- "This is the Bravo's Dance, the Water Dance. It is swift... and sudden!"
- ―Syrio Forel
The Water Dance, also known as the Bravo's Dance, is a swordfighting style practiced by bravos, the swordfighters of the Free City of Braavos. Syrio Forel, former First Sword to the Sealord of Braavos, is a master of the Water Dance.
Unlike the fighting style of Westerosi knights, Water Dancers favor slender, lighter swords for a faster, more elegant fighting style based on sword thrusts, instead of the hacking and slashing of heavy longswords and greatswords. A tradeoff is that practitioners do not wear heavy armor, sacrificing protection for speed. Instead of defending by means of powerful direct blocks with heavy swords, this style favors using greater agility to dodge or deflect incoming attacks. Thrusts from thin Water Dancing rapiers are also not very effective at directly penetrating plate armor. Still, a warrior skilled in Water Dancing can run circles around an armored and slower opponent, and prove quite deadly by making quick strikes at weak spots in his enemy's armor.
Much like water, the "Water Dance" stresses fluid motion, quickly advancing to attack or withdrawing to defend. Water Dancers employ a sideways stand, which provides the rival with a smaller target, with the weapon arm extended in diagonal and the opposite forearm behind the small of the back.
The name of the fighting style actually takes its name from the habitual dueling location in Braavos in front of the Sealord's Palace, next to a reflecting pool which gives the optical impression to observers from afar that the combatants are dancing lightly across the water's surface.
Known Water Dancers
- Syrio Forel
- Arya Stark (apprentice)
- An unnamed fighter at the Great Games
- Trystane Martell (likely, due to the weapon he carried)
After Lord Eddard's arrest for treason, Ser Meryn Trant of the Kingsguard interrupts Arya and Syrio's lesson, accompanied by a squad of armored Lannister guardsmen, to arrest her as well. Despite being armed only with a wooden practice sword, Syrio demonstrates his skill by defeating all of the Lannister guards, tripping them up and making quick strikes. Only Ser Meryn is left, but unlike the guards, he takes advantage of the fact that Syrio's sword is only wooden, by physically grabbing the "blade" and then snapping it with his sword. Arya begs him to try to escape with her, but he says that the First Sword of Braavos does not run. As Arya flees, she hears Syrio's battle cry and the sound of fighting erupt behind her.
After recovering her sword Needle, Arya joyously practices the Water Dance drills that Syrio taught her. The Hound sneers at the fighting style, dismissing it as a good way to die. He also mocks Syrio when he learns that he was killed by Ser Meryn Trant, who, according to Sandor, is a terribly unskilled swordsman. The Hound allows Arya to take a stab at him, which she does, but her blade proves ineffective against his armor. Sandor swats her and disarms her, and points out that even though Meryn is a terrible swordsman, he won because he was wearing heavy plate and wielded a large sword, unlike Syrio. He then hands Arya's sword back to her.
A Water Dancer is one of the fighters at the Great Games held at Daznak's Pit in the city of Meereen. He kills the man he started fighting, a Dothraki warrior, and then starts fighting Jorah Mormont. While fighting Jorah, he nearly kills him, until a Meereenese champion stabs him in the back with his spear.
Arya uses water dancing techniques when sparring with Brienne of Tarth, who had never fought a water dancer before and was overcome by Arya multiple times before coming to a basic understanding of the Braavosi fighting style. They then fought to a standstill.
The Arsenal · Titan of Braavos · House of Black and White · Isle of the Gods · Long Canal · Moon Pool · Palace of Justice · Sealord's Palace · Temple of the Lord of Light (Braavos) · Temple of the Moonsingers