Fictional Martial Arts

Question: OK, so my fantasy is centered largely on the martial arts, armed and unarmed, that my characters practice. Though the main plot does not exactly revolve around them, they play such a huge part that I think of it as something like "If the 'main goal' is the heart of the story, the martial arts are the veins that give it blood to pump through the story", if that makes any sense. Anyway, these martial arts are entirely fictitious, though I did my best to make them (more-or-less) believable. The story itself obviously involves a good deal of fight scenes and even outside the fight scenes, there are scenes of characters training and going through the movements. Do you have any advice about how detailed I should be in my description of what these martial arts look like? Or how I should go about the fight scenes? And on a side note, any advice about designing a fictional martial art? I did my best with these, but you can never have too much good advice! Thank you!

Answer: Are you a martial artist yourself? I'm no expert, but I believe familiarity with various real fighting styles is probably the best preparation for this type of task. Otherwise, unless these martial arts involve some kind of magic (like Jedi arts) you will have a challenge to make them pass muster with readers who are trained fighters (soldiers, policemen, martial arts hobbyists, etc.)

That said, you can sometimes get away with it if you are not too specific about the actual movements, so that you don't accidentally have your character do something the reader will spot as being physically impossible. Perhaps you can focus more on the philosophy behind the martial arts?

Fortunately, describing a few key actions in a fight can sometimes pack more punch (pardon the pun) than trying to describe each little move in detail.

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