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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Fili's swords

Tol Eressea

Feb 19 2013, 12:25am

Post #1 of 19 (1476 views)
Fili's swords Can't Post

I have seen AUJ 17 times now (tonight will make 18!) and even watched a youtube clip of the scene where he and his brother arrive at bag end and he dumps his kagillion weapons arsenal on poor Bilbo, and even paused it to get a good look at his scabbard, and STILL cannot figure out how the bottom sword doesn't fall out when it's upside down!

And if it is because it is hooked with a leather strap or some other such thing to keep it from falling out, wouldn't that cause problems with unsheathing it in the first place?

Also, I am curious as to how one would draw a sword when they are used to carrying them on their backs and how the dwarven fighting styles would vary with such a method of unsheathing their swords and weapons?

Dwarven fighting style must have some way to account for their height disadvantages. We have seen that with how they fight as a group, but if the dwarves were to become separated from each other, what other sort of fighting modifications would have to happen to ensure that they don't get their butts kicked by foes taller than them? (kind of like how Thorin nearly got tenderized with Azog's mace by going at him alone at Azanulbizar). It would be very interesting to figure out the tactics they use to minimalize that disadvantage, especially since I am only 5'1" tall which according to PJ makes me an inch shorter (or 2.5 cm for non American's benefit) than Thorin and Dwalin, so such tactics would be helpful to learn as I am learning archery and swordfighting as well :)

Any thoughts would be appreciated! :)

Also, don't know if there have been any other threads posted about this, but I was curious as to what all weapons each dwarf carries with them? I know some are more obvious, but since (again, as demonstrated by Fili in Bag End) they seem to have a numerous stash of hidden weapons too, I would be curious to know what and how many weapons each dwarf carries?

Half Elven Daughter of Celethian of the Woodland Realm


Feb 19 2013, 3:55am

Post #2 of 19 (965 views)
Swords on backs [In reply to] Can't Post

don't work so another movie invention that can work however the movie makers want it to (not a dig at Sir PJ and Co we have seen plenty of other movies with back scabbards)

A sword should stay in it's scabbard even when upside down. Although there are other types of construction (inclduding metal scabbards) a "typical" scabbard is commonly constructed with a wood core, leather covering and wool lining, the scabbard is built so the sword slides easily but securely all the way in, with a final tightening just before the entire length of the sword is sheathed so they are easily housed and removed but are also very secure at the same time.

And swords don't ring when drawn from there scabbards (excpet for maybe metal ones) I would like to get my hands on the first person who thought of that bright idea for adding it into movies.

As far as sword fighting is concerned...get a spear, they were in many instances the primary weapon on the battlefield.

(This post was edited by ElendilTheShort on Feb 19 2013, 3:57am)

Tol Eressea

Feb 19 2013, 4:05am

Post #3 of 19 (938 views)
kneees, go for the kneeeees..... some random thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

Back in the Dark Ages (the 80s) I belonged to a group called the Society for Creative Anachronisms, and played around with (rattan) broadswords a bit (which is one of the reasons I have bad knees now)(protect your knees). There were only a few of us "swordbroads" in it at the time, and most of the guys we were fighting were lots taller. They have reach, I don't. Get in close.

There's a neat scene in one of the Master and Commander books where Our Hero is in a much smaller ship attacking a larger one... he comes right up alongside, and under the cannons of the big boat, and blows his cannons straight up through her hull.

...a bit like Bruce Lee's "one inch punch"... ie: you can do a full force punch from one inch away if you have the skill.

I have dealt a lot with small, tough animals who are close to the ground. Mustelids like otters and ferrets can beat the crap out of a human or dog because: a. they have powerful jaws...b. they are close to the ground. A wildlife rehabber I knew had a couple of her otters get loose one day, the female suddenly decided she didn't want human female in cage, attacked, male backed her up. Now this is two 12 pound mustelids biting at your knees/thighs. Rehab lady smacked away with dinner dishes and ran for it. Ended up in hospital with big bite wounds. One of those little buggers bit me through 6 millimeter dive gloves. Very powerful. Think: pit bulls that can swim... fast. And my 5 lb. ferret used to jump on my 60 pound Golden Retreiver....

Shetland ponies are harder to move than bigger horses... they're just so rooted in the ground and low center of gravity, and stout and sturdy and strong. All their power comes from down low.

And pound for pound, a forty pound sled dog is stronger than that pony. (look at some youtube videos of dogs weight pulling, they are rooted in the earth arched like a bow, and putting all their energy in one direction).

I know some potbellied pigs too: about 100 pounds. Again, big jaws, big teeth, all their power coming right from the ground. They "argue" with each other by shoving and biting, a lot of power right down low. If they weren't friendly, I'd be afraid to carry feed buckets in.. they'd knock you over and pirate the stuff.

Lots of these small, close to the ground animals are very fast/quick/agile. They do not have the kind of fluid grace you see in, oh, gazelles, or greyhounds or Elves, but they have power and agility and speed.

Like Dwarves.

I have no idea how anyone draws a sword slung on their back, it looks cool, but... ack, trip, stumble, excuse me while I do some yoga here....

Good luck with your swordfighting! It's a blast! And you'll always be "armed", even if all you have is an umbrella or walking stick.

Go outside and play...


Feb 19 2013, 4:24am

Post #4 of 19 (913 views)
Dwarf fighting strategies [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
Dwarven fighting style must have some way to account for their height disadvantages. We have seen that with how they fight as a group, but if the dwarves were to become separated from each other, what other sort of fighting modifications would have to happen to ensure that they don't get their butts kicked by foes taller than them? (kind of like how Thorin nearly got tenderized with Azog's mace by going at him alone at Azanulbizar). It would be very interesting to figure out the tactics they use to minimalize that disadvantage, especially since I am only 5'1" tall which according to PJ makes me an inch shorter (or 2.5 cm for non American's benefit) than Thorin and Dwalin, so such tactics would be helpful to learn as I am learning archery and swordfighting as well :)

I'm interested in this as well. I know a lot of thought was given to choreography (even down to basic movements for different races), so I'm quite sure a lot of thought went into fighting styles. I've tried searching but haven't found anything yet. I'm hoping there will be something in the special features of the DVD/EE.

I think you're at a serious disadvantage when you face larger enemies, and personally I don't think any dwarf has that much chance facing off Azog on his own (and much less so when Azog is mounted). The best chance of surviving might be agility -- the ability to dodge enemy attacks and get a counter-strike in, although that doesn't sound very dwarf-like. I like the teamwork strategy though. :)

Tol Eressea

Feb 19 2013, 4:42am

Post #5 of 19 (944 views)
aaaaaaaaaand one... more... thing... [In reply to] Can't Post

Just found this on my tumblr feed... a series of gifs, some humor, some insight...

"Their height is the source of much underestimating. Your flawed notions about height will be exploited. And your ability to reproduce taken from you."


Go outside and play...


Feb 19 2013, 5:55am

Post #6 of 19 (919 views)
About the ringing [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it's more for dramatic effect when drawing a blade in a confrontation. It'd be kinda weird drawing a cool sword out of a scabbard with no noise, as it is in real life, but this is a movie, where things have to be exaggerated sometimes for purposes we can't fully grasp.

Lover of Medieval Fantasy
"I know what I must do. It's just... I'm afraid to do it."


Feb 19 2013, 9:04am

Post #7 of 19 (861 views)
I can manage a faint ringing... [In reply to] Can't Post

...with a sabre I have at home. I have to listen quite closely, though Tongue The thing is getting a bit rusty and is hard to draw from the scabbard at the moment, so most of the noise it's making is more like scraping nails over a blackboard.

But yeah, carrying a sword on your back is not a good idea, especially if you like your ears to stay attached to your body and you don't want to decapitate anyone standing next to you (or clear the bookshelf of nicknacks). I've only tried this once (the things I do for research... well, what *I* call research, anyway), and with a rather long sabre, so perhaps it could be a bit less dangerous with shorter weapons?

Now, if you do not use your weapon and are merely in transit, I'm all for carrying swords on my back, especially long ones. I'd always be afraid to stumble over the bloody thing when it's attached to my belt on the side. But then again, I'm clumsy...


Feb 19 2013, 5:11pm

Post #8 of 19 (794 views)
Dwarf sized fighting [In reply to] Can't Post

You brought up some inetresting questions.
Ahhh Sulime I'm in the same height category as you are! Don't worry about it holding you back. But keep in mind that you must moderate your choices based on size. The first custom blade I had made for myself was 30' long (yes, 30'. why? because thats what all my guy friends had...who are SIX feet plus tall). Which considering my size is just ridiculous. Eventually I got wise and got things appropriate for my arm reach. Keep in mind that the reach of your opponent may be much longer than yours. Defense, defense.

As far as bows just shop in the kids section. Start with 15 lbs. That might be your best bet forever, you will enjoy how much stability you get when drawing back on a light bow. My best friends bow is a 65 lb compound which makes me drool to look at it but trying to pull it back is nothing but a weight lifting exercise for me and looks very, very silly.

There is a whole school of hand fighting developed in Brazil based on being on the ground. It's very tough, very effective.

Noticed Thorin uses a very fluid, circular, almost Kendo-style (side strikes with few thrusts) of combat in later years. His early days seem more like alternating triangulated side strikes. I think I saw that RA mentioned that Thorin's style became more refined as he aged. Think Dwarves in general are at a disadvantage when alone, not just because of height (consider that their strength is much greater proportionally than other races) but because of the very smash-mouth frontal attacks they use as a group. And the Warg thing too....

Randomly, have been thinking that ground attack would be very effective against Wargs. Like all quadripeds they have no bony abdominal defenses. From below you get access to belly, diaphragm, chest cavity and trachea, while out of reach of teeth. And you really have to take out the Warg first if you are on the ground. That sliding move Kili uses in the Trollshaw would work nicely. (Just as a side note thats why I love TORn. Where else can you discuss this stuff withoiut people slooooowly backing away?)

As far as drawing a ringing blade give me silent every time. And we mentioned spears...give them a try. They are amazing and such fun. Very, very variable in weight so they are size friendly.

...she took the point at once, but she also took the spoons.


Feb 19 2013, 7:26pm

Post #9 of 19 (760 views)
All for Effect those draw off the back things. [In reply to] Can't Post

Not very practical, as others have mentioned. But it looks cool, right? That's all that matters it seems these days. It would be nice if some films took the trouble to educate on how its really done as well as make it look good. Of course, that doesn't thrill people.

As a side note...Seems to me that dwarves would use more spears for a battle like Five Armies. They're disciplined enough to make a nice prickly hedge and stop wargs quite effectively.

The Shire

Feb 19 2013, 8:11pm

Post #10 of 19 (760 views)
Not just off the back... [In reply to] Can't Post

but two swords, one of which is drawn over the shoulder and the other of which is drawn under the rib. That has to be a tricky move, especially if one wants to draw both swords at the same time. But then, how else would you carry two swords at a time? A double-sheath at the belt? Wouldn't that be a bit awkward? And you wouldn't want one on one side and one on the other, that sounds like a tripping hazard.

I still think it's a cool idea--not practical for us mundanes, but cool. And maybe in Middle-Earth such things do work.

Lotr: You know it's been a bad day when even the elf is smudged.
TH: when the going gets tough, the tough call the eagles.


Feb 19 2013, 11:04pm

Post #11 of 19 (726 views)
You can't draw a long sword from your back [In reply to] Can't Post

unless it's bottom isn't tied somewhere or the top end is loose or doesn't reach to guard, but then it isn't very practical to carry. Swords are carried on hip for a good reason, and you could even carry one on both.

LOTR must have top-5 best fighting choreography in movies, it's very well thaught of, not exaggerrated nor underrated but still has a movie taste to it with all the 'khachings' and klings, the sounds the bows make when they are drawn, which is a really bad sound to hear from a bow in reality and horses ramming through thousands of orcs... well...

I haven't rewatched AUJ so can't say much about it, the fight scenes seem to be really well planned but they are a bit too fast and not much detail is shown. Guess we aren't supposed to take AUJ as serious as LOTR in many ways.

Pessimists have no disappointments.

(This post was edited by Tigero on Feb 19 2013, 11:05pm)


Feb 20 2013, 12:20am

Post #12 of 19 (702 views)
Do you mean Brazilian jiu-jitsu? [In reply to] Can't Post

If so it is very good for a smaller opponent to learn - be that weight or height.

I am practicing in it as part of mma training, this is for self defense not to compete, but still hard work and fun Smile

I am only 5'11'' which i guess is kinda average but i weigh more than most at my height so i always grapple with guys who are 6'2'' plus most around 6'4'' - basically way taller. I also think when someone gets that tall they have slightly disproportionate limbs in that they are a little longer when stretched out than they should be making reach even more of an issue.

From this i have found - if you have two equally trained fighters then it is usually the heavier one who will win regardless of height though usually the taller person is heavy - this is for grappling where you are close together. I think the weight usually corresponds to more muscle and greater strength so if you both know same moves but one is stronger, they will gain upper hand.

For more boxing style you have a couple of options - if they are rubbish you can try to bridge the gap between yourself and them and get in close - if they are half way decent though they will time your approach and pick you off. Another tack tick is to be a counter attacker - waiting for them to come to you and you try and get them when they come close.

Also to minimise chance of being hit, work the angles - so move at a 45 degree to their body so that you can get closer.

Overall it is a disadvantage being smaller i think but you usually have quicker hand speed as it takes less time for your limbs to move and if you are muscular you have a great centre of gravity which means you will be better on the floor most likely.

How this can correspond to dwarves i don't really know - they are said to be fierce warriors which i always take to mean they always go forward never trying to be smart in defense. Gimli in the helms deep chapter doesn't fight the hill men as he thinks they are too big but he does take out the goblins who are of course shorter so perhaps they are fierce but know their limitations as well as their advantages - such as being hardy and fire retardant lol.


Feb 20 2013, 3:30am

Post #13 of 19 (676 views)
You are correct! [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, I was referring to BJJ! Make the choice to go down WITHOUT impact damage!
I have to say I loved reading your post!Smile
At five-foot-n-a-itty-bit myself the height and reach issues are a big (haha) consideration. I am into MMa for knowledge and defense as well. Getting back into the swing after many years of working nights, which made my life a grey misery. Loving being a day person again!
The arm issue is so true with the height gradient. Even in equal proportions there is an advantage in reach.
I am looking into krav maga right now. As you point out lower height can mean lower center of gravity so I think it might be fun and I've heard quite challenging, as in Hoping to Keep all my Teeth. Would love to get into Kendo again but the nearest dojo is just about in NYC. Too darn far for me.

I agree with you completely. It's hard being smaller! You have to move a lot.

Back to ME....Dwarves are so disproportionately strong that must give them a blunt advantage. They have the arm reach that you mention too! Loved the charge at Moria. Wall of power is their best approach as a group. Alone they seem to use that 360 degree striking field. If you have enough stamina and don't get dizzy that could work for a while, at least until help came.

Altogether fascinating subject!

...she took the point at once, but she also took the spoons.


Feb 20 2013, 5:11am

Post #14 of 19 (681 views)
Wow, great insight! [In reply to] Can't Post

(You must have meant the original poster though, not me, as I have absolutely ZERO experience when it comes to handling weapons of any kind)

But actually I'm only 5'2 myself and if I had to choose something I'd go for those lightweight Chinese jian, which I've heard suit females better.

I've heard RA's interview about Thorin's developing fighting style, but to be honest I am yet to spot the difference. Will need to watch it again :)

Grey Havens

Feb 20 2013, 9:14am

Post #15 of 19 (670 views)
I don't have much to add... [In reply to] Can't Post

as most everyone else in this thread has some really interesting insights into fighting techniques and weaponry (which I know nothing about, so am enjoying reading these posts).

But I can offer this: the Weta Chronicles book, if you can get your hands on it, might prove very interesting to you. There's heaps of pictures and descriptions of the various dwarvish weapons. There is one particular sketch of Fili's double scabbard, and it shows the two swords being held in by leather straps. (I don't know if this picture depicts the scabbard as it actually is in the movie, though.) In the picture, it at least looks plausible that those straps would hold in even the upside-down sword. I can't see how the swords could be drawn quickly, though, as those straps don't look like they have a quick-release button! Besides, as I had wondered and others here have pointed out, your arm would have to be really really long in order to draw a sword sheathed like that on your back. Doesn't seem practical. Looks cool, though.

One description of Kili in the Chronicles is that he is supposed to be "bristling with weapons", more so than the rest of the Dwarves. He does seem to pull them out of an amazing number of places when he unloads on Bilbo in Bag End!


Feb 20 2013, 4:38pm

Post #16 of 19 (636 views)
Haha! [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes I must have hit the wrong reply button! Glad you liked it anyway!
Cirashala that post was meant for you..! And thanks for starting the topic! Its a lot of fun.

...she took the point at once, but she also took the spoons.

(This post was edited by Brethil on Feb 20 2013, 4:39pm)


Feb 20 2013, 4:48pm

Post #17 of 19 (642 views)
Back draw [In reply to] Can't Post

All in all must agree with the other posters in regards to back scabbards. I can't use one. Your arms have to be long. As far as the upside-down scabbard a leather strap with a snap would hold it in place and would be a fast release. Would have to be a short sword to be able to draw it. And if you slip or get banged into you might poke yourself. Very embarassing.
Filis arm scabbards are very nice though. I like those a lot.

...she took the point at once, but she also took the spoons.


Feb 20 2013, 5:13pm

Post #18 of 19 (626 views)
Thx! Loved that! "These furry little men..." // [In reply to] Can't Post


My avatar photo is Lake Tekapo in New Zealand's South Island. Taken by me in 2004 on a Red Carpet Tours LOTR Movie Location Tour. 'Twas the Vacation of a Lifetime!

pictures taken while on the tour are here:

Tol Eressea

Feb 20 2013, 7:23pm

Post #19 of 19 (663 views)
I seem to remember... [In reply to] Can't Post

reading somewhere that when they were filming Thor, they discussed his fighting style... all power coming up from the ground (funny for a "sky god")... now picture him (stout, powerful) at 5' tall (oh, say, Fili...)...

just sayin'...

you folks have some awesome insights. It seems many of us have been inspired to at least dabble in martial arts, if not pursue it farther!

Go outside and play...


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