Author Topic: At what point in the Golden Arc did Guts surpass Griffith in swordsmanship?  (Read 3791 times)

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Offline Moongloom

Hello everybody, I am interrupting my life-long lurking because I saw that you were recently discussing the Guts-Griffith duel from Volume 8. I consider it one of the most crucial moments in the story, and there are a couple of aspects of that fight, which to me look quite important, that I have never seen to be pointed out in the forum.

It is correct that

Guts won because he was a better swordsman at that point.

Indeed, many characters in that scene (Judo, Casca and Griffith, I think) make remarks to that effect.
However, things may be explained at a different level of detail, or abstraction; for example, what was the physical reason why the saber broke?

It is also true that

It's shown that Griffith knew what he was doing. He planned his attack

...but what is not pointed out here is that in Griffith's plan there is one little mistake; a discrepancy between his predictions and reality.
In Griffith's predictions, Guts is shown thrusting forward with his usual ferocity. But in the real duel, we see Guts take a step _backwards_ (check where the bodyweight lies in each picture...).
Therefore, the distance between the two in the real duel, at the moment of the swords' impact, is much greater than in Griffith's expectancy. So, Guts's sword strikes at a much greater speed/momentum than expected (in a circular movement, e.g. the slashing of a sword, the speed is greater as the distance from the center of rotation increases). I think this might be the physical reason why the saber broke, in Miura's intentions.

Secondly, this specific little mistake on the part of Griffith seems to shed some light on his relationship with Guts in that part of the story. Griffith expects Guts to behave, as usual, as a ferocious beast. Guts instead acts in a very rational manner. So, we might think that Griffith's mistake in this battle was to think of Guts as a predictable pawn, and not as a man in possession of an own intellect and will, really capable to follow his own path.

What do you think about these hypotheses? Perhaps I am reading too much in a detail, but I tend to think Miura is too subtle to depict such a discrepancy by mistake.


Offline Menosgade

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Therefore, the distance between the two in the real duel, at the moment of the swords' impact, is much greater than in Griffith's expectancy.

e story. Griffith expects Guts to behave, as usual, as a ferocious beast. Guts instead acts in a very rational manner. So, we might think that Griffith's mistake in this battle was to think of Guts as a predictable pawn, and not as a man in possession of an own intellect and will, really capable to follow his own path.

Griffith really wasn't being rational that moment, before the duel begins we can see that he imagines Guts dying by his sword, but we know that's not what he wanted. It'd work back in the days they first dueled, but not anymore at that point. That's exactly what makes him a lesser swordsman. Griffith should know better than anyone the discrepancy between him and Guts, considering their strenght and equipment. If he cannot win Guts like he once did, he should be able to find another way. That is, if he was a better swordsman, and he wasn't.

Guts did what is considered in HEMA, medieval martial arts, a very obvious and easy to avoid attack, there's not much more to do when you lift your sword directly up other than slash it forwards in a straight angle. He did it knowing he'd prevail  :guts:


Offline Aazealh

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Hello everybody, I am interrupting my life-long lurking because I saw that you were recently discussing the Guts-Griffith duel from Volume 8.

Hi Moongloom, glad you could join us. :serpico:

what is not pointed out here is that in Griffith's plan there is one little mistake; a discrepancy between his predictions and reality.

Well it's not pointed out because I think it's not very significant. I mean sure, Griffith planned his move carefully. He tried to anticipate what Guts would do and prepared a counterattack. He also knew he had precious little options to beat Guts because he had become so good. Do the details beyond that really matter? Guts had a sturdier weapon with more reach, he was also faster and stronger and simply more skilled.

For all your analysis though, there's one thing I'm surprised you haven't mentioned: Guts purposedly broke the sword. He wanted to disarm Griffith, not harm him, and that's exactly what he did. Instead of Griffith just parrying his blow, Guts struck his saber specifically to break it. Few people seem to realize how that shows Guts' superiority as a swordsman.



Griffith expects Guts to behave, as usual, as a ferocious beast. Guts instead acts in a very rational manner.

It's funny because if you check out every fight in the series, you'll find that Guts is actually a very cunning fighter and far from mindless. He only "goes berserk" in specific occasions.

Griffith really wasn't being rational that moment, before the duel begins we can see that he imagines Guts dying by his sword, but we know that's not what he wanted.

That's not a very accurate characterization. At that moment Griffith decides that he would rather kill Guts than let him go. So it's not like he miscalculates because he's emotionally distressed, he just overestimates his own abilities.

Offline Moongloom

Hi Moongloom, glad you could join us. :serpico:

Thank you.  :azan:

For all your analysis though, there's one thing I'm surprised you haven't mentioned: Guts purposedly broke the sword. He wanted to disarm Griffith, not harm him, and that's exactly what he did. Instead of Griffith just parrying his blow, Guts struck his saber specifically to break it. Few people seem to realize how that shows Guts' superiority as a swordsman.



I am perplexed. Assuming that it is possible to intentionally break a sword (and we know that in the Berserk world it IS possible  :zodd: :zodd:"), I don't see any evidence that this is what really happened in this case, rather than simply the saber breaking because of Griffith's own attempt to deflect Guts's sword. Do you?

I suspect you might be hinting at the fact that the two swords hit each other on the opposite side with respect to Griffith's anticipations (or was it something else?). I used to interpret this as Griffith being too late because of the unexpectedly greater distance between the two swords.

On another side, a (weak) argument against your thesis is that a strike aimed at Griffith's sword should most likely miss Griffith himself; instead, it flies straight to his shoulder.

It's funny because if you check out every fight in the series, you'll find that Guts is actually a very cunning fighter and far from mindless. He only "goes berserk" in specific occasions.

It is true. He seemed to be quite meditative even during the fight with 100 men. And it would be highly unlikely that Griffith hadn't realized this after many years together at war.

Offline Aazealh

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Assuming that it is possible to intentionally break a sword (and we know that in the Berserk world it IS possible  :zodd: :zodd:")

Well, it's definitely possible, in fact there historically existed serrated weapons that had that exact purpose. And as you mention, Guts did just that against Zodd in volume 5. So I'm actually not sure what your objection is here.

I don't see any evidence that this is what really happened in this case, rather than simply the saber breaking because of Griffith's own attempt to deflect Guts's sword. Do you?

The two swords connect in a way that wouldn't have allowed Griffith to deflect Guts' sword. The saber is being struck on the side rather than connecting on the edge.

I used to interpret this as Griffith being too late because of the unexpectedly greater distance between the two swords.

It's possible that Griffith simply was too slow to act. However, I believe in that case his saber would have rather bounced off or slided down the length of Guts' blade, and not been broken.

Furthermore, what you say about distance doesn't really make sense when you look at the pictures. Griffith does a leaping strike and the swords clash at close quarters, which is clearly shown in the aftermath of it, as Griffith stays kneeling down with Guts' sword hanging over his shoulder. So Griffith actually succeeds in reducing Guts' reach (and I'm not at all convinced Guts takes a step back anyway).

Finally, throughout all this you're ignoring Guts' intent. It seems pretty clear through the exchange that he didn't plan on killing Griffith. But he also didn't plan on losing. The only way to achieve both outcomes was to break the sword.

On another side, a (weak) argument against your thesis is that a strike aimed at Griffith's sword should most likely miss Griffith himself

I don't see why that would be.

Offline Moongloom

I'm not at all convinced Guts takes a step back anyway

I agree, it is ambiguous. The cinematic lines are quite confusing, and Guts is depicted, in the previous pages, sometimes with the left leg behind, and sometimes with the right.
The posture in the instant of the attack allows either that he is making a step backwards, or that he is striking on the place; but it looks like a very unbalanced posture, if he is going to thrust forward.

It's possible that Griffith simply was too slow to act.

As further evidence for this claim, let me point out that Corkus had the time for TWO remarks during Griffith's attack :)