Tag Archives: proronin

How well would soft armor (ballistic vests, thick padded jackets, etc) fare against something like a baton or pipe? I know knives will cut through them with ease, but how well do blunt objects go through?

Honestly, the best street wear option against a blunt weapon would probably be motorcycle gear. That stuff is designed to take hitting the pavement at speed and keeping you in (more or less) one piece. Technically, it’s not “soft armor,” since it’s reinforced with solid plates. But it’s in the same general area.

That said, any padding will help against blunt force trauma. But, all a normal padded winter coat will help deal with is unarmed strikes. It won’t really protect you from a crowbar or baton. It will protect some, just not enough to matter.

With a Kevlar vest, I’m not sure how rigid those things are specifically. If you’re taking a blow directly to the chest, it should absorb some of the force, though I’m not sure exactly how much. ProRonin and Skypig would be the people to quantify that.

Except, it probably doesn’t really matter, because of how people actually use blunt weapons.

The common attacks with blunt weapons are strikes to the shoulders, arms, and head. You draw back and strike in towards the silhouette of your target. …and a Kevlar vest doesn’t protect any of those areas. It’s designed to save you when someone tries to shoot you in the chest, not when they’re swinging a baseball bat at your head.

You can perform a thrusting attack with a pipe, but, if you know someone else is wearing armor, it would make more sense to just strike around it. Incidentally, you can’t perform a thrusting attack with most telescopic batons, since you collapse them by striking against a hard surface. Incidentally, a quick thrusting strike is one of the most devastating things you can do with a baseball bat in combat. It delivers most of the force in a fast short motion that’s almost impossible to avoid. But, the kind of person that knows to do that is also probably the kind of person that would choose to strike around armor.

I would be genuinely surprised if a vest actually offers less protection against a knife than a leather jacket or shirt, but, some of the same considerations apply. Knife fights usually end based on injuries to the arm before following into a killing strike at an angle that would bypass a Kevlar vest, rather than trying to stab through it. And, while I’m not completely certain, I’m pretty sure an “aim for the kidneys” shanking from behind can be performed at an angle to bypass a vest.

Ultimately, we’re talking about trying to use the wrong kind of armor for the situation. Most riot gear won’t protect you from someone shooting at you, but it does wonders for someone coming at you with a sledgehammer.

The opposite is true of Kevlar. If someone’s shooting at you (and they’re far enough away), it should keep you breathing, but it’s just not going to help you when dealing with someone armed with a baseball bat, frying pan, or whatever else they managed to dredge up from their home.



I believe the asker was asking if someone who was a dancer also trained in martial arts could then become competent enough to win a fight against two unskilled opponents. Answer might be the same due to the multiple opponents, but I think Starke misinterpreted the question.

I think the more accurate answer would be that a dancer’s base of being in really excellent shape would better prepare them for martial arts training, which in turn (depending on how long they trained) might make them competent enough to beat one unskilled opponent. I had a friend who became a Marine infantry officer, and his background as a ballet dancer had him in much better shape for training than some of his fellow officer candidates. And as you might guess, they were all in excellent shape, he was just even more so.

That being said, Starke is right about weapons being the only way to even the odds against multiple opponents. Your dancer should have a gun and a concealed carry permit if he / she regularly traverses places with a high likelihood of being attacked.

A Marine might not be the best counter example, because Basic involves a lot more than just training in hand to hand on a periodic basis.

What I’ve been told is that almost any activity that boosts your overall fitness will help enormously with surviving Basic. It’s not about unlearning psychological conditioning so much as being able to endure. Once you’re in that state, I suspect, whatever muscle memory you have from ballet is going to go out the window in favor of the USMC’s curriculum.

Though, you are probably right about me misinterpreting the question. Group fighting, and, you know this, is a very high bar. And, we do get a lot of questions that go along the lines of, “I want to add X to my character to make them a better fighter,” so that might have leaked into the answer a bit.


I’m writing about a 12 man scout / long range patrol unit operating in Sub-Saharan East Africa in a spec future, mixed tech environment with limited / rationed access to ammunition. I’m trying to figure out a basic weapons loadout for them, and my thought is short bows and swords for all unit members, plus four long rifles. They’re horse mounted, but operate both mounted and dismounted. My question is, what kind of swords and bows would be most effective for this kind of unit?

Well, depending on how you define swords, there’s always machetes. They occupy an uneasy place between a long knife and a shortsword. They’re more of a tool than a weapon, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable for your characters to have them.

With modern combat doctrine, the best use for a bow are those times when you need to kill someone absolutely silently at pistol range. It works best with very aggressive situations, where the point is to break an enemy position without them knowing they’re under attack. Which, doesn’t really sound like scouting or patrol to me.

Given we’re talking about modern hardware, you’re more likely looking at something like a modern mechanical compound bow than a short bow.

This doesn’t exactly mesh with my understanding of recon operations. Where the point is to find the enemy, get back out safely, and report what they saw so main line infantry can go in and kill the enemy.

Having just cited Jared Diamond on the proliferation of guns, the last element of this is probably the biggest issue. Bullets are really easy to make. The Metro books by Dmitry Glukhovsky (as well as the games based on the setting), and Jack McDevitt’s Eternity Road both come to mind as settings where industrial production is gone, but firearms live on.

If your characters are part of a larger organization, it’s distinctly likely they’ll have firearms. Those guns might be shoddy and more likely to explode in their hands than shoot straight. But, they’ll have them. Just look up the kinds of random scrap people make zip guns out of today, if you haven’t already.

As for bullets, hand loading, with the right tools, is incredibly easy. I could see a situation where they might have to improvise on bullet material, powder, primer, and potentially even their shell casings. But, if they’re part of a larger organization, I doubt you’d see a situation where they weren’t being given bullets.

I recently ran across a channel on youtube that’s almost nothing but a couple of guys loading whatever comes to hand into shotgun shells. From coin shot to silly putty, they’re demonstrating how stupidly resilient the technology is. You probably wouldn’t want to make rounds for a modern AR out of melted down soda cans, but if that’s what you have access to, that’s what you’ll need to work with.

Poor quality ammo might restrict them to bolt action rifles, or revolvers, but even there, if this is a decently run para-military organization, they should have enough people who know what they’re looking for in ammunition to have the ability to produce decent quality rounds.

And, as always, shotguns will take practically any crap you can find. Your characters might be loading rusty nails into a jury-rigged breach loading double barrel, but, it’s still a gun, and it will kill someone. Even if their people are having to make the powder and primers themselves.


EDIT: I’m adding this comment from Disasterintow, because it’s on point, and they’re right, making arrows is a pain:

disasterintow said: Two things: bows are better for mounted scouting if the horses aren’t trained ahead of time for ballistic weapons (yay for loud noises) and two, arrows are actually harder to make than common caliber rounds for the untrained.