Friday, November 2, 2012

The Skills of Kratos

Kratos, as a spartan warrior, was trained in all manner of grecian combat.  Spear, shield, and sword are traditional weaponry of the spartan army.  When he became the servant of Ares and the Ghost of Sparta, however, he received a rather non-standard issue of chain blades fused to his forearms.

Unfortunately, we need to start this discussion by admitting that such fantastical weapons do not exist.  If you are feeling particularly industrious, you can, of course, try and make some yourself.  I take no responsibility for what may happen in trying to use such things, however.  Flexible weapons are notoriously difficult to control, and due to the physics of their nature even masters cannot control them for every second of their movement, especially after striking a target.  Strapping a pair of big-ass one-handed swords on the end of them and then expecting to have the coordination to control them one-handed is a bit much to expect.

There are, however, similar weapons.  The medieval flail or morningstar is, functionally, a similar weapon to Kratos' blades.  It's got the force multiplication factor of a flexible weapon, but the addition of a long handle and a short chain makes it significantly safer to wield.  It's a brutal, smashing weapon like Kratos' blades.  I took a look around on youtube and found a couple informative videos:
This one has no sound, but demonstrates some interesting combat motions on a one-handed morningstar.
These are a nice approach to the two-handed peasant's flail.
This is a little overview from the history channel on the history of the flail, with a bit of lesson as well.

But if you're more into the showy, long-ranged combat aspect, you might want to look into the rope dart, meteor hammer, or kusari-gama.  The rope dart and meteor hammer come from chinese martial arts(shaolin kung fu), and the kusari-dama from japanese and okinawan arts.  The meteor hammer is the weapon used by Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill, if you've seen the film, and Assassin' Creed 3 is currently highlighting the rope dart as one of its unique weapons(though, not having played the game yet, I'm unsure how a Mohawk native American came to use a Chinese weapon).  The Kusari-Gama is one of the extra weapons that Ryu Hayabusa wields in the second Ninja Gaiden game.  All of these weapons are showy, and nice, but historically difficult to control, and near-useless if your opponent grabs them.  Regardless, here's some videos!
Meteor Hammer by a practitioner of Shaolin.
Rope dart form!
Kusari Gama vs Katana!

As always, I recommend learning martial arts from well-historied schools, rather than trying to learn online.  European weaponry is, unfortunately, much harder to find schools for, so sometimes online is your only option.  For the asian weapons, you probably have better odds.  If you're interested, see if any local schools teach the weaponry you're interested in.  Chances are you'll have to learn hand forms first, as that's a normal prerequisite for weapon work in most dojos, but those are usually worth learning anyway.

The other skill Kratos has that is notable, is mental and physical fortitude.  The man just will not quit.  He gets stabbed in the stomach and refuses to die.  While, of course, I don't encourage any self-harm upon yourself, you can still train yourself to face extreme challenges.  One of my hobbies has become mud running, particularly the Tough Mudder.  It's become quite a popular activity and you can find mud runs in many locations around the world.  Training for and completing a Tough Mudder gives you a rush and sense of accomplishment that is hard to find in everyday life, and will definitely increase your mental and physical fortitude.  Barring this, even just pushing yourself a little harder in your workouts than you think you can go(stay safe and don't hurt yourself), or forcing yourself to take cold showers every morning, or eat foods you don't like but you know are good for you, are all small ways to increase your personal fortitude.

Living through difficult situations requires mental toughness, so preparing yourself for such a thing is always useful in everyday life.  Living a spartan lifestyle is another way of saying to live on the bare minimum.  See how much you can actually cut out of your life and still survive without.  You might be pleasantly surprised.  Everyone in my home state of NJ is currently dealing with the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy.  I'm lucky enough to have power and internet here at work, where I'm writing to you right now, but even so, I've found that most of the good things in life don't really require all that much.  When you're stripped down to the bare basics, even something like a hot meal with your family and a board game by candlelight can be enough to make your life feel complete.  See what you can live without sometime, you'll be a better person for it.

Now I'm off to have a bachelor party, and get married tomorrow.  Wish me luck!  There will most likely not be a post on Monday as I'll be on my mini-honeymoon, so I'll see you all on Tuesday!  Until then, make sure to follow me on Twitter,  like the blog page on Facebook, and continue to be awesome.

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

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