Episode 14

Making videogame swordfights real, with Kirk, Knight of Green

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Show Notes:

Kirk Williams, also known as the Knight of Green (to find out why, listen to the interview), is a practising historical martial artist… and also recreates video game sword fights in real life. Let’s be honest- most of us take up the sword because of something we read in a book or saw on a screen. I certainly spent a good chunk of my childhood trying to recreate sword fights from movies. Kirk takes that idea to a whole new level, and he has a youtube channel devoted entirely to his recreations. Here’s a sample:

GW: Hello sword people this is Guy Windsor, also known as The Sword Guy, and I’m here today with Kirk Williams, also known as The Knight of Green, who is perhaps best known on the Internet for his recreation of videogame martial arts in a real world context, which I’m sure is a fascinating and unusual pursuit. So without further ado, Kirk, welcome to the show.

KW: Word up, y’all, it’s great to be here. And thanks for having me. Looking at what you’re telling me about your background in martial arts, especially with HEMA, it’s definitely an honour to be here to talk about my journey through it and discuss what things we might have seen throughout looking at HEMA.

GW: Well, thank you. Now just so we can orient everybody, whereabouts in the world are you?

KW: Currently I am in the United States of America. I’m around in the D.C. area.

GW: And so how did you get into sword stuff and what made you want to get started and how did that all happen?

KW: I feel there’s a combination of different things that influenced why I wanted to pick up swordsmanship. I would say the first big thing is that I’m a fan of Lord of the Rings and a lot of different knight / medieval types of settings. And when it comes to media, always being inspired from looking at those movies and thinking, wow, I always wondered how exactly they fought in a realistic type of context, as well as I would think the game Demon’s Souls when I was a teenager, that was one of the first games I got when I received a PS3 as a Christmas gift. So both I would say Lord of the Rings fantasy, as well as that game in particular informed me to want to pick up how real world martial arts looked like at that time.

GW: So you got interested in the real world stuff, so let’s start with that. So what historical martial arts do you practice? And how did that come about?

KW: So primarily I study Liechtenauer’s series on longsword. And then came up because in the area that I live in, there is a longsword school Capital Kunst des Fechtens and applied to some of the free classes, about two, three years ago, somewhere around that timeline. And I only really applied because about 10 years ago I just looked at secondary sources on swords like how to fight with the longsword, but I really wanted to get the full on physical experience with other people who’ve been doing it for longer. So that’s when I actually joined that group. I just found it on the Internet one day and just walked in for the free classes and then just applied. And I guess, the history from there is written right now.

GW: OK. So you still train with Capital Kunst des Fechtens?

KW: Yes, I still do. But during this time period, since this coronavirus stuff they haven’t really done a lot of physical stuff. It’s mostly online seminars so recently, a few days ago, we were doing a seminar talking about the different types of violence. So like asocial versus social violence, sort of just like with the intent. So, like, are you in a duel setting or are you just trying to exert your social hierarchy versus in a situation where you’re, I guess, on the battlefield where it’s just basically survive.

GW: Right. It’s really important to understand the context in which the art you’re practicing is supposed to work. So a dueling art may not be very helpful on a battlefield, or it might, depending on what the battlefield actually looks like. Sorry, my screens all just suddenly went blank and I was like, oh, crap, has everything just crashed? But no, it was just the screen going to sleep. And hence I might edit that out or I might just leave it in for authenticity. OK, so I came across you because I think on Twitter or something, I just came across a video of this bloke wearing interesting looking armour, charging around in the garden, doing reconstructions of something from a video game. I don’t play video games, so I’m completely at a loss as to the context. I thought that’s a sword-type thing that I just haven’t encountered before. So I had to get you on the show to find out what it’s all about. This is the great thing about running your own podcast is you can invite whoever you want and you can talk about whoever you want and just cross your fingers and hope the listeners like it. So tell me, Kirk, what is this all about? What exactly are you doing when I see you on video doing extraordinary things with swords?

KW: The things that I wanted to do was when I really started getting into HEMA and sort of looking at, OK, this is how you actually fight with these types of weapons and this is what actually happened. I sort of got disgruntled when it came to fictional media’s interpretation of, say, knightly combat. And so I thought to myself, well, if I do this in a real life context and show kind of how ridiculous it would look, it would inspire people to want to look at, well, how would you actually fight with this? So it’s kind of like the element of, well, you know, it looks cool in game, but if you were to try to do this in real life, it would look absolutely horrendously impractical. I’m sort of shedding light on the fact that, OK, you watch a movie and a sword duel and you see someone doing this spinning triple cartwheel and then you’re like, well, let me do that real life. This is how goofy it looks. So it exposed that fake idea of what a martial art is, and then frames it back on the context of how you would do it if I were to correct this. This is how you would do this and not throw your life away.

GW: Yeah. And if I may say, it was that element that made me think, I want to talk to him. If you were just doing the prancing around in your garden and there was nothing else to it, it’d be like, well, I’m sure he’s having fun, but I’m not particularly interested. But because there’s that element of educating people on the difference between fantasy and reality, that’s what really piqued my interest. So could you maybe take a specific example and talk us through? I know it would be easier on video, but this is a podcast, so we work with what we’ve got.

KW: So a specific example is when looking at my identity. So the icon that I used, that helmet that’s chosen is a character called Warden from the game For Honor. He is a longsword specialist and the funny thing about this character, which is the absolutely ridiculous thing, is despite the fact that he has a longsword, he avoids doing things like proper thrusting and one of his most common moves is he actually shoulder checks people. So imagine you’re in a hockey ring and you have a longsword, but instead of using your longsword for proper thrusting and spacing, you just charge shoulder first into an opponent’s weapon.

GW: That’s not going to work.

KW: So it’s sort of the fact that this game, For Honor, it does some things well in terms of, I guess, showing how a simplistic of when you’re defending yourself in a sword fight, you have to be able to have the reaction to move in different directions, to parry, or deflect certain attacks. Sure, that’s all right. But then there’s the fantasy element of spinning and doing ridiculous leaps and lunges. In that game, they do have some historical things like murder-strokes or Mordhaus or half-swording. So there’s some good moments that they borrow from, so that’s why I sort of borrowed it and sort of made that my identity, because it’s like there’s some good nuggets here, but then there’s some ridiculous things. So it’s pointing out what I say is good and what I say is bad. So that’s definitely what I’m looking at.

GW: OK. I’ve actually done a little bit of work on a video game project that never actually went anywhere, I’ve done the motion capture thing and advised on how fights progress and that sort of thing. And it’s really clear from that experience that the one thing that games can’t really replicate is the way blades interact. So how do you deal with that?

KW: With the type of combat that I really look at, I haven’t really looked at anything that’s specific on blade binding, so to speak. When thinking about looking at stuff like that, I know there’s some games that try to do a very static version of it where it’s like you have the blades interlocked and you have to adjust or I mean, it’s very artificial. But I haven’t really looked at anything particular when it comes to blade binding. I’m looking at more so strikes and thrusts so like the individual entry into… (Sorry my kid is screaming.) It is just looking at how you would enter a fight or what type of motions you would do. I haven’t really looked at binding that much. I do want to do that more so in person when to have people on the show like, OK, this is what you might do to counter this type of thing. This is what you do if someone attacked in this fashion. So I haven’t looked at it too much and that’s something I want to look into.

GW: OK. And I imagine that it is extremely hard work, doing all these cartwheels and things.

KW: Yes.

GW: How do you train?

KW: So when it comes to the specific video stuff or how I train in real life?

GW: Both.

KW: Specifically for the video content of recreating the videogame martial arts how I pretty much train is I go to different athletic gyms, I’m trying to think what’s the best term? Gymnastics gyms. That’s the term that I’m looking for. I go to a gymnastics gym, and I practice cartwheeling, flipping and stuff. I’m not really the most agile person when it comes to that whole parkour aspect when it comes to gaming things. But I took the time to learn certain things. So, for example, I spent about three months just getting a front flip and different types of twist and stuff. Pretty decent for me. And it’s just a symbol of experimentation and playing with, OK, well, how well can I do this on this. OK, well things are a fudged a little bit. So you know, this type of momentum you cannot do without, like, extraordinary height and stuff like that. Bringing to the table for that is definitely something I’m looking at. But for real world tournament sparring and fights for me, I train about two hours when I’m actually in the physical class. But I would say about hour and a half physically. So I just basically drill basic attacks because from what from what I understand from when I’ve actually been in fights, it’s whoever knows the basic fundamentals and has that down pat, they’re actually the ones that won. So, for example, I can practice a lot of fancy techniques – I do know a decent amount in my repertoire – but knowing the basics, having good position and good footwork for basic strikes will keep you safe in most things. So, for example, I come at somebody with a simple diagonal downwards cut. If my footwork is off or if I’m not balanced or my hip rotation is not proper, then someone who knows how to exploit that can just blast through me. There is a lot of basic stuff, mostly I do basic stuff. So basic strikes. Basic footwork. Basic movement. But when I’m with people, that’s about twice a week. That was before the epidemic. So about twice a week is when I actually do, you know, people sparring and sort of working with OK, now that I have the basic mechanics, now let’s try to apply it with a real person. So when we get in a bind, who’s on top? What do what do they know to get out of it or to put themselves in a better position? And yes, so unfortunately, I only have two times a week to do actual person on person sparring and blade work. But I try to make the rest of the week more meaningful to what I do.

GW: I have a saying you might like. Advanced technique is basic technique done really, really well.

KW: I can agree.

GW: That’s been my experience. Getting the footwork right. Getting the mechanics right makes all the difference. And at the end of the day, the fancy stuff is just simple stuff done in sequence.

KW: Yes, I can agree.

GW: It breaks down to a few simple actions. So what are your research interests outside of the games. Are you actually researching Liechtenauer?

KW: The big thing that I am researching when it comes to just Liechtenauer fencing is essentially just to have a background information on certain techniques. So if I were to see something in a game and say, well, what is this most related to in terms of the real world? So if someone does a somersault, OK, well, we’re not really going to be somersaulting in real life. But what types of like, say, overhead strikes best resemble this sort of motion? And I can translate this flip action, so it might be a low parry to, like say if someone’s attacking for your leg, it might be a low parry to a wind back overhead to a head chop. So it’s sort of mostly just looking at it to take the pieces and try to translate to something that’s usable. That’s the big thing that I’m looking for, research for. Also, I would say outside of just that, it’s sort of a pretty selfish intent, but, what type of things will I commonly see in fencing tournaments? I know when it comes to that’s a lot of gamification of real world fights but I feel that tournament sparring is one of the best replicas we can realistically make safely without sharps. But I do study in terms of, OK, well, what would I commonly see, how would I apply these? What are some very odd things like, for example, we had a Fiore instructor come in and show us a few things and be like, well, this is what my school does. So if you see us do these things at tournaments, then beware.

GW: A bit of cross training is a good idea and seeing other ways of doing things is always helpful. Now, we all have things we know we ought to be doing more of. So what should you be adding to your own training, do you think?

KW: Well, the big thing that I’m doing that I’m adding now, that I’m going to be working more is I’m definitely trying to monitor more so calorie intake and maintaining my weight and fitness because I’m not the most fit person. I’m not, like, terribly overweight. I’m a bit overweight. So I’m trying to lose at least, I’d say about 40 pounds for me to be a little bit, you know, I’m decently nimble on my toes. But, you know, shedding off any pounds would make it so I can move faster and put less strain on joints. So that’s the big thing that I’m working on because I want to be able to do this for longer and not have any serious sports related injuries from doing that. So I know that’s probably less of what the specifics to, I guess, longsword training. But I think athleticism is a bigger part in martial arts than most people that I’ve talked to give it credit for.

GW: Well, I mean, to be sure, at the end of the day, every serious competition fighter in any style of mixed martial arts or whatever, I mean, you’ve never you never see unfit boxers winning world titles. I mean, there is one mixed martial arts guy who is definitely chubby. But you couldn’t say he was unfit. Because he gets in the ring and he’s still in there ten rounds in. It was me, I’d have died of exhaustion after the first round. So, yeah, I would agree. Fitness and general health considerations are really important. And to be sure, the best thing I did for my pullups record was I lost 20 pounds. It made such a difference! So, OK, you do a lot of the tournament stuff. Tell me about your thoughts on protective equipment, because pretty much everyone I talk to about this has a strong opinion on the subject. So feel free to rant. You don’t have to hold back. We can always edit it out if you feel you’ve gone too far. But how do you feel about the available equipment and what would you like to see done better?

KW: So with what I do, it’s a lot of localized stuff. It’s nothing international just yet. But I was looking at some of the international recommendations for some of the jackets, as well as the gauntlets and things that you would bring. I’m definitely not in the same bracket in order to compete internationally, so I feel I’ll have to invest more in that. Currently what I have right now is the 350N SPES heavy jacket with different plastic platings on the forearms and elbows. Personally I think it’s fine for medium/high intensity stuff, because what we do with our longswords is we put rubber tips on them so it helps decrease that. I wear a lot of layers, especially my neck protection, because I would imagine how many times my windpipe would have been absolutely devastated without some of these things. But I would say personally, when it comes to recommendations or I feel about it. I would just say, you know, it depends on how much you want to go for. But I would always recommend people to have at least hand, forearm, elbow protection. Knee protection if you have it. I don’t have anything specifically HEMA, but I use motocross stuff for knee protection. But I would say if you are definitely going for a big international stuff, look at like their recommendations. I’m not really a big expert on looking at that, but definitely head, forearm, hands, joints. Anything that you have and just ask the person that you’re sparring with what level of intensity you want. And just be mindful that if they don’t have protection, like, for example, if I was fighting with someone that it’s their first day and they don’t have a jacket, they don’t want me to skewer them in their stomach or anything like that.

GW: So, I’m personally quite concerned about concussions through fencing masks. The fencing mask is not designed to deal with the longsword, it’s designed to deal with the foil, épée or sports sabre. So what are you using for your head?

KW: I’m using the helmet that comes from that… Let me actually look at the specifics of this one… I believe it is the same recommendations as that. But yeah, I know with the back of the head, that’s definitely a big concern because they don’t want you to do things like pommel strikes or murder strokes. Even simple strikes is not too much. I definitely think that that’s like slow sparring stuff. But I was also talking to someone who is doing harness fencing and they were telling me more so about, OK, what type of setup do you need to have the ability to take more head hits. I’ve not really had too much problems. But that’s also probably because I haven’t really done anything that’s terribly strenuous where people were actually trying to knock me out. But I have to have more because I’ve only done a handful of local things and they’re pretty particular with how they are. I can’t say too much on it.

GW: All right. So what have been your main influences as a researcher and practitioner?

KW: The main influences, I would say, would be, believe it or not, I have a friend who does Ninpo and he studies the Japanese martial arts. He also does a little bit of things you find in MMA, like B.J.J and Muai Thai. So his inspiration to me and how he does this stuff. He also has a YouTube channel “What Would Ninjas Do?”

GW: That’s a great title.

KW: What he does is a little bit of a different take on what I do. So what I do is I take videogame martial arts and translate it to real life. What he does is he takes historical Ninpo techniques and then breaks down how would you use them in a real world street-based context.

GW: I’m guessing that most of my listeners don’t know what Ninpo is. Could you just define it for us?

KW: OK. So when defining Ninpo, the best way that I can really describe it, from what he’s told me, is it’s a Japanese martial arts designed for the ninja or shinobi, whichever term you prefer. And it’s less of just a martial art and it’s more a way of thinking, as it’s described to me. So it’s sort of a lifestyle thing. So, for example, you’d say, well, you know, while in a modern day context, we would focus on self-defense and keeping yourself alive in certain scenarios. But it’s also a mindset of, OK, can you survey situations and avoid the fight and gather the information that you’d need to bring to the right people. So it’s interesting how he describes it. I would have to ask him for more information on it, but he describes it as mostly an art that’s designed for gathering information. It’s sort of like Batman and DC Universe, how the common trope with them is Batman with preparation can defeat pretty much anything. So that’s the best way I can explain it in very simplistic terms.

GW: OK, so he’s doing “What Would Ninjas Do?” I interrupted you, please continue.

GW: I’m working on him today with him today, later on afterwards, because I’m trying to bridge the gap between what he does and what I do. So we’re working on streaming different games and breaking down the martial arts and stuff because there’s a game coming out called Ghost of Tsushima. I don’t know if I pronounced it correctly. I got him invested in it so he would want to do basically what I do, except for a game that’s focusing on Japanese martial arts.

GW: Cool. That should be really interesting. OK, you’ve got to remember, I don’t actually play any of these games, so I’m entirely ignorant. I was staying at a friend’s house in Helsinki, and she had this one of the Assassin’s Creed Games, the one with the ships. And she thought it would be really funny if I had a sword fight in a computer game. And so she said, OK Guy, here you go. And I had to try to do the sword fight. And I basically just kept turning and bumping into the wall while the people I’m supposed to be fighting just hacked me to pieces. And being a kind and loving friend, she videoed this process and put it on the Internet for our friends to see. So what games are you most interested in? And what interesting things are you pulling out of them?

KW: So the games that I’m currently working on are the Soulsborne series. That’s the term used to include Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls one, two and three, Bloodborne. As well as I’m working on For Honor stuff. Whatever games that really come up, I’m trying to sort of bounce back and forth and not be too focused because I’ve done a lot of work on those previous games. But the second part is you said, what do you take out of these games? I’d say the big thing that I take out of them is the fact that when looking at them, the move sets for a lot of things are pretty basic. But there’s some nuggets that you can glean that are somewhat there, like, for example, one game might have a half-swording thrust technique that’s just kind of there. So I would say it’s sort of bringing to light that when people, for example, would argue different things like, okay, what could you do in a real fight and say, well, this is what happens in game, but this is how it looks in real life. So just pulling that out. But one thing I wanted to ask you is, this something that does interest me as well, is that you said you have worked with doing mocap stuff for videogames. So I was definitely interested in that because I was curious about if I were to take the skills that I have and mocap and then use that for at least to make better animations for certain attacks and stuff. So what was your experience? Because I’m really curious to hear how that worked.

GW: Well, basically what happened was they were trying to produce a game that would be quite historically accurate. And so they got me. It was in the basement of the Valve building in Seattle. Because we had all sorts of technical problems with the mocap stuff because there was too much metal in the walls and floors around which threw off the mocap signals or something. And so I had the suit on and they would ask me to do various things and I’d do various things with a partner of various things on my own. And the really fun thing was I went back to do some more work with them about six months later and I saw the images, the clips that they were working with. So basically the characters doing the stuff on the screen. And I looked and I said, that’s not me. And they said no, because the problem was when I do something, it doesn’t look like anything. So the sword just goes and I’m moving as little as possible from where I am to where I need to go. I don’t sort of bunch up my shoulders and wiggle my back before I strike. And at one point, they even had me actually hitting targets. One guy was holding a punchbag thing and I was cutting it with a blunt sword. And, you know, the chap was turning green because I was hitting quite hard because they asked me to hit really hard. And this is all with the motion capture stuff on. And again even that, it doesn’t look like anything because if it looks like something my opponent could see it coming and therefore do something about it. So it kind of crystallized for me that there’s a fundamental difference between combat designed to be watched for pleasure and combat designed to actually work. Which is why you have interesting rule sets in, well, judo, for example, you have to pin your opponent on their back. Whereas in the real world, when a police officer or a bouncer or whatever pins somebody to handcuff them, they pin them on that front because if you’re on your front, you can’t use your arms and legs and if you’re on your back, you can. But pinning somebody on their back makes for a better fight to watch, not for a better fight to actually win. So it really highlighted for me the difference between combat as a visual entertainment and combat as a way of overcoming actual opponents.

KW: I agree. I find that fascinating because I think going back to your earlier question, thinking about that more and having a better answer. A big thing that I would definitely say about videogame martial arts and real world was when I actually first started doing the motions. One of the comments that I was getting pretty frequently was like, well, you’re not throwing your back into it or you’re not doing all of these, you know, manoeuvres. And I’m thinking to myself, well, explaining to them that if you were to do it exactly like this you would probably twist your back or spine. You’d probably dislocate your shoulder. They’re saying this isn’t as “authentic”. It’s definitely something I’ve considered. It’s like, OK, when doing the actual recreations, I’m actually doing it more so in a realistic setting in with minimal motions.

GW: Oh, OK, one question. You’re primarily doing console games, right? Have you tried any of the virtual reality sword fighting games?

KW: I have not. But I’m definitely curious to get the setup in order to start doing that.

GW: I have friends who think it’s really amusing that I can do sword stuff, but I can’t play computer games for shit. So whenever there’s a computer game and it’s a virtual reality game or whatever comes out a friend of mine who happens to have it goes Guy, we’ve got to get you playing this. So I’ve had a go at some of them. Beat Sabre was just fun. Nothing really related to swords, but it was good fun. But there was one which took place in an arena and it was the weirdest thing because it was a bit like actually fighting with the sword, but there’s no sense of contact with the opponent. There’s nothing stopping your sword when you strike as if they parried your sword and you get stopped or if it stops in their bones or what have you. I was moving around much, much, much more than the game really wanted me to. I kept going out of the area because, well, you would.  And then after not much time doing it I had to just yank the headset off and sit down because I was about to throw up from the motion sickness because my brain just got fed up with what I’m seeing completely not matching what my body is feeling in terms of what gravity is doing. And yeah, I had to stop. I just couldn’t continue because I just felt ill, which doesn’t bode well, I think, for these games in the wider world and certainly as training tools. But I would love to see a computer game that actually works as a training tool. So what do you think would be the closest game you’ve tried that if you wanted to recommend a game to somebody as yes, OK it’s a computer game, it’s never going to be accurate, but of the bunch, this is probably the best. What one would you go for?

KW: It’s really hard to say which one I think is the best, because I feel like some of them take elements of certain things and some of them forego certain elements. I’d definitely say a game like For Honor, which trains you to react and respond to mix up, because in that game, there’s a lot of feints; I’m go for a high attack, but I feinted into a mid attack. So there’s a lot of that sort of dynamic as well. OK. Can you react to parry or block in certain directions? I like that for that aspect. But then some games, I think it’s Chivalry, where they incorporate more things like Mordhaus or half-swording and stuff. But it looks a little more goofy because people can do ridiculous things like spin around with their mouse and stuff, so I can’t really say which ones are the best. Again, just being perfectly honest, I only work with a limited amount of games right now, but I definitely want to look into broadening my horizons in what I’m looking at so I can actually answer that question better. But yeah, I’m pretty starting small right now.

GW: It’s probably like the you know, I always get asked, so what’s the best sword then? Which is kind of a silly question. And I just asked you the equivalent of that same silly question. Sorry about that! That was a crap question. OK, so what effect has this epidemic really had on your training? I know that the U.S. is really struggling at the moment.

KW: Tell me about it. A big thing that I would say that it’s affected is the one on one sparring matches or just working on the biomechanics in person has definitely taking a big hit. I’m trying to work with more people to do something as safely as possible for what’s going on. But it’s definitely been really rough with that because definitely looking at biomechanics and OK, how does your body react under this sort of pressure, that’s definitely something you can’t do with social distancing.

GW: Yeah, although the sword is like four feet long. So, you know, you don’t have to get that close to do damage. All right. This is a standard question I ask pretty much everyone who comes on the show because most people have really interesting answers to this. So take it wherever you like. What is the best idea you’ve never acted on?

KW: The best idea I’ve never acted on? So is this kind of like a dream aspiration that you always wanted to do, but never really taken it anywhere.

GW: You can interpret the question however you like.

KW: OK. So this is going to throw an absolute curveball of how to respond to it. I’m paraphrasing, so I’m not I’m asking it how you were asking it. Look, let me just give some background just where I’m coming from. So even though I have been studying HEMA pretty recently relative to like my whole lifespan, I would say the thing that I’ve been studying for all my life is palaeontology and dinosaurs as well as prehistoric stuff. So part of the name “Knight of Green” the green part comes from sort of this love for biology and the life sciences.

GW: I was going to ask you where the “Knight of Green” name comes from and you went there without me even asking you.

KW: OK. But the “green” aspect, well, it’s a little bit more, it’s three parts, I would say. The first part, the main part, is the love of life sciences, biology, environmental science and that type of thing. So the second bit is I have some Irish in me. It’s not a lot – great grandmother’s side. So it’s like I guess Irish that’s the colour associated with that. And also, I was lucky enough to get green eyes from that side of the family. That is a three pronged approach there. So to answer your question, just to give some background. Life science. That’s where my actual schooling and backbone is. So the best idea that I always wanted to incorporate was to create some sort of fantasy book that had a blend of prehistoric elements. So, say, dinosaur-inspired creatures and HEMA inspired combat. But taking backgrounds from both and making some sort of weird, somewhat realistic based fantasy type of setting. So I would say that’s to answer that question on the thing that I haven’t acted on, but that’s probably the best idea I could probably think of.

GW: So a novel with dinosaurs and longswords.

KW: Yes. As crazy as that sounds.

GW: That sounds fantastic. I have a friend who Martin Page, who’s written some fantasy novels, which have tanks and longswords and magical armor and stuff and they are absolutely brilliant. So if Martin can put tanks and longswords together, I think dinosaurs and longswords isn’t such a stretch. You know, what are dragons, if not kind of dinosaur-type creatures? So what sort of dinosaurs would you have?

KW: See, the thing that I would definitely do if I were to have dinosaurs in these types of things, I would think about, OK, well, what type of dinosaurs would be the most analogous to things that you would see looking at ancient Romans and war elephants and stuff like that. So what would the most analogous creatures to that sort of thing? I was also thinking about playing on things like biological warfare and how there’s certain dinosaur species that have venomous bites from certain fossil records. So playing with introducing things that people may not be so aware of, the dinosaur biology. So be like, oh, I didn’t know some dinosaurs had these types of venomous bites or these abilities, and incorporating and applying them to how they would have been if I were a Roman and I had a triceratops and I thought to myself, well, shock infantry type of troupe just run through. So with elephants, I would say something like a triceratops or any ceratops, which are just pretty much four legged, we have horns on, or like some type of shield protrusion on our head, we just ram into things, that would be analogous to a war elephant or something as generic as say, a large dromius, which are velociraptors. Velociraptors aren’t big, but sort of the idea of like raptors that you see in Jurassic Park. I’m not sure if I’m going to take it like as actual real dinosaurs or if I’ll just have of fantasy elements or looks or taking the inspiration from them and making them more fit, because funnily enough most dinosaurs, they’re actually relatively light compared to how you would think they were for their size. So pretty flimsy realistically, like sending an ostrich out to a fight.

GW: I’ve seen an ostrich race in real life. So I know that they can be ridden by very little people. I think it was seven year old boys that were riding them.

KW: Yeah. You wouldn’t have a fully armored person on them.

GW: No.

KW: I mean, taking some realism into consideration, dinosaurs are pretty flimsy. It’s niche, in the context of the story.

GW: The great thing about writing fiction, if you’ve got dinosaurs in it and people interacting with dinosaurs, you have to get out of jail free card. It is clearly not realistic fiction. So you can do what you want. So you can let your imagination run wild. I must say, if you actually write the book you’ve got to let me know and I’ll read it and you’ll have to come back on the podcast and tell everybody about it. It sounds fascinating.

KW: Yes. I’m definitely getting things together for it if I actually want to go full through with it.

GW: OK. Now my last question is somebody gave you a million dollars with which to improve historical martial arts. And you can interpret that however you like. What would you do with that money? How would you spend it?

KW: This might take a little bit more than a million dollars.

GW: That’s what everybody says, it’s like, come on. It’s a lot of money in every sense. “Well, actually, I have this idea but I need like 100 million. Is that all right?” OK. You can have as much imaginary money as you want. Go ahead.

KW: OK. This is going to sound weird, but like it definitely is going to be something, though, I would think, if I had the budget to do this. So I was talking with the ninja friend or the Ninpo practitioner. Also, we were talking about this idea of making a movie. So imagine like a Mad Max type of scenario where it’s like very desolate. The world has been in a bad shape type of thing. And so there were things like overpopulation or somewhat like scarcity of resources. It’s very similar to The Purge except instead of how The Purge is just lawlessness, if somebody is caught for any crime or if they’re accused of a crime, they’re essentially put on death row. But death row is instead of it being like, you’re just waiting to get an injection or electric shock or whatever. Instead of waiting for that you’re actually given two years to train in a martial art. Say, for example, if you want to do longsword things, there has to be balance as people would just say, OK, well, I’ll just take a gun and shoot everybody. But, you know, bring back that gladiatorial aspect to it. So it’s sort of for entertainment. OK, let me backtrack, it’s a movie that shows off some of the things that different sword-based martial arts , or weapons-based martial arts can do and framed in the context of it’s gladiatorial so people can be brutal.

GW: So it’s a little bit like Hunger Games?

KW: It’s similar to Hunger Games except Hunger Games didn’t really focus on the martial arts, just kind of the whole dynamic of pleasing the crowd. I mean, that’s definitely a good comparison, but focus on both the training parts and what are the core aspects of martial arts. Say there would be three characters that are going on a journey and someone’s telling me this martial art focuses on moving with as little motion as possible in order to defeat someone with relatively little loss of stamina. Going through the basic mentality. You know, it’s just so fictitious in terms of people can be over-exaggerating in fights but still have a degree of realism in the mentality. So people who are interested in learning about those specifics can be like, you know, this is what this can do. This is their philosophy. Some sort of backstory with it and it express the realistic aspects of these martial arts. And so people will want to get into it. So that’s where I would, if I had the money, make it a project that appreciates martial arts and also can show off what it can do.

GW: Well, I have a deal for you. I will let you have 100 million imaginary dollars if you let the Fiore guy win in the end.

KW: See, I would love for the Fiore guy to win. But, I’m debating, because, I know some martial arts have a lot of different variations, like with longsword we have Liechtenauer and Fiore so I’m trying to balance out which schools do we want to look at or do we want to do like a mosh pit of the schools? So take the core idea blended into like this imaginary thing and reference that it comes from these different things. So still thinking about that. But if I were to have that type of money to do that, an appreciation film. But it’s still going to be a gladiatorial, who’s gonna get killed off next? And how the fights are going to look.

GW: It would be really interesting to showcase different fighting styles. A bit like Bloodsport, the Jean Claude van Damme movie.

KW: Yeah. A bit like that. Yes.

GW: Bloodsport with swords. That’s a really interesting use of the money. OK. A million dollars wouldn’t be nearly enough. Maybe you should write the script for that rather than your dinosaurs book?

KW: Yes. I mean, shoot, incorporate dinosaurs as a background character!

GW: All right, have a mash up, why not?

KW: We might as well go all out in this.

GW: Yeah, although the budget for dinosaurs is a lot bigger than the budget for people. People are apparently quite cheap to hire. But dinosaurs are really expensive to do well. This definitely went in directions I was not anticipating. I did not realise we’d be talking about dinosaurs today, but it has been very, very interesting talking to you, Kirk. Thank you very much for coming on the show.

KW: Anytime. And since you have connections with people who work on video game stuff and bringing HEMA to it. I would definitely want to look into working with them. I know your experience was they don’t want to have it too realistic, but I definitely want to see how that looks myself as well, because that’s definitely something I’m curious about to see what type of experience we can gain from it? I don’t know if they are looking for more people doing that.

GW: But I was that project died a death, sadly, and it was quite a long time ago. But I shall certainly keep my eye open for such things.

KW: OK. Thank you.

GW: Oh, and where should people go if they want to find you on the Internet to either say hello or watch your stuff?

KW: The best places to really find me would be on YouTube, which is the Knight of Green. And on that channel, it links to my Twitter and Instagram. So those are definitely places, too, if you want to DM me about different questions or to hook up. Because one thing I’m definitely working on is since I’m not really a big, big channel right now is I want to collab with people who have more specialties in different areas, because, my take on HEMA is I haven’t really been doing it physically for too long so I definitely want to talk to people who have been doing it for far longer than me because I’m not going to act like I’m a super expert on it. But I definitely got to talk to people who have more background in that, as well as people who have things like, say, animation experience or things like film editing and stuff. Because with the channel, I definitely want to bring the production up because it’s literally just me in my backyard swinging sticks and swords. But I definitely envision myself if I got big to do live action, like, say, for example, like boss fights and recreating that and with costumes and sets and stuff. That’s where I’m going. So definitely Twitter, Instagram for DM’s for collabs and helping with growth. That’s just where I’m at right now.

GW: Brilliant, OK. Right. Well, thanks very much, Kirk. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.

KW: Pleasure’s all mine. Thank you for having me.

GW: Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed my conversation today with Kirk, the Knight of Green. Remember to go along to www.guywindsor.net/podcast-2 for your free copy of Sword Fighting for Writers, Game Designers and Martial Artists. And if you’ve enjoyed the show, please also go along to www.patreon.com/theswordguy and throw us a few bucks to help us keep the microphone switched on. Remember to tune in next week where I’ll be talking to Robyn Alman about all things longsword and fencing and so on. So subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts from, and I will see you next week. Cheerio.