Tag Archives: combat training

My question would be which weapon (preferably one with a blade, but basically any that would be helpful in a duel and maybe on a battlefield) could be handled quite easily by an untrained woman so it could be fought with an a rather short amount of time.

When you’re
simply asking for dueling weapons you can train quickly on, the first answer is
going to be the pistol. Depending on the era, there’s a massive array of
different swords and knives which were used for ritualized duels, this is
without resorting to settings that pick a dueling weapon based on some cultural
significance.

If you
have a setting where people duel with arming swords, then that’s what your
character would need to train in to use one. If your setting uses rapiers, épées
or lightsabers, again, that’s the weapon they’re going to use.

Dueling
isn’t simply one on one melee combat. It’s a ritualized form of combat with its
own rules and procedures. Depending on the setting, this could be as simple as
declaring it, showing up and murdering your opponent, or it could be a complex
back and forth, of seconds trying to talk their duelists out of doing something
profoundly stupid, then, if they fail, serving as witnesses to confirm that the
procedures were followed correctly.

One
thing that’s important to understand is that duels are a form of dispute
resolution. Roll your eyes if you want, but this is an important concept to remember. You don’t duel someone for fun
(outside of an MMO), you duel because you perceive harm from someone else’s
actions. Within that context, a major concept in the duel is that it’s supposed
to be a, “fair fight.”

The idea
of a fair fight is something we generally criticize pretty harshly, but duels
are rare moment where it applies. Unlike in normal combat, the participants
need to follow the proper steps and observe the appropriate rules, because if they
don’t, it’s no longer a legitimate duel. This is a somewhat unusual concept
when it comes to combat, because usually, last whatever standing is the winner.
But, because it’s about resolving a dispute, duels create a very different
standard for victory.  If the person who
violated the rules prevailed, then they didn’t, “win,” instead they’re simply a
murderer (or if the duel wasn’t to the death, then the dispute remains).

In most
circumstances, duelists would have matched or “equivalent” weapons and
equipment.

Matched
weapons are pairs. For example: A brace of dueling pistols is a pair of
identical handguns. Depending on the timeframe they may be completely identical
or they could be aesthetically distinct variants of the same design. For
example, a pistol with silver filigree and an ivory grip, matched to one with a
gold filigree and a rosewood grip. I’m using pistols as an example here, but
matched dueling blades did (and do) exist as well.

Equivalent
weapons would be where both duelists have a specific type of weapon. If you’re
talking about seventeenth century Europe, you’d be talking about the rapier or
épée. This can appear to be the duelist picking their weapon, but it’s actually
reversed. The local traditions regarding dueling would dictate the weapon, and
the duelist would be limited to finding an appropriate blade.

If this
sounds a little circular, that’s because it is. Remember, a duel is a ritual
(even if it’s not usually described in those terms), and the participants must
follow the proper steps. If there’s a nominally agreed upon weapon for dueling
in that civilization, nation, or city, then that is what your character would
need to carry. They don’t get to, “pick.” In cases where dueling was rare
enough that there wasn’t a single automatic choice, then one of the
participants (depending on the local traditions, this could be the one issuing
the challenge, receiving it, or the seconds) would pick the weapons used. In
these cases, it’s entirely possible the dueling weapons wouldn’t belong to the
participants, instead being provided by some third party.

Depending
on the setting, it’s entirely possible the weapon chosen would be something
that saw battlefield use. But, again, the weapon used for dueling is decided by
the setting, not your character. Even if she had a preference, she could not
rely on taking it into a duel, unless it was the “appropriate dueling weapon.”
That means picking a weapon that’s easy to train on is, basically, not
happening.

When it
comes to training, there’s an immediate problem: You’re not training to achieve
some kind of baseline proficiency. At least, not if you intend to survive. You’re
training to be better than your opponent, thing is, your opponent’s skill isn’t
a static threshold. If they’ve been training to kill people with a blade for
years, there’s no way you can make that up in a couple weeks of intensive
training.

You can’t
rush training, not really. You can fully commit to it, and come out better than
someone who’s just going through the motions. But you can’t simply jump ahead.
You need to learn the basics, get those down, and move on to the more advanced
stuff. If you don’t, then when the moment comes, you’ll blank, and make
mistakes or freeze up. The hard part to grasp about training is, you’re not
simply seeing someone demonstrating a technique and learning it, the way you’d commit a book to memory. You’re taking that element, copying it, integrating it, making it a permanent
part of your muscle memory and the way you move, until you can execute it without thinking. There is
no way to force that to happen faster without sacrificing the quality of your
training, and your ability to actually apply it in the field. Or as my sensei
used say, “you can’t cram for muscle memory.”

-Starke

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What are some of the physical responses to a sudden combat situation? For example, muscle tightening, heart rate, that kind of thing.

An increase to heart rate is usually a sign of adrenaline, along with a slightly bitter taste in the mouth, and in most people, some fine muscle tremors. I think we’ve talked about that before.

As with a lot of things, how someone handles an immediate combat threat is going to be very specific to that individual. A lot of people freeze up, and some can switch over smoothly and rapidly. Specialized training can help with this. But, it’s important to understand; this isn’t covered in most martial arts classes.

Usually training comes in two parts: First is an awareness of dangerous situations, so the combatant will be harder to take by surprise. The second part is rote responses to specific threats. This can vary pretty massively depending on who the person being trained is. It can include drawing a weapon, getting to cover, tensing muscles (which you mentioned), or going into a stance. It won’t always be completely appropriate, but it doesn’t really need to be, either. The entire point is just to get the combatant ready to fight faster. It’s worth pointing out, with military drills; those rote responses can include lethal takedowns.

How well someone handles an adrenaline rush is another matter. As far as I know, this is something that people either learn to deal with through experience or conditioning, rather than traditional training. The more adrenaline rushes someone’s experienced, the less they’ll be impaired by it, relatively speaking. In general, adrenaline rushes work towards your advantage in hand to hand or melee, but work against you when operating firearms.

-Starke