Mamerto Adan is an engineer by profession, but a writer by night. He loves toys and knives, and has a martial arts background.
The Harry Potter series is a great literary masterpiece. It once hooked a non-reader like me and turned me into an aspiring author. I mean once you start, you can’t stop. You will read and read until you feel yourself getting sucked into Hogwarts and watching Harry and the others throw spells. Hats-off to J.K Rowling for bringing Harry to us, nevertheless the story is not perfect. I like everything in the story except for some not so easy to digest elements. I thought that Dobby is too comical to kill. I mean a cartoonish character like him simply don’t fit into a murder scene. It is like seeing Jar-Jar Binks being decapitated by a Sith (though it is a good thing for me). I will write a separate article for that, but another thing I don’t like in the story is how they fight.
I and my friends had some discussion about how the wizards fight. I’m not really blaming J.K. Rowling for this. But we both agree that for us it is the weakness of the story. It is unrealistic, cartoonish and somehow dangerous. The wizards should have realized that duelling puts them in greater risk. Anyway, the Harry Potter series was meant to be a magical story for children and young adults and not an action novel. Poor fights won’t even matter and a great plot makes up for it. Nevertheless below is what I and my buddy think of the fight scenes in the Potter universe.
Firstly, My Buddy is My Martial Arts Instructor
My pal happens to do Krav Maga and has a background in MMA. What’s more his circle of friends consists of competitive shooters, Kali practitioners, and some feisty wrestlers. The subject of fighting could trigger his senses. He could get touchy when fights were mentioned in a conversation.
And then Harry Potter enters in the play.
The guy is also a well versed movie and book reviewer. He did gave the Harry Potter series some double checks. Again we agree that this is a story with a solid plot but poor fight scenes. He did mention that not all fights are bad. There are few where Potter and rest pulled off some great brawling moves which will be discussed later on.
J.K Rowling Had no Military Background
Again we are not here to defame our well-loved author. This is just to show that the reason behind the flawed fight scenes is that J.K. Rowling is obviously a pure writer. Other writers have some background in the military, like Tolkien and Lewis. They saw action in the First World War and their works reflected what they seen in the battlefield. The fights are cleaner and well-staged, and the battle brings in mind the epic massed armies of antiquity. In the case of Rowling, she came from a different background.
Her first job is a nonviolent researcher which never exposed her to any forms of fights. And this might explain why her form of duel in the story is a stuff of cartoons. But again if you are writing a children’s book, that don’t matter much.
The Wand is a Ranged Weapon
Okay back to the fight analysis of the Harry Potter universe. The first problem me and my pal see here is that they are using a ranged weapon as swords. And what could be the problem here since they could just curse each one at closed range? That’s the problem. The curse is a projectile moving at high speeds. Something thrown this close will be nearly impossible to defend with. And wizard duel in Hogwarts happens in melee range. Sure Snape once blocked Harry’s curse, but he is reading his thoughts. Curses are relatively slow moving as one could dodge them though. But a curse thrown at such a close range is still hard to defend though they fly slowly. And being this close means that you are also putting yourself within the reach of your opponent, and a trained muggle could just grab your wand and jerk it off your hand. Knives and sticks could also hurt you in melee combat. You will need a distance of twenty feet to stay safe from contact weapons.
Dueling Head on is Suicidal
My friend also sees the wizard’s duel to be risky. The closest thing you could get to a wand in real life is a gun. Sure we saw cowboy movies where people shoot each other to death head on in a brutal gun-slinging contest. But wizard’s duel will make such gunfights look safe. For one thing the duel starts with both wizards already pointing their wands at each other. They are standing there still, waiting for the wands to fire. Without a cover they are in the mercy of each other’s curse, though they should at least move around to reduce their chance of getting hit. Overall what these guys should do is to jump into cover and avoid a direct confrontation with a range weapon.
Few Wizards Know How to Brawl
Prof. McGonagall once called brawling as muggle duel. She should have more respect to fistfights as at some point it could save a wizard’s life. In real life, police and soldiers still train in some form of unarmed martial arts in addition to firearm trainings. In a fight, someone might find themselves in a situation where you have to brawl your way towards your gun. Simply someone caught you with your weapon still holstered and you need to struggle first before you could deploy your gun. Then what if you are unarmed and need to fight barehanded?
We did saw some amazing physical fights in the Harry Potter series, but it is clear that wizards are wand people. They settle their duels with their wands. And training your hands could come in handy when what are you up against are the likes of Greyback. I mean Bill Weasley could have avoided being disfigured if they employed a muggle fight instructor.
The Battle of Hogwarts is a Messy Battle
Again we could see Rowling’s lack of military background on this, but at least she tried. When compared to the epic battles of Tolkien and Lewis, the Battle of Hogwarts resembled a street gang war. We see waves and waves of Death Eaters charging in random and disorderly fashion, without regards to organization. We could say that Voldemort relied on numbers and not tactics, and the result speaks for itself. The Death Eaters never penetrated deeply into Hogwarts and I have a feeling that Voldemort called a truce because of the casualties in his own side. The defenders of Hogwarts never fared better either. With an army of mostly students lacking any skills of castle defense they failed to put the Death Eaters at bay.
But there are Wizards that Fight Properly
To be fair, we did saw a number of well executed moves in the Harry Potter saga. Neville Longbottom might be a wimp, but he did use his wand as an improvised spike. I mean he poked a Death Eater in the eye with that piece of wood. Ron Weasley also pulled off a successful bare handed disarm when a band of Snatchers caught him. And being bigger and stronger than most wizards, I’m sure that no one wants to mess with Hagrid.
Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on July 20, 2019:
I agree with you, having some martial arts training. But I took the Potter series for light fun fiction. When I want to read fiction with tactics and clever moves, well, nothing beats James Rollins' Sigma Force novels. Great article.
bob bob on March 07, 2019:
boi maybe jk should be have Military Background