Sword's Path | Fight like a Witcher - Witcher techniques vs HEMA


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I'm analysing some of the realism issues in the Witcher 3. Of course it doesn't even make much sense, as TW3 is a videogame - it's meant to be entertaining, not realistic.
Yet still, some people seem to take witcher choreographies too seriously. Like, "ooh THAT'S TOTALLY IMPRACTICAL AND I KNOW THAT BECAUSE I'M SO SMART". Come on, let's just enjoy these beautiful pieces of motion capture!

The title is a bit misleading, too - I'm not basing this exclusively on HEMA.
Enjoy!

PS. Big thanks for @Siegfried Song for cleaning up my audio - go check out his channel as he's an awesome metal singer!
https://www.youtube.com/user/sigmo2nd

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--
I'm a 25 years old HEMA instructor and sword performer from Poland. I've been fencing since I was 12, evolving through sport fencing, polish saber, kenjutsu, to finally settle on renaissance german longsword (go Team Meyer!).

I do blacksmithing for a living. Feel free to review my crafts at:
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Now go throw some cuts!
  • The Sword's Path

    Guys, guys. A word of clarification.I'm saying that you can't rely on pirouettes. They are risky. Their use is circumstantial at best. I find that employing a pirouette can be good against a strongly defensive opponent, whom you can't reach otherwise. Against offensive-oriented fighters - it's a suicide.There.

  • Callum Oscalade

    I would totally play as you in an RPG or something.

  • João Carvalho

    33 drowners disliked this video

  • IraqI GaMer

    Hey, Master Witcher! There is this one Ghost that's been haunting the the Cemetary.Folk are afraid to wander there anymore, and many dead people need to be buried, you know the War between Nilfgard and us.Slay it, and I shall not spare a single Copper. (Reward: 200 Crowns)

  • killerman19880385

    This guy looks like he got ripped straight out of a medieval rpg game into this world.

  • ourfreakingshow2

    I appreciate the fact that you didn't outright demonize the technics in the game like many other HEMA "professionals" do. You explained some of the faults but you added ways in which his technics in the game could be altered to be more effective. Also, I like that you didn't say that HEMA is the only martial art that is effective. Many will say that the technics in the game are outlandish and would get you killed in real life but you realize that different martial arts utilize different technics very effectively even though they may seem to leave yourself open. All together, I just enjoyed seeing someone that is open to fighting technics that aren't the HEMA standard.

  • Temp

    "The right way" style: unscrew your pommel and end him rightly.

  • Azoh

    Very well explained, and I loved the filming location. If you don't mind me asking, where did you film this?It's also nice to see an open mind to the non-hema style of fighting.

  • MBOmnis

    Playing the devil's advocate, maybe Witchers use these wide sweeping strikes because their training is usually geared toward monsters and they generally fight alone against groups of monsters. So wide sweeping attacks might help against groups of foes to keep them all at a safe distance, if you can position yourself in a manner that all of them are in front of you. Moreover, sweeping attacks might miss a monster's head or body but might still strike (and hopefully cut) a claw.Still, since it's fantasy and it's not really meant for duels (which is what HEMA usually entails, isn't it?), I think there can still be reasoning behind it... even if it's based on fantasy. If it's applicable in its own scenario and context, then why not? :)

  • unsweetened cheerios

    I can't get over how beautiful your filming spot is :D

  • Mambo Sauce

    I was like this is kinda lame..... until you started doing all the moves

  • Oliver H

    The factor to consider, I think, is that in theory, Witchers are supposed to have significantly superior speed, so a lot of techniques that make no sense in HEMA can make sense for a Witcher because openings created will be closed faster than they can be exploited by someone with normal speed.

  • m3rsito

    yheah but geralt can use his technics with a shovel. I bet you can't do proper HEMA style with a shovel.Geralt 1 HEMA 0

  • aaron4820

    Keep worrying you're going to destroy the camera... lol

  • Alex McCart

    You sound quite a bit like Christopher Walken.

  • Benjamin Lew

    6:43 "seeing an opening is one thing, exploiting it is another" Thank you... This fact is so often overlooked.

  • Omegaures

    At every kosher and halal I was dying

  • Dashing Gaspar

    "Oi, mastah Witcha. I gots a job offer for ya" "Yeah? What seems to be the problem?" "One of our boys, Lilial was out in the woods pickin' some berries for the village. We was gonna make a pie you see!" "Sounds great and all, but I'm more interested in the monster" "Oh right, right. Aye, anyways, BIG smashes and crashes heard in them woods shortly after he left. Sent some men to go check it out. They never returned. Except for one.." "Hmm, where's he at? Might know more about the monster that took Lilial" "He's over in that hut over yonder, fella's wearin' a red smashing right tunic" "Thanks. So long" "Wait! Mastah Witcha.." "Yeah?" "Try to bring Lilial back to us, alright?" "I'll try my best, can't make any promises though. See ya" "Farewell mastah".

  • Straga27

    I totally understand the criticisms to Witcher fighting styles compared to actual real techniques but one thing to remember is that Witchers are mutants that are unnaturally strong and fast trained and made to fight asymmetrically versus monsters of many shapes and sizes. They can also shield themselves with the Quen magic sign that blocks (usually) one enemy blow without them breaking tempo. This allows them to wind up huge swings without the danger of being cut in half before they even land a blow.

  • Mori no Ando

    Man I absolutely loved your video. The explanations, the humour, everything was awesome. Cheers!

  • R Vanzo

    It's kinda of difficult to compare for a serious of reasons. First the witcher fighting style is crafted to fighting monster, some of which are massive. Second, his is not human. He has enhanced strength and speed that is unmatchable by a human. Third he fights under the influence of strong potions that further enhance his abilities. And lastly he has a minor magic added to his fighting capabilities. And also they have to make it so that a player can also play the game. Overall I think the fighting style in Witcher is so far the best one so far.

  • Nikola Petrović

    i always tought that the witchers style would be ineffective without enhanced physical attributes granted by their mutations.

  • Making YouTube Great Again

    I am digging the Grand master Ursine Armor :D

  • ThousandTimesNo

    Everything is fine and logical but one thing: witchers were trained (or made) to be anti-monster weapons. They were not suppose to fight people. This is the point where we come to Witcher universum paradox where he fights more human opponents than monster like (not winning everytime though). Techniques that are maybe not overpowering in sword to sword duel were probaby designed with monster hunting in mind. You should also remember that witchers were mutants with inhuman agility so cuts that look slow and clumsy performed by human were lightning fast in witcher's hands. That is why witcher sword-dance should not be compared to classic/realistic sword fighting style at any level.

  • the scarecrow

    nice outfit (I would call it armor but am not sure if it's a gambeson or just fancy clothing xD). did you make it yourself?

  • TempestWolf1

    The way I see it is... we have to see this techniques as performed by a witcher, and not a human; a much stronger and faster being with superior reflexes (and although I agree some of them are a bit too telegraphed and too widely swung) the pirouette in the game and the rend are done much faster than you are able to (although they should be even faster I think, based on the books). A withcer (as portrayed in the fantasy setting) can leave openings because he has the necessary reflexes, speed and reaction to retract those openings before a normal human can exploit them. As such a human may be confused as of what is happening... He sees the withcer starting a pirouette, thinks it's his lucky moment to hit an idiot... miday through his exploitation of the opening, the witcher is already back in guard (an unexpected thing that cannot be pulled off by an unmutated human) and is now exploiting HIS attacj and opening.Also, maybe I am bad... but rend gets you hit very often when trying to use it agains humans. I find it more useful against hulking monster enemies, especially if they miss their attack or are staggered.

  • Lennart

    In the witcher you first use Axii or sth that also give you enough time and THEN you rend So it's usefull, but only for a wtcher...

  • Scarecrow

    I pomyśleć, że do tej pory walki oparte na systemie HEMA wydawały mi się całkiem proste i "do ogarnięcia" - ot akcja - reakcja, cios - parowanie - kontratak - parowanie - etc. Jak tylko zobaczyłem z jaką szybkością wyprowadzałeś cięcia na początku filmu, to na samą myśl o walce z przeciwnikiem Twojego pokroju uginają mi się nogi - przy takiej szybkości zadawanych ciosów chyba nawet zawodowi szermierze mieliby nogi z waty, zwłaszcza gdyby to działo się naprawdę i walka odbywałaby się na śmierć i życie - bo niewątpliwie szybkość podejmowanych decyzji dotyczących parowania, kontrataku i jednocześnie ciągłego obserwowania ruchów przeciwnika byłaby cholernie obciążająca psychicznie... Nie wspominając o realiach pola bitwy, gdzie po pokonaniu jednego przeciwnika już jest się wykończonym fizycznie i psychicznie, a pozostały jeszcze setki innych wrogów, władających bronią w tym samym, jeśli nie w lepszym stopniu, świeżych i wypoczętych, czekających w kolejnych szeregach.

  • Dovahslayer

    For what it's worth Witchers were not very good at fighting human opponents. They were trained to fight monsters almost exclusively and they could be bested by skilled swordsmen despite all the mutations. So many of these constant moves of the sword were just to scare animals and monsters. Furthermore in the books it is said that these moves of the blade were irregular with irregular speed.That being said I accept that WItcher fighting techniques are just fantasy and most of them are usless in the real world ;)Great video by the way :)

  • Medy

    3:35 ... You base your arguments on fighting ppl with spears & swords ... Witchers are monster slayers first ....

  • shouqie azlan

    You guys are blind, He is secretly a witcher! hunting Leischen in those forest! he's misleading so he can fight humans better.

  • Maciej Bosek

    CD Project Red should hire you for motion capture for ( hopefully ) The Witcher 4 xD :D

  • Alex

    Although points made are very much reasonable and all, but... About issue that been dragged throughout the whole video - speed of the blows. It's a game. So whole combat, even though it feels more or less dynamic, it's still a bit "slowed down" so player has time to react. Similar thing you can see, per say, in Dark Souls game series, Dragon's Dogma, etc.And overall, people who take the witcher's choreography too serious - criticizing fighting style of somebody capable to chop human being, and other more robust creatures in half, can use magic, can survive being hit by... Something the size of a truck, drinks acid, and eats drowners for breakfast is a bit funny.

  • Ollie

    To defend the Rand a little bit: in the game it actually is risky to use it, unless you're fighting a big, dumb archespore or a frozen enemy ;p

  • Kate Marsh

    The rain sounds like the camera man nicked off to cook some popcorn.

  • vonEverec J

    Kolejny fajny filmik! Podoba mi się, że wplatasz w niego humor, czy językowe smaczki... Jak np. "thrust issues" w którymś poprzednim, po prostu padłem :) I to o sealsach :D Tak nawiasem, chyba czytałeś "Sztukę wojny" Sun Tzu? :)Co do tych różnic między efektywną walką, a pokazaną w grze, to niektóre kwestie nawet tak "na chłopski rozum" można wziąć. Np. bardzo mi się nie podoba, kiedy bohater płynnie wykonuje akcje, trzyma się pewnego swojegu rytmu. Nawet w niektórych książkach jest o tym, że dobry szermierz robi nieregularne kroki, zwody, zmienia kierunki i prędkość, żeby wybić przeciwnika z rytmu i tak dalej, co nie?A na koniec muszę coś przyznać. Jestem pod wieeeelkim wrażeniem Twoich umięjętności. Szybkość i technika normalnie powalają. Można cię zobaczyć na turniejach, czy pokazach związanych z wydarzeniami historycznymi? Bo podejrzewam, że bohurt w swej "chamskości i braku finezji" Cię nie interesuje. Pozdrawiam i życzę sukcesów.

  • Maksim Makarov

    Рядом мак растет, а он хуйней занимается ...

  • Davito2000

    TW3 dumbed down the combat from TW2 for the sake of fluidity, simplicity, and sense of power. TW2 was arguably more realistic, and somewhat more in keeping with the books. Unlike TW3, witchers in the novels, including Geralt, emphasized using their heightened speed, eyesight, and coordination to deliver fast, shallow, precise, and accurate blows to vital parts of the body- typically the face & neck, and groin & thigh poles. Sapkowski detailed quite a bit regarding balance, footwork, and the harnessing of momentum, even in tight quarters, making the swordsmanship seem reasonable. Then again, his efforts in explaining magic and controlled mutation got the books classified as sci-fi instead of fantasy in many stores.

  • Megavorun

    Шикарно выглядит и (спасибо русским субтитрам) внятно и четко разъясняет. Подпишусь буду надеяться на наличие субтитров в других видео.

  • Feder Fencer

    "OMG I'm a Navy Seal and I see openings FEAR MY KATANA" Ahahahahahahahahahaha!!!! xD Gosh I can't wait till 9gag see's this one

  • Aspie Sean

    I really enjoyed this video. I'm going to share it with my Youtube series's fans. You explain yourself well, the garb brings the viewer right into your subject material, the quality of video is high, your points are well made. Overall a very good thing. And I love the humor like in the Rend section "A kosher or perfectly halal way to do this is...." (BTW you forgot to mention Posta di Donna as another position to deliver a deadly and freight train powerful blow but it wasn't an issue).I'm looking forward to your next one. :)

  • MrBofra

    Geralt's fighting is not realistic because of "entertaining" purposes, but because of the fantasy purposes . His fighting style makes perfect sense within that fantasy world as he is much quicker then avarage human and trained to fight monsters.

  • Arisuka

    Ich bin begeistert. Das Video ist gut geschnitten und ich kann deinen Erklärungen sehr gut folgen. Wirklich ein Klasse Kanal. Abo und Like sind auf jeden Fall drin. Freue mich auf mehr ;)

  • TrollDragomir

    Thing with the Witcher is that according to books he's a mutant with superhuman speed and reflexes. Spins there are not only justified by that, but also they explicitly say that when a Witcher is doing a pirouette he'd block across the back, which wouldn't be possible to execute properly with inferior human senses. It's not too well represented in the game, but adds a bit to the suspension of disbelief.

  • Kavriel

    Beautiful sword, it's close to my favorite shape actually. Also nice location, the weather sucked a bit but it's very Witcher like. Kinda looks like Velen with that overcast.

  • Rocky Mountain hermit

    I know an alternative: use a gun

  • Demonstormlord

    Have you played the Hearts of stone DLC? I've read that Olgierd von Everec apparently uses the saber style you mentioned in this video.

  • Tageicus

    the wide sweeping strikes have more to do with the Witcher style dealing with multiple opponents, it's a sort of crowd control

  • Saiga

    "MOM LOOK I DID A 5K CRIT" - I subbed

  • Nathan

    A lot of the techniques i think are kinda used logically against the monsters that appear in The Witcher Universe, if you've read the books there are quite a lot of the techniques described as used well against monsters.

  • Andrea Maffione

    HiCan a man become a good fencer starting at 24? Or am I too old?

  • Gorilla Gorilla

    I've just started watching your vids and their very interesting, I do enjoy getting insight from those who have a true understanding of what they do. Now, in the defense vs the Witcher's technique besides it being a fictional world and all with more cinematic fights. I also keep in mind that a Witcher's Technique is meant to fight Monsters not Men. Hence the incredible aggressiveness and constant movement. And even the game addresses this, as when fighting other weapon wielders, you can't just spam on the offense. You have to (like you said) parry and respond(At least on Death March, the hardest difficulty).But honestly, I absolutely love your insight on sword fighting. Apologies for the long comment that you may not even read but I have subscribed and will love to see more :P

  • robert paulson

    To say Grzegorz Brzezinski wasn't using HEMA is a huge over statement IMO. 90-99% of historical sword fighters never studied under a sword master yes? then this huge amount who were Historical,European and fighting in the true definition of Martial Arts were HEMA practitioners yes? Grzegorz Brzezinski was fighting, he wasn't playing, he was fighting in a similar fashion one would who wanted to stay alive IE win. A big question that comes up often in HEMA is why don't the fighters look like the pictures in the manual, one reason (and their are many) is that their are no HEMA masters alive today, every single practitioner in HEMA today (even the really good ones) are not masters and have never taken a mans life with a sword or defended his own with a sword, for the most part. Many styles of HEMA created by many HEMA masters throughout time looked different from each other, Fiore de'i Liberi fighters are encouraged to close the gap under cover and grapple (because Fiore says so :) but a fighter under the tradition of Johannes Liechtenauer may keep his distance and wind in the bind more. Grzegorz Brzezinski is not a swordmaster and therefor was fighting more accurately to a historical European swordsman would have, and he kicked ass. Another reason many (not all) HEMA fighters don't look like they did in the manuals is, its easy to do demonstrations of techniques when you are not in the heat of combat, and to much safety gear has given over confidence and suicidal tendency among the fighters. Give 2 HEMA'ist wooden waster and only gloves and a mask and the techniques start to look more like they did in the manuals. Grzegorz Brzezinski was using something many of us forget about in HEAM...the basics.hope I dint piss anyone off (that happens sometimes when I write lol )love you all and keep kicking ass. Hit me up if you have a rebuttal friends.

  • Cobrox

    HEMA is a shop in the netherlands

  • ThegnThrand

    This is Thrand, Excellent video

  • Hugo

    To be fair, most of the opponents a Witcher would face are monsters who do not retaliate with swords, so who knows? Maybe their combat techniques would be valid against something that isn't using fencing techniques.

  • Thomas Gibson

    I was an amateur and professional boxer for many years. I live in a small town and there are no Renaissance martial arts to practice with. Everything I do is glorified shadow boxing with swords, or pseudo Kata's, if you will. That said, I appreciate your position on classic styles versus winning styles. I believe my boxing footwork and circular movements would cause a lot of problems for classic sword fighters that are lineal in foot movement. Thank you for your information.

  • Turaco

    A lot of the Witcher sword techniques are impractical to the normal person because they aren't superhuman. Witchers are innately faster and stronger than average humans so pirouettes wouldn't leave as much of an opening. Also Witchers are trained to fight monsters so their techniques are formulated against things like Nekkers, humans and the like are an afterthought.

  • Veloziraptor111

    Bloody hell, everytime I watch a video where people talk about HEMA or practice it, I'm constantly saddened that my country doesn't appear to have a school dedicated to it. All you can find here are either fencing classes or kendo, but nothing that would focus on the medieval european swords.

  • The

    8:05 your opponent cannot react if you use Axii on him first.

  • Spicy Twang

    Nice video! Reason Geralt uses his sword like he does is because he's inhumanly fast. His moves in the games are way too slow to how he would actually fights.IIRC people in the games mention he's swift as the wind or something. To his opponents, I imagine he'd look like a whirlwind of attacks.This would make for a bad game, however.

  • Croz Raven

    after watching this I have to say The Witcher 1 combat system might be atrocious but the stances system are more realistic and more HEMA, also the moves were reasonably good for irl for the most part (except the roll jumping attacks of course). the devs really should've implemented the stances system on Witcher 3

  • G333ralt

    Great video.I am a student of the Polish school Shinkendo, and your tips great show lessons our teacher.I am proud you'd say much of good things about Polish fighters.Let the blade leads your hand.

  • SuperNovaPL

    Range in W3 may be different but in the books its clear that Witchers were using tip of the sword to perform cut, not to bash and swing like an idiot. They were aiming for arteries.

  • Dustin Newman

    Looks like he’s wearing the superior ursine armor

  • Astorre 321

    Absolutely love the Witcher, books and games, and my only regret watching this is that I have never taken up fencing (who knows, maybe one day!). Just wanted to say that I admire the fairness of your analysis I.e. Not saying that HEMA, good as it may be, is the only style of fencing, and also your grace and speed when fighting is truly a sight to behold. Very enjoyable videos indeed!

  • Joanna Pastuszka

    I came here because my husband nicely ask if I would be so nice and watch this vid he liked very much, so much that he just want someone to see it, no biggie. And I got glued to screen with my jaw dropped, this is amazing. Pure awsomness.

  • The Ravenous Rabbit

    To me the witcher fighting style is more realistic than what we see in most games and movies. You can explain away a lot of the "stupid" stuff such as the spinning with a witcher being much quicker and agile than a normal human, but even then I don't see the reason as to why you would do that. Though the witcher 3 game shows that they know of guard stances and the like, as shown when circling an enemy and the like.

  • Adalmun

    who are you to fool Geralt of Rivia's sword technique??????ps: nice video :D

  • Hawk Moth

    I use that "rend" move all the time... when i'm splitting firewood

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