade is bare, ya know? And you did NOT want to spend all day at it or make a fair/extended fight out of it if you could help it. Would I throw a knife in anger? Not likely unless it was the only way I could hope to prevent a comrade's injury at the hands of another. I would much rather shoot the guy. Quicker and more sure. Either way, such things are always messy no matter which way you cut it (that was a pun intended :) But hell, it was a movie. Nobody really believes somebody could shoot like Clint Eastwood in the "Dollars" trilogy. Makes good action film though.

Question for you - what did you think of the battle scenes in Braveheart? Or the opening scenes of the landing in Saving Private Ryan? I kinda thought those were pretty close to the way it mighta been.

Bill R

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