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TheMasterOfFlynning

Have at thee, villain!

It was not like the silly fighting you see with broad-swords on the stage.
C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

The classic swordplay of Swashbuckling Movies: Threaten high countered by parry high, threaten low countered by parry low, lather, rinse and repeat as you climb the spiral tower staircase, until the hero can drive his sword through the villain's heart. It looks good, and the "tink-tink-tink" of sword tips clashing has become familiar to the ear over the decades.

But it's not real swordplay. It's not even a decent simulation. Essentially, it works out to the two combatants deliberately trying to hit each others' weapons with an impressive *clang* sound, rather than each other.

The other primary variety of unrealistic fencing (more popular in the far east and modern works) is a preposterously overactive offense, typically consisting of spin and flips that would leave the back wide open combined with absurdly overshot slashes and swipes that would invite a quick lethal interruption.

It is used, on stage at least, to make sure no one actually gets hurt. It stems from live theater, where special effects are nigh well impossible and actors don't have stunt doubles. Willing Suspension of Disbelief helps; conversely, a working knowledge of any school of swordsmanship can easily ruin all enjoyment of Hollywood sword fights for the 0.0001% of the population who both know and care about such things. (It's also important to note that, on stage, if the audience sees a fight that looks too realistic, they often stop caring about the scene and begin to worry genuinely for the actors and their safety.) It's also done because real combat involving swords tended to be gory and violent, usually resulting in nasty bloody wounds and body parts being chopped off. That isn't gonna fly with the Media Watchdogs and Network Censors especially in the case of works geared toward children.

Another aspect of Flynning, seen with primarily cutting swords such as the katana, is excessively direct edge-on-edge contact. Although swords have a strong edge, they're meant for cutting through flesh, not the edge of another sword. Doing this in Real Life results in extreme damage to the weapon (just remember: Don't parry with your flat, defend by striking to your opponent's).

In theatrics, this is known as "Pirate Halves", so named because you see it so much in pirate movies ("halves", because you're basically making a half-circle with your sword with each parry, meeting at the top and bottom of each arc -- a similar move, "Pirate Fulls", is when you're making a 360° arc with each swing to meet at the bottom of each swing). Often in pirate and swashbuckling movies they wouldn't have the time (or the budget) to give everyone in the film sword fighting lessons, so they'd give some lessons to the lead actors, and tell all the extras in the background, "just do this."

Has nothing to do with Tron. Actually named for swashbuckler film star Errol Flynn. Worth noting that, as some of the examples below illustrate, quite a number of his colleagues in early 20th century Hollywood actually were expert fencers, but rather than go for realistic fights they used their knowledge to produce something that just looks cool instead.

While, as copiously noted above, Flynning doesn't have much in common with real fencing except for using swords, stage combat is an art form in and of itself that is a) tremendously fun and b) tremendously fun to watch. Certified specialists can get up to absurdly high levels of skill, with enough acrobatics to make a gymnastics team jealous.

Compare A-Team Firing, which replaces the swords for bullets. Contrast Single-Stroke Battle, which doesn't look elaborate enough. See also Anachronism Stew as swords and sword fighting techniques shown on film tend to be hundreds of years ahead of what would have been available in the time setting of a medieval film[1]

Examples of Flynning include:


Advertising Edit

  • In a Dos Equis "The Most Interesting Man in the World" commercial, The Most Interesting Man is shown taking on two opponents with sabres, for sport. Flynning mixed with camera cuts (as if it were an old, worn film).


Anime and Manga Edit

  • Revolutionary Girl Utena's sword heavy duels Flynned to cut down animation costs.
  • The beam-sabre fights in the various Gundam shows go back and forth between using this trope and utterly averting it. Most are short and brutal, ending with severed limbs & impaled cockpits and/or reactors, but if both combatants are named characters expect a fair amount of Flynning before somebody finally bites it. The worst offender is likely Gundam Wing, although in the case of Wing Zero and Epyon this is somewhat justified; their pilots are trying to kill each other, but since the Gundams' computers are in perfect sync, they're able to parry any attack the other makes. Interestingly, whenever characters clash with real swords outside their Humongous Mecha this trope is conspicuously averted. Witness Char and Amuro's memorably bloody rapier duel in the final act of the original Mobile Suit Gundam show.
    • This was used intentionally during Kira and Athrun's brief duel during Gundam Seed Destiny. Since they were friends and only wanted to convince the other to leave the battlefield and let the their respective forces deal with the problem, their battle consisted entirely of firing warning shots at each other and beam sword Flynning while telling the other to return to their ship. Eventually though Kira gets too agitated about the situation and instead of parrying dodges and slashes for real taking Athrun's Gundam's head off and forcing him to retreat much to Athrun's shock.
    • Averted in Gundam 00 a lot of the sword fights between important characters are usually pretty short and to the point. Setsuna vs Graham the 1st time and then at the end of season 1 or Setsuna vs Alejandro in his MS.
  • Averted in (the paper) One Piece, where swordsmen make it a clear point to go straight for the opponent's person. The only reason swordfights have any real length is because most fighters are Made of Iron, a Determinator, or both.
    • Though one of Brooke's techniques, the Prelude Au Fer (prelude on iron), directly strikes the opponents weapon. Though in that case the intent is to destroy the weapon of the foe and is accomplishes it by pitting the length of his weapon against the breadth of his foe's.
  • Similarly averted in Bleach. Usually, excessive blocking is the sign of either a reluctant or fearful fighter while their opponent is aiming to kill. Urahara made it quite clear early in the series that this was not acceptable.

 When you dodge, “I’m afraid of getting cut”. When you attack, “I’m afraid of cutting someone”... Yes, your sword only speaks to me of absurd fear.

  • Again averted in Katekyo Hitman Reborn, with Squalo's attack Scontro di Squalo, deliberately hitting his opponent's blade, sending paralytic vibrations up the sword and into his opponent's arm.
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler Hayate and Athena's fights are constantly swords clashing. Apparently Athena was aiming for this effect, since her swordsmanship was supposedly so good she'd kill him if she actually aimed for Hayate. When Midas attacks Hayate, he apparently OHKOs him.
  • Averted in Le Chevalier d'Eon outside of staged fights, when two enemies are engaged in a fight, they go straight for the kill.
  • Possibly because the animators are a little sketchy on the details of Western-style fighting, most of the fights in Record of Lodoss War have severe Flynning; people not only attack each other's weapons but each other's shields, which is even more silly.


Film Edit

  • Justified in The Road to El Dorado. Protagonists Tulio and Miguel deliberately use Flynning to stage a pantomime street-fight (with rapiers; the classic duelling weapon) to divert attention from their con-tricks, in a manner that suggests they've done it before. Once out of trouble, they announce:

 Tulio: Ladies and gentlemen, we've decided it's a draw!

Miguel: (tosses swords to guard's feet) Thank you all for coming! You've been great, see you soon!

Tulio: Adios!

  • Subverted in The Mask of Zorro, where Don Diego De La Vega asks his successor to demonstrate his sword fighting style. The student energetically swishes around his sword only to have Don Diego casually disarm him with one move with the implied lesson of not to waste energy with such useless flamboyance. Given that this is Zorro, the rest of the movie ignores it for more Flynning, but points for trying.
    • Another subversion: in the same scene, Alejandro mentions that swordplay is about putting the pointy bit into the other man.
    • The Disney TV Version of Zorro in the 1950s somewhat subverted it as well, as Guy Williams, who played Zorro, was actually a champion fencer. His Zorro used a more accurate fencing style, though still stylized to avoid injury.
    • Ditto with William's occasional sword fights in Lost in Space.
  • Subverted in the famous duel in Potop (the second movie made of Sienkiewicz Trilogy) - Kmicic is seriously fighting to kill. Wolodiowski, being a far superior swordsman, humiliates him by deliberately reducing his effort to Flynning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voxErBJyFuw
  • The duel in The Great Race was an even more exaggerated version of this. For those who understand fencing terminology, it was two people endlessly repeating parry-riposte-counter parry-counter riposte-etc. in line 4. For those who do not, it was two people endlessly repeating the first two moves taught to beginning foil fencers.
  • For all that it looks spectacular (and the dialogue cites real fencing masters and styles), the great battle between Inigo and Westley in The Princess Bride is almost entirely Flynning. The screenplay even says that the characters are Flynning; Wesley and Inigo both being masters with nothing personal driving their fight, they want to enjoy it.
    • Averted in the rest of the movie, especially the final duel between Inigo and Count Rugen. Rugen is a Combat Pragmatist, aiming to kill with every attack. Inigo is at first simply defending himself. As his strength returns, he toys with Rugen for a few moments, then finishes him.
    • Commentary states that Cary Elwes (Westley) and Mandy Patinkin (Inigo) were complete novices at swordfighting, threw themselves into the fights with a lot of energy and panache. The first time that Patinkin and Christopher Guest (Count Rugen) practiced together, Patinkin actually stabbed Guest. At that point Guest went out to get himself some true fencing lessons, figuring that if he didn't learn how to protect himself Patinkin was going to wind up accidentally killing him. Link.
  • The lightsaber battles from the original Star Wars trilogy (dubbed "budget kendo" in some circles). The prequels' battles are the same thing but faster (and spinnier), although both can be Handwaved that since the movies take place A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away, they would probably have developed their own sword fighting styles that depended more on using the Force.
    • There's a book that elaborates on lightsaber fencing. See Wookiepedia.
    • Actually, the initial Star Wars standoff between Vader and Kenobi was fairly decent swordfighting, both opponents watching for an opening before attacking, jockeying for position. It Got Worse from there, though.
    • Taken Up to Eleven when one of the duelists have two lightsabers, and they just use the second one to miror the first one. Especially obvious when they have a stand off with blades crossed, it never occurs to them to take the second saber and go for the head.
    • Flynning is remotely justifiable in lightsaber combat, since lightsabers do not have crossguards (or indeed any protective measures), despite a much bigger need for them. Traditional fencing techniques would quickly result in the dismemberment of both combatants. Another potential justification is that the Laser Blade of a lightsaber presumably has no weight to it, possibly allowing for a lot of fancy moves you wouldn't be able to do with a weighty metal blade.
    • Some of the Jedi *cough* Anakin *cough* also have a tendency to stretch out their arm and point the tip of their lightsaber at the opponent's throat, holding the tip about six inches away. Then they act surprised when the opponent jumps away or pulls out a weapon of their own and the two inches they gain by lunging don't help. Ahsoka actually did it right early on, holding her lightsaber lengthwise against the enemy's throat with her arm bent so she could extend it, only she held it backwards.
      • It is arguably handwaved in the Star Wars verse as The Force is said to partially control its users
    • One thing that should not be present in light sabre combat, however, is feints. Against a person able to use the Force properly, a feint won't work, and against someone who can't use the Force properly, they can't be needed.
    • Thoroughly mocked by this video
  • Exception: Unlike modern performers, many actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood, such as Basil Rathbone and Tyrone Power, were actually champion swordsmen in Real Life. Combined with a very active fencing scene in Hollywood at the time, this led to superb fights in films where all of the male leads knew what they were doing. One such fight between Rathbone and Power can be seen here.
    • Cornel Wilde, too. It is said he dropped off the US Olympic fencing team for lack of money.
    • Rathbone, who played the villain opposite Flynn in Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood, actually used his fencing skill to make it look plausible that Flynn won the fight!
    • Rathbone was often cast as villains (with one notable exception), and so was not allowed to win most of his on-screen matches. the only two exceptions were his role as Tybalt in 1936's Romeo and Juliet, and a very short duel against Eugene Pallette in The Mark of Zorro. However, Hollywood concensus was that in any non-choreographed fencing match, Rathbone would have cleaned the clock of any other Hollywood figure.
    • Rathbone vs. Danny Kaye in The Court Jester. Either a brilliant example of this trope or a brilliant parody of it. Danny Kaye, though not a skilled fencer, was fast enough and agile enough to keep up with Rathbone in a choreographed fight, thus giving him a rare chance to show off his skill to the fullest. Naturally, he took the opportunity and ran with it. Rathbone was 63 at the time, and he still effortlessly gave Kaye a run for his money.
    • Rathbone was approached by Warner Brothers to play opposite Flynn in his third great swashbuckler, The Sea Hawk, but Rathbone, who had a horror of type-casting, turned down the part. It therefore went to Henry Daniell -- an excellent actor, but too incompetent with a blade even to Flynn convincingly. In the end he had to be doubled extensively by fencing master Fred Cavens.
  • The 1952 movie Scaramouche is Crowned with not just a Moment but several straight Minutes of Awesome as Stewart Granger and Mel Ferrer methodically Flynn their way through a theater, starting the balcony boxes, working down to the lobby, through the main seats, backstage and ending on the stage itself. That particular scene was possibly the most masterfully done aversion of this trope ever. A careful observer may note that the combatants are actively trying to hit each other, dance through every one of the eight lines (except for #1), exercise such complicated procedures as feints and disengages, and generally fight very well given the uneven footing they find themselves on. Especially impressive is the fact that they manage to work Andre's game breaker multiple disengage sequence from the book into the duel, though you won't notice it unless you know what to look for.
  • The three-way fight between Sparrow, Turner and Norrington in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. However other sword fights in this trilogy are portrayed far more realistically.
    • Partially averted in that the three combatants are all on roughly the same side of the overarching conflict and actually have a great deal of positive history together, though circumstances at the time divide them, and they aren't really interested in killing each other but in grabbing the key to the heart of Davy Jones. Both Sparrow and Norrington pass up obvious and easy opportunities to kill Turner quite early in the fight, opting, instead of stabbing him, to distract him or throw him aside.
  • Averted in The Three Musketeers 1973: Not only was the swordplay highly realistic (with moves like grabbing the opponent's blade, and hitting them with one's cloak), but all the stars were trained swordsmen. Christopher Lee admitted in an interview that he had to remind Oliver Reed during one of their fights that he wasn't really trying to kill him. It didn't help that the swords they used weren't foils.
    • A scene in the comic Jon Sable Freelance had movie stuntman "Sonny" Pratt tell Johnny Carson that "Oliver Reed fights like it's for keeps."#
  • A fight scene from the film's sequel, The Four Musketeers featuring similar aversions. And the climactic duel. This fight features a parrying dagger, the use of the sword as a mace, realistic speed, brawling and grappling, and both combatants getting tired.
  • In Broadway Melody of 1940, the dance to "Please Don't Monkey With Broadway" has Fred Astaire and George Murphy Flynning with canes.
  • 1995's Rob Roy with Liam Neeson climaxes with a duel containing some of the most realistic sword fighting in modern cinema. Though some Flynning occurs, you really get a sense that these two men want to do each other serious bodily harm. Especially with how it ends -- Roy grabs his opponent's blade firmly enough for it to lodge into the bones of his hand, then -- whack. Watch it here
  • The brief stickfight between Adams and Dickinson in 1776 is rather unconvincing Flynning when it's not just the two men grappling.
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights had the characters Flynn with shadow puppets!
    • Men in Tights also mocks this with the staff fight between Robin and Little John. Their weapons repeatedly break in half throughout the scene, and each time they simply throw half away and continue to attempt Flynning, to the point where they're playing medieval Pencil Pop when any sensible combatants would have simply given up and begun fisticuffs.
    • And at one point in the last duel, Robin calls out the Sheriff's sequence of moves while responding to them.

 "Parry, parry, thrust, thrust... good!"

  • Troy's Flynning is so obvious one does not even need to have so much as a cursory knowledge of actual swordplay to spot it. When Hector and Achilles fight, both of them avoid obvious killing strikes and holes in their opponent's guard on several occasions.
  • All sword fights in Nate and Hayes is this.
  • In Highlander, this was done in large part because Christopher Lambert's eyesight is so bad that he just swung his sword around. His opponents were tasked with hitting his sword with theirs to make it look like a sword fight (instead of a mostly blind guy swinging his sword wildly).
  • Hook's climactic fight between Peter and the captain, which is all Flynning. In his review, Roger Ebert lamented how boring and uninspired the whole sequence was.
    • Earlier averted when Hook reacts to Rufio trying to clang swords with him high by going low and stabbing him to death.
  • In Cutthroat Island, William Shaw's Flynning during the tavern fight between Morgan's crew and Dawg's crew is justified, since he'd not yet learned how to do any serious fighting:

 Morgan: Very pretty, Mr. Shaw.

William: Thank you, ma'am. I had the good fortune of studying with a grand master in Vienna!

Morgan: Now stop fiddling, and kill the man!

William: Kill him? Bless me, we never got to that!

*Morgan grabs William's arm and thrusts it forward, sending William's sword through the chest of the enemy mook.*

William: I see.

  • The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother. The sword fight between Sigerson Holmes and Professor Moriarty.
  • Shanghai Knights features some of this in the final fight, but it's Justified for both combatants: Chon Wang, although trained in martial arts, does not know how to handle a sword, and Rathebone (specifically stated to be a master swordsman) is using overly flashy techniques to toy with and humiliate Chon, knowing that he doesn't have the skills to recognize and attack the openings Rathebone is presenting him with. Bonus points for Rathebone being named after Errol Flynn's iconic swordplay opponent.
  • In Gladiator this is almost lampshaded; in the gladiator training camp scene, the instructor tells the student, "this is how you fight", and starts showing him the "Pirate Halves" move.
    • Justified - gladiators were essentially entertainers, as well as fighters. Maximus was actually told off for being too efficient.
  • Done deliberately in if... when three self-obsessed teenagers get into a sword fight more or less for the hell of it and tear around the school Flynning for all they're worth.
  • Jose Ferrer's version of Cyrano De Bergerac starts with a vintage demonstration of Flynning. Justified in that Cyrano wanted to humiliate his opponent before taking him down; he was composing a sonnet in honor of the duel he was fighting, ending each stanza with "Then as I end the refrain, thrust home!"
  • Egregiously used in Spartacus.
  • Averted hard in Sherlock Holmes and its sequel, A Game Of Shadows. Holmes actually uses a form very similar to historical Bartitsu, but with Wing Chun boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jutsu and swordfighting introduced (the choreographer even called it "neo-Bartitsu").


Literature Edit

  • The villain of the Discworld book Maskerade complains about the unrealistic swordplay in operas (the book takes place in the Ankh-Morpork opera house). Ironically, he engages in an overly-clangy sword fight with another character, and dies when his opponent sticks the sword between his arm and his torso. Cue the super-long death speech.
    • Including lampshading in the form of one of the parts of the speech is about how someone is able to make a long speech or sing an aria after having been stabbed to death. Then he 'dies' again. Then comes back to life to continue the speech...
    • Also lampshaded in Moving Pictures, where an inexperienced human has to fight a veteran troll actor, and doesn't fully realize it's fake. The troll explains that all he has to do is parry dramatically.
    • Also-also lampshaded in Wyrd Sisters, where Tomjon gets trapped in every live actor's nightmare: everyone else in the cast has forgotten their lines, gotten distracted, or developed stage fright. The poor guy foresees a fight scene in which he will have to "parry his own wild thrusts and stab himself to death."
  • Subverted and Lampshaded in The Saga of Darren Shan. When Darren witnesses a knife fight between Mr. Crepsley and the mad vampaneze Murlough, he expects a drawn out battle with lots of clashing blades. He notes in retrospect that the two were trying to kill one another, not entertain an audience. The fight itself takes all of three seconds, and ends with Murlough brutally cut open.
  • An early scene in Exile's Valor features two of Alberich's students deciding to Flynn during a class practice bout to show off. Since they aren't nearly as good as they think they are, all they do is embarrass themselves (and get stuck with a hideous bill for salle damage).
  • Lampshaded and subverted in The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, when swordsmaster Don Tomsa Maramzalla explains the difference between the lessons he gives to his high-born clientele and those he'll be giving "Gentleman Bastard" Jean Tannen:

 Those prancing little pants-wetters come here to learn the colorful and gentlemanly art of fencing, with its many sporting limitations and its proscriptions against dishonorable engagements.

You, on the other hand...you are going to learn how to kill men with a sword.

  "It was not like the silly fighting you see with broad swords on the stage. It was not even like the rapier fighting which you sometimes see rather better done. This was real broad-sword fighting."

    • Unfortunately it then goes to explain how in this kind of swordfighting you aim for the enemy's unarmoured legs, and they must quickly jump out of the way. Any real swordfighter knows that no matter what the style, sacrificing your balance for acrobatics is the worst tactic imaginable.
    • It does, however unintentionally, point towards a valid technique. When using two-handed swords, going for an adversary's legs is a bad idea. Your upper openings are unprotected, and your sword makes a diagonal line towards your adversary while theirs makes a horizontal one. In short, striking to the legs opens you up and reduces your range. The correct response to this, according to the medieval German style, is to step out of the way and strike to their head.
    • The exact type of sword-fighting is not well described, since C.S. Lewis has the characters in hauberks of mail but most illustrations show something that looks like an arming sword being used in one hand. It doesn't matter, as 1) nearly every style of swordplay would have the opponent simply avoid the low cut while using their greater reach to counter high, 2) Edmund is supposedly at a disadvantage when doing this to Trumpkin, since he's taller, raising the question of why try that technique, 2a) and the mechanics of that would mean Trumpkin should have a hell of a time trying to get close enough to try it, and, 3) why are they risking a medieval form of I Just Shot Marvin in the Face with deadly weapons? C.S. Lewis never describes them checking their movements to avoid devastating, crippling injuries, something that should have been done even if they were too reckless to find old training gear in the castle, use cut branches, or just realize this is a terrible idea. Aside from damaging their gear, they could sideline, maim, or kill a friend. Presumably a former Narnian king and warrior dwarf learned how to respect their weapons at some point.
  • The Fencing Master describes swordfights in a way that, while showy and dramatic, would be ridiculous if illustrated.
  • In The Curse of Chalion Caz reminisces about how he thought he was a good fencer with a repertoire of fancy moves in his youth until he met another boy who ignored his flashy technique and launched a simple stab that would have killed him had they been using real swords.
  • Heavily lampshaded in the Kingpriest Trilogy, when POV character Cathan (a veteran knight) and an old comrade-in-arms attend an (obviously scripted) gladiatorial game. While aforementioned comrade is more familiar with this sort of thing, and therefore able to relax and enjoy the show as something only tangentally related to actual combat, Cathan can't get over how obviously fake and unrealistic the swordfighting is, and in fact does something of a mental running commentary of all the ways the combatants could take advantage of each others' mistakes if it was an actual fight.


Live Action TV Edit

  • Any Robin Hood series, except the British Robin of Sherwood, from the late 1980s/early 1990s.
  • Played with in How I Met Your Mother: when Ted and Marshall got into a heavy argument while holding swords (long story), they start Flynning, but as their sword play gets more elaborate as they try fancy and ridiculous moves, the argument dissolves into "Dude, how awesome is this?"
  • Mal's duel with Atherton in the Firefly episode "Shindig" is a strong aversion; although it appears at times to be this it is actually very well scripted, with Atherton scripted to appear proficient and Mal scripted to appear inept. Well, it has some in-universe Flynning. Atherton is playing with Mal, knowing he can kill him at any time, but Mal doesn't realise this, and thinks he's doing surpisingly well for his first ever Sword Fight.
  • Almost always averted in Angel, but in the season 3 episode "Billy", the title character teaches Cordelia to use a sword, and all he's describing is this trope. Although this is also a possible subversion/aversion, since his idea is to teach her to stall until he can get there to rescue her.
  • In an episode of Slings and Arrows, Geoffrey Tenant burst into a party wielding swords demanding a duel with his rival. Both being classically-trained Shakespearean actors, they naturally Flynn.
  • The horribly botched Flynning that was Hugh Beringar fighting in the the TV series Cadfael.
  • Used on several occasions in Doctor Who during the Pertwee/Baker era. A fencing scene in The Sea Devils; after the Master disarms the Doctor, and has him pinned in a corner ready to deliver the killing blow, the Doctor escapes by kicking the Master back.
    • Played with in The Androids of Tara. The Fourth Doctor ends up in a duel with "electro-swords". At first he seems incompetent with the blade, merely parrying blows. However, it quickly becomes clear that this is a ruse, as he unleashes more and more skill until finally besting his opponent with ease.
    • The King's Demons features a very Flynnian swordfight between the Fifth Doctor and the Master. [1]
  • Justified in the finale of the Evil Green Ranger series of episodes Green With Evil on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Jason has to destroy Tommy's sword in order to break Rita's spell and consequently spends much of their duel attacking Tommy's sword. Tommy's Flynning, however, is completely unjustified.
  • Done in Sharpe's Honour where Sharpe is duped into a duel with a Spanish fencing master after Sharpe had been falsely accused of sleeping with his wife as part of a French plot. After playing by the real rules of fencing, Sharpe then switches to the rules of real combat (none) and quickly overtakes his genteel opponent.
  • In Highlander the Series, this is done almost every episode. This is partly due to Rule of Cool, and partly because many of the guest stars had never before picked up a sword in their lives, so they had to rely upon Adrian Paul and the stunt coordinator to make the fights look exciting.
    • In one commentary bit, it's mentioned that there's an easy way to tell whether the actors in a particular episode are any good with a sword: if the fight scene has a lot of cuts and changes in angle, it's done to disguise the weakness in an actor's form or to switch more capable stunt doubles in. If there are long periods without a cut or change in camera angle, then it means the actors for that fight were good enough to avoid all that.
    • Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that for Immortals swordplay is very different because they can't just stab a vital place to finish it. They need a good, heavy, unimpeded swing which can only be done after you've tired your opponent out or disarmed them. That reasoning only works for really powerful Immortals, the younger ones can be incapacitated by the same blow that would work for a human. However since very few of the Immortals seen in the show are less than a century old most of them have built up that tolerance for pain.
  • Though Kamen Rider Faiz- being a Kamen Rider series- has its share of Flynning, it's notably subverted during a fencing duel between main character Takumi (minimum experience with swordplay) and rival Masato (president of the university fencing club). Takumi's offense consists of wildly aggressive Flynning which is expertly parried by Masato, who retaliates with a single, point-winning riposte. This happens three times in a row.
  • ICarly: The absolutely horrible attempt at fencing during the episode iFence.
  • Primeval has an episode where Danny get into a sword-fight with a medieval knight. (Pipe versus Sword) Danny doesn't actually want to hurt the guy, but since the knight thinks that he's in hell and Danny's a demon, he'd probably be trying a bit harder to kill.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a great sword fight between Buffy and Angel where they shuffle back and forth alternating their blows from up and down.
  • Oddly averted on Once Upon a Time where the broadsword fights are pretty realistic. The Prince seems to truly be trying to hit his enemy whether using fits, elbows, or simply gutting them like a fish. This being a semi-family friendly show not much is shown when he does the latter and in a fight where he seems to be slicing up bad guys there's hardly ever any blood.

Professional Wrestling Edit

  • Crops up on occasion in Wrestling, where the wrestlers will do this, usually with steel chairs or kendo sticks Shinai. Professional Wrestling in general could be considered a form of Flynning, but with amateur wrestling and martial arts instead of swords.


Tabletop Games Edit

  • The fighting style of the Dark Eldar Wyches of Warhammer 40,000 is clearly Flynning. On a side not their weapons are Awesome but Impractical.
  • Pathfinder features a style of combat called "Performance Combat" where, along with fighting your opponent, you are also trying to win over the crowd. There is even a line of feats that make this easier. but much of what can earn one Victory Points or crowd attitude could be characterized as just doing cool stuff in a fight that is being observed.


Video Games Edit

  • There is an episode in Final Fantasy IX, where a fighting scene is played on stage. Since the hero pretends to be an actor, a mini-game is presented where you have to respond with parry high to threaten high et cetera. Your performance is then rated by the audience. No matter how badly you do, you're given a chance to improve your score.
  • Subverted in Devil May Cry 3, after the second battle with Vergil; the twins appear to be Flynning, until one notices the copious amounts of blood on the floor, which demonstrates that their inhuman speed is actually letting them land hits.
  • Parodied in the Monkey Island series with its famous insult sword fighting. The actual swordsmanship was automatically handled by the computer; the duels' outcomes were determined by the wittiness of the quips the player was able to choose.
  • Surprisingly, utilized in the Wii game Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest game. Whereas the previous swordsmanship title (Twilight Princess) only required a small wiggle of the Wiimote to make Link fight, Pirates actually requires the player to flail like Flynn during the fight sequences.
  • In Fire Emblem, this is a bit complicated: Fire Emblem 7 (Rekka No Ken) has Eliwood go through a tortuously impractical combat animation where he waits for the sword to gleam impressively, then attacks. His critical-hit animation is even worse, making him swing the rapier around three times before actually stabbing. Fire Emblem 8 (Sacred Stones), however, averts this with Eirika; her normal animation gets right to the point and stabs, and her critical involves her simply taking two steps back, aiming her rapier, and then lunging with deadly force, which really would kill her opponent instantly in a real fight. The Suspension of Disbelief is a given with knights, dragons, and other large or heavily-armored units, as players assume that she goes for a vulnerable area instead of stabbing at the chest region all the time.
    • The most insane examples would have to be the Myrmidon and Swordmaster. They rely upon an insane amount of flashy jumps and pointless spinning. Even worse, the ones in Fire Emblem 8 tend to be more effective than Erika and her simple stabbing.
    • As a simplification, though, the fact remains that most critical hit animations involve three seconds of spinning the weapon around.
  • While the normal melee combat animations in World of Warcraft tend to be pretty sensible, special attack animations tend the feature unnecessary amounts of spinning around or swinging the weapon. Some races' parry animations tend to be quite flashy, too. Sometimes partially justified by the race in question, but still silly. The blood elf is gonna parry and swing her weapon around behind her back to switch to the other hand. She's an elf. Given the intentionally comic-bookish and campy style of the game this is simply part of the style.
  • Inverted in most weapon-based Fighting Games. Instead, thanks to the magic of Hit Points (well, in most cases), characters tend to survive some grievous blows every round. Sword collisions, while generally possible, don't happen too often; in the cases they do, the things that happen vary from game to game, or even from instance to instance, though it?s never Flynning.
  • Heavily subverted in the Playstation game Bushido Blade, which features no health bar, and in which it's perfectly possible, with the correct timing, to win a match with a single move, often a direct thrust to the face. Subverted even more in that if you're injured, you drop to one knee and have your move list reduced to "parry" and "swing wildly". It's still possible to win a match from this position... but you don't recover for the next round. Harsh.
  • The Assassin's Creed games feature a double-whammy aversion of both this trope and Armor Is Useless.
  • Can be attempted in the Soul Series, but will usually result in having your weapons break (Soul Edge) or being blown back by the force of inertia (the Calibur games.) Though a particularly long Guard Impact chain can look rather like Flynning.
  • An example of the edge on edge part comes as an aversion and justified trope in Fate/stay night. Assassin and Saber are fighting, and Assassin always parries because his sword can't take the kind of abuse real blocking would require. Saber, on the other hand, has a magic sword and doesn't have to worry about such things, so she gets annoyed at his refusal to match her in a contest of pure power. Eventually, he does block an attack, and ends up losing the fight because it bent his sword and ruined his technique.
  • Literally done in the first Prince of Persia, as the rotoscoping for the sword fighting was based on Flynn's Robin Hood.
  • In the realm of knifeplay, Most First Person Shooters does knife play quite improperly with the back slash which will result in a quick counterattack and subsequent death.


Web Original Edit

  • The Guild : a hand-to-hand combat version at the end of season two, Wade and Zaboo get into a fight. Wade spends the entire fight showboating while doing minimal damage, Zaboo takes it like a bitch manages to strike a firm enough friendship with Wade while being pummeled that Wade thinks Codex isn't worth the fight.
  • Suburban Knights: They fight like a bunch of internet reviewers who rarely leave their chairs...oh.


Western Animation Edit

  • Lampshaded in the DVD Commentary of the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "Sokka's Master", where Sifu Kisu (the show's martial art consultant) noted that "a real sword fight lasts less than 1.7 seconds", and that "it's not a pretty thing", as it would come down to finding a vital point and stabbing it. It was justified in that instance though, as it wasn't a real match but a Secret Test of Character. There also aren't that many Sword Fights in Avatar though.
  • Stewie and his half-brother Bertram fight this way on the playground in an episode of Family Guy.
  • The Star Wars Clone Wars miniseries is even worse with its Flynning than the Star Wars franchise's live-action outings. Anakin and Asajj Ventress spend their entire fight spastically swinging wide in each other's general direction. Even less justified than normal in that it's animated and no one has to worry about injury.


Real Life Edit

  • The likely result of two guys with sticks in the same room.
  • An actual element of drilling in modern sport fencing, to give the student a chance to practice his parrying. Also an element of two newbies giving the coach a headache. Teaching fencers not to do this is surprisingly hard. In fact, breaking this habit when teaching any style of sword-related combat can be surprisingly hard. It may not be so much Truth in Television, however, as it is a case of Reality Is Unrealistic, where the people in question have only ever watched actors fight and think that it's actually the correct way to do it. Beginning fencers tend to do this back-and-forth when the only blade actions they know are straight attacks, high-line parries, and simple ripostes. It is sometimes derisively referred to as 'ping-pong fencing'.

Notes

  1. Might be a case of Acceptable Breaks From Reality, given that most past cultures never wrote down the details of their martial arts. On the flipside, some films use anachronistic techniques when there's a knowledge base concerning the techniques they did use.