A New Beginning – A Journey of the Sword (Video)

Naz Saber preview

“A New Beginning” 
(Video link to my Facebook Video Post)

A Lee Fletcher Films Production (Lee Fletcher Photography)
Starring Naziyah Mahmood
In Association with Part Time Hero Props and Sunday Studios

(Two short afternoons. Two People. Minus Temperatures. Improvised Choreography. New, untested, equipment. One Hand Warmer. A journey of the sword through time.
A huge thank you to Lee Fletcher for working with me on this little project in the freezing cold – I could barely feel my fingers – and to Part Time Hero Props for supplying the BiFrost! Enjoy!)
Remember to have audio on!


Weapons Photography – Dark Reflections

Naziyah_reflection(Photograph of Naziyah Mahmood – Photography by J. Jamieson)

A sneak peek from yesterdays shoot! I look like the evil overlord of the underworld!! (No, that wasn’t the theme though!)
The photograph is practically untouched (bar some extra background the was cut out).
A reflection of the dark overlord in a mirror!

Image © Naziyah Mahmood, 2014

Elegantly Dangerous?!

(Written as part of The Daily Post: Daily Prompt – Why, thank you?: What’s the best (or rather, worst) backhanded compliment you’ve ever received? If you can’t think of any — when’s the last time someone paid you a compliment you didn’t actually deserve?)

Naziyah sword 3

(Photograph of Naziyah Mahmood by Fiona Brims)

pic 3

(Photograph of Naziyah Mahmood by Fiona Brims)

Naziyah sword 2

(Photograph of Naziyah Mahmood by Linda MacPherson)

Naziyah sword 1

(Photograph of Naziyah Mahmood by Linda MacPherson)

Recently, I was invited by two photographers to have a photo-shoot with my martial arts weapons, which was lots of fun as the two of them are such wonderful ladies!
I’ve modelled before in the past, however it was usually to help out friends or at the request of photographers, but I honestly don’t see why anyone would want my face as a subject!

Nevertheless, these phenomenal ladies were able to transform me from my usual alien-like self, into a somewhat presentable human being – a rare feat.

Knowing my love for martial arts, and especially my swords, we combined my several cultural backgrounds with that of my martial arts passion to produce the above photographs (amongst many).
I received, to my own surprise, many lovely and sweet compliments from my friends on social media, however one that stuck out was about looking “elegant, yet also dangerous”, which apparently (according to my friends) summed me up.
Clearly they haven’t seen my clumsy ways! Thank goodness!
Although I feel I don’t deserve any of their lovely compliments, my heart melted from the warmth of their affections.

Recently I had just been feeling a little down about myself, but these wonderful ladies managed to cheer me up, for which I could never be thankful enough.

(Props used were my own- antique lotus Katana and Steel Chinese fighting fan)

Phoenix Flames – The Healer

(Written as part of The Daily Post: Daily Prompt – Can’t Stand Me: What do you find more unbearable: watching a video of yourself, or listening to a recording of your voice? Why?)


(Photograph of Naziyah Mahmood for Caledonia. Photographer: Linda MacPherson)

(For those wondering why my face looks orange (as I’ve been asked a few times!) it’s supposed to be because of the flames! Haha! I’m not an oompa loompa!)

Recently, a lovely friend, Amy Hoff, has produced her wonderful novel, Caledonia, into a full out online series which revolves around a criminal investigation group – Caledonia Interpol (consisting of a variety of mythical creatures from all over the world) who solve crimes in the faerie and human realms. Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it!?

Through it, she wanted to show the diversity of the Scottish city of Glasgow, and it’s many faces and races; so she decided she also wanted to cast a strong Muslim female character too, and apparently got in touch with me!
(Not that I consider myself strong!)
The first season of the series is already released, but my two short scenes would only be for the second season (due to my time restrictions).

Mythical creatures from all over the globe, and all sorts of folklore, are used in order to beautifully portray the cultural diversities in the World.

Most of the main type of creature roles were already taken when I was asked to help out; vampires, selkies, angels, mermen, werewolves, gumiho, Robert Burns (though he isn’t very mythical!), and so she asked me what creature I wanted to be.

Taking into consideration that she wanted creatures from all continents and cultures, and that I have an Arabic lineage, I told her one of my favourite mythical creatures – The Phoenix.
Long story short, let’s just say that the Phoenix has somewhat become my ‘totem’, and has been a prominent part of my life for many years.

The character, whose background story is still being developed by the director, during her initial reveal became more and more like me in some ways, and as such means a lot to me.

Her name is Nour (which is the same as my middle name – Noor) and she is a Phoenix and healer.

The role is a small one, but is important to the story.
Unfortunately, although offered a longer role, I couldn’t be in more than I have as I don’t have much free time to help out nowadays. However, I might appear again, in short scenes, in the future if I get enough time to help out again.

Now, in regards to what is asked in the prompt (don’t worry, it’ll tie in!)
Personally, I’m never very fond of seeing myself in video or hearing my voice through it! Do you ever feel that you sound and look like a completely different person too?

‘I don’t look like that, do I?!’

Well, during the filming of my two short scenes in this series, I was actually feeling quite ill and had been rushing back and forth a lot (also, my mum had just come out of hospital and needed me there to take care of her).
I just hope the illness or fatigue won’t show in the actual clips, but then again, when am I not ill or tired!? Haha!
I just don’t want to bring down the rest of the cast and story with a performance that isn’t up to scratch.
It hasn’t been released yet, but I’ll only know when it’s out – eek!

As opposed to the first season which was much simpler in its design and filming, this upcoming second season will apparently be using more professional filming techniques and special effects!

Well, at least I didn’t fall over, for once, on set! Looking on the positive side!

Luckily it’s only two short scenes, so I won’t need to cringe for too long at my clip or my voice!

Naziyah Phoenix Close
(I’m not really a ‘selfie’ kind of person, but this was the ‘human’ me as I rushed off to the set! I am part human too… on some days!)

Sword of my soul

(Written for The Daily Post: Snapshot Stories daily prompt.
Open the first photo album you can find — real or virtual, your call — and stop at the first picture of yourself you see there . Tell us the story of that photo.)

(Photograph of Naziyah Mahmood, Courtesy of C. Hamilton)

One of the first memories I ever have is probably from when I was about three or four years old. It was of my mum coming home, covered in blood, after having been bullied while going out to get groceries for her three small children.

Two policemen stood in the middle of our living room, taking mum’s statement, as I snuck out of my room to see what was happening.
I clearly remember the ornament that sat on top of our television – it was a small golden crown that was filled with a rose scented perfume – and I stared at it with deep intent as my small hands turned to fists.

All I knew was “Someone hurt mum… Someone hurt mum again”.

Unfortunately, my mother lived through a very painful childhood, and the shadows from that time followed her into her adult life in the form of bullies and oppressors.

In that amber hazed moment, I vowed to myself that I would grow to become strong in order to protect my mother and give her the happiness she’d always deserved.

In the years to come, my father put me and my siblings into Ninjutsu classes, and taught us the following words:
“Never allow anyone the chance to bully you. If you let them do it once, they’ll think that it’s ok to do it again and again.
Violence is wrong, but self-defence is important.”
He was a very disciplined army man!

Mysteriously, a while through our training, our training building ‘literally’ disappeared in the dead of the night!
We were on our way to class but reached an empty plot where the building had once been, with no sign of our instructors anywhere – I still like to think that they ‘shadow stepped’ back to before the days of the Tokugawa period in Japanese history!

Although my siblings later gave up on martial arts, it became a fundamental part of my life and went beyond merely being a hobby.
My love for the arts grew as a strong passion, and also gifted me with a keen sense of awareness that is crucial in my everyday life.

As mentioned in a few of my previous posts, I have been partially blind ever since I can remember, yet I am able to get around just fine due to the training I received over the years.

(Also, I just noticed that I’ve never spoken as much about my visual impairment in my entire life as I have in these last few weeks on WordsPress! More detail can be found in the following post:

I guess I never really took much notice of it being a ‘problem’ to me until a few years ago when a friend mentioned “your disability”. Those words actually knocked me right off of my feet as I had never thought of myself as being disabled before.)

After many years of being unable to train in martial arts due to ill health, I managed to find a teacher who would later show me how much they truly meant to me.
I was lucky to be taught many martial arts styles by him, but by far the one style closest to my heart is our main sword art – Haidong Gumdo, a Korean sword style.

Unlike most martial arts classes, our group was kept quite small, and after losing our training hall, we continued to train outside in the midst of a beautiful park. Training on the uneven terrain allowed us to learn much more than we would have done on those wooden hall floors, but unfortunately the usual rainy weather of Scotland often made it hard to train through the mud!

The more I trained with my sword, the more free I would feel.
Just as a painter expresses himself through his brush, or a poet through his pen, my swords became my method of self-expression and would allow me to escape from the reality of the world around me into a place that was mine and mine alone.
My motions may look like a dance to those who walk passed, but what really happens is that I close my mind and open my heart (as corny as that sounds!) and just… move.
My soul becomes free.

They say that there is no space for swords in this modern era filled with guns and missiles. However, this is why I differentiate that ‘sporting aspect’ that many martial arts have been disfigured into, from the true art that it once was and still is for me.

I see no art or beauty in getting into a ring and beating the snot out of your opponent while men, women and children cheer on with their rage filled excitement.
‘Martial combat’ is of course practical in self defence terms, however, the true art and tradition of ‘Martial arts’ goes beyond just their physical teachings.
With the arts, we grow on the spiritual, mental, psychological and physical planes. An entire history of discipline, determination and tradition folds out in front of us to elevate us in different ways.

I have been called “Samurai Girl, “Ninja Girl”, “The Blind Swordswoman” and more by passersby and people I know, and yet the name that hit home the most was when my ill mother called me her “little hero”.

My swords are more than just an extension of my arms, they are an extension of my soul and give me strength and discipline to face my everyday life with a smile on my face, with the knowledge that “the best battle is the one not fought”, as they have not only taught me not to fight, but also to hold strong to self defence.

There is the death giving sword. There is the life giving sword. Now, there is also the soul saving sword.