Friday, December 7, 2012

The Skills of Sephiroth

First and foremost, Sephiroth is a genetically engineered super-soldier.  He's also extremely gifted with magic and materia manipulation.  In addition to this, he's both a skilled tactician, and relentlessly determined individual.  His sword fighting is as core to his character as anything else, however, so we're going to look at this first.

The Manamune, Sephiroth's weapon of choice, is an oversized and stylized version of the Japanese nodachi, basically their equivalent of the European greatsword.  The nodachi was typically carried slung across the back, the only Japanese sword that was(the katana and wakizashi both attached at the hip), however it was not drawn from the back, rather it was taken off and removed from its scabbard, then wielded.  Traditionally, the swords were used to take down horsemen, although the naginata was later favored for such a task.  They were also used as a symbol of status in japanese culture, in part because their combat effectiveness was dubious and they were more of a showpiece than anything.

But what better for an overly-dramatic villain like Sephiroth to use?  =)

To wield the nodachi, you need a strong grounding in kenjutsu, or its modern sport equivalent, kendo.  You know that I do not recommend learning traditional arts over the internet or through books/movies, if you can find the real thing, so I recommend trying to find a local dojo to learn from.  Here are a few directories:

You can also purchase a nodachi(they are also called odachi) from most online sword dealers.  My personal favorite is TrueSwords.  Remember that with swords, you get what you pay for.  Check out online reviews before purchase, and investigate manufacturers.

In regards to his other skills, you might want to look into studying basic human psychology.  Sephiroth may be a psychopath, but many psychopaths are extremely gifted in the art of taking people apart mentally, and making them do what they want.  For example, think Hannibal Lector in the Silence of the Lambs series, or, for a real life example, Charles Manson leading a bunch of fellow loons to commit homicide.  Not that these guys are good role models or anything, it's just an example.  Psycho-analyzation is something you can begin to do just by people watching, and reading some basic psychology textbooks.  The mind is a fascinating thing to study, and can be well worth your time learning about.

For mental conditioning, I would actually refer you back to the second half of Kratos' skills article.  He and Sephiroth are quite similar in the single-minded purpose department, as well as sheer determination and willpower.  They both fought their way back from the dead multiple times(albeit in different mythos), and find themselves only minorly inconvenienced by being stabbed by giant swords.

Finally, you might want to look into learning meditation.  I plan on doing a full write-up on meditation sometime, but until I good, this article is a good place to start.  Now, meditation typically leads to calmer thoughts, a more peaceful life, and a happier existence.  Not exactly the makings of an S-Class villain.  However, meditation can also grant you razor-sharp focus, extreme self control, and knowledge of yourself.  If you can't control yourself, you can't control anyone else, either.  Just something to think on.

So that's it.  I think, honestly, all of these skills have their merits even if you don't want to be a bad guy.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that practicing them is much more likely to lead to inner peace rather than a deep-seated lust for godhood.  That said, it's all in the application, I suppose.  I'm here to put the tools in your hands, it's your choice as to how to use them.  Tomorrow we delve into the mind of Sephiroth, and examine how and why he chooses to use his tools as he does.  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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