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In the movie Dune, the Weirding Way is shown to be sonic based. There are problems to say the least with the rest of the interpretation, but that much follows the prerequisite of the use of the Voice (and Prana-Bindu suspension) in the Frank Herbert books with the Weirding Way. But as far as I've seen (I've not read all of the books), there are no practical applications of the art shown, and only references to the more esoteric and non-combat applications of Prana-Bindu, leaving me wondering:

  1. How is the voice related to the art, and
  2. Other than the Bene Gesserit being exceptional fighters, what does the practical application of the art look like?
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The whole Sonic weapon thing was created for the movie. In the books, Prana-bindu training gave the practitioners incredible control over their muscles and nerves, allowing almost unbelievable application of physical skills, including various martial arts.

It was referred to by the Fremen as the 'Weirding Way' of battle, but, in effect, that was just a term to describe the almost mystical control they had over what they were doing. Their combat combined intense physical ability via Prana-bindu training with expert psychology and skillful reading of physical cues from their opponents, as well as a hybrid of many styles of martial arts. (Weirding, in this case, is just a term referring to Mystic Arts of any nature. The etymology is interesting, and I can add it if you are interested.) A large part of what Paul and Jessica taught the Fremen was a limited form of the training; exercises and such to enhance their control over their muscles and nerves, as well as many of the Atreides battle tactics.

Regular Wikipedia actually explains it better than quite a few Dune sites:

Unarmed attacks are part of the specialized martial art called the weirding way, which incorporates the prana-bindu methods of optimized muscle control, which enable one to deliver powerful blows and to move with extreme precision and speed. The basic principle behind the weirding way is that, as Farad'n Corrino says, "My mind affects my reality." A user of the weirding way has to know that the action he or she "wants" to perform has already been performed. For example, to imagine oneself behind an opponent at the current moment in time; when trained well, this knowledge will place you at the spot desired. As the art's prana bindu incorporation allows even small attacks to do massive damage, weirding way combat is to the death.

The closest you had to a 'Sonic Weapon' in the books (at least the early ones) was 'The Voice.' The voice was also not a weapon as shown in the movie, but a demonstration of the above principles of psychology and physical control (in this case, of their voice.) With enough data to work from, the user of 'The Voice' could identify exactly what tones, overtones, intonations and such would most directly trigger immediate responses from the victim; responses that would occur automatically, before the victim could think about what they were doing.

It's basically no different from yelling 'DUCK!' loudly, and in a startled voice; most people will instantly respond -- there is a learned behavior that such a scream indicates danger and a way to avoid it; they don't think -- they just DO it, then think. Extend this idea to people with a phenomenal ability to read cues you give off in response to external stimuli, and add in the ability for them to totally control their voices.. and you have 'The Voice.'

(It also had a more subtle application; much as speech writers know what connotations certain words have on certain audiences, practitioners of the Voice are aware of how to alter their speech to include overtones and such to make themselves more believable, or unquestionable sounding, if they choose. (Or, for that matter, the opposite, if they so choose. Or seductive. Or frighting, etc.) YMMV; long term, it's effectiveness had a lot to do with the target, the skill of the user, and their degree of knowledge of the target.)

As to what a practical application of the Weirding Way looks like.. just watch many old martial arts films; Prana-Bindu training gives them almost perfect control of their bodies; the body does EXACTLY what they want it to.

  • nice! interestingly, shouting a warning like "DUCK!" is said to result in people looking around trying to find out what's going on, rather than actual ducking. ;) – Ronald Apr 18 '12 at 21:51
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    @Ronald - Yeah, well.. It was the first example I could think of.. And I used to be a member of a Medieval Re-enactment group; when I hear duck... I DUCK! (Or start quacking.. depends on the setting :) - at a Feast, most of us twitch (suppressing a duck response) then quack ) – K-H-W Apr 18 '12 at 22:14
  • I just though of something... a good real world demonstration of 'The Voice' is what's usually called 'The Mommy Voice'; it doesn't really FORCE behavior... But the kids are conditioned to respond to it, and (if young enough) will respond before they even think. It's partially conditioning, and, I think, partially a genetically programmed trait to keep young critters safe (since I've noticed even animals often have variations on it.) – K-H-W Dec 19 '12 at 14:15
  • I would add that the voice weapon was apparently one Lynch intended to introduce in the Star Wars movie he was going to direct- a gun wielded by Jedi which was powered by Force. I think it makes a bit more sense in that context. – Broklynite Oct 3 '18 at 18:30
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In the original book, at least, the "weirding way" seems to be the Fremen term for the whole set of skills that the Bene Gesserit teach. The first reference in Dune is when the Shadout Mapes refers to the "weirding room." Then, when Paul and his mother first meet Stilgar's troop, Stilgar calls Jessica a "weirding woman."

The Voice is a specific Bene Gesserit skill: a way to give someone an order that is almost impossible to resist without training or great mental strength.

But the Bene Gesserit skills definitely also include fighting. Stilgar says:

"But you, woman, you have the weirding ability of battle. We'd only heard of it and many doubted, but one cannot doubt what he sees with his own eyes. You mastered an armed Fremen. This is a weapon no search could expose."

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For reference, "Weirding" is an Imperium term in the books, and it means " that which partakes of the mystical or of witchcraft". "Weirding Way" is used to describe the Bene Gesserit's skills for that reason.

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