Water dance

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The water dance is a style of sword fighting practiced by the greatest bravos of the city of Braavos.[1] Practitioners are referred to as water dancers.[2]

Culture

The water dance is named after the custom of bravos to duel upon the Moon Pool near the Sealord's Palace in Braavos. It is said that true water dancers can fight without disrupting the water's surface.[1]

The water dance is a refined form of fencing in which the practitioner stands sideways[3] and wields a slender blade. It is a swift and deadly style that focuses on speed, balance and grace, thus requiring slender pointed blades far lighter than the longswords of Westerosi knights and warriors.[4] Trainees learn to wield their sword as though it is part of the arm,[5] and to see with all the senses.[6]

Pugnacious bravos are a common sight in Braavos, frequently duelling to display their skill.[7] The Citadel has an account of a water-dancer duel thanks to Pilman of Lannisport, a ship's captain.[1]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

While in King's Landing, Arya Stark trains as a water dancer under Syrio Forel, a former First Sword.[5] To the consternation of her father, Lord Eddard Stark, Syrio has Arya with practicing her balance by standing on one foot in the Tower of the Hand[2] and catching cats in the Red Keep.[6]

When Eddard is arrested for treason after the death of King Robert I Baratheon, Ser Meryn Trant is sent to apprehend Arya. Syrio defeats several House Lannister guards with his wooden training sword, but he then orders Arya to run away after Meryn breaks the sword.[3]

A Clash of Kings

Arya uses the water dancer's pose while fighting Hot Pie.[8] While at Harrenhal, Arya makes a training sword from a broom and practices her balance among the trees in the castle's godswood.[9]

Known Water Dancers

Quotes

Now we will begin the dance. Remember, child, this is not the iron dance of Westeros we are learning, the knight's dance, hacking and hammering, no. This is the bravo's dance, the water dance, swift and sudden. All men are made of water, do you know this? When you pierce them, the water leaks out and they die.[5]

Watching is not seeing, dead girl. The water dancer sees.[3]

References