fightwrite answers

anonymous asked:

If muscle mass has only a small impact on fight abilities, what's with the prevalence of weight classes? And why are martial arts and boxing champions generally men?

See, you were trying to sneak around it with that start on muscle mass but this is about the idea that women can fight and or fight as well as a man. We get these questions a lot, and the answer is always the same. However, the question itself always displays the asker’s ignorance on the subject matter and about combat in general. You aren’t the first to go, “but boxing!!!” as if it means something or is a winning point. Usually, “muscles” is a go to standard because that’s what so many have been led to believe makes men superior.

When I get these questions, I can always tell this person who asked has never been to a martial arts competition of any kind. If they had, they would know Women’s Divisions are a standard practice. They would also know that with an exception of major tournaments where there are enough participants to justify it, the girls and the boys spar each other at the ranks below black belt. Sometimes, the boys win. Sometimes, the girls win. The breakdown is by age (adults/kids) and belt rank, not by gender.

I’ll tell you though, none of the boy’s in the black belt division wanted to jump in with the girls. Those girls were vicious. Men’s sparring was much more laid back, and slower. Women’s TKD… yeesh.

Again, in most martial arts tournaments there are no weight classes. The breakdown is by age and rank, with gender as a secondary when there are enough participants to justify multiple divisions. Weight classes are a boxing tradition and other, similar bloodsports which rears it’s head when they have enough participants to justify one. In many Taekwondo tournaments, you can easily end up with a 150 pound black belt sparring one weighing in at 250. And you won’t know what they weigh anyway because there is no “weighing in”.

I’ve explained before why there are weight classes in boxing. The moment you stop and realize that it’s a sport with a purpose to make money, the reasoning behind the weight classes will become fairly clear. (Hint: it’s entertainment and aesthetics.)

That said, the “boxing champions are generally men” crap is, well, crap. They don’t let women box men professionally, or at the collegiate level. It’s hard to make a case for muscle mass when citing professional sports where women are barred from competing. Now, there was a time when there were women boxers who boxed with each other and against men. In the 1800s, it was called bareknuckle boxing. This is the granddaddy version of modern boxing, when it was all back alleys without gloves or handwraps.

That said, women’s boxing is making a comeback at the collegiate level. There’s a National Champion in Women’s Collegiate Boxing walking around somewhere in the US right now. There are multiple female martial arts champions from a variety of disciplines wandering around all over the world. The UFC has opened a division for female fighters. This is like asking why there aren’t female wrestlers (there are) or female quarterbacks (there are). One of the greatest snipers in history is a woman.

You just don’t hear about them or the women who did the hard work pushing back to fight for the categories to be re-added.

That said, comparing the restrictions applied in sports to a person’s “fighting ability” is a mistake. You’re not asking an honest question so much as floundering for a popular misconception. It’s essentially the same as saying, “it’s ridiculous for there to be female fighters in this historical fiction because there were no female warriors”.

1) That assertion is patently false.

2) When one gender is barred from participating by the established rules of a modern sport whose history you don’t understand, you can’t then turn around and ask why most of the champions are men.

History makes a case for a lot of female combatants throughout history, but you’re not going to know they’re there if you don’t go looking for them. Their accomplishments tend to get wiped out.

-Michi

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anonymous asked:

Is dual wielding (like two swords, a sword and a knife or two knives) an actual effectiv fighting style or just something that looks cool??

With two swords, not really. There’s a few stray examples. It’s not so much ineffective as incredibly difficult. With that in mind, you can absolutely learn how to do this as an exhibition technique. Which, yes, ends up in the range of something that looks cool.

A sword and an off hand dagger has a lot of utility. The off hand dagger actually becomes a defensive tool.This can range from something like a stiletto, used to deflect an incoming strike, or it can include a swordbreaker, which depending on circumstances might simply hold your opponent’s blade in place while you turn them into goulash with your sword.

It’s probably worth remembering that the parrying dagger is more common when dealing with lighter blades, while sword breakers were more common when dealing with heavier, slower, blades.

Dual daggers are a legitimate, hyper-aggressive, knife fighting option. You’re trading any kind of defense for more opportunities to attack. When the user has the element of surprise it can make a bad situation so much worse, but if their foe can respond, it can go wrong for the dual wielder very quickly.

If you’re wondering how a knife can go from being a defensive tool to an offense option, it has to do with the ranges you’re engaging at. Incidentally, a swordsman with an off hand dagger does have the option to attack at extremely close ranges where they can’t attack with their sword.

I know we’ve said this before, but weapons have specific ranges. Get too close, and you can’t use them anymore. A sword works best at a little over arm’s length. For example: A sword won’t do much good while you’re lying on top of your foe. On the other hand, if you can reach out and touch someone, knives are always good to go. The advantage for a sword is it will add 36-40 inches to your reach.

It’s also worth remembering that a sword with an off-hand pistol was a real option up into the 19th century. You’d open an encounter by putting a bullet in someone, and then use the sword.

-Starke

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ree-fireparrot  asked:

How realistic or unrealistic are battle couples, provided they have sufficient mental discipline? Is it even realistic to have two people working together to fight the same opponent hand-to-hand, or is focusing on both your opponent and your partner too much? What if one person is a distraction (by fighting the opponent head-on) so the other person can stab them in the back, so to speak? Is that too risky?

You’re asking a lot of questions here and most of them have absolutely nothing to do with having a romantic relationship with your working partner.

Some things first:

1) The relationship between a battle couple and any platonic working partnership are not really any different in most cases except that they share a romantic relationship.

2) You don’t need a functional or professional partnership or partnership at all to fight in a group or gang up on an individual.

3) Fraternization just as often falls into casual sex as it does a romantic relationship, if not more often.

4) Almost none of what you’re asking has to do with romance.

Falling in love on the battlefield happens, it happens a lot. Combat is a high stress environment and people are people. Just because something isn’t a good idea or is unprofessional doesn’t mean it won’t happen, it just means you’ve got an added benefit of complications.

Some people can handle romantic relationships with an SO who also engages in combat, even one who engages in combat with them. Those are the ones who can compartmentalize between being on the battlefield and being off it. However, if they can’t (there is a very good possibility that they can’t) then it becomes a real problem. When they can’t handle the stress or the distraction, if they can’t put the romance aside, then their relationship puts everyone at risk, including their mission.

When you’re fighting, especially with a goal in mind, one person’s life cannot be more important than the mission.

It takes a significant amount of trust for a battle couple to function because their romantic partner cannot afford to jump in and save them when things start going sideways. Both participants need to be the kind of people that when the choice is between their partner or the mission, they choose the mission.

This concept is one that’s very difficult to grasp if you’re setting out to write a romance, because most of the normal steps you’d take to fulfill that romance will leave the battle couple hamstrung and unable to function. You can’t have the guy or girl jumping in to save their guy or girl when it looks like they’re about to die, they have to trust their partner to save themselves.

That is hard.

This is a very difficult state to handle emotionally. Imagine, you are at risk of losing your loved one at all times and you can’t do a damn thing about it. You can’t obsess or brood over it, because you can’t afford that kind of distraction. Whether they’re right in front of you or on a battlefield somewhere else, you can’t think about it. You’ve got to focus on keeping yourself alive, because that keeps everyone else alive, and by doing what you can you help to ensure the survival of both your loved one and your team. You’ve got to do your job, even when you’re about to lose everything you ever gave a damn about and its within your power to stop it.

A true battle couple is one who exists in complete equality, trust, and partnership with their significant other on the battlefield. They keep a cool head and a cool heart while in the midst of gut wrenching emotional turmoil. They don’t baby, they don’t hover, they don’t keep a careful eye on, and they don’t obsess until the fighting’s over. They don’t sacrifice their own life or their own body to keep their lover from getting injured. They don’t break position.

If they do any of the above, they will both die and so will anyone who is relying on them. If you are writing characters where the relationship is more important than the mission, more important than the team, more important than surviving the fight in front them then you have, narratively speaking, a serious problem.

This is not a bad one to have in a story or an unrealistic one in life, romantic relationships on the battlefield are built around this concept, but it does need to be addressed. If its not, tragedy strikes.

If you’re writing a battle couple, you need two characters who when faced with the choice between saving their loved one and stopping the bomb from blowing up downtown Manhattan, they pick the bomb.

And, in fiction, that’s not normally what love is.

It also has to be both of them, they both need this very specific outlook to function while in combat together. If one has it, but the other doesn’t then tragedy strikes. If neither have it, tragedy strikes. They need to be on the same page.

The reason why the military and other combat groups prohibit fraternization is because romantic relationships inevitably fuck everything up. If they can handle it, great. However, the all to likely outcome, for either one or both parties involved, is they can’t.

They’ll do it anyway though, because people are people.

When you engage in violence, that violence and training separates you from the general population. You’ve been through experiences that most people cannot comprehend or relate to and that makes maintaining relationships difficult. There’s a lot to be said for being in a relationship with someone of similar background, who can empathize with your experiences, who has been through what you’ve been through. You don’t need to look much further than the rate of divorce among the FBI or CIA to understand just how difficult maintaining a relationship in an incredibly stressful environment is.

As humans, we crave having a partner we can relate to. With whom we can share our secrets. Who won’t judge us for the terrible things we’ve done. When you have to rely on each other for survival, attraction, desire, even love becomes easy. It’s often a false sense of connection built on desperation, one which if born inside the environment won’t function outside of it, but that doesn’t mean it feels any less real.

When you might die tomorrow, sometimes you just want to feel something, anything at all, and that’s where the causal sex comes in.


Casual Sex:

In mixed gender units, casual sex is really common. Not romantic relationships, mind. It’s just sex, and it doesn’t go any further than that. It’s desperation, it is all about sensation, and a reminder for the participants that they are alive.

When dealing with these types of relationships in your fiction, its important to remember that the emotional component is neither needed nor wanted. They’re not looking for comfort. They’re looking for sensation, to feel something before they (potentially) die.

Because the author controls everything in their fictional world, it can often become difficult to remember and insert qualities like the random chance of dealing with the unknown. We’ve often got characters that are necessary to the plot, who become identified as “safe”, and behave differently because they know they’re going to live through the fight or battle to get to the end of the story.

It becomes important to learn to live in the moment. To live in the twilight hour on the night before a battle, to be unsure, when the character doesn’t know what will happen next. If you don’t then there is a whole array of human emotions, experiences, and terrible choices that you’ll never touch on in your fiction.

If you don’t, you’ll be all the poorer for it.

The Two on One Battle: Real.

You don’t need to be in a relationship, or even particularly well-trained, to accomplish this. Two versus one happens a lot and the pair off usually wins because eight limbs trumps four. One person locks up the individual, the other circles and attacks on vectors they can’t defend from. We’re social animals. Our natural instincts will help us more when we’re fighting in a group as opposed to fighting alone.

1 v Group is a bad situation to be in if you’re the one, and it doesn’t matter how well trained you are. Numbers will kill you.

Part of the reason why you see single characters fighting groups in movies and other fiction is to establish that they’re great fighters. The problem is that this has become so widespread that we now think fighting a group is easier than fighting a single, skilled individual. This is untrue. The group will kill you because the individuals within the group can move onto vectors that cannot be defended.

What your describing in your question in a battle between three people in a two on one is normal behavior, its standard tactics. However, you’re also demonstrating the exact kind of behavior for why two people engaged in a romantic relationship should not be on the battlefield together.

If you’re ever sitting there and wondering if something that is a basic and bog standard tactic is now, suddenly, too dangerous because your characters are dating then that is the exact problem.

Things that are normal suddenly become too risky, and the focus transitions to preserving their lover’s life rather than making use of their significant advantage over their enemy.

That is the exact kind of thinking which will cost them their lives, and for no benefit at all.

Good job.

-Michi

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ree-fireparrot  asked:

What makes an outfit practical or impractical to fight in? Would an acrobat's outfit with some decent shoes be okay to fight in? Any suggestions on how to make an outfit frilly/girly without sacrificing (too much) practicality? (Trying to come up with practical[ish] Magical Girl outfits - know it's not your genre probably - there are certain expectations for frilliness even for tomboyish characters)

You’re, basically, looking for three things: How well can you move in it, does it give potential foes anything to grab, and does it offer any protection?

If you can’t move freely in your clothes, you can’t fight in them. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about them being tight enough to restrict movement, or if they make it difficult to walk around. Tight skirts, high heels, tailored suits; it doesn’t matter; they’ll all limit your ability to fight.

With footwear, you’re looking primarily at how well you can stand and move in it. Shoes and boots designed to grip the floor are (usually) the best options here. So, things like sneakers or work boots are good options. Rubberized soles will help you keep your footing far better when you’re standing in someone’s blood than a dress shoe or high heels.

Things like long coats, ties, free flowing skirts, scarves, hoodies, or of course capes, won’t usually limit your mobility, but they can give an opponent something to grab. Once that happens, that article of clothing will limit your mobility (some). This is also a factor that’s difficult to completely eliminate. Practiced martial artists can, and do, go for collar or lapel grabs on clothing you might think would pass. That said, there are some special cases here.

If the article of clothing will tear away freely, it’s (kind of) a wash. You’re still talking about losing clothes, which isn’t usually something you want, but it means you’re not getting dragged out of position by an attacker.

If the combatant is ready for it, it’s possible to use something like this as a firing point to retaliate. If you know, roughly, where their hand is, it’s much easier to extrapolate where the rest of them is in relation to you. This still doesn’t make fighting in long flowing garments a good idea.

The final factor, almost by definition, doesn’t really apply with magical girls as a genre, and can get a little weird when you’re talking about any superhuman characters.

Ideally, if you’re planning to get into a fight, you’ll want durable clothing that will take a few hits, and hopefully shield you from harm. Materials like leather and denim hold up much better than lighter fabrics. Insulation in a jacket will take some kinetic force from a strike (not a lot, but still), so it’s better than just jeans and a tee, or even a denim jacket. This also gets into a discussion we’ve had before. Protection is often about making tradeoffs.

An insulated leather jacket will (slightly) reduce your mobility. It will give an opponent something they can grab. But, it will also offer protection from stray hits and while parrying incoming strikes. It won’t protect against gunshots, or against a sword, and if that’s what your character was likely to face, they’d need armor to deal with those threats instead.

Somewhat obviously, exposed skin isn’t offered any protection. Technically, skin itself is protection for your body, and it does function as your first line of defense against infection, but that’s mostly academic in this context.

This is also where, magical girls, and most superhero subgenres, deliberately start straying from reality, without actually being unrealistic (in the literary sense). What matters is if your character has some kind of protection from the threats they’re facing. It doesn’t matter if that’s an ancient alien artifact, a mystical gemstone, or the weaponized power of friendship. That is what protects your character, not her denim vest. You’re also talking about characters where the threats they face are, effectively, impossible to mitigate through mundane means. Again, a leather jacket, no matter how snazzy, won’t do much against a death beam from some snarling murderbeast, or blows from a sword with an enchantment that drains the soul from anyone who touches it. As I’ve said before, you select your armor to deal with the threats you’re likely to face, and when it comes to magical girls, those threats are (almost always) going to be far beyond anything you could physically protect against.

Normally, you wouldn’t want to fight off an arisen god of war in a school girl uniform, but it’s not like a flak vest would offer any more protection against a threat like that.

-Starke

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anonymous asked:

Some swordsmen I guess 'wear' their swords on their waist or strapped them to their backs. Most of the time people put them on their waist because it seems practical and rarely for the backs. Is there any pros and cons to the position of their swords? Or this is just merely aesthetic purposes?

“Wear” is the correct term.

Carrying a blade on your belt, (usually on opposite side from your dominant hand) is an entirely practical consideration. It’s not really possible to draw from the back in combat. You can do it, but it involves either some juggling of the blade, or unslinging the scabbard, pulling the blade, and then returning or discarding the scabbard.

Alternately, you can simply reach across your waist and draw a sword. Faster, simpler, easier to do in combat. It’s also going to be out of your way most of the time, while one on your back could become an issue. Finally, while drawing it, you’re putting the blade between yourself and your opponent almost instantly, which can have sometimes have applications in defensive situations.

It’s hypothetically possible to design some kind of scabbard that would hold a blade on the back for easy access. For instance, a sci-fi setting where they use strong electromagnets. It would also be possible to store a collapsing sword on the shoulder, or across the small of the back.

In the real world, slinging a sword (or other weapon) across your back usually meant you intended to ready it before combat, rather than during the melee. Remember, historically, swords were actually a sidearm, and almost never used as a primary weapon. So a soldier would need their sword someplace they could get to it quickly, should their primary weapon (usually a polearm or ranged weapon) fail.

If your character carried a sword as their primary weapon, for example a Zweihander or claymore, then it’s entirely possible they’d carry that across their back, with a sidesword on their waist while traveling. Before a battle, they’d unsling their primary, prepare it for use, and then put their scabbard with their kit. If they were ambushed on the road, it’s far more likely, they’d simply use their sidesword, rather than trying to get at a weapon on their back.

-Starke

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anonymous asked:

You've talked before about how katana's weren't that great due to the low quality of the metal used way back when. But what if someone made one today? If you primarily used titanium instead of low-quality steel, plus modern forging techniques, could you develop a much better sword that a real person could use in a fight?

The poor quality iron that Japanese smiths had access to is part of the problem, but it’s not the only issue. The design was (in part) a result of that limitation. You can work around those, using high quality steel forged directly from a billet, with a grip you can actually use in a variety of situations, but you wouldn’t have a katana, you’d have a saber.

Those design flaws are intrinsically what defines the katana. Folding the blade is extremely fetishized in defining the quality of a katana. It’s not just a defining characteristic, you will see people using the number of folds as an indicator of how skilled the sword smith was. This is probably a large part of why they continued using the technique, while other cultures, like the Vikings, abandoned folded blades once they had access to better smelting technologies.

In fact, a lot of modern, “katanas,” you can buy, aren’t. They’re not produced with the proper metal, and they’re using machine forged blades. They’re just sabers. Ironically, even the junk ones are superior weapons to traditional katanas. (For one thing, you can actually parry with the blade.)

Using titanium as your base material for a sword isn’t a good option. It’s light weight, strong, and won’t hold an edge without becoming incredibly brittle. Heat treating it is either functionally impossible or prohibitively expensive (maybe a little of both). It’s a fantastic option for a lot of applications, but combat blades don’t make that list.

I don’t really have a lot to say on the subject of titanium, because I don’t do metalworking directly, but (nearly) everything I’ve read on the subject says, “don’t.” There are titanium alloys you use, but the metal, in general, just doesn’t have the characteristics you’d want in a sword (or machete). It is an excellent choice for items that need to survive excessive thermal shock and constant wear, which is probably why you will find aftermarket titanium parts for firearms, it just doesn’t work well for swords.

If you’re really dead set on getting a titanium blade, you can buy titanium kitchen knives. Though, holding an edge while slicing carrots and slabs of meat isn’t quite the same as doing so while slicing through screaming slabs of meat who are trying to return the favor.

You can make excellent blades from high quality steel. No folding required. Actually, please, don’t fold high quality steel. The entire folding process was originally an act of necessity, to get functional steel out of the iron the Japanese had access to.

You’d also probably want to add a functional hand guard to the thing, and contour the hilt. These aren’t mandatory, but they would help. The thing is, none of this is really necessary.

Real people did use actual katanas forged from tamahagane (pig iron), and killed each other in the real world. Humans are very inventive about making sure they have a way to kill each other, and the katana is an excellent example of this.

Limited by their available resources, Japanese swordsmiths found a way to turn the iron they had into something they could use in weapons. Japanese swordsmen developed and refined techniques that allowed them to take the resulting blades into combat while working around their inherent fragility, and they used the things for centuries. They turned the blade into a symbol of their identity.

To be honest, I don’t even hold this against the Japanese, the katana is a symbol of their ingenuity. It’s not a particularly good sword, but that’s kind of missing the point. It is, their sword. It is a symbol. Hell, it is literally a holy icon.

What you can’t do is take a katana out of its natural environment and expect it to flourish. Weapons are designed and adapted to deal with the environment they’re used in. On the global scale, the katana was about four centuries obsolete when it was first developed. Which, really doesn’t matter, because the Japanese weren’t using them against anyone who had a decisive technological advantage.

The problem is, a lot of people, look at how the katana functioned in its native environment, and how the people from that culture regarded it, and then assume that a civilization which had never engaged in long range exploration and had no frame of reference, were able to accurately assess that they had created, “the best swords,” in the world.

It’s a sword. You can make vastly superior ones by changing the design, at which point it’s still a sword, but it’s not the same sword. The katana was an excellent weapon for Feudal Japan, not because it was somehow the best blade design ever envisioned, or because it had some superlative quality, but because it was a symbol of who they were as a people.

Take it out of that environment, drop it into a world that has moved beyond swords entirely, and you’re left with an object that can still have cultural meaning, and personal importance, but trying to cling to it is to deny the changing world.

Icons like that are still important to point to and say, “this is where we came from; this is a part of who we are,” but, that’s not the same as saying, “progress is irrelevant, this will always be the best solution.” And, yes, that second part is an element when discussing the katana. Folded steel was not, strictly, a Japanese invention, other civilizations did use that method to produce early steel weapons. They faced the same issues with fragile blades, and continued searching for better smelting methods and higher quality materials. The Japanese didn’t, and instead fetishized the blades. Make of that what you will.

I’ll still say, actual katanas are beautiful pieces of art. It’s the entelechy of how a civilization viewed conflict. They’re an example of serious ingenuity and craftsmanship. If you take it out of context, it’s not a particularly good weapon, but that’s missing the point.

-Starke

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anonymous asked:

So how does one go about training elite, loyal fighters in a non-abusive environment?

By… not abusing them?

I know that the whole “training for martial combat is inherently abusive” is a popular concept, but it doesn’t work that way. Normal training is a slow process, and elites are the culmination of a process every single martial artist goes through. They are the ones who worked the hardest, who went the furthest, and continued long after everyone else stopped. An elite is the one who devotes their life to their art. From a martial combat perspective, you want the trainees who want to be training. You get your trainees to engage and commit to their training without forcing them because they already want to be there, and it not only works… it work better. I know. It’s an amazing concept, you get better results without abuse.

There are no elite warriors who were not once willing participants, wholeheartedly devoted and dedicated. Who ate, and breathed, and slept, and dreamed their training, who made it a foundational aspect of their whole life. A core aspect of their identity.

They became an elite because they wanted to be and because they worked hard for it. They passed all their tests, ground their way out through the muck and the dirt. Through the sweat, the tears, and the frustrations. Who celebrated their successes and mourned their failures.

Every training program will have a different metric for what makes someone capable of entering the ranks deemed elite. However, there are very specific general metrics for requirement which most follow. They will be people considered at or near the top by their instructors, who are experienced, and who have already completed the basic requirements. They will be martial artists who are in the highest belt rankings before this training or soldiers who made it through Basic with distinction and, perhaps, have field experience where they have shown a solid track record. They will be volunteers. They will be the ones previously identified as the best of the best by other trainers and commanding officers. They will either be chosen from the field or asked to apply. Offered, not ordered. Then, they will be “trained” as in they will undergo a stress test of their physical and mental limits that serves as their training.

When I say phrases like “considered near the top”, “shown exemplary skill”, and “served with distinction”, I don’t mean raw talent in someone untested. Raw talent is nothing but potential, and potential is worthless in someone who will not or is uninterested in making the most of it. These are the people who have already proven themselves, often above and beyond the call. They are chosen now because they have the potential and the drive to reach an echelon (often highly specialized) beyond that of the average trainee.

If you learn nothing else, learn this: any elite candidate is a classic overachiever.

One of the major purposes of normal training is to push a trainee beyond what they believe is physically and mentally possible for them to achieve. The extreme version of this is, well, it’s extreme. The point isn’t toughness, though. That’s far too simplistic and silly in concept. The point is to create a situation for the trainee to realize their true potential, that breaks all the boundaries of what they believed to possible. This is why high end of martial arts often feel like magic. Whether it’s staying awake, active, and functional for a full seven days, breaking nine bricks in a single strike, or bending a steel rod with nothing but their throat, you’re seeing someone who has a far better grasp of the true human limits than the average person.

Outside the real world, most authors are attracted to “abusive training” due to the angst factor. They often make the mistake of assuming that regular training is abuse (and taken to the wrong extremes, it can be), and mistake the purpose behind the extremes. They also think one can skip the boring, technical aspect and jump straight to those extremes. Again, mostly for the angst factor and to create a sub category of the trope Cursed with Awesome, which i like to call: Victimized Into Herohood.

In the real world, the theory behind abusive training isn’t that abuse makes you stronger (though many abusers and some abuse survivors have this outlook), it’s that the threat of death and desire to survive will make the subject work harder. That the desire to live is universal, and that it’s as good as the desire to learn. You’ll find this method used in cults, because its purpose is to ensure a specific kind of loyalty.

In the real world, that doesn’t get you past the bare minimum. So, all that abuse is just to get past the first mental hurdle for basic training. Do not mistake basic training for elite training. Never do this. You’ll find far more abuse (if it happens at all) happening at the beginning of training rather than at the end. You’ve got to learn to flap before you fly and expecting someone to achieve FTL by chucking them off a cliff is pretty damn silly. No one would expect a prospective student to be a black belt on day one.

The confusion, I think, most people have is with the intensity of the physical training. You will ask them to push beyond their physical limits, but that’s not abusive. They also consented to it first. Your working with someone who wants to be training, who has committed. You don’t put a gun to their head to say, “do this or die.” The point of pushing in this environment is not to break them, but rather to show them that they can do more than they realize.

Extreme training works best when the other person wants to be there. You will never be able apply more pressure or drive to someone via outside sources than they can apply to themselves.

Dragging some random schmuck off the street and beating the shit out of them misses the point. When we’re talking abusive training, it’s purpose isn’t to make you tougher, it’s purpose is to convince the trainee to commit. If they aren’t inclined toward it anyway, then they’re a bad candidate. The end point of the abusive outlook is to get your trainee to the point where they’re a willing candidate. That doesn’t produce elites though. Elites come from trainees who want to excel, not the ones who just want to live.

You cannot make an elite from a trainee who isn’t willing.

You can’t do it. 90% of an instructors job is to provide structure and opportunity for students to excel. That’s it. They teach, yes, but the student has to choose to learn. Being the best or competing for the opportunity to be the best, requires a step even beyond the choice or desire to learn. It takes real, honest to god commitment, devotion, sacrifice, not to mention time and energy. After all, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it think.

Like with anything else, an elite is born from the trainees who worked the hardest in basic training. The ones who pushed themselves, the ones who maybe struggled in the beginning but kept at it, the ones who were up late practicing their techniques after everyone else had gone to bed, and the ones who proved themselves in the field or to whatever criteria qualified them for this next step. You don’t get elites through abuse. You get elites through willing candidates, and then just train them the normal way. Elites aren’t training or talent, so much as they are personality. These are the people who want to be there, they’re willing to commit and do whatever they have to do to win. You put them in competition so they build each other up, then you cull. By culling, I mean removing the weak and sending them back to where they came from. Usually, these will be returning them to the positions they already occupied. You know, how it normally works?

The mistakes the inexperienced make when writing training is that they often believe:

1) That all martial combat training is what you get from training Special Forces.

2) That the Special Forces training is what makes them elite.

No, Special Forces training itself is the culling process. The point isn’t to instruct, so much as it is to test the limits of the trainee and how far they can (and are willing) to push themselves. These are people who have already proven they excel in regular combat environments, they exceed beyond the expected limits. They have been trained, they are now taking the next step.

Martial Training is a process involving multiple stages, it takes time, investment, and a great deal of energy. The creation of an elite or an elite unit doesn’t happen overnight, or over a few weeks, or even months. It starts with molding the raw materials through the basics. Then, if they prove themselves worth the time/show their mettle, they get to try passing the tests where you’re kept awake and active for a week straight.

The true point of extreme training is to push the student far beyond the point they believe to be their upper limits. Our minds instill false expectations and false limits based on our beliefs, our understanding, and our desire for self-preservation. The point is never to break and remold, but rather to introduce the trainee to their true capabilities.

However, the trainee needs to be willing to push themselves. They are the ones who do the heavy lifting, they are the ones who are taking control over themselves, and they are the ones who are breaking down those mental and physical limits within themselves in order to reach new heights. It cannot be done to them, they must do it themselves.

Everyone has the potential to be an elite warrior, they all receive the same training. The question is: will the individual choose to put in the effort and make the necessary sacrifices?

Understand these are active choices, made by people who want what’s being offered to them and are chasing it because this is what they want to be. This is not a choice made for them. They are not the victims of it. It is not a burden thrust upon them. They chose to take it up, then they turned around and pursued excellence with a vengeance so intense it makes the rest of us cry.

The highest echelons of any martial art or martial combat is almost entirely an internal battle. You are your own worst enemy, and you need to break past your own beliefs about yourself. It is a battle for self-actualization, fire forged in blood, sweat, tears, and competition. This is the aspect of high level training that is most often disregarded because it sounds hokey. It’s true though.

Elite training is there to teach us that the false limits we set for ourselves are our greatest barrier, and these beliefs keep us from reaching our true potential.

Regardless of anything else, the end goal of both abusive scenarios and non-abusive scenarios are the same. The only difference is their methods and the initial willingness of their participants. This is also why the holdouts are the ones who die in the abusive scenario. No amount of forcing will ever compete with the willing.

-Michi

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anonymous asked:

How realistic is it for the retired agent/spy/assassin to come back and kick just as much butt as they did years before? Does such training come back to you easily if you haven't used it in a long while or will you be rusty enough to get killed?

Parts of this are realistic, others not so much.

If you’ve spent enough time training techniques, this stuff gets baked into the way you move. It’s not, “oh, I’ll do this to someone;” it’s just there. Training can also affect how you look at the world; this is true as a general statement on life, but it also applies here. Again, as with muscle memory, this is always there, always affecting how you view your surroundings and the people in them.

So, in that sense, yes. A veteran character coming back after years away from the job will still have their skills and training. Some of that will be rusty, but this stuff sticks with you. Especially if you were maintaining your training for years. That said, they’ll still get their teeth kicked in.

Ironically, one of the more realistic takes I’ve seen on this was in the middle seasons of 24. In the early seasons, the protagonist, Jack Bauer, is a federal counterterrorist agent. After the third season he’s basically on his own, and no longer a part of the agency that trained him. By the fifth season (about 3 years later) he’s at a point where he’s getting his ass handed to him by a security guard.

The problem is something we’ve explained, repeatedly. Hand to hand combat is not static. The training I got 20 years ago doesn’t apply now. It will work against untrained opponents. Basic physiology doesn’t change. However, going up against opponents who’ve been keeping their training up to date, (or are some of the people responsible for updating the techniques in the first place), is not going to end well.

Something I know we haven’t discussed on this subject is how this updating happens. It requires contact with people who are actually using their training practically. Seeing what people are doing isn’t something that you can do sitting on a mountain top. You need to actually be immersed in the community. You look for how people are adapting to the techniques you’re training others in, and look for ways to get around those counters.

In the case of law enforcement, one major source if intelligence to guide updates is watching what criminals are teaching each other in prison. Career criminals will look for ways to counter police hand to hand, and once they have that, will (usually) share it with people they work and/or socialize with.

A veteran coming in after years away may be able to execute their training perfectly, and still get taken down by a rookie who received their training last year, because they were trained to counter the veteran’s approach.

Updating is about looking for the things that are most prevalent, and finding ways to defend against them. It’s very likely your veteran will understand this concept. Whether that affects their behavior is more of a characterization question.

Incidentally, this doesn’t just apply to hand to hand, it’s also a relevant concept when you’re talking about things like tradecraft.

Tradecraft is the shorthand for techniques used in intelligence gathering. It’s (somewhat) all encompassing. So, anything from social engineering to dead drops or even the way you set up surveillance could be lumped in under this header.

Just like hand to hand training, this stuff does go out of date. Usually once someone’s actually exploited a method and gotten caught doing it. Though, sometimes it’s preventative.

The irony is, when it comes to being a spy, the biggest problem is being a veteran, not being out of practice. It’s being a veteran. When a spy starts their career, no one knows who they are, they have no reputation, they’ve never turned up in strange places, they’re just someone walking around, taking in the sights, maybe doing a job for some NGO.

Even if a spy is never caught, as they work, their name will start ending up on desks, in lists of witnesses, employees, or whatever. Once is not a pattern, but as their name keeps coming up over the years, it becomes easier to identify them. Potential enemies start keeping files, and gradually filling them with what they know. This means it is much harder for a veteran spy to operate in the field undetected, than it is for a rookie.

There’s a similar issue for assassins. Either they’re a complete ghost, no one knows who they are, and may not even believe they ever existed, or (more likely), if they were working for a government (or any other large, overt organization, like a corporation), they’re in the same boat as a veteran spy. People may not know your character is an assassin, but they will know that they worked for someone. Which in turn, will put them on guard, and make your character’s life much harder.

There are concepts a veteran will have internalized, which someone without training won’t understand or grasp. Thing that just don’t go out of style. For example, bullets will blow through most residential walls and furniture. So, if someone’s taking cover behind a couch, kitchen wall, or car door, it’s far more expedient to simply shoot through whatever’s in your way. Another concept is one I’ve mentioned recently, you reload when you have the time, not when you’ve run your gun dry.

Similarly, experience they’ve learned from may still be relevant. Being able to read someone’s intentions, know when they’re about to resort to violence, or simply knowing the value of good intelligence aren’t going to go away because your character spent the last five years pretending to be a well-adjusted human being.

-Starke

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anonymous asked:

Do you have any advice on subtly guiding readers to villainize a character so that they dismiss the character's legitimate concerns over another person's trustworthiness? I am hoping the perceived personalities will help, but I don't want to rely on them alone.

Well, you hit on the answer: Make the concerns legitimate. Not just the concerns you want to discredit, but also the reasons your other characters have to discount their observations.

When you’re writing it can be very easy to get tunnel vision and view the world through the lens of your protagonist. Your audience will gleefully follow that cue in turn. It’s part of why there are a lot of novels with the protagonist acting in egregious ways, but fans will (and do) disregard it, because the protagonist thinks that behavior’s fine.

This is how characters like Harry Potter function. The character operates from a limited perspective of the world, makes snap judgments based on their perspective, and as a result, devalues legitimate advice and insights from people who know what they’re talking about. I’ll stress, there’s nothing wrong with a character having this kind of an approach, so long as the author understands that this is a flaw.

There is nothing wrong with having a character say, “yeah, but that’s just Steve, and we all know what an idiot he is.” So long as you remember, as the author, that Steve may have a point, and licking that light socket was probably not a great idea.

So, let’s step back for a second and start over: As the author, you control the game board. That’s your job. You set up the characters, the arena they operate in, and direct them. You know that the sky is going to fall in six minutes, and that poking the toad over there is a spectacularly bad idea. But, your characters don’t.

In a story told from the position of one character, you’re presenting the narrative from a limited perspective. You need to understand the entire situation, but your character doesn’t, and shouldn’t. They see and react to the information they have access to.

Now, the hard part, staying within this weird little metaphor, every other character in your story is another piece on the board. Looking at the information they have, and acting accordingly. Everyone has their own goals, and perspective. Just like your character, their perspective is limited. They may have more information. They may have less. What they know shapes their opinions and perspectives.

AND. THEY. REMEMBER.

The simple answer is to go back and ask how does your protagonist feel about the character. If they like them, and have had positive experiences in the past, they’re more likely to accept that character’s viewpoint. If that character has betrayed them in the past, or worked against them, then they’ll discount the value of their advice.

Past actions are incredibly important factors if you’re dealing with characters who’ve changed loyalties. It’s entirely plausible your protagonist would hold a grudge against a former foe, who’s switched sides and is working with them now. Conversely, if the protagonist has had a change of heart, then they’re more likely to face distrust and opposition among their new allies.

Okay, so, maybe someone does know that the sky is going to fall if you poke that toad. Maybe they didn’t make that information clear because, “NO! AREYOUOUTOFYOURGODDAMNMIND!? DONTDOTHAT; THEFUCKINGSKYWILLFALL!” Maybe they’ve cried wolf before. Maybe your protagonist thinks poking the toad is a key to immortality and Steve just wants that for himself.

You’re correct, personality does matter. It affects prejudices, and how we weight information. Some of this is subconscious, but it works. Consider which you find more credible, some Rasputin looking homeless dude raving about the end of the world, or a composed academic? Personality and presentations matter, particularly during first impressions. Even if the Rasputin looking fellow comes back, shaved, with the crazy toned down, they’ll still be weighed against their previous iteration, by characters who originally met them in that state.

Confirmation bias is another relevant factor. This is the drive to actively seek out information that supports your understanding of the world while actively discounting information that contradicts it. If your protagonist really wants to believe that toad will give them immortality, they may very well ignore the advice of people they respect, and normally agree with, when they’re told it’s really an amphibious button to initiate the end times.

The really important thing to walk away with is the idea that you don’t need to vilify other characters’ positions. If your character has a legitimate reason not to follow it, then that’s all you need. Trust your audience make their own decisions on who they should be listening to.

-Starke

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anonymous asked:

How practical is a hidden sword inside a walking stick/cane? How wide could a person go before the cane became suspiscious as to be concealing something? And would such a weapon be strong enough in serious skirmishes? Or should a user stick to simply using the cane, and perhaps having a hidden blade in the end?

Amusingly, I used to own a sword cane. I threw it out during the last move, otherwise I could post pictures.

The sword canes I’ve seen have been screw on arrangements. Externally, they look like a normal cane with a metal band just below the grip (which isn’t unusual for normal canes either).

They use very narrow blades to maintain the silhouette of a normal cane. This is a necessary component of the design, by the way. The entire point is to have a hidden blade, which falls apart when you’re carrying around something that looks more like a scabbard than a cane. You’re talking about a blade that’s going to be, at most, around 1/2″ across, and usually around 24″ to 25″ long.

The primary purpose of these things was as a self defense tool. It’s not a weapon intended for heavy combat, just to deal with one guy armed with a knife.

To some extent, overall practicality depends on the individual weapon, not sword canes as a whole. For example, the one I owned featured a very loose blade, which could be rattled by shaking the grip slightly. Rattling it may serve the intended purpose of scaring off a potential mugger, but I wouldn’t have wanted to take the thing into a fight.

-Starke

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nugromancer  asked:

Any way to get your breath back after getting winded? And I mean like, getting hit hard enough in the back or stomach that the wind gets knocked out of you and you can't breathe for almost a minute. I had it happen to me as a kid and nearly fainted, and I can't be sure whether or not me smacking my own back actually helped or not.

So, what happens when the wind gets knocked out of you is that all the air in your lungs is forcibly ejected from your body. (Literally, the wind gets knocked out of you.) The only way to recover from that is to get the wind back into your body, and that is all posture.

When we’re winded, our first instinct is often to lean over. You’re breathing heavily, your back gets tired, and you just hang there. (Basically what happens when you get punched in the gut, except the gut punch is the more severe version.) This is one of those bad instincts because it keeps you from getting that air.

You’ve got to get yourself upright and breathing, get the oxygen back into your lungs. The oxygen goes from your lungs to your blood to your tired muscles including your new injuries in the abdominal muscles and that’s what helps you recover.

You’ve got to straighten, open your chest, and force yourself to take long, deep, controlled breaths with your diaphragm. Your body won’t want to do that. It’s gonna hurt. Your body is going to want to stay bowled over. However, when you’re hanging there your ability to breathe is negligible. You won’t get enough air into your lungs for it to matter. Unless you’re doing a sport or practicing martial arts they’re not going to tell you how important breathing is.

One of the first things they will teach you in any martial art is how to breathe. Most people breathe using either their lungs or their stomach, you don’t do either. You breathe with your diaphragm. The faster you get air back into your body then the faster you recover. (This works in the short term too, the more oxygen you get into your lungs then the faster that gets to your muscles which helps them recover. If you cannot breathe then you cannot fight for long periods, or perform any sport. That hissing sound you often hear in martial arts movies that lots of people make fun of? That’s them breathing. The kihap is also breathing. They’ve trained their bodies to exhale on the strike, which negates the chance of having the wind knocked out of you when you’re hit in the stomach.) The more we work out and practice at this then the stronger our lungs get and the better we become at breathing.

Breathing is a learned skill.

The best part about rigorous physical exercise is that you’re used to being out of breath so you learn to work through it, recover faster, and get back in the game. Practice is how you get your breath back.

Basically, you had to straighten in order to smack your back which is what let you recover your breath.

-Michi

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anonymous asked:

I have a character who is a thief, and for squeezing-in reasons she can't have anything but leather armor. So, what weapon would she carry around in case she gets caught by any full-armor-wearing enemy? I was thinking a Misericord? Thank you!!! *hug*

I feel like we’ve covered this before. A dagger isn’t going to do much when you’re fighting against an armed and armored guard. For that matter, neither is the leather.

If your character’s going to be going up against guards who are armed with sidearms (maces, swords, whatever), going after them with a dagger in a straight up fight is suicide. A knife fighter needs to get much closer to the target than a swordsman. This means they need to get past the sword. Against any competent, or even semi-competent combatant, trying to rush past the sword will end with your character impaled.

The obvious solution to carry a sword of your own, isn’t necessarily an option either, because 99% of the time, it’s just going to get in your character’s way. It will hit things, get snagged, make noise, and this will draw the attention of those same guards your character is trying to avoid.

If they wanted to make good on killing people with the dagger, then their best bet would be coming in from behind, when the guard doesn’t see them, and slitting their throat. However, this will cause other problems.

Your character is a thief, they’re already a part of the underworld that can easily draw the ire of the people who run their world simply by stealing something too prominent or important. This is a classic genre hook for a reason.

If you have a thief slipping off with a few gems or baubles and getting out undetected, that’s just a thing that happens. It could have been the servants, it could have been a mistake, or it could be any number of other possible scenarios.

However, if you have a thief slipping into homes and killing people, that will make the setting’s elites feel unsafe, which will lead to them pushing the city guard to crack down on the underworld. At that point, your character will put her allies in danger. Remember that old cliche? “No honor among thieves.” When the city guard is kicking down doors, and kneecapping fences, it’s not going to take long for someone to offer up your character’s name, if only because they hope it will let them walk out of their cell with one or two functioning limbs.

It’s worth remembering, if anyone in the setting’s underworld, knows she’s the one who started this, they will hold her directly responsible for bringing the guard knocking through their door, and ruining their livelihood.

As I mentioned earlier, a classic genre hook is a thief accidentally stealing something ridiculously valuable. It may be an ornate artifact with ties to some eldritch power, it may be documents that implicate their victim in some conspiracy, it may simply be a piece of absurdly valuable jewelry. In any of those cases, it can result in a similar crackdown, no dead bodies necessary.

Any competent thief is going to know they should avoid drawing too much attention to themselves. They can still get into messes like this unintentionally, but if a guard spots them, it is far safer for them to run, and escape, rather than stand and fight.

If your character was an assassin, then, yes. I’d say taking a few daggers, a garrote, and maybe a few other fun little party favors is a good idea. The basic thought with fighting guards would be the same, take them out without giving them any opportunity to fight back, or avoid them entirely. That said, assassins are an entirely different animal, they don’t rely on persistent contact with the setting’s underworld the same way thieves do. They just need to get paid, they don’t need to fence what they’ve stolen, or keep appraised of what the City Watch is doing, or stay coordinated enough to avoid tripping over each other on jobs. An assassin just needs a client (who isn’t necessarily part of the underworld) and tools (which they may be buying through legitimate channels and modifying on their own). They may still bring heat down on the underworld, and make life miserable for the city’s thieves, but they’re much more insulated from that world than your character would be.

I mentioned earlier that leather armor might not be a good choice for your character. It won’t do much to protect your character from a guard, but that’s not the real problem. The big issue is that it will announce that your character isn’t just part of the background. Under the best circumstances, a thief needs to be able to blend into the crowd and disappear. If they’ve got a cloak, a dagger hidden away, and a few deep pockets, that’s going to be much harder to spot in a crowd than someone wearing armor.

Beyond that, if your character is climbing or squeezing into places, the leather will just be more weight to move around, and more bulk to pull through tight spaces. Granted, it’s not a lot of weight or bulk, but if her goal is to remain undetected, then it’s not doing her any favors.

Carrying a dagger is a good idea, but not to use as a weapon. Knives are very useful utility items, and that’s no different for your character. It can be used as a weapon, but it’s something your character would probably want to avoid unless they were desperate.

So, stab them in the neck and run like hell, I guess. Or, you know, don’t bring a knife to a swordfight.

-Starke

On the subject of writing about thieves, or a criminal underworld, in a fantasy setting, the first thing that comes to mind are the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber. If you’ve never heard those names before, they’re really worth taking a look at.

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unrivalled-in-sarcasm-deactivat  asked:

Is there any relatively safe way to knock someone out with no resources but your hands? My character needs to knock this person out so they don't run off, but he has nothing on him to do so. It's necessary to the story that he be knocked out. Thank you!

No.

We’ve gone over this, many times, before. There is no safe way to knock someone unconscious. By definition, you’re specifically attempting to damage their brain, with the goal of getting it to take a little vacation.

More than that, there aren’t even many reliable means to knock someone out. Blows to the head can, theoretically, work, but they can also, just as easily, piss off the person you’re attacking, without much ill effect.

Tranquilizers take ages to kick in, and are very difficult to dose. Too much, and you’ve got a corpse. Not enough, and you’ve got someone who’s groggy, but still ambulatory.

Choking is, in theory, the safest, but the fine line between unconscious and dead is still something you can’t spot intentionally. Choking is something that can be practiced in a safe environment, but using it in the field is incredibly finicky.

And, it gets better.

Strip away all the terminology and a concussion is just bruising on the brain itself. You get hit, your head gets jostled around, and your brain bounces off the inside of your skull. You may have been using that organ for something, and might understand why you don’t particularly want it getting directly injured. Either way, this will, absolutely, interfere with your ability to think, remember unimportant information like your name, or count the number of fingers some well meaning smartass is holding up. Still, probably won’t knock you out, though.

When you’re talking about knocking someone out, you’re really asking, “how can I directly assault their brain, without having to develop psychic powers?” Yeah, that’s never going to be safe. It turns out, getting the human brain to stop working, temporarily, is a lot like trying to get it to just flat out stop working in general, and it’s a crap shoot, which you’ll get.

Concussions are cumulative. This should be fairly obvious, when you actually think about it. If your brain has been pre-tenderized, it’s going to be more susceptible to future concussions, and the ones you receive will be more severe. This means someone who’s had a few before will be knocked unconscious or killed far more easily than someone with a relatively healthy brain. Even then, it’s not like there’s a stable baseline of, “you can hit your head this hard before it kills you.”

Knocking someone unconscious for more than a few seconds is very bad news. If you’re knocking someone out for more than a minute, there’s going to be irreparable brain damage. (The specific threshold is usually around 30 seconds, but for each unique brain, there’s equally unique catastrophic brain damage.) So, you’ve, “safely,” reduced someone to a vegetable. More than a few minutes and you’ve (probably), “safely,” killed them.

So, what do you actually do when you need to be somewhere else and someone is intent on getting you to stick around? Knock them off balance and run. Sucker punches to the stomach are a good option. If unexpected, they’ll usually wind the victim, and give you a good head start. Knees to the gut are another classic. One common variation is to knee the gut, and when they double over, knee them again in the face. Slamming a door in the face, or knocking them to the ground are also excellent options. Really, there are a lot of options. The goal is to simply create an opening and escape. You don’t need to knock someone unconscious to do that. You really don’t want to knock someone unconscious to do that.

-Starke

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anonymous asked:

What are some non verbal indications that someone is good with guns (any and all)? Like, how someone holds a gun, their stance, where their holster is, etc.

In most cases it’s easier to know when someone doesn’t know what they’re doing. With that, there are enough that I wouldn’t pretend to be able to create an exhaustive list. The big ones that will send anyone with firearms training up the wall are trigger discipline and barrel control.

Trigger discipline is about keeping your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire. It’s a really simple thing, and something everyone handling a gun should practice. Hollywood hates it. Or at least, some directors in Hollywood (apparently) think their actors should have their fingers on the trigger at all times, “because it looks more dangerous.” Which, you know, it actually is. Stupidly dangerous.

Most people who know what they’re doing will rest their index finger along the frame over the trigger. This isn’t the only way, some will simply have their finger sticking out at an awkward angle (and a lot of people will do that during reloads).

Barrel control is keeping the firearm pointed in a safe direction at all times. “Safe,” is a bit of a loaded term here, since, if your goal is to use the gun on someone, you’re going to be pointing it at them. Again, this is basic safety. This is a little more involved, because no matter what you do, the gun will be pointed somewhere. The important part is remembering that, and not pointing the gun at someone’s thigh when you’re not using it.

As with trigger discipline, this is an incredibly basic element of gun safety, that a lot of people who don’t know what they’re doing will easily miss.

There are a lot of other potential tells, someone who drops their magazines rather than retaining them, probably doesn’t know what they’re doing. (This is the practice of discarding a partial or empty magazine when reloading, instead of keeping it.) TV and film love presenting people dropping mags, probably because it looks more dramatic, but it is a pretty good sign that someone’s only education came from mass media.

Concealment isn’t cover. This is one of the few that does tend to separate trained shooters from untrained ones. In a shock to no one, bullets pass through objects in their environment. Taking cover means far more than hiding behind a car door or couch.

So, concealment means you cannot see your opponent. Cover means they’re hiding behind something that will take a bullet. Most of the time, just because you can’t see someone, doesn’t mean you can’t shoot them. Someone hides behind a wall in a home or office? Yeah, you can shoot straight through that. Drywall, almost all furniture, most parts of a vehicle, most garage doors… none of that will stop a pistol round. When you start dealing with rifle rounds, even things like exterior walls start getting iffy. Trained shooters will fire through concealment. Amateurs who learned how to shoot from Call of Duty and reruns of old Arnold movies will try to take cover behind a couch.

Firing until you run dry. This is a little trickier because trained shooters will do this on the range. No one’s shooting back, and you’re going to immediately repack the mag anyway. In the field though, emptying your magazine is a seriously dangerous situation. Reload partials when you have the opportunity to, don’t wait for it to run empty, and have a non-functional gun when you need it.

The problem with all of this information is; it doesn’t really answer your question. It tells you things to look for with someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Not how to identify someone who really does. This is because it’s far easier to identify things that an incompetent shooter will do, rather than tells that are exclusive to someone who really knows what they’re doing in contrast to someone who has a basic understanding of gun use.

Some of these also aren’t easy to operationalize. For example, with stance, There’s Weaver, Chapman, Center Axis Relock,  Modern Isosceles, and many more. There isn’t a, “correct,” or, “elite,” way to do choose one of these, and many experienced shooters will tailor their stance to match the situation they’re in on the fly. The exact way they do that, or if they choose something that isn’t a functional stance, like Gangster Style (holding a handgun horizontally at arm’s length), can tell you about their training and how comfortable they are with a gun, but it’s not something you can easily explain in abstract. (At least not without going into all of the pros and cons of the various stances, and spending a lot of time going through all of the debate on the subject.) There’s also a lot of blending between some of these stances, and “adapted,” “reverse,” or “modern” variants of them.

It’s easy to distinguish someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing from someone who’s had some basic training, but distinguishing between someone who knows what they’re doing, and someone who is actually good with the weapons can be tricky.

I am sorry if that doesn’t really answer your question.

-Starke

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anonymous asked:

How realistic is stopping a knife from killing you by grabbing the blade with your hands?

Kind of. It’s realistic in the sense that it can and does happen. At the same time, it probably won’t save your life. Knife wounds to the palms, (called, “defensive wounds,”) are fairly common when someone has been attacked by a knife wielding opponent. Usually, what happens is they’ll attempt to block the knife by putting up their hands, palms out, and their palms and fingers will take the initial assault. That I’m most familiar with the term from autopsies should say a lot about how well this usually works out for the victim.

If you’re dealing with a situation, where someone’s trying to stab you and your only option is to catch the blade with your hand, it is better than dying. However, it is also a very temporary solution, and one you can’t repeat after using. It’s also, probably, not your best option.

When you bleed, your body is trying to do two things; first clean the wound and expel any foreign objects in it, then seal the wound over to allow the tissue to heal. Fresh blood is aggravatingly slick. Once exposed to oxygen, blood becomes tacky and coagulates over the course of a few minutes. (Specific clotting times vary based on a number of factors. For example: if your character is an alcoholic, their blood’s ability to clot will be severely impaired.) It only remains tacky for a few minutes, and will then harden into a solid mass, so the window here is fairly narrow.

When you take a knife to the hand, you’re going to bleed all over your hand. That means your hands will get slick, and have a harder time gripping the blade. This is before you consider the part where your hand is actually getting cut to pieces. Eventually the blood will clot (whether you survive long enough to see this or not), at which point gripping the blade would become easier, but that’s not a realistic consideration because the fight won’t last long enough to get there.

As I’ve said before, your body functions on a kind of pulley system. Your muscles pull on tendons which in turn tense against your skeleton, causing your limbs to move. When you start cutting tendons, the pulley system starts to break down. Some of the most delicate pieces of this system are in your hands and feet. Start carving those apart, and your hand will not work. This isn’t an, “oh, I can force my way through on sheer willpower,” situation. The mechanical components critical to making your hands work will be damaged or destroyed. The spirit may be willing, but the flesh has been turned into butterflyed steak. Catching a knife with your hand will stop that strike, but it means your hand will not work again. Yes, if you survive, it can be repaired surgically, but that’s not going to keep you alive.

The better option, if you have sufficient manual dexterity to catch the blade is to catch your opponent’s wrist instead. Again, this isn’t a great position to be in, and wrist grabs are some of the weakest and riskiest holds, but it is far better than trying to grab their knife. Your arm or hand might get nicked by the blade, but that is vastly preferable to taking a direct blade to the hand. Going for the wrist is a legitimate strategy and a part of some knife fighting doctrine. Granted, your best option would be to maintain distance, and never let a knife wielder get close enough to attack, but that’s not always a practical option.

-Starke

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anonymous asked:

I have a female character in her early twenties. How realistic would it be for her to be skilled (enough to hold her own against larger opponents) in hand to hand combat in under two years? If not, what would be realistic for her to master?

It’s realistic, sort of. There’s a few minor issues that don’t really fit together here, making it (at least seem) unrealistic as written.

Practical martial arts training intended to put someone into combat lasts far less than two years. You can learn effective hand to hand techniques that you can then apply in combat in an eight week course. If you’re coming out of the military or from a police background, your hand to hand training took, at most, a couple months. Then you go back every six months to a year, and update it, meaning you learn what others have developed to counter your training, and how to deal with their counters.

Practical training isn’t so much about spending years learning how to fight, as checking in often enough to see what’s changed. When you’re dealing with untrained opponents, it really doesn’t matter. Most people haven’t been in a fight since high school, and even basic police adapted Judo from the 70s will take them down.

As we’ve said many times before, most martial arts apply to larger foes without missing a beat. This is especially true of the adapted Judo/Jujitsu which forms the core of most American police and self-defense forms. This may be a difficult concept to wrap your head around, but it is far easier to put an opponent on the ground when they’re a foot taller, and a hundred pounds heavier, than the other way around.

Depending on how zealous they are about keeping their training up to date, someone who underwent training two years ago will have gone back four to six times, to update. They may have also elected to retake their training just to, “brush up.” Either way, we’re not talking about someone dedicating a lot of their life to this.

That said, if you’re talking about someone who signed up at a Dojo, and has been taking weekly classes, there’s no way to know what they’re trained to deal with. Some recreational schools will get into practical applications for their martial art, and offer it as an optional advanced class for their students. At that point, it’s entirely dependent on her instructor if she gets in (as an adult, these would probably be open to her if she wanted). It’s also, depressingly common for a martial arts school to offer, “self-defense,” classes that are just their normal curriculum with a different advertising hook. A class like this will not prepare your character for a self-defense situation.

For reference: If you’re taking a self defense class, and the discussion doesn’t include a serious discussion on situational awareness, and/or your instructor puts a lot of faith in your ability to overcome via superior force then you’re probably in the wrong place. Real self-defense training focuses on creating an opening so you can retreat to safety (if possible). It’s concerned with your ability to escape the situation and survive, not your ability to win a fight. Sticking around and dealing with an assailant is something you would only want to consider very situationally.

Also, in case it’s not clear, when I’m talking about Police adapted Judo, it is not the same martial art as Judo. It was derived from Judo after the Second World War, and the modern martial art still shares some techniques, but there have been substantial modifications to it, in order to produce something functional for combat. Judo itself is intended to be a sport martial art, and not something you’d take into combat.

There’s also no way to know exactly how fast the school moves its students through, and how quickly your character would advance. These are all dependant on human interactions and how quickly they learn and internalize techniques. In a more traditional school, two years is not a lot of time, but a modern Dojo may move a lot faster. It all comes down to the instructor’s preferences.

That said, recreational martial artists are not (usually) trained for combat. There’s a fundamental disconnect between how practical martial artists approach techniques, and how recreational ones do. They’re often studying the exact same techniques, but with different goals in mind. The recreational martial artist is learning to perform it, the practical one is learning to apply it. This might not sound important, or could come across as irrelevant trivia, it’s not. This is a large part of why practical training is so much faster. You’re learning how to do things to your opponent, not how to perform the techniques correctly.

A character who’s spent two years taking a martial art in a recreational capacity, may be able to handle an untrained opponent (it’s actually, fairly likely, assuming they don’t make any critical mistakes, which is also quite possible), but may face serious issues dealing with a trained opponent (this will depend entirely on what each character’s training focused on). Someone who has trained with a practical focus will be able to take on an untrained opponent (assuming they don’t make any major mistakes or misjudge the situation). Ironically, they’re also far more likely to attempt to avoid direct confrontation, and try to defuse the situation non-violently, than a trained recreational martial artist would.

So, your character’s been training for two years, and you want to know what she can tackle. If she was simply going to a Dojo twice a week, that’s not combat ready. That may not even be combat ready, if the Dojo’s “self-defense” class was run by the same instructors who believe their decade training in a sport martial art is good enough for “the streets.”

If your character’s been training with a cop, or ex-military, relative/friend/rando, or been in police sponsored self-defense classes, then two years is more than enough time to be able to deal with an opponent.

There’s an unrelated issue that Michi would be irked if I didn’t bring up. (We both started typing up radically different responses to this question.) Mastery a term that gets tossed around a lot in fiction. In martial arts, two years isn’t long enough to master anything. It’s not enough time to master the basics, it’s certainly not enough time to master advanced techniques. Mastery reflects a very high baseline of skill, and can easily take decades of dedicated training. A character can become proficient in elements of a martial art fairly quickly. That is to say, they can perform them correctly, and present a solid (or effective) technique. But, mastery, in this context, is a much higher bar to hit, and not one a character will reach within the first few years of starting a martial art.

There’s one last thing, “hold her own,” is a very difficult goal. Unarmed combat doesn’t tend to equalize out like this. You either win, lose, or wear each other out in fairly short order. Combat is extremely tiring, it’s part of why real self-defense tends to focus on creating an opening and escaping. Sticking around and trying to win a fight through attrition is a losing proposition for nearly everyone. Getting a good clean shot in on someone is usually enough to create the distance you need to escape. It’s not, “winning,” but, if all you need to do is retreat, that’s all you need. If you’re going to stick around, then the goal is to take your opponent down quickly and decisively. Unarmed combat doesn’t allow for protracted dueling the way Wuxia films present it.

-Starke

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anonymous asked:

In my setting, there are people with fire magic who can heat up metal till it's red hot and basically fry people wearing armor. Would it be believable to have metal armor not have become a thing? Or would people have just found ways to eliminate the fire mages?

It would depend on a few things. How effective is the ability? How common are the mages? What kind of precautions could negate this ability? What else can you do with this?

We’ve talked about how you build armor around the threats you’re most likely to encounter while using it. If this is an extremely common ability, and one that can affect entire groups of enemies at once, then, yes, it would seriously affect the role of metal in combat. Though, it might not mean abandoning metals entirely.

So, let’s pick apart those questions and talk about what the mean for your setting, and your question.

The biggest question is about how well the abilities work. Both the speed of the ability, and its scale will directly affect how the ability needs to be dealt with, if it does at all. If it’s on a large scale, torching an entire army at once, for example, then the casting time (or the speed that the spell heats metal) only matters if it’s long enough to find and kill the caster.

If the scale is small, one or two people, then the biggest threat would (probably) be during combat. In that context, we’re back to kill the mage. This is especially true if the mage needs to be in direct contact to make it work. Even if they can simply zap whomever they see, they’d be limited to an area denial role. That is to say, they could prevent hostile forces from rushing corridors or streets that they’re watching. This also assumes there’s little to no strain on the mage. If casting this is a strenuous action, and they’re limited to a couple of zaps, it’s entirely possible they wouldn’t affect warfare much at all.

If fire mages are exceedingly rare, either because it takes years of dedicated training, because most people simply don’t have the ability, or because mages suffer serious attrition during training, that means even large scale burns won’t affect much.

Think about it this way, if there are five people on your world who can instantly charbroil an enemy army in their own gear, that’s simply a threat to be carefully tracked, and neutralized, before you start a battle.

As you add more (and the abilities become more common) it becomes harder to keep track of enemy mages until you get to the point where it’s functionally impossible to track them individually. Depending on your setting, that number could actually get pretty high before you reach that point.

Also, with larger numbers, the smaller scale versions of the ability would have more of a chance to affect how warfare works. If you’re able to field one or two mages in your average army, and their primary role is as snipers, that’s not going to affect how people fight, for the most part. (Though, it could, seriously, alter how nobles behaved on the battlefield, or even if they’re present at all.) But, if you can field entire squads of pyromantic infantry, then those small, “reach out and torch someone,” abilities become a lot more threatening. At that point, eliminating them before the fight is basically impossible, so your setting would need ways to deal with them in the moment.

The hard part about introducing magic to a setting is establishing its rules. To an extent, you need to build an entire set of metaphyics for why magic works the way it does, before you start getting into specific abilities. In the absence of that, you have a setting where people will (or, should) work to counter the threats they face, and magic becomes the convenient answer for all of life’s problems.

With fantasy, this isn’t automatically a problem, but it is something you need to keep in mind, when you’re building your world. Look for systems to limit how your magic works, and what it can do. Or, be ready for a setting that is very difficult to work with, because the answer can always be, “magic.”

People are creative. When faced with the prospect of being cooked to death by an enemy mage, the immediate solution is to find a way to prevent that, or preemptively return the favor. This could be as simple as booby-trapping your soldiers (or their gear) with spells that will redirect pryomantic magic back at the caster, or enchanting their gear with some kind of thermal negation effect, so when the pyromancers try to flash fry them, all they manage to do is give their foes flaming weapons and armor.

This could also lead to armies making extensive use of divination, allowing them to better track enemy mages. Which in turn would lead to mages looking for ways to create decoys, moving around forces that don’t exist, in an effort to confuse anyone scrying for them.

It could also result in the creation and enhancement of other materials that are magically immune to pyromancy, or made from something the pyromancers can’t affect. Such as impossibly durable resins, or unmelting, super-hard ice plates.

It’s also worth realizing that these kinds of powers would radically change the way metallurgy developed as a technology. When you have mages that can replicate forge technology that wouldn’t “naturally” exist for centuries. There’s a lot of potential for changing the way it evolves. You could very easily see much higher quality steels than the real world ever produced in its analogous era, and potentially even alloys that simply aren’t possible in the real world. I’m not sure what 12th century battlefields would have looked like with space age alloys, but it’s not outside the range of possibility for your setting. Especially if your pyromancers can participate in the refinement process as well. This also leads to the potential that they may have materials that are centuries ahead of their technology, (because magic allows them to work with the mater directly).

When you’re creating a world, and you come up with an idea, usually, the best thing to do after that is sit there, and see if you can find all the ways people would react to it. An ability like being able to instantly heat metal to forging temperatures would be dangerous in combat, but it would also have many other potential applications.

-Starke

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anonymous asked:

What are some hurdles a person who has practiced taekwondo, fencing and aikido might have to jump when thrown into a real life or death fight? What will happen when they get much better at escalating quickly (almost too quickly) and they're thrown into a situation where that's the opposite of what they need to do?

By, “the opposite of what they need to do,” you mean, not escalate the situation, or specifically work to try to limit the harm being inflicted. You know, like an Aikido practitioner?

I know we’ve said this before, but; martial arts are not interchangeable. They’re not just alternate move sets, or aesthetic considerations. Every martial art, every one, brings its own philosophies and outlooks into play. When those philosophies overlap, you might have options to start mixing them together, or lifting elements from one for the other. Aikido and Taekwondo don’t really have much of anything to talk about.

Aikido is a martial art of pacifism. It works well for self defense because the entire idea is, you stand at the center, plant your feet, and send anyone who attacks you to the floor, so they can think about all of the mistakes they just made.

As I said at the beginning, Aikido doesn’t escalate, at least not on its own. This is a martial art that focuses on ending conflicts with as little harm done as humanly possible. People will get hurt, that’s an inevitability, but, this is a martial art that is heavily focused on avoiding escalation.

If you want to start mixing it with something else, there are other martial arts that have common ground. Jujitsu and Judo both have some of the same philosophical underpinnings, they’re just pretty sure that plopping someone on the ground isn’t enough to get the message across, that sometimes you’re going to want to get down there and make your point in person.

There are even aggressive martial arts that you can (probably) mix Aikido with fairly effectively, including Muay Thai or Krav Maga. Martial arts that say, “I want to get really close to someone and turn them into goulash.” They do have common ground on the ranges that they think combat should be taking place at.

Taekwondo doesn’t. It’s a very active martial art. It wants to go places and kick people in the head. As a practical martial style it shares almost nothing with Aikido. Where Aikido wants its foes close enough to reach out and touch, Taekwondo is all about forcing your foes away, and keeping them off balance while you drive your foot through any internal organs they were using.

Taekwondo exists as a practical martial art, but you’re going to be hard pressed to find that variant outside of Korea. If your character served in the South Korean military, worked for the police or as a bodyguard there, then it’s possible they learned this.

Taekwondo traditionally pairs with Hapkido. I don’t know much about the martial art itself, beyond that it has a focus on joint locks. But, these are designed to work together, and against one another, so a practitioner in one would probably also learn the other.

Ironically, Taekwondo can also find common ground with martial arts like Muay Thai or Krav Maga. These are all martial arts that enjoy moving around a lot and messing people up. Where Taekwondo excels at doing this at range, Muay Thai or Krav Maga offer options to do this up close.

Now, if you’re sitting there and wondering why I just listed the same two martial arts as compatible to both of the ones you picked, that’s because they have common ground with one another, the two you picked, really kind of don’t. It’s not that martial artists never learn conflicting styles. That does happen. But the benefit you gain from that isn’t being able to blend them together into a single style, it’s being able to switch up your approach to fit the situation you’re in. And, yes, escalation control is an element of your martial art.

A character who’s been trained in Aikido and (practical) Taekwondo, would be in a very good position to work as a bodyguard. Taekwondo allows for rapid vicious responses when called for, and Aikido allows for them to deal with attackers in public situations where you really wouldn’t want a bodyguard tearing apart an overly eager fan.

I’m just going to toss this one out, but fencing really doesn’t add much to this situation. It will help with physical conditioning, but then again they’d already be getting that from Taekwondo and Aikido.

So, if your character’s been training in Aikido, either recreationally or practically, they shouldn’t be having issues with escalation. Remember, escalation is where you increase the amount of force you use to a point where combat ceases to be an appealing option for your opponent. The entire concept is anathema to Aikido, which seeks to end combat with as little violence as possible.

Also, there’s a side nitpick, it’s not really possible to escalate too quickly. The issue is escalating too far. Again, the idea is that you demonstrate a degree of violence your opponent isn’t psychologically ready to handle, forcing them to back down.

Escalating too slowly can give them time to come to terms with what you’re doing, but the only problem with escalating too quickly is that you’ll use excessive force. For example, grabbing someone by the skull and gouging out their eyes would (almost certainly) convince their friends or allies to back down, but if the situation doesn’t warrant that kind of force, it’s excessive, you’ve escalated too far, and there will be consequences. These can be the obvious legal issues associated with extreme violence, or it can provoke responses in opponents where, instead of backing down, they’ll be more willing to retaliate in kind. For example, pulling a gun on someone’s friend might get them to back down, where killing their friend will drive them to come after you, where they wouldn’t have with less escalation.

The problems faced by a character who escalates too far is, that they’ll make far more enemies, which will eventually catch up with them. This is part of why escalation is such a tricky concept. It’s requires a substantial amount of finesse to pull off effectively.

Escalation is also something that is seriously frowned on by most of the recreational martial arts community. Unnecessary, and excessive violence is a serious liability issue for the school, particularly if their students are children (and, honestly, that’s pretty common.) A large part of this is because of the exact problem you’re describing. The actual difficulty is about going too far. It’s not hard to go way too far in an instant, that happens all the time. But, unless your character is operating with some kind of “above-the-law” protections, going too far once is a good way to end up spending the next 25 years in a small cell.

-Starke

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anonymous asked:

Why is choking someone into unconscious normally an assumed death in movies? Don't they have a chance to regain consciousness?

In the real world? Yeah. Killing someone by choking takes a long time. It’s a legitimate way to kill someone, but not an efficient one, and the timeframe you see in most films is a fraction of what you’d need to kill someone. It is worth remembering, this can kill you. This is one of those times where “safe” does not mean “non-lethal,” just that it is not immediately lethal.

In films, choking is an ideal option. In a controlled environment, it’s (relatively) safe. You can get both actors in frame together. You’ve got a lot of options to set up the shots. Finally, it’s incredibly easy to fake. You get the actors into position, one of them, “chokes,” the other without putting any pressure on the windpipe or arteries, and play the scene out.

It’s probably worth remembering, (even if some actors forget this part), that acting is a cooperative exercise. Your job isn’t just to hit your marks, spit your lines, and (occasionally) devour any unattended scenery; you also need to facilitate your fellow actors’ performances. Stage fighting is an excellent example of this. It’s not about actual violence, but it is about working together to create the illusion. If anyone gets hurt in the process, that means you can’t just reset and do another take, so this is something that the production staff and performers really want to avoid.

There are a lot of staples in film and stage violence that do not translate to the real world. They survive because of a few factors: most people don’t know what they’re seeing is unrealistic, it facilitates opportunities for acting, and it is reasonably safe.

Choking is great on film, because it gives both actors plenty of time to do whatever the script calls for. So long as no one is actually having trouble breathing, they can do this all day until the shot comes out right. Characters die from this because the power of plot compels them to, not because of any physiological considerations. Audiences believe it kills characters because, “well, I’ve got to breathe, right?” Without ever questioning how long they can actually go without oxygen. The idea that effective chokes are about cutting off the flow of blood to the brain never occurs to them.

If an actor does screw up, and accidentally starts choking their coworker, you have a lot of time to rectify that. This isn’t true for a lot of stunt fighting, where if someone screws up, someone’s going to take a hit, and all that’s left is apologies, or in some tragic cases, obituaries.

Choking, depending on where you put your pressure can also include some insane stuff you probably wouldn’t think is safe. An example would be the one handed choke that lifts the victim off the ground. You can do this a couple ways, the easiest (without rigging) is to push them up a wall, keeping your thumb and index finger under their jaw (against the bone), you’re actually lifting their head, their throat is completely safe, the airway remains clear, they can breathe, but it looks like you’re going full Darth Vader on them. Even for someone standing right there, it can be difficult to realize the victim is completely unharmed.

Beyond this, front facing chokes, like you’ll usually see in films, are very difficult to use in a real situation. As I mentioned above, they don’t really provide good access to the points you’d be trying to compress, but, they’re also difficult to complete because the victim has a lot of options. There’s a lot of counters to these, that range from simply pulling the hand free, to breaking their arm at the elbow. Wrapping an arm around the attacker’s and dragging it out of position will stop the choke, and tie up their arm.

So, no, this is something that’s used because it looks good on film, not because it has any grounding in reality.

-Starke

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anonymous asked:

how could someone with a knife and a shield fight someone with a sword and not die, if running away wasn't an option?

Bash them with the shield.

It’s easy to look at shields as a strictly defensive item, but they are a weapon. Historically shields saw some pretty aggressive use in combat. Shields aren’t simply about blocking an enemy attack, they’re also for retaliating, and creating openings in your opponent’s guard. This may be as simple as (briefly) tying up your opponents weapon by swinging the shield away, after you’ve deflected a blow, or it may be something more involved, such as using the edge of the shield to wedge into an opponents armor, pinning them.

Shields do offer a lot of options to a creative fighter. Including allowing them to close distances, through an enemy’s guard, in ways that an unshielded combatant can’t.

One very simple (and risky) solution to your problem would be to rush the swordsman with the shield up, to prevent them from getting a good swing in, pin them against a wall, and run the dagger through their foe’s neck. It’s risky, because if they’re not able to pin the sword before closing the gap, they could end up running themselves through.

Remember, swords do have a minimum effective range. Get close enough to someone, and they won’t be able to get a good hit in with their sword. While this is also true of shields, it’s not the case with most daggers.

It’s not an optimal situation for dealing with a sword, but a shield does offer options to negate the sword’s advantage over a dagger. The shielded combatant has options for dealing with the sword’s reach. Without that, the knife fighter would be screwed.

-Starke

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