Open Wounds

M is for Main Gauche

It’s French for left-handed dagger. Ah the French with their lovely words for articles of mayhem.

Rapier and dagger fights are so cool.

Seriously.

First, they look cool. One of my favorite film fights with rapier and dagger is Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Don Juan, the final fight on the stairs. At the end he throws  his sword to the side and says, “The sword is too good for you. You die by the knife!” Then he leaps down onto him. This is a little talked about fight because it comes from a movie that is late in Flynn’s career but if you get the chance to see it you won’t regret it. It’s very tongue in cheek and quite the spectacle. There’s also a fight in a tavern that is wonderful as it’s in an enclosed space. Flynn does all his own work in this film. You can tell because all the shots of him fighting you can see his face rather than shots from behind – when a double is usually in place. As an added bonus see if you can find the clip of the film that comes from Flynn’s The Adventures of Robin Hood. They plucked the scene right out of it and integrated it into this one! Hah.

Second is that the fight with a main gauche moves very fast. The reason for this is that when you parry with your dagger you can, at the same time attack with your sword. This cuts into the time of your opponents attack. Instead of a beat of tick tack tick tack you get ticktackticktack. It can look just ferocious. When choreographed it is much more complicated and stage combatants have to really be aware of where the blades are and what each hand is doing – for the more experienced combatants only. You can also attack with the main gauche as an added bonus in case you close the distance or want to get someone away from you who is too close.

Third and finally, there is something about a dagger, of any sort that just seems dangerous. A knife expert told me once that if anyone ever pulled a knife on him he would get the hell away as fast as he could. Why? Because in knife fights fatalities are common. You’re just too close to miss. So good advice. As they say in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Run away!

rapier & dagger

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5 responses

  1. So he brought a knife to a sword fight? Just kidding. Sounds awesome!

    April 15, 2013 at 8:53 am

  2. Interesting post! Love the Monty Python reference and the sketch at the end. 🙂

    April 15, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    • Who can resist Monty Python? Thanks for stopping by!

      April 15, 2013 at 7:03 pm

  3. Run away indeed. Whenever I think of films with a sword fight, I think of “The Princess’ Bride”. I enjoyed this post. I will be back again.

    Elliot
    We Are Adventure

    April 15, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    • The Princess Bride is wonderful. The fight on the top of the cliff is soooo good. Not sped up at all. Mostly done by the actors. Well choreographed. And… funny. My son (9) just saw it for the first time and loved it too. Thanks for stopping by.

      April 15, 2013 at 9:41 pm

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