The “Weapons do the Fighting” scene: In this technique, the weapons appear to do the fighting most of the time, not the people. This is pretty much self explanatory, but to make it simple, weapons take on a life of their own and sometimes display human characteristics.
Example: The Last of the Renshai (1992) by Mickey Zucker Reichert
Another arrow cleaved air. Garn dodged, but not far enough. The point drew a gash along his arm, flaring pain that only fueled his rage. Nantel's men closed in to protect their leader as Garn fell upon them like a wounded wolf. His sword slashed a red line through one's chest.
Unprepared for the complete commitment of Garn to battle, the first fell dead without a return stroke. Another twisted, escaping Garn's savage swipe more from luck than skill.
Nantel tossed aside his useless bow, and it skittered off behind him, clattering on cobble. Drawing his sword, he elbowed for a position among his men.
Garn jabbed a knee into an attacker's groin. The guard doubled over, baring his head to a hilt stroke that shattered his skull. Spots swam before Garn's vision. One step closer to Nantel, he gave himself fully over to battle lust.
From another section:
Rache's sword flashed in offense only once; it licked across Garn's neck.
What makes it work:
When used sparingly, the focus on the weapons and instruments make for a nice break from the protagonist stabbing, cutting, hacking and swinging sharp metal objects all the time. The writer just has to be careful that there are not a bunch of “ghost weapons” fighting the battle. Remember that the book or story is about a person, not their weapons, and that this technique weakens the character when overused. Basically, the weapons are doing all the work, and therefore the reader consciously or unconsciously does not credit the protagonist with the fighting skill. This is not always a bad thing, which is why it is included in the “makes it work” section. It's a good technique to use with a novice swordsman/fighter. In this way, the writer can have the protagonist win the fight, but create a hollow victory that doesn’t make the character such a “badass” in the reader’s mind.
Why it doesn’t always work:
While these two examples are not indicative of the whole book, Reichert uses it much of the time. The arrow cleaves the air, the point gashes the protagonist, the sword slashes a red line, and the sword licks across a neck. There is a palpable separation between the protagonist and the weapons, and besides weakening the character, it can become quite distracting to the reader when overused.