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How to Fight Like a Girl

Discussion in 'Writing Resources' started by Feo Takahari, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

    Indeed, though I hesitated to bring them up, as both gladiators and gladiatrices fought primarily as entertainment. It was relatively rare for them to die in the arena.
  2. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    I know what you mean. I have no peoples in my world that are meant to be equivalent to humans. I don't even have any "races".

    Kudos to you for being willing to characterize your female warriors in a way very, very few writers are willing to.
  3. glutton

    glutton Inkling

    An imposing appearance adds to their epic warrior aura lol.
  4. ArenRax

    ArenRax Sage

    Girls can be awesome!!!
    By all standards I am tall and broad shouldered and strong but my friend (who is female) has been around horses and developed a good amount of muscle along with fat and injuries but when she runs she is like a bull, you had better get out the way or your going to be flattened.
    Badass women who can fight like any other man or even have the courage to fight are pretty darn cool, and when they make the egotistical sexist knight feel cheated and be pissed off for losing to a girl....Even better!
    It's always funny to see such scenes because the guy underestimates a women due to stereotypes.
    So when someone says you fight like a girl(when your female or male or you know) take it as a complement because women can kick ass both in the fantasy world and in real life.
  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I have zero combat experience and have no problem yielding to those who do.

    I'm having trouble seeing past reach as a factor in a sword fight. It just seems that, not only would women be shorter, but if swords are balanced against your height, they'd also be using shorter swords. In a sword fight that strikes me as a tremendous disadvantage.

    Of course, we're more fascinated with swords than history was. Many women in Japan trained with a naginata to protect their home - that's the big polearm with a sword on the end. With the naginata, if you have the better training, you're more likely to neutralize your opponent's other advantages.

    Trying to consider all this, I'm wondering if women who fought alongside men used different weapons or different versions of the same weapon, or if they found ways to counter disadvantages like reach, or to how much they were just the bigger tougher women of their time, or if those things just didn't matter much in a full scale war (as opposed to the one on one skirmishes we like to think about). Does anybody know any facts related to all that?
  6. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

    I'll admit I have no combat experience, with sword or otherwise, so anyone who knows from experience can feel free to prove me wrong, but thinking about it, I don't think height is as much of a factor as you're suggesting. I mean, sure, having longer arms would technically give you a small reach advantage, but unless you're literally a chimpanzee going up against a T-rex (ignoring the size difference), it won't have any noticeable effect. Certainly not enough of an effect to counterbalance that of skill. Also, were swords really balanced to a person's height? I've personally never heard of that. I would think a short person could easily use a big sword if they wanted to. Again, this is just my own logic, and I'm not an expert.
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I asked Anders a while ago in the sword thread, and he said that some swords were balanced against the length of your arm, which is more or less height. I also don't think it was a coincidence that the Japanese were historically just about the shortest people on earth while at the same time the katana was traditionally several inches shorter than its European counterparts.

    I'll refer you to the other posts in this thread about whether reach is a disadvantage in a sword fight.
  8. Trick

    Trick Auror

    I can't speak for sword fighting, but reach in boxing or even just street-fighting is definitely an advantage if one knows how to use it. If an unskilled tall person fights a very skilled short person, you may be right but if they're relatively even I'd be betting on the one with reach - in boxing anyway.
  9. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    I'm not sure, but wasn't Mike Tyson disadvantaged in reach every time he fought? And, in that case, we're talking about professional boxers.

    Granted, Tyson was more of a brawler, but still....he won more out of pure meanness and power than anything else. Reach had little to do with it until he was on his way out of his physical prime.
  10. musycpyrate

    musycpyrate Scribe

    Agreed. Lets not forget his insane speed and footwork. That guy 'was' a perfect boxing machine.

  11. Trick

    Trick Auror

    I think you're right but he's still the exception. I would even go so far as to say that his temperament in the ring was a skill that his opponents didn't have, tipping the scales in his favor. Size of the fight in the dog kind of thing. It doesn't eliminate the advantage of a longer reach though.
  12. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    I just want to add one little thing to this thread again. First an edit, in my original post about blade length, the guy I was talking about wields a pair of 45" blades, not 35", but I didn't catch the typo in time to edit it. So yeah, he's a real reach-problem SOB. Anyways, stamina plays a factor in war, more than it does in a brawl. Brawls are over in relatively short bouts usually and strength plays more a factor than stamina. As a rule, women have more stamina than men. HOWEVER, if you're comparing two long distance runners, the man will beat the woman to the finish line (why aren't marathons different, I wonder), but what I mean is that women are cheaper to feed (taking less calories than heavier men) and perhaps have an advantage with rest? I just think of the other tough elements of war and travel in general and many women I know balance careers, family, and loads more than most men I know, and they tend to be less impacted by the "expected" stamina they display.

    Now, I'm not trying to judge individuals, I'm just saying scientifically, I've heard it said from multiple sources that women have more stamina than men, but in professional sports, I rarely see it proven. However, in normal stressful day-to-day situations, women carry a bigger burden and workload than most men. I'm not talking about the Deadliest Catch guys, I'm talking about normal folks. In many places around the world, women haul water. I should say girls, really, because they start very young. In Ethiopia, girls and women do the majority of the work, while men are fed the best fare. Because of it, young women are often malnourished and it's one of the contributing factors to their higher mortality in childbirth. Anyways, it stands to reason that if instead of hauling water from the age of eight or nine, girls are trained with weapons and to hunt (aren't the Inuit a culture where women hunt alongside men?), why couldn't they be as deadly as their male counterparts?

    In our past, women worked hard, in fields and industry, and often, they had worse conditions than men, and lived on less food. Also, a natural fat layer is not necessarily a bad thing. While it adds to the curvy, soft physical features attractive to their menfolk, it also makes the body more durable and cold-resistant. I'd think there are several reasons having a band of female hunters is an advantage. We recently discussed menstruation in another thread, and it was suggested women might be hampered by their monthly cycles, but I just want to re-state, that women who maintain a certain muscle-to-fat ratio do not experience the negatives of fertility.

    Just a few more things to consider when writing female warriors.
  13. Tom

    Tom Istar

    Actually, the issue of reach is not so much a major disadvantage as it is an extra challenge to work around. I'm 5'8", hardly short, but I've fenced people 6' and taller, so I've had experience with reach issues, and I've noted the styles of shorter people I've fenced who have had to compensate for my greater reach.

    So, here are a few principles that need to be weighed when considering reach.

    1) Greater reach can be a disadvantage if your opponent plays it right. Longer arms mean longer extensions, and it might take just a fraction of a second longer for a person with a long reach to pull their arm in for a parry. That fraction of a second is all a fencer needs to execute a clean touché.

    2) Shorter fencers with shorter reach tend to fight in a more aggressive, close style. They know the limits of their reach, so they stay close, getting inside your guard so that your longer reach is rendered basically useless (unless you have rubber arms) and theirs is more effective.

    3) Reach advantage means nothing if you don't use it. Pretty much speaks for itself. I've fenced a few tall guys with ridiculously long reach, and some of them just don't use it. They seem unaware of the fact that they don't have to engage me in the close, tight bladework attacks I prefer--that they could just reach out and stab me from like three feet away.
    Feo Takahari and Devor like this.
  14. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

    In my opinion the real question is why limit gender in any way in a fantasy world? It's fantasy. Size, shape, strength, gender... these concepts are malleable and shouldn't matter.

    Fantasy that is deeply rooted in realism is boring to me. However, fantasy that is too fantastic is as well. I try to keep my stories balanced in both. It's not that hard.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
    Tom likes this.
  15. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    @Reaver: I've heard that's how old myths tended to approach things. Tactics and talents weren't an issue, just a general concept of might, with the characters who were more mighty beating the characters who were less mighty. (See also 300, which references Spartan tactics, but shows the actual combat as awesome and fantastical, because that was how Spartans described it in their stories.)
  16. Russ

    Russ Istar

    In Europe in the middle ages, custom swords were indeed fitted by height.

    I have fenced with a number of weapons simulating weapons from that period and a good fit does make a difference.

    But, like with all complex systems, that is just one factor amongst many.
    Devor likes this.
  17. Tom

    Tom Istar

    It would be nice to have a custom blade. Because I'm a competitive fencer, all my blades are the standard #5's required at tournaments. They're just a little too long for me; the #5 is designed to be wielded by a person about 5'10"-6' or so, and I'm 5'8". Even that slight blade-height imbalance can and has thrown me off.
    Devor likes this.
  18. Guy

    Guy Inkling

    Celts were typically taller than Romans and used longer swords, yet the Romans almost always won. Tall Celt swings long sword. Roman catches it on shield and stabs up into Celts belly and chest, rips blade off to the side as he withdraws and eviscerates Celt. Plan B was to reach behind the Celt's leg and hamstring him.
  19. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

    One universal truth I learned in martial arts is: flukes happen.

    No, that doesn't mean you write a 4'10" schoolgirl who outfights seven-footers because she's incredibly lucky. I just mean that the better fighter doesn't always win. Your job as the writer is to make it believable that the disadvantaged fighter won.

    • How NOT to do that: Advantage in reach? Well, f--- reach. Shorty thrusts her blade into the belly of Lanky McBadguy. Yay, Shorty!

    • How to do that: Advantage in reach? Oh, s---. Shorty lunges toward Lanky McBadguy. Just as she predicts, Lanky brings his blade down toward her skull. She raises her blade and deflects his…

      So as I'm choreographing that second scenario in my head, I'm picturing where the two blades are. If Shorty's deflecting the blade away from herself and has her sword overhead, her blade is positioned between Lanky's arms. She can lop off an arm.

      Lanky won't just stand there and let her maim him like that, so I'm also asking what can he do. I might narrate his attempted retaliation, or maybe he brings his knee into Shorty's chin. Or how about a role-reversal–the guy throws the emergency crotch kick at the girl? Does his attack landing mean her attack doesn't?

    If you lack combat/training experience, use what you do know:
    - sports
    - adrenaline rushes (Ever see time appear to slow or stop? That is so cool!)
    - hitting your sibling/friend with sticks when you were kids
    - stuff you've seen in movies or video games
    And of course,
    - stuff you've read
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
    Reaver likes this.
  20. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

    Legendary Sidekick and ArenRax like this.
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