Monday, November 14, 2011

Tab Clearing...


Matt G said...

Having been a college fencer, I can actually give some tips to women who are thinking of getting into that stuff:

1. Some boys and young men and even older men will hit on you.

2. If you're short, you'll likely be best for sabre, which requires you to get inside your opponent's reach to strike with the side of the blade rather than the point. This means that you WILL, not maybe, get some bruises on occasion. Sometimes people direct petite women toward fencing with the idea that there's no pain involved, not understanding this. Most sabre fencers that I knew were kind of proud of their battle marks, which would eventually fade away in a display of color.

3. Those guys who are hitting on you? Some will be on your team, and some will be very, very inept.

Ancient Woodsman said...





Stop're killing me! THAT was the funniest thing on the internet in weeks.

mmasse said...

Sadry the US is becoming more and more like North Korea thanks to the all intrusive Janet Napolitano

Anonymous said...

I had a very good friend that went to USMA. Everytime I saw her she was sporting a new set of black and blue marks. Yep she was a fencer and the sabre was her weapon of choice.

Saw her in action against the Britsh team. Might as well have yelled Charge! They looked like they were trying to beat the crap out of each other.


Scout26 said...

I friended the Glorious Leader, simply so I can bombard him with Farmville and Mafia Wars requests...

w/v: spals - Friends who play those stupid games.

Joel said...

I'm pretty sure "here's a little .32 that's just as cute as you" isn't quite the moral equivalent of "if you weigh 120 pounds, maybe you should reconsider taking up the broadsword," Tam. There's a reason I didn't get very far in the high school football tryouts.

docjim505 said...

RE: Swords

So, would Renaissance-era "mall ninjas" have carried actual Japanese swords?

If blogs had existed five centuries ago, what would have been the equivalent of "1911 v. Glock"?

And would somebody have tried to put Picatinny rails on his bastard sword?

Blackwing1 said...

Ever see the immortal Alec Guiness in "The Man in the White Suit"?

Kristopher said...

In Kendo, the wimmin use the same weapons the men do.

And some of them will whip yer sorry ass.

Matthew said...

For context (which you probably know?) many of the Renaissance MA types, particularly the head of ARMA, view it ultimately not as a "sport", but as rediscovering actual effective fighting and killing techniques. Starting from that basis, they aren't going to recommend someone start out learning a type of swordplay they (probably) couldn't actually use effectively in a real fight.

Obviously he shouldn't generalize but height and reach matter a lot in longsword (in my limited experience). Since the swords aren't that heavy to start with, given roughly equal skill a bigger, longer-reached person will likely be swinging an as long or slightly longer (if properly fitted) sword equally as fast or even faster than a smaller person can, with corresponding increases in power. Why would a smaller person choose to play that game by choice when life and death are on the line?

After all, the reason we went to guns for personal defense in the first place was to eliminate the hard generality that fists, swords and clubs and such, used with decent technique but not according to game rules (like modern fencing or tournament MA), do, on average, favor the bigger and stronger person, male or female.

In any event, it didn't seem like an apples-to-apples situation on apparent "male chauvinist advice" to me.

"Based on averages, you might want to start off picking a type of sword which is equally effective at killing, but which uses a different technique that you can likely use best given your probable size and weight disadvantages", is more like "pick a gun and carry method that plays to your strengths (and here are some good options given averages)" than it is "take this cute little .22 for your purse darlin'". In my male opinion anyway.

It's not like he wrote, "Forget swords entirely m'lady, just tuck a dirk in your bustle next to ye olde rape whistle."

Matthew said...

Okay, I re-read it closely, particularly the "temperment and toughness" crap.

Please apply snark to, and summarily dismiss, my above post as required.

ravenshrike said...

@ Kristopher - Since Kendo has overwhelming emphasis on precision and speed over strength, this is not surprising. Especially since the heaviest shinai used in competition weigh less than 1.13 lbs(That the maximum male competition weight, the max female weight is about 0.88 lbs). Whereas assuming that the fencing broadsword in the article is up to historical weights you're looking at almost 3 time that weight, which is going to seem much heavier being swung around than a 1 lb shinai.

Zendo Deb said...

Matt G, Renascence martial arts is not like fencing. They don't use sabres. Or foils.

I was right there with the guy til he trotted out the worn stereotypes about nurturing.

Tam said...

I would agree that someone with less upper body strength and/or a shorter reach would benefit from a light cut-and-thrust sword like a tapered bastard, or a good rapier.

Nota Bene: That is not the same as saying "women should use a...".

Flip it around: "Men should start out with a greatsword." What, even if they're linguini-armed 5'5" desk jockey who hasn't lifted anything heavier than a 20-sided die in the last six years?

Bubblehead Les. said...

I wonder what all those hundreds of Russian Female Snipers during the Great Patriotic War would have to say to this guy? "Oh sir, I guess I can't kill you from 400 yards because my Moisen-Nagant weighs 8 lbs empty, and I'm just a poor little peasant girl from a collective outside of Smolensk?"

Matthew said...


That's apples and oranges snark.

Shooting a rifle, no matter how heavy or at what range (especially supported), doesn't compare to fighting with a sword, even blunts.

He used sex (particularly supposed "natures") incorrectly as the determining factor (as opposed to just strength/reach) but guns are equalizers, real swordplay does in fact care how big you are.

John A said...

Re NeverWet® I hope when it comes to market it is fairly cheap - I can see it being at least as widely used as WD-40.

Kristopher said...

The weapons used during Iado weigh exactly as much as the real thing. In the US, they use the actual weapons during practice.

There was a reason the medieval broadsword was retired ... it wasn't as effective anymore.

The two-hander enjoyed a bit of a revival against pike formations, but that went away after firearms started getting mixed into the pike formations.

Kristopher said...

That being said, the Japanese did recognize that stature was severely important during sword combat.

Onna Bugeisha can, and did use the naginata honorably in fights and duels. It was considered an equalizer for women. Women still compete in Japan using them.

staghounds said...

Gnarly Sheen said...

NeverWet? At last, we have a solution for all the pants-pissing that happens whenever a pro-gun law is created.

Anonymous said...

Respectfully, I think the intent was to suggest that female practitioners play to their strengths, rather than "hey, little lady, this here jewelled dagger is the perfect self-defense weapon for a medieval girl." Any imputed bias is likely down to Mr. Clements' writing, rather than bias.

As an ARMA member, I have trained/sparred with women who can gut me like a trout, so any chauvinism goes quickly by the wayside. Anyone who approaches study with integrity and martial spirit is welcome. We're a small enough community that turning away motivated students is foolish.



Tam said...


"Respectfully, I think the intent was to suggest that female practitioners play to their strengths..."

That may be what he meant to say, but what he said was advice for weaker people with a shorter reach. While there is a significant overlap in that Venn Diagram with the subgroup "females", it is nowhere near complete correlation.

Saying that women should play to their strengths without even knowing what those strengths are is stupid.

My height puts me well into the 99th percentile for women, (and Nancy R. at the blog "Excels at Nothing" is taller than I am.)

Unless you are in the top 5% or more of dudes, height-wise, I probably outreach you. So should I play to my advantages by using weapons that make up for my short reach?

This paradigm is so ingrained in the psyche that it's like pounding my head against a brick wall to fight it, but I keep trying.

People say "The such-and-such is a perfect [gun/sword/motorcycle/whatever] is the perfect one for a woman!" when what they REALLY mean is that it's the perfect one for a short, weak novice.