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Anonymous asked:

Do you know what would be an appropriate sort of sword for a smallish teenage girl? She hasn't used a sword before (she will be taught) and she doesn't have any sword specific strength built up, but she's grown up doing farm work and can shoot a fairly heavy bow. For that matter, do you know anything about bow weights? (sorry if these are stupid questions)


Well, here’s the thing about swords (and all weapons, really), wielding them isn’t about strength. It’s a fallacy perpetrated by games like D&D, where the combat stats are governed by strength and some historians confusing the gilded twenty pound parade swords for actual combat weapons. But don’t take just my word for it, here’s the awesome Scholagladitoria talking about misconceptions and stereotypes regarding both bow and the sword in fiction. (Also the difference between a war bow and the hunting bow, plus some talk about draw weight.)

The average longsword will weigh between four and six pounds. So, saying your character has to worry about sword weight is like you saying you can’t pick up a chair or your laptop. A backpack laden with binders and books can run up to around around 15 to 20 pounds, what you carry/carried to school every day on your back is heavier than a sword. It really doesn’t take much strength to lift them. (Yes, even a Claymore.)

Now, what gets most people in trouble when they have no experience and try to lift a blade is balance issues. Swords are awkward. A major part of the training is molding the body to compensate for the different balance. This is learning the positions, grips, footwork, stances, and striking patterns; developing muscular endurance and flexibility in the core, the upper, and lower body, along with strengthening the hands, wrists, and ankles.

Remember, the point of training is developing the muscles and building endurance. As you can see in this lovely chart, the way those muscles are developed through different kinds of activity will change the physical appearance of the body. As scholagladitoria says in his video above, your farm girl is used to wielding a hunting bow, not a war bow so it’s unlikely she’ll have large, strong muscles in the back and shoulders necessary to handle the 50 to 60 pounds of draw weight and wield it effectively (never mind aiming). You do need heavier arrows with larger metal tips to take on armored opponents and a stronger bow than a hunting bow to get the speed/momentum necessary to puncture and penetrate the armor.

Fighting with a sword isn’t about swinging it as hard as you can. Using a any sword requires precision and control, the ability to generate, balance, and control your momentum. The longsword in particular because is usually used with two hands is a good example of this. The second hand handles the rotation of the blade, creating more power, while the other hand guides it. What she’s going to need to build (and what her training master will require from her) is endurance. Beyond just learning how to wield the sword, she’ll also learn how to stand, how to breathe, exercises to develop balance, mental exercises to develop hand and eye coordination, and others in a similar vein. If she has the option, she’ll train on multiple different kinds of terrain. Not just fighting, but running, exercising, and practicing her footwork. Fighting on sand, in water, on mud are useful for teaching her all the different ways she’ll have to adjust herself and how different surfaces can tire you faster.

So, which sword should she use?

The one which is most common and makes the most sense for her social class, aka the one she has easiest access to. If you’re basing your setting somewhere similar to Medieval Europe or using characters who are European influenced, I suggest sticking with European weapons. You can’t really drop a katana into the Middle Ages and expect it to make sense (or be automatically awesome).

The arming sword, the sword and buckler were common self-defense weapons of the peasantry or the Non-Nobility but, really, pick a period in history and research both it and the weapon before making your decision. Not all swords make sense in all periods (though the longsword was a staple in Europe for hundreds of years). The kind of opponents your character is facing will do more to decide what she carries than personal preference. It’s important to assess what your options are, so you can choose what you like and what fits her best while also staying true and respecting the weapon’s history (both cultural and martial).

Links! (A jumping off point for your research needs.)

Scholagladitoria on bullshit perceptions of “manliness” and “unmanliness” of the longsword and the rapier (aka why you shouldn’t just go with the rapier/smallsword, because general perceptions says it’s “more feminine/girly”/lighter/easier), this video, where he discusses the evolution of the sword and different kinds of swords in European history, this video where he talks about the historical position of arming sword/sword and buckler versus the longsword. Actually, just go through his YouTube portfolio if you’re doing anything regarding European/Medieval weaponry and want to better understand it’s historical applications connotations and how some of it has been reflected in media. His breakdowns of different movie fight scenes is interesting and worth looking at for comparing the difference between Hollywood presentation and Historical accuracy.

ARMA instructor John Clements demos engages and disarms, here is the ARMA website with tons of videos talking about the historical ways of wielding Medieval and Renaissance weapons. It’s mostly the long sword, but there’s a lot of good stuff there.

This training montage with Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderes from the Mask of Zorro might help when figuring out training sequences. However, be warned, the movie switches between the foil and the sabre at random. (The sabre is generally regarded as the most visually entertaining of the three European fencing blades (foil, epee, sabre) because of the larger movements and circular patterns.)

Wikitenaur is a great place to go to look at different historical fighting manuals. However, I don’t recommend it as a starting entry point until you familiarize yourself with the time period. I really suggest starting with Scholagladitoria’s videos and working your way down. When you’re ready to start going in depth, here’s where you can go to read translations of instruction manuals written by the historical Masters.


I’d like to clarify that longswords typically weighed between 2-3 pounds and medieval swords generally weighed not more than 4 pounds. The modern idea that swords must’ve been really heavy is really pretty bizarre, because hello, they’re designed for fighting and you have to be able to actually maneuver them easily and rapidly to actually, you know, be effective. I’m less than 5 feet tall and have zero arm strength but when I was studying historical German longsword technique, I still didn’t have trouble waving a wooden replica German longsword around.

(While heavier swords do exist, I believe they were made for decorative rather than practical purposes.)


THE FLASH SPINOFF FANCAST The Zatara Family Tree: requested by acceber74 and rob-anybody

Jesse L. Martin as Giovanni "John" Zatara 
Tamlyn Tomita as Sindella
Candice Patton as Zatanna Zatara

Note: This photoset is an updated version of this and is not meant to be related to the CW show. This is a separate continuity that was established before official casting for The Flash was announced.

It was pointed out to me that even though there’s been a rise in the portrayals of interracial couples of TV, most examples of interracial couples usually consist of a POC character and a white character. It’s actually pretty rare to see examples of two POCs in an interracial relationship. In addition, the examples of mixed race characters I’ve seen portrayed are usually half white and there are few portrayals of mixed race characters who are half another racial or ethnic minority.

There are people who forget that Candice Patton is half East Asian so I decided to take the opportunity to have Zatanna’s heritage reflect Candice’s. Plus, it gave me an excuse to cast an all POC interracial family.

The statistics on law student depression merit concern. Law professor Larry Krieger of Florida State University studies how the law school experience affects students’ mental health. He has reported that between 20 and 40 percent of law students suffer from clinical depression by the time they graduate; that the incidence of clinically elevated anxiety, hostility and depression among students is eight to 15 times that of the general population; and that, out of 104 occupational groups, lawyers rank the highest in depression and fifth in incidence of suicide.

a.k.a. Things I Really Should Have Looked Up Before I Applied To Law School…

Study debunks notion that men and women are psychologically distinct



The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has dealt a devastating blow to the notion that men and women are fundamentally different when it comes to how they think and act.

“Although gender differences on average are not under dispute, the idea of consistently and inflexibly gender-typed individuals is,” Bobbi J. Carothers of Washington University in St. Louis and Harry T. Reis of the University of Rochester explained in their study. “That is, there are not two distinct genders, but instead there are linear gradations of variables associated with sex, such as masculinity or intimacy, all of which are continuous.”

Analyzing 122 different characteristics from 13,301 individuals in 13 studies, the researchers concluded that differences between men and women were best seen as dimensional rather than categorical. In other words, the differences between men and women should be viewed as a matter of degree rather than a sign of consistent differences between two distinct groups.

You mean human beings, like everything else, living and mineral, in nature exist on a series of both parallel and intersecting spectrums, and there is no such thing as a definitive binary or black/white divide?

MRAs, RadFems, and EvoPsych people everyone will be horrified to find this out.

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