DUBAI // What better way to celebrate the new season of Game of Thrones than take a sword-fighting workshop with one of the show's former stars, Syrio Forel, played by Greek-Cypriot actor Miltos Yerolemou?
Although the character has made no more appearances since the end of the first season, he takes credit for teaching one of the show’s main characters, Arya Stark, how to wield a weapon. Yerolemou’s character is also known for his catchphrase, “There is only one thing we say to Death: Not today.”
More than 60 people gathered at the workshop, part of the Middle East Film and Comic Con, to learn new skills and interact with the real-life sword master, who was interested in showing participants the difference between what people see on television and what happens in reality.
“Sword fighting is exciting. You have to use your instincts and your awareness, it’s all about staying alive,” he said. “What we see on television is choreography and a lot of flamboyance, compared to real life.”
Yerolemou also explained that size does not matter when it came to sword fighting.
“Just because they are bigger than you, it does not mean they can beat you. They will probably be stronger but probably slower. If you’re smaller, you’ll be faster,” he said. “Use your environment. If you’ve got light, try to get the sun in their eyes. That’s to your advantage.”
One MEFCC visitor and a resident of Dubai, who showed up at the workshop dressed as a Jedi, said he was ecstatic to have met the GoT actor.
"He's an amazing character. He's similar to his character in Game of Thrones, he's got that thing," he said. "This workshop is one of the best ideas that I think has been at any Comic Con. It's an interactive meet and greet, which hasn't happened before."
The physical aspect of the workshop was highly enjoyable, he said.
“It’s a double experience, and then a triple experience with actually physically doing something. I actually did learn a few tips and tricks because it was a quick run down of everything, a crash course,” he said.
Cousins Michelle Wehbe, 17, and Joelle Daher, 14 - who are both big fans of the show - also said they picked up some new skills.
“I am super excited for season five, and now even more excited that I took this crash course with one of the characters,” Ms Wehbe said.
Her younger cousin agreed, saying that the tips they were given could prove useful later down the line.
“I learned new tactics that will be useful if anyone broke in to my house. I probably won’t be able to beat them, but I will try,” she said.
For 24-year-old Abdullah Ismail, the class allowed him the opportunity to practise his hobby.
“I have been teaching myself to sword fight my whole life and this class has taught me the things I have been missing, like the specific steps,” said the Emirati.
The class was not only fun for those learning, but for its teacher, too, said Yerolemou.
“Dubai is great, and I’m excited for a little tour tomorrow to see it properly,” he said.