‘Walking Dead’: Michonne actress Danai Gurira talks katana skills

Oct. 14, 2012 | 2:45 p.m.
twd gp 301 0507 0278 Walking Dead: Michonne actress Danai Gurira talks katana skills

Danai Gurira as Michonne in “The Walking Dead.” (Gene Page/AMC)

The third season of AMC’s hit series “The Walking Dead” is just about to kick off, and one of the highlights of the upcoming run of episodes is sure to be the introduction into the ensemble of Danai Gurira’s Michonne. The defiant warrior woman is a favorite among fans of the Robert Kirkman comic book that inspired cable television’s highest-rated scripted drama, and actress and playwright Gurira was brimming with enthusiasm about landing the role during a recent visit to the show’s Georgia set.

Michonne, of course, is known for her skill with a katana, but Gurira was first introduced to the weapon after landing the part.

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“In grad school I’d done some broadsword training, but I’ll tell you right now, the broadsword is nothing compared to the katana,” Gurira said with a smile between takes. “I watched a little video of the broadsword being tested against the katana just in terms of little things that have to do with severing armor or whatever, and the katana was so much more bad-asser than the broadsword. The broadsword was useless almost – it was like, ‘Oh, you Brits, you failed. Japanese 1, Brits 0.’ It was like learning from scratch because it is not the same weapon.”

So how did she perfect her skills in order to wield the weapon with apparent ease? Training, training and some additional training.

“I worked with a sword master — he’s also a stunt man,” Gurira explained. “You just work very intensively. We just worked all the time.  She wasn’t trained in the bamboo forests of Japan. She figured it out, but there are aspects of even the way she’s portrayed in the comic book where there’s just a calm about how she utilizes it that I found very interesting.

“When I was watching samurai films, there was that same sort of focused calm, effective, efficient economical aspect to it that rung true to what I had seen of her on the page,” she added.

— Gina McIntyre

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21 Responses to ‘Walking Dead’: Michonne actress Danai Gurira talks katana skills

  1. mr me says:

    Oh Danai Gurira, you failed history. Broadswords are made to go through iron armor…japanese katanas through light leather armor, if any at all.

  2. AES says:

    Katanas are really overrated – people don't realize that in order to get a blade so sharp, it becomes very, very fragile. It was historically used against flesh only – not against plate armor. They are so prevalent in film more because of aesthetics than effectiveness.

    The video she's referring to (probably a popular youtube clip from the show "locked and loaded") has been thoroughly discredited as being biased and unscientific. The host used a BLUNT longsword (which, by way, was primarily a stabbing weapon), and they swung it amateurishly sideways like a baseball bat. The katana was swung downward at a 45 degree angle like you're supposed to use it. How much can you really learn from such a biased comparison? Nothing.

    There is a much better video that a german show put out a couple of years ago comparing the two. The longsword cut equally as effectively as the katana – and with both edges – and had more available techniques. The katana was then swung downwards -edge to edge- on a longsword. It got badly chipped and bent like a corkscrew. The longsword was swung against another longsword in the exact same test. It got chipped, but it also fractured the other sword!

    It would really be nice to see a proper medieval european longsword – with historically accurate and deadly techniques -used in a zombie movie. They were some of the best weapons in human history, but they get trashed nowadays for no good reason.

  3. Sophie says:

    Liked her comments. She has obviously used both weapons and is not talking from TV viewing or theories. I also come from the viewpoint that everything Euro is overhyped anyway.

  4. @undefined says:

    I falled in love with her. What should i do?

  5. BladeMage001 says:

    For its size damage output and versitility the Japanese katana has proven over and over to be a superior weapon to both broadsword and longsword design has a lot to do with it as well as the way they are crafted (the folding of the steel enables the blade to hold a sharper edge for much longer) and AES does sound a bit but hurt.

  6. QBN says:

    Katanas are awesome.. nobody wants to see a clumsy European broad sword.

  7. Swordsmen says:

    Well I have trained in bith for over 15 years and find the Katana to be superior as a weapon, check this video for a good accuarte comparision, Sorry AES, it is as true as the saying do not bring a knife to a gun fight. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDkoj932YFo

  8. EyeRoller says:

    Good lord. Get off your high horses, you lot. Bragging about how well you know about facts doesn't impress anyone, and only make you look like snobs. Get over yourselves.

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