historical weapon

retr0spectre  asked:

Speaking of sexist fighting advice! There's this really great fiction writing advice blog I read years ago, written by a lady, shut down ages ago. But it claimed a few times that there was no way a woman could physically handle a zweihander or the like. I've always had a feeling that's nonsense, but confirmation from a good source such as yourself would be great.

Consider this: the zweihander weighs seven pounds. The display version is ten pounds. If you can lift a backpack crammed with textbooks, you can lift a zweihander. House cats weigh more than a sword.

The issue with the zweihander is length, not weight. It is not a heavy sword. No swords are actually all that heavy, because weight defeats the purpose of the weapon. The heavier it is, then the faster your arms wear out and grow tired. This is a terrible, terrible thing.

Combat is highly frenetic. An easy comparison is sprinting, and it’s not just a regular sprint but wind sprints. You gotta go, go, go. You need to be able to move. So, a heavy weapon is detrimental to the goal of being able to fight as long as possible. Especially when that weapon is designed to give you an edge in reach, and counter pole arms. You want to be able to swing the weapon around for long periods of time because if you wear out first, you’re dead.

Endurance, not strength, is the great necessity for any warrior. So, everything your PE teacher punished you with is what you’re looking for (except dialed to eleven). Once you understand fighting is about going for as long as possible between energetic bursts, combat starts to make more sense. This is also why most action movies feature the pressure cooker, the slow grind down of the protagonist by giving them little to no rest between fights as they accumulate more injuries.

So, when people say strength in regards to combat, they don’t usually mean physical strength in what you can lift. They mean how long you can go, what you can endure before finally keeling over. This gets misinterpreted, mixed in with the confusion by historians about parade swords (which were incredibly heavy and often the only surviving weapons) and we get the beefcake barbarian.

Like all swords, and even shields, the zweihander is awkward to use if you don’t know how to wield it or have never held one before. This has to do with its balance point. Swords feel heavier than they actually are when we hold them because the balance is midway up the blade and that strains the wrist, which strains the arm, and causes the whole thing to tilt forward. Sometimes, the sword even gets dropped. You’ve got to learn how to account for it.

When you’re looking at actual combat considerations on weight, that’s in the armor. Armor is comparatively heavy, the warrior has to get used to carrying around fifteen to twenty or so pounds, or more depending on what gear they’re lugging with them between battles. So, if you’ve got a character going into battle without plate then they’re not going to have those weight considerations. Even if they are, the point of training is to build your body up to be able to handle it.

At the end of the day, its important to remember that, historically, large scale combat has been about being able to get the most bodies on the field as possible. You ran the gamut between trained warriors and farmers yanked off their fields with a hastily cludged together pole arm thrust into their hands. There are plenty of people who went into battle with no freakin’ clue what they were doing. The concept of a military as we know it today is a mostly modern invention.

The mystique of the knight and others like them came with their training, which is… they had some. Whatever they’d have liked us to think, there was nothing different about them compared to the farmers except the money, the (sometime) power, the time, and the “luck” of their birth. In the end, it’s less about what humans can or can’t do but what society corrals them from learning. It’s easier to control your population when only the powerful have access to weapons, educations, and castles.

So, yeah, a woman can use a zweihander if she trains on the zweihander. It also won’t be her only weapon, mostly because one never knows when they’ll have to fight indoors. (That’s a joke, HEMA peeps. I know half-holds are a thing, and it’s not a katana so it can strike straight.)

-Michi

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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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2

Secret World War II Chemical Experiments Tested Troops By Race

As a young U.S. Army soldier during World War II, Rollins Edwards knew better than to refuse an assignment.

When officers led him and a dozen others into a wooden gas chamber and locked the door, he didn’t complain. None of them did. Then, a mixture of mustard gas and a similar agent called lewisite was piped inside.

“It felt like you were on fire,” recalls Edwards, now 93 years old. “Guys started screaming and hollering and trying to break out. And then some of the guys fainted. And finally they opened the door and let us out, and the guys were just, they were in bad shape.”

Edwards was one of 60,000 enlisted men enrolled in a once-secret government program — formally declassified in 1993 — to test mustard gas and other chemical agents on American troops. But there was a specific reason he was chosen: Edwards is African-American.

“They said we were being tested to see what effect these gases would have on black skins,” Edwards says.

An NPR investigation has found evidence that Edwards’ experience was not unique. While the Pentagon admitted decades ago that it used American troops as test subjects in experiments with mustard gas, until now, officials have never spoken about the tests that grouped subjects by race.

For the first time, NPR tracked down some of the men used in the race-based experiments. And it wasn’t just African-Americans. Japanese-Americans were used as test subjects, serving as proxies for the enemy so scientists could explore how mustard gas and other chemicals might affect Japanese troops. Puerto Rican soldiers were also singled out.

White enlisted men were used as scientific control groups. Their reactions were used to establish what was “normal,” and then compared to the minority troops.

History Fact 5/100 - Hats of the Royal Navy

The Bicorn ( bicorne ) - A two pronged hat widely adopted in the 1790’s by the American and British armies. It was worn ‘fore and aft’ by most officers, including Navy Lieutenants, and in the ‘athwart’ style by Captains and Admirals.

The Top Hat - By the 1800’s, sailors and midshipmen wore top round hats made of felt. Some also wore a hat called a 'tarpot’.

The Exception to Every Rule

His pale knuckles clutched and unclutched the steering wheel, his wrists locked and his entire body tense. Even though their relationship was progressing well, Greg Lestrade always felt like nervous when he saw Mycroft. It was a good nervous – those butterflies in his stomach, the inability to think about anything but the government official. All of it was blissful.

Finally, he saw the restaurant door opening and the tall figure twirling an umbrella walked in the direction of Greg’s car, Mycroft allowed a thin smile to touch his lips as he saw the NSY vehicle, and his grin grew when Lestrade stepped out of the car to greet him. “Good evening, Gregory.” Mycroft said. Greg nodded to him.

“Hey Myc. How was your meeting? I’m still upset it was a dinner meeting. It just means I can’t make you food.” Greg pouted momentarily, but Mycroft was soon kissing those lips and they turned upward in the form of a smile once more. It was just a quick kiss by way of a pleasant greeting; more would definitely be to come later on. Plus, there were people all around them, and Mycroft had a serious reputation that could be tarnished if people discovered secrets about his personal life. Greg was the same way, but it wasn’t as vital. Plus, everyone had their suspicions about his life anyway. They already knew all about the last relationship problems he’d had with his wife, but the couple wasn’t ready to announce to the world that they were each other’s better half yet. In time they would, but for now, they were happy to just enjoy each other and the best secret of their entire lives.

Of course, it wasn’t a complete secret. Sherlock had deduced immediately and had sent mocking texts to both of them, but secretly the sleuth was pleased that his brother had found someone.

“Inspector, tonight is not about the food anyway. I haven’t seen you all week, and it has been absolutely miserable without you.” Mycroft said, unafraid to open up now that they were both in the car. Greg couldn’t help the soft look that he gave the other man, pure love radiating off of him.

“What would you like to do tonight, Myc? I was unsure when you would actually be finished with your meeting, so I didn’t exactly make plans.” Greg admitted, rubbing his neck. Mycroft patted his thigh.

“That’s quite alright. I too am at a loss as to how we should spend the evening.” He gave the other man’s thigh a slight squeeze.

“I have an idea. It’s a wonderful night, and there’s a park nearby. Let’s go for a late night stroll.” Greg smiled over at him.

Mycroft, who normally despised legwork, returned the expression. “Gladly, my dear Gregory.”

A slight tinge of red tainted the DI’s cheeks as he pulled away from the curb, but they soon arrived at the park and stepped out of the car.

“So, I trust your week was tolerable?” Mycroft asked as they set off into the park, his arm hooked with Lestrade’s as they went further and further down the pavement.

“I managed. About drowned in paperwork. And your brother is being absolutely insufferable now that he knows we’re together.”

Mycroft stopped walking. “Of course he is. I will talk to him. My apologies for his behavior, Gregory.”

Lestrade stopped as the other man did. “It’s fine. It’s Sherlock. I’m used to his antics.” He chuckled softly, his eyes meeting the other man. “Why did we stop?”

Mycroft glanced up to meet Greg’s gorgeous eyes. “Just thinking about something. It’s nothing.”

“Are you sure? Is everything okay?” Greg’s concern was immediate, and he tugged on Mycroft’s arm as the other man started walking away again. “Mycroft.”

Greg had uttered the name so softly, so gently, that Mycroft sighed. “Talk to me, Mycroft.”

“It’s in relation to work, Gregory. I cannot. That meeting was quite problematic in its own right. I don’t want to trouble you. Come on. Let’s keep walking. This park is beautiful, especially at night.” Mycroft said, dragging the other man along the pavement once more. Greg shook his head and quickened his pace to be at his side again.

“I can think of something more beautiful.” Greg said, nudging Mycroft. The man’s cheeks flushed pink and he bit his lip to conceal a smile.

“Nonsense.” Mycroft said with a shake of the head. Then, as he came to a fork in the sidewalk, he stopped walking again. Greg stood there beside him, their arms still hooked together.

“Hmm, decisions, decisions.” Greg said with a chuckle. Mycroft nodded to him.

“Quite so. I have made a different decision though.” And he turned to face Greg, unlinking their arms so he could hold both of his hands. He leaned forward to quickly peck him on the lips, then took off down the right fork of the path. Greg furrowed his brow. So now Mycroft was doing that to him too. Leaving him wanting more. He wasn’t surprised. And damn it, did he want more. Mycroft tasted absolutely exquisite, and Greg never tired of his lips on his.

 

Their starlit walk continued through the park, coming to an old military memorial with a wall of names, a jet, and a tank.

“Fascinating…” Mycroft said, glancing over at Greg before he let go of his hand and with childlike eagerness, actually ran over to the tank to get a closer look.

Greg’s brow creased in confusion, his interest piqued by this strange behavior. “Myc, what are you doing?”

But the other man didn’t respond. He was too busy reading the plaque next to the military vehicle. Once he had finished that, he brushed his pale, slender fingers against the tracks of the tank, his hand running over the bumps of the chain as he did so. He wandered all the way around the tank to the back of it, smiling to himself. Greg had never seen his face so lit up and excited about something like this before.

He liked how adorable Mycroft looked this way. “Mycroft?”

The other man finally turned to face Greg. “My apologies. I am a rather avid fan of history and weapons of the past. In fact, I have a rather moderate armory in my house. Perhaps I can give you a tour sometime.” Mycroft’s lips twitched into a smile. Greg returned it, beaming at his boyfriend. “Normally I never let anyone see it, but you’re the exception to every rule, my dear Gregory.”

“I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what else you liked besides silent films, and now I learn it’s weapons.” Greg said, enjoying that he was learning more about the mysterious man he’d chosen to fall for.

“Not weapons generally. Just historical weapons. And any literature on the nature of military stratagems, historical battles, et cetera. If I hadn’t gone into politics and government work, I would have loved to study history…” Mycroft said all of this whilst further admiring the tank, and Greg took special opportunity to admire this rare side of his boyfriend. He stepped a bit closer, watching Mycroft’s fascination, fascinated himself.

The next thing Mycroft knew, he was being gently pressed against the side of the tank. His eyes widened as Greg shoved him back against the tracks. “Gregory?”

“Shh, you are so beautiful like this. Even more so than usual.” As soon as Greg had said that, their lips were locked together. Mycroft fumbled to reciprocate, being taken off guard in the moment. However, his arms soon found their way around Greg. One hand caressed the man’s cheek, which was covered in a thin dusting of gorgeous silver stubble. Mycroft’s other hand wound up in the small of Greg’s back. Greg’s hands both ended up on either side of Mycroft’s face, holding him in place to get a better angle for the snog. Their fronts were pressed flush against each other, and Greg quickly pressed into Mycroft even more, deepening the kiss and the adoration they both felt for each other.

Mycroft had finally recovered enough to return the kiss properly, competing with Greg for who was actually controlling the moment. In the end, Greg won out. He kept a tight hold on Mycroft, one of his hands trailing around to end up just above his ass. His fingers clutched at the fabric there, crinkling Mycroft’s elaborate suit coat. In that moment, Mycroft did not care one damn bit about folds in his coat. He would much rather worry about the tongue sneaking across his lips, mingling with his own.

Moments later, when both of them were gasping for oxygen, they opened their eyes and looked on one another. Greg smirked at him and pulled away. Mycroft immediately went to adjust his tie, his chest rising and falling rather quickly. His heart was pounding against his ribcage, and he was yearning for more, oxygen be damned.

“Well, I never thought I would do that.” Mycroft said rather softly, his voice barely a whisper as he inhaled deeply.

“What, snog your boyfriend behind a World War II tank?” Greg said with a teasing way about him. Mycroft opened his mouth to reply, but then closed it as Greg finished his sentence. He was soon throwing his arms around Greg and kissing him again. This one was by no means as heated as the previous, but that didn’t mean it was any less affectionate toward the other man. Mycroft tugged away with a smirk of his own.

“Hmm… okay. I’m sensing a reason for that one.” Greg chuckled to himself, running a hand through his hair. Mycroft nodded to him, his arms still around the other man’s neck.

“Quite so, Gregory. I couldn’t help myself when you actually knew what kind of tank it was. And I know you didn’t read the plaque; you were too busy ogling me.” Mycroft laughed as Greg blushed in the dim light behind the tank. “But anyway, you were quite right. I never thought I would kiss anyone whilst being shoved against a tank. Life is funny like that sometimes.”

“You’re not wrong, Mycroft,” said a new voice from behind them, a baritone voice. It was a familiar tone, and one that quickly exasperated the government official. He let go of Greg and whirled around, seeking the exact location of the voice.

“Sherlock, what in the hell are you doing here?” Greg asked as the detective came out of the shadows, his long Belstaff billowing in the evening breeze. The coat collar was flipped up, of course.

Then, to make matters even more embarrassing, John stepped out from behind a tree as well. Mycroft’s face was absolutely burning, and Greg’s was no better.

“Well, Sherlock and I were tracking a murder suspect, but it seems we stumbled across something much more interesting.” John’s eyes positively glowed with mischief, and Sherlock chuckled.

“Interesting. Appalling. What difference is there in this case, really?” The sleuth gestured rather flamboyantly to the two other men.

Mycroft put a hand to his face, drawing it over his features in annoyance. “Will you two kindly leave us be? The Inspector and I are quite busy at this moment.”

Sherlock raised his brows at his brother. “John and I were here first. We’ve been scouting this park for hours.”

Mycroft glared at his little brother. “Sherlock, shut up.”

Another laugh escaped the detective, as well as the doctor beside him. “Come on Sherlock. Leave them to their fun. Let’s just hope they don’t shag here in the park. That could be awkward.”

“For God’s sake, Dr. Watson!” Mycroft said. Greg burst out laughing at his boyfriend’s reaction as John and Sherlock trailed away, Sherlock singing a very inappropriate version of “Greg and Mycroft sitting in a tree.” They could hear the boisterous laughter of the crime-solving duo as they walked off. Mycroft could not stop blushing, and refused to face Greg until he could gain a better control of his emotions.

“Mycroft, come on. That wasn’t as mortifying as you’re making it out to be.” Greg said, gently reaching for the other man’s hand. “Come on, we still have a walk to finish.”

“I have a better idea. Come back to my house. I’ll show you the armory. There’s a very comfortable Persian rug in the center of the room that would do well for a continuation of this evening’s activities.”

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