Broadsword against katana should have been an immediate disaster. Even lightened by the carved fullers, a broadsword was much more dense and a fair bit heavier, and could snap a katana blade through sheer applied mass. By contrast, a katana was light, maneuverable and normally had a sharper edge to compensate for the lower mass backing a strike. Against the wrong (or right) weapon, it might just shear through the blade.
One way or the other, even with wood and cane weapons that approximated the correct weights, the fight should have ended almost immediately.
Instead, the two men had been sparring for a good half-hour now, using just enough padding to keep the sallé insurance happy and wooden blades that had yet to touch that padding although their arms were likely to be bruised at this rate. The constant clack and thwack of wood on wood had drawn attention to their spar immediately. Most of the other members of the club had given up pretending not to watch and the manager had been there for the last twenty minutes.
MacLeod had been a member for almost a year; he admitted to two black belts, and fought with rapier and saber as smoothly as he did great sword or katana. The club manager had been trying to talk him into teaching classes almost since he'd joined. When McCormick moved to town, MacLeod had sponsored him for membership. An FBI agent in the sallé seemed a bad idea -- what did a gun-toting, court-testifying agent know about swords? -- but Dessessart still had hopes of getting MacLeod to teach. He'd given McCormick a trial membership rather than worry about a discrimination suit or losing a possible instructor for the lucrative claidh mor market.
Apparently, McCormick did know how to use a blade; that or he had an absolute gift for frustrating MacLeod. Again and again, he managed to bring his broadsword into place to block or deflect the katana, and he had a thoroughly irritating skill at using maneuvers that shouldn't have worked with a broadsword and making them work anyway.
To add insult to injury or to give the onlookers a better show -- with their senses of humor, Dessessart was unwilling to wager which it might be -- both of them had enough attention to spare to slight each other as they went, grinning too widely for any of it to be serious.
M. Dessessart restrained his smile, hands clasped behind his back as he watched them spar, and made a mental note to ask McCormick about his previous training. He'd also have to warn the staff to expect a crowd for the next few days, as word of this spread. It would do some of his slackards good to come in and practice, whether or not they got free entertainment out of it....
"Not bad, not bad at all," Matthew drawled as he countered another attack and turned the thrust into a downcut across Duncan's ribs, "but were you planning to stand there all day?"
Duncan just laughed and shifted away from it rather than block. He side-stepped, trying to come in from Matthew's left. "Why not? It's not as if you're chasing me."
That got the devil's own smile and a flurry of blows that came faster than Duncan had expected, even after six weeks of running together. "I do believe, Mr. MacLeod," and Matthew punctuated the ironic courtesy with an attempt at a leg sweep that forced Duncan back and away from the blow that Matthew deliberately pulled, "that you've mistaken the word for the blade."
"If this is your sword, Mr. McCormick," Duncan said, laughter spilling into his voice, "I don't want to see your pen." He shifted back onto the offensive, katana spinning through a series of figure eights. His strikes came in from either side, a rapid swirl of motion as he forced Matthew back, and back again. Matthew's footwork was as casually precise as Duncan's would have been and he let the stronger broadsword take more of the shock of each blow than Duncan would have wanted to expose a katana to.
Even through the cotton shirt, Duncan could see the muscles working in Matthew's arms, see the way tendons tightened along the forearms from his hands, the way the cotton clung to his biceps. He was breathing hard, though nowhere near out of breath yet, and Duncan could almost see his nipples through the damp shirt. Both of them were sweating freely by now, damp and salty and slick....
Matthew's blade came in at him again and Duncan blocked it almost automatically, but he hadn't expected the elbow strike that numbed his forearm. He brought his blade back up, spinning it with his good hand as his feet slid back in half-circles that kept him upright and untangled from his own limbs. Matthew smiled at him lazily, all too aware of where his mind had gone from the deviltry in his eyes. He chuckled, low and wicked, voice equally low as he murmured, "Charmed, I'm sure, Duncan, but not here, I wouldn't think?"
Duncan only licked the sweat off his lips. While Matthew was watching his mouth, the tip of his shinai circled around and past McCormick's blade to lick across his arm. "No, not here," he agreed softly, equally amused and aroused.
Matthew laughed and shifted his blade to his other hand, flicking it up in an pleased salute as he acknowledged the hit. "More sparring, more forms, or dinner?"
Duncan grinned at him. Both of them knew that in a real fight Matthew would have just switched hands while the tendons healed, much as Duncan had switched hands after the elbow strike. The rest of the dojo probably thought they were restarting after each crippling injury; why explain what rules they were fighting by?
"Shower and dinner. Who's buying?"
Matthew just laughed. "Do believe I'm ahead on points."
"Now wait," Duncan sputtered. "Wrist, thigh, upper arm--"
"Elbow, knee, ankle, both forearms, and if I hadn't pulled the head shot it would have caught your collarbone, Mr. MacLeod. Do believe you owe me dinner." Matthew was grinning at him. "I keep saying you need a blade with more mass."
"I make do with speed," Duncan said dryly to watch Matthew's eyes fill with all the comments he wasn't going to make here.
Matthew dropped him a partial bow to acknowledge the final hit, but told him, "You're still buying."
"Cheapskate," Duncan grumbled, returning the bow. "Nice spar."
"I just know the value of things," Matthew told him, amused. "And I never said I wouldn't buy the drinks."
"Oh, well, that's different, then. But if you hadn't been pulling some of the force, I'd have been dodging more, you know--"
They were still quibbling when they left for dinner.
Comments, Commentary, & Miscellanea:
A shinai is a split cane training blade used in martial arts training.
The commentary on the relative differences between broadsword and katana are accurate.
Monsieur Dessessart's name is from that most essential of swashbuckling sources: M. Dumas, pere. Points to anyone who can tell me which book.