Women and Swordfighting

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by Botta Dritta, Jan 16, 2020.

  1. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Anybody else been following this napalm fest of controversy:

    It it me or are people just doubling down all time on lack of nuance on social median more and more? I mean 100% of the time? Even on a Medieval battlefield which i think is his assertion its a bold claim. I have my own box-full of anecdotes and historical accounts to share, but I would like to hear some other mappers opinion on this?
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  2. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

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  3. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    He offered her Lawyer to be the proxy.

    My favourite clapback is the female fencer on twitter, saying she's willing to test the claims against the writer publicly.

    As a wider issue. "I have a problem with women fighting like men". Well, how are women supposed to fight? doggy paddling, nail scratches and hair pulling?

    Also, its a TV series. ie it's fiction. I'm finding more and more people are finding difficulty in separating the 2.

    No word of a lie... I've heard people discuss Superman Man of Steel and actually say - "a person wouldn't fly like that" and they were dead serious.
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  4. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    Swords are about speed and leverage and strategy, not brute strength. This is a dumb statement for any sort of fighting but PARTICULARLY swordfighting.

    I fenced for years. Except official tournaments, all training is coed. Trust me when I say that there's effectively no gender difference at all in fencing ability.
  5. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Modern Olympic fencing descended from the smallsword is a thrust centric style where the implement does not reward brute strength and as such women can leverage superior technique. Female duellists though rare did exist in the past and have beaten men, its is supposed (though not confirmed) with duelling weapons though see*See examples below.

    Enlisted as a soldier fought and wounded in battles, reenlisted numerous times battles as a dragoon* (sabre?) and killed her sergeant in a duel, managed to keep her identity as a woman hidden For 13 years. She did all this to find her husband who had one days simply went missing when pressed/volunteered for the British army. When she eventually found him he was hitting on another dutch women. Apparently she enjoyed pillaging and marauding with the men.

    Christian Davies - Wikipedia

    For a more medieval take: fought a Duel/Joust after disguising herself in her fathers armour when her father fell ill. She defeated her opponent.

    Agnes Hotot - Wikipedia

    And of course the example that everybody is citing Julie Daubigny who defeated 3 noblemen on the same night

    The real life of Julie d’Aubigny

    Other Female duellists:

    Marie Magdelaine Mouron - Wikipedia

    Marie-Louise Victoire Girardin - Wikipedia

    However these are duels rather than the press and fury of medieval pitched battles which is what Andrew KJlavan seemed to be insinuating where armour shield walls and the press of bodies may require more brute strength endurance and gross motor skills. When armour is involved, particularly plate armour, sheer percussive force is not to be underestimated, but there again you would not be using swords generally in those situations (except for perhaps estocs type swords) but pole-arms or maces. For the armoured warrior, the sword was a back up weapon. The handgun to his Assault rifle.

    So yeah women in a medieval armoured fight might be at a disadvantage, and less at a disadvantage in a unarmoured duel type situation.

    What gets me is the lack of 'nuance'. It seems that people simply take extreme final conclusions and double down on them even in the face of evidence to the contrary. And just in case you think I'm taking a shot at right wing discourse, the left is guilty of this too. I'm just wondering where this attitude has come from.
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  6. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    it appears that rather than having a logical critical and observation how feasible it is or isn't; an expression of extreme opinion is put on display.

    i guess to some degree it works to get attention, but I don't like it, this approach comes across as ignorant and uninformed.

    I can understand why physiologically on a general observation women may have a disadvantage, but I've met women bigger, stronger, more athletic than myself and men a lot weaker, smaller than myself on a regular basis.
    Anyone with an ounce of observationally skills would be able to draw a more reasonable conclusion from that.
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  7. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    Wow, another daily reminder of how much published on the web is such utter nonsense. History is replete with both historical and legendary swordmaidens...

    Joan of Arc could certainly wield a sword. Hua Mulan's legend is one of many "dressed as a man, fought as a man" tales. There was Boudica, Queen of the Iceni, whose army slaughtered entire Roman legions.

    Even the Amazonian female warrior nomads are considered by historians to have not only existed, but were quite capable of slaughtering men.


    Tomb Containing Three Generations of Warrior Women Unearthed in Russia | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine
  8. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    Yeah, outliers are a thing. A basic statistics class would clear things like this up for most people. It would be incorrect to say no women could fight. It would be more correct to say that a miniscule amount of women could fight compared to men because of social roles for the sexes, physiological differences, and the disposability of men compared to women. And back to sexual dimorphism, it's not that no women are larger and stronger than men, but men tend to regularly be larger and stronger to a significant degree. Sure, trained women are stronger than untrained men, but train both and the general difference endures. Compare the raw numbers at the top of strength sports, and Botta does make a good point about duelling versus actual combat.

    Dealing in absolutes when discussing trends like this, makes people definitively wrong. All you can do is characterize the trends versus the outliers.

    Actually moving even farther away from duelling and down the road Botta started, I think one of the big things overlooked is work capacity. Anyone part of the military will tell you that most of your time isn't spent fighting, and even for modern humans, there's a lot of hauling. If there's that general difference in strength at the top end what about strength endurance? I'd bet that, putting aside all the other sensible reasons for a male only army, and putting aside social conventions of the day, even if equally trained, an army of Roman men laying a road, hauling lumber to build a camp, or on the march hauling gear, would probably do it faster and retain more of a gap between their level of fatigue and their maximum work capacity than the women. Just a potential list of additions to the many sensible reasons soldering is an almost exclusively male endeavour.
  9. Nojon

    Nojon Tha mo bhàta-foluaimein

    Im behind on this thread, but my first thought was Diana Inosanto... she would whoop his ass armed or unarmed.
  10. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    In terms of building roads and digging trenches, the commentator in the original video was discussing a warrior queen, not conscripted infantry. Royalty don't have to dig trenches, male or female, even if they do take the field of battle.

    Regardless, in terms of work output, "trained men" and "trained women" are a bell curve. The center of the trained-male bell curve may be higher on the physical-output spectrum than the center of the trained-female bell curve, but that doesn't mean there's no overlap. In fact, there is overlap where some trained women are stronger than some trained men.

    Furthermore, choosing soldiers is not like choosing a single champion. You have to weigh (1) the ideals of what would make a perfect soldier against (2) the fact that you need a lot of people, not just one. The male crossfit champion may be stronger than the female crossfit champion, true. But if you're trying to make an army and you're taking "any able-bodied man" to fill the ranks but turning away female crossfitters because "men are stronger" based on the strongest man versus the strongest woman, or the male average versus the female average, you're doing it wrong. In history, plenty of societies have done it wrong due to culture, stereotypes, and societal constructs. But plenty of societies have also done it right, taking people who are strong and capable of fighting (regardless of gender) before turning to weaker individuals to fill out the ranks.

    I know plenty of male servicemembers who are less strong than these women (heck, most servicemembers and veterans I know aren't anywhere close). Even if physical strength and endurance is really the most important thing in combat (and with most types of swordfighting, that's not remotely true), categorically excluding all women is doing it wrong.

  11. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Sadly in the world there are a lot of decidedly average (or below average) men basking in the "men are just superior" reflected glory of much stronger men. As if, with a bit of effort if we could be bothered, us men could pretty much be another Thor Bjornsen, so strong is our innate superiority.
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  12. windwalker

    windwalker Member

    "During Fox's fight against Tamikka Brents, Brents suffered a concussion, an orbital bone fracture, and seven staples to the head in the 1st round. After her loss, Brents took to social media to convey her thoughts on the experience of fighting Fox:

    "I've fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can't answer whether it's because she was born a man or not because I'm not a doctor.

    can only say, I've never felt so overpowered ever in my life and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right," she stated. "Her grip was different, I could usually move around in the clinch against other females but couldn't move at all in Fox's clinch..."[18]
    Fallon Fox - Wikipedia

    A tend that is now coming to light because of those that are called "transgender"
    insisting on a perceived right to enter into events with biological woman.

    What ever one thinks or feels,,,competing against trained males if one is biologically female
    in most cases will find themselves at a disadvantage.

    In some cases that disadvantage can mean getting hurt or damaged for life depending on the event.....
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
  13. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    For the sake of balance here's Fallon fox getting TKO'd by a biological women

    Also for the sake of making a complicated subject more complicated, people often get the transgender cases mixed up with intersex cases,

    Intersex - Wikipedia

    The incidence in the general population is approx the same as the amount of ginger people in the population, so not that rare, and is much greater in sport, due to the selection pressures.

    This is a good example of why it's not clear cut.

    What is an intersex athlete? Explaining the case of Caster Semenya.
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  14. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    WMMA fighters oppose Fallon Fox fighting, including her next opponent and maybe Rosi Sexton

    Here's an ex UFC female MMA fighters and current medical professional, thoughts from a few years ago.

    Rosi Sexton has a far more thoughtful take on Fox and hasn't quite made up her mind one way or the other. Here's an excerpt of Rosi's blog post but you really should read the whole thing, it's very well thought out:

    2) None of us have a right to compete in professional MMA. People are routinely denied a licence to compete if their medical status means that there could be an increased risk either to themselves or their opponent.

    4) Contrary to some of the assertions by Fox's supporters in the media, there appears to be no good scientific evidence that proves Fox does not have a performance advantage over someone who was born female. Expert opinion is still just opinion - and it seems divided on the subject. Experts may also have their own biases. Specialists in gender reassignment may not be equally knowledgeable about exercise physiology.

    5) The experts supporting Fox have been quite cautious in their assessment. "She probably does not have a significant advantage" and "her musculature is comparable to that of a woman" are a long way from saying "we know for a fact that she does not have a performance advantage over someone born female".

    10) I sympathise with Fox's position, and I don't entirely agree with those who say that she should not be allowed to fight. On the other hand, I believe it was wrong that Fox's opponents were not informed of the situation so they could make their own assessment of the risks involved and give consent. This will obviously not be an issue in future in Fox's case; but I'm concerned about the athletic commissions' position that the opponent has no right to know. My opinion is that if someone is going to be legally punching me in the face, then it's absolutely my business if she grew up as a male. While I understand the concerns about privacy, I don't think that in this case the right to privacy trumps the opponent's right to make her own informed decision about the risks she is taking.

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  15. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    I was going to avoid the Fallon Fox issue, as the thread was originally about swordfighting, but the obviously the issues are connected. I don't follow MMA enough to realise that Fox was beaten by a biological woman which certainly is interesting development. On the issue of sport I think the underlying problem is that mens categories are by and large 'open' categories, while 'women's categories certainly when they were first created are 'closed' categories, much like Paralympics, recognising that women and differently abled should have their own categories to compete and shine (i.e. ability to come first) without competing with other categories that have a significant advantage (biologically male, Intersex or abled). In the case of Caster Semenya I think that Mens athletics should be 'totally open', allowing even women, transexuals or Intersex or other future variations to compete if they wish, but keeping the womens category 'closed' to within certain biological limits. Doubtless Semenya might believe that this is unfair: she was born and is a woman after all, but her own peculiar advantages, and they are advantages I believe in the field of track athletics tend skew the results, that prevent other women competing on a reasonable playing field. Of course its up to the Organising body to determine what counts as a reasonable playing field for all competitors, which is where the whole problem begins.

    Returning to Swordfighting: In fencing FIE proposed to the IOC a team relay event of mixed sexes where genders would still only fence like sexes The Olympic committee (predictably) refused. They are starting to implement it at junior level:

    INTERNATIONAL FENCING FEDERATION - The International Fencing Federation official website

    I imagine like elsewhere the teams train together in mixed gender, though its a pity we wont see genders fencing each other...just yet. I've seen plenty of smaller competitions where they mixed the gender in the pools to get everybody a good morning's full of fights, and then separate the genders out for Direct eliminations and I've seen a fair share of Womens victorys over men, though of course men tend to top the overall tables.

    I think in Combat sports there is a safety issue component that has to be addressed. On a reddit forum this morning I read that a woman had her plastron busted through which is concerning:

    Why is fencing not co-ed? : Fencing


    7 points·11 months ago

    Look at the results of mixed epee events. Women are usually in the bottom half even if they're A or B rated fencers. Physically we just can't match up. I'm fairly big and strong for a woman but I often end up black and blue in mixed events. I've had guys hit holes through my chest protector....


    Plastic chest protector. I guess it did it's job cause without it I would probably have cracked my chest bone.

    Which to me just sounds just like some jerk male fencer who desperately didn't want to lose to a woman, so just hits as hard as he can. Those plastrons are tough hardened plastic with vurved surfaces, I'm surprised anyone could hit a hole through one past a fencing jacket. She should have made it known to the DT. If thats not 'Deliberate brutality' t105.1 - Black card and disqualification I don't know what is.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 19, 2020
  16. windwalker

    windwalker Member

    You don't point to any male counterparts experiencing the same thing.

    "some jerk male fencer who desperately didn't want to lose to a woman"

    Why not just an jerk fencer who didn't want to lose?

    "First off, been fencing sabre about 2 years now.

    I get bruised every now and then, it's just how it works. I am completely used to that. However, during this summer, in a span of 3 practices I have gained bruises all up and down my left arm (lefty), some bone bruising (forearm and wrist), and actual cuts to my nonweapon hand."
    What is considered excessive force in Sabre? : Fencing

    All from the same person. These hits come in so hard that it alters the way I fence this individual, as to completely avoid getting struck even if it means using less than optimal tactics and technique.

    Is it reasonable for me to say this individual is being excessive in the amount of force they use? Had we been using real edged swords, I am quite sure I'd be missing a hand by now."

    What is considered excessive force in Sabre? : Fencing

    seems like depending on who one is fencing the "sex" of the fencer is not important
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 19, 2020
  17. windwalker

    windwalker Member

    Its not about balance, there are differences between biological male and female humans
    that can not be discounted in events that are dependent on ones physicality that can and do
    give one the advantage....
  18. windwalker

    windwalker Member

    I find the discussion strange
    considering it's a practiced turned into a sporting event
    which at one point in time left one person dead or wounded

    now have some complaining about excessive force? ignoring
    the fact that they should be dead.

    Common wisdom, adhered to equally by modern and classical fencers, is that the two
    forms of swordplay are significantly different. With this comes the belief among classical
    fencers that what they do is pure fencing, a far more realistic way of using the sword in an age
    when the dictum was to hit without being hit.

    Modern fencing is seen as corrupt and lacking the sportsmanship, fine manners, and decency of the classical period, fatally flawed by the
    introduction of electronic scoring, and with its technique destroyed by the introduction of the
    pistol grip and the flick.

    If these assertions are true, then Classical fencing should
    have significantly different characteristics from modern fencing, characteristics which address
    both the social and technical shape of its practiced"
    (PDF) Distinguishing Characteristics of Classical Fencing when Compared to Modern Fencing

    The principle of hitting without being hit is an article of faith, widely quoted by classical
    fencers (Gaugler 2004, Evangelista 2006), and grounded in the idea that you should fence as
    though the points (foil and epee) or the blade (Sabre) of the weapon is sharp.

    In their view modern fencing is unrealistic because it no longer treats the fencing weapon as an actual weapon
    and that it routinely accepts the validity of actions that would be impossible in an actual
    encounter with sharps.

    This translates into a condemnation of any attack that starts without a full
    extension of the arm to establish an unmistakable threat the opponent would be forced to parry to
    avoid being wounded."
    (PDF) Distinguishing Characteristics of Classical Fencing when Compared to Modern Fencing

    Which might encourage those intent on "winning" to do so, exposing themselves to getting hit
    and then complain about the fact...they got hit instead of dead or wounded
  19. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Er...because men don’t wear plastic breast plastrons under their jacket for well obvious reasons?
  20. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    A heavyweight would have a huge advantage over a featherweight in an MMA fight and would probably have a lot to say about their opponent's incredible power if they fought someone several weight classes heavier than themselves in MMA. Yet we don't categorically exclude everyone but heavyweights from military service. The US Army's minimum weight to enlist is only 120 lbs, in the middle of the flyweight weight-class and well underneath featherweight.
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