Why I Hate (Most) Photos and Drawings of Women with Swords

Recently, an artist pointed out how boob armor can kill you and someone else created a terrific blog entry for Tor on the subject.

But that’s only the beginning of everything that’s wrong with depictions of women warriors.

The biggest problem? Swords.

I love swords. Some more than others, admittedly. I have studied stage combat with some of Hollywood’s most talented sword masters, including Roberta Brown and Richard Ryan. I am currently in love with Shinkendo, and I’ve been a member of the International Shinkendo Federation* for almost 3 years. I have handled a live katana as part of tameshigiri (target cutting) practice, and have had the chance to study directly with Kaiso Obata himself.  I’ve learned a great deal over the years about how to properly wield and care for all kinds of different blades. Only the katana, however, was ever sharpened. And it is that sharpness — or rather, the illusion of danger — that people find sexy.

To augment that “sexiness,” a vast number of artists and photographers depict women holding swords. This should be awesome, right? Strong, beautiful women warriors wielding deadly weapons? But no. While the all-too-familiar bikini chainmail or “boob armor” is a joke in and of itself, almost none of the women hold the sword safely, much less correctly. What the artists don’t seem to realize (and might not care about) is that portraying women as clumsy, brainless blade slingers is even more degrading to women than simply making them sex objects. Instead of looking dangerous, the women look endangered as they grossly mishandle weapons. It says (to men), “Oh, I can’t really do this. I’m such a dingbat. Will you please take this thing and do it for me?”

Here are some of my favorite “dumb babes with blades” categories:

Cutting My Own Throat

Swordwoman1

Or Cutting My Shoulder

Swordwoman2

Or Cutting My Own Throat While Shooting Myself in the Head

Wallpaper-girl-brunette-woman-gun-sword

Hot Celebrity Guy, Will You Please Double-Decapitate Me?

ba7b1-last_legion_rai_and_firth

Trying to Decapitate Myself from Behind

Backdecap

It’s Like Doing Pilates!

pilates

Oopsie. I’m About to Drop Them!

Oopsie

Is This Sharp?

Isthissharp

Check It! My DIY Stigmata!

DIY

“This scabbard doesn’t really go with my purse. So instead of wearing it at my waist or on my back, Imma just gonna hold it waaaaay up here like this…”

Wayuphere

Breast Sex

breastsex

Or Just…Sex (Ahem)

sexwithsword

(I don’t even…)

The “fate” of the blade in this book cover is that its tip is going to get fucked up because she’s dragging it along the street like a drugged chimpanzee.

chimp

Pressing Magical Sword Against Crotch Has Magical Powers! (Bonus Sparklemail Bikini!)

crotchpress

And so on. There are other major categories where women use swords as crutches or canes (endangered and disabled!), but I’ll stop here.

Let’s talk a moment about images of men wielding swords. While some of the same witless stock photographers are posing men in similar positions to women, a lot more photos and artwork depict the man pointing the sword outward at an enemy rather than, say, rubbing it against his crotch. They are posed more like, “I’m going to fuck up something other than myself with this thing.” You know, instead of this pose:

ninja_chick

Because, when Sensei teaches Nito Ken (two-sword fighting), he says I should stick out my breasts and keep the swords back…OH WAIT HE NEVER SAYS THAT EVER.

In fact, what he says is to “keep the swords alive.” That is, hold them out in front, ready to thrash the enemy. Don’t let down your guard.

I think some of these creators want to honor the female form. In their minds, women look appealing when holding a bladed weapon.  They are probably fascinated with the contrast of a woman’s curves to the blade’s unflinching edge. I agree that these ideas are artistically interesting and worthwhile. I don’t want people to stop creating warrior art by any means simply because it’s not “perfect.” I just wish someone would learn something about what they’re depicting. Maybe take a class. Or maybe just watch some classes. A simple fencing class would go a long way. The same way that writers must research a topic before writing about it, artists and photographers might do the same thing before creating art on a topic. They might be inspired to create something that is truly complimentary and dignified for women.

I mean, look at this amazing still with Alex Kingston as Boudica:

This is Hollywood, make-believe, dress up and pretend. Stage combat in particular is not about necessarily creating accurate-looking fights, but rather creating fights that tell a story using period-appropriate weapons and techniques. Still, look at how utterly amazing this is! The sword stays out in front of her. It crosses her body slightly in a defensive pose that is still ready to strike. (Check out who the sword master and fight director was.)

But it’s not really about being more “realistic” or taking a class. They could simply pose women doing the sorts of things men would do. Yet they don’t.

People say, “It’s just fantasy! Why criticize?” Well, why is so much fantasy about women with swords the kind that makes them look stupid or inept?  Why do they look anything BUT dangerous? Are you afraid of that? Is it too fucking scary to see a woman who is a competent fighter? Or is it safer to infantilize them? To imagine they’re holding your semi-hard dick rather than a real weapon? Or is this just a great big case of The Lazy?

This “brainless blade babe” thing is a goiter of sexism on the neck of fandom. Let’s excise it and start fresh.

P.S. Don’t even start about The Walking Dead. For example, this is a shitty pose and she’s holding the katana incorrectly. The blade should be at least protecting her head instead of sticking out into no-fucking-where (I mean, what is she protecting? The fern?) and her left hand should be anchored at the end of the hilt. It’s totally ineffective to wield a real katana that way.

michonneUPDATE #1: Now check out the follow-up article to this one, “Depictions of Sword Women that are (Mostly) Awesome.” Thanks!

UPDATE #2: Now check out another follow-up article, “Why I Should Never Have Mentioned Michonne.”

UPDATE #3: And another follow-up. “Some Hilarious Additions to the Women with Swords Wall of Shame.”

*I do not speak (or snark) for the Federation.

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80 thoughts on “Why I Hate (Most) Photos and Drawings of Women with Swords

  1. Pingback: Vintage Ninja

    • While I do agree with some of what you said, and am thoroughly impressed that you have such an extensive background, I think that some of this may be subject to a matter of perspective. For one, I know absolutely jack shit about swords. I’ve never practiced with one, never been taught by a professional, I’ve don’t think I’ve ever even picked up a sharpened blade. So, when I see these women, I think, “Oh cool! What a badass!” rather than noticing the flaws. It’s highly likely that some of these artists are in the same boat as I am. I don’t think they are intentionally drawing brainless babes (don’t get me wrong though, some of them are just plain ridiculous), but instead go for their own depictions or they base it off of movies. I think to them, and to a lot of people who are uneducated about swordplay, these pictures actually do look tough and intimidating. On the flip side, I would absolutely love to see more pictures of women who are actually wielding swords properly and artists who depict warriors correctly.

    • That’s a good defense, actually. From what I’ve seen of iaido — and I’m no expert — their poses in the partner drills are kind of exaggerated. And as a standard, they don’t practice tameshigiri, do they?

  2. The last picture is Bizzare with the sword stuck out randomly, but keeping the hands close together is is quite common in some Japanese sword ryu. as doing so hinders .sword taking techniques..

  3. You should star a Tumbler on the subject ! If you have not watched the “Katana girl video” yet, check on Youtube : http://youtu.be/5Z-JDKEIYWw.

    As for Michone in the TWD… I’m pretty sure it is a kamae designed especially for facing zombies in specific situations. (what actually has always bothered me was the size of her sword. Not the most practical katana she could choose, except when she is rinding horses).

    And I’d rather use a naginata against zombies…

  4. Great post! And yes, even a fencing class will teach you some basic positions and why you hold the sword in front of you rather than off at some bizarre angle. 🙂

  5. The Alex Kingston pose has a real energy to it. I appreciate the negatives you’ve shown, and I think it would now be really educational for you to post more photos and maybe book covers/pieces of fantasy art that do pass muster – should there be any 🙂

  6. So, I’m guessing that you aren’t a big fan of belly dancing with swords then? We balance them on shoulders, heads, etc.

    • Thanks for mentioning this. Actually, belly dancing is kind of the opposite of what I’m highlighting here. It’s an ancient art form that has an intentionality that these pictures don’t have. The incorporation of weaponry in the dance (if the blades are sharp and even if they aren’t) is akin to juggling: what can we balance/interact with and not get hurt?

  7. Interesting article. I do get tired of the blade babe trope.

    One statement you made I was confused on. What did you mean by only the katana was sharpened?

    And you mentioned that you have experience handling all kinds of blades. Is that mostly of the East Asian variety?

    • Ash,

      The katana is the only sharp blade I’ve ever handled. All the rest were either iaidos (unsharpened katanas) or stage combat weapons (and most of those were Western European).

      Does that help?

      Thanks so much!

      Maria

  8. Hi – I am a longtime iaido practitioner and teacher. We do tameshigiri – we just don’t make a big deal of it. But if you can’t cut with the damn sword you’re playing with, what good is it?

  9. My illustrator just sent me a link to this blog post, and I really got a great laugh out of it. I am an indie author and have trained in Shinkendo, myself, for about four years (practicing well over ten). So I can truly relate. I can just picture Master Obata’s expression over some of these. Anyway, thanks, your post was great.

  10. As a swordswoman and a sword model I have to really disagree with you. There is big difference between holding the sword to “show it off” and holding it to threaten an opponent. And for the record, katanas were not the only swords that were sharpened. When I am modeling with a sword I hold it very different than how I hold it during training. When modeling the mentality is “look at me and how pretty this sword is, don’t I look hot!” During training the mentality is I’m going to kick your ass and my stance reflects that. But I do sometimes child my sword in a way for a shoot that I do in training. Holding a sword down with the blade across my legs isn’t uncommon during a lull in a training session, that doesn’t mean I can’t instantly be ready to fight with a small movement to change my stance. So I think your argument here it pretty off base.

    • Hi Rose,

      Let me first clarify: when I said the katanas were the only sharpened weapons, I mean that, of all the blades I’ve handled, that’s the only one that was sharp. The rest were dull. Those were mostly stage combat weapons and iaidos.

      I think you might be reading slightly left of my point. I don’t have a problem with women posing with weapons to show them off. The problem is that most of these photos have the women handling them in ways that make them look like dingbats. The vast majority, in fact. Your poses might look awesome! I’m sure, in fact. But for my argument, what you do in a “lull” is moot — it’s off camera. I’m only talking about what lands on the canvas, so to speak. 🙂

      Thanks for posting!

      All the best,

      M-

  11. You’re certainly correct, but a couple of quips: Michone isn’t far away from from a Woman’s Guard or a Window Guard. And both a Tail Guard and Boar’s Tooth will appear like you’re dragging the sword on the ground. But to be fair the lady picture on the bookcover isn’t remotely close to either one.

  12. Maria, I’m wondering why you have chosen to use so may photographs and artist’s images , some of which I recognize and were painted by artists I know, but chosen not to credit any of them?

    • Hey there! That’s a good question. I did it this way to give the artists the option of coming forward for discussion. Also, I didn’t want to come across as if I was criticizing their entire oeuvre of work. It’s possible some of their other art is just fine. These particular pictures, however, are simply representative of issues I saw across the Internet.

  13. Hi Maria, I was in two minds whether to respond here, but as you’ve used a piece of my artwork (with no credit) to illustrate your point that has in turn generated lots of traffic for your post and blog, it would be remiss of me not to say something as none of us work in a vacuum… My painting: ‘Samurai Vampire’ is the second image you use in your post (although this is not in it’s original form – someone seems to have turned it into a wallpaper image and mucked about with the colour). The phrase you use on it is: ‘Or cutting my shoulder’. The character is wearing shoulder armour (known as a ‘sode’) that the katana is actually resting on, so she wouldn’t cut her shoulder. I’ve taken liberties with the design, because that’s what artists do, but the sword is clearly resting on her armour NOT her shoulder. It’s a fantasy portrait of a *Vampire*, not a dynamic action pose of a real person (such as the Alex Kingston photo) and is an example of the ‘phallic woman’, and if you think she’s a “dumb babe with a blade” then there’s not much more I can say really. Also, your criticism of Michael C Hayes’ painting of the woman drawing the sword from the scabbard (with white hair and bronze/black armour) is rather tenuous to say the least. You have a fair and valid point to make and I support it, however some of your image choices do it no favour.

    Regards, Aly.

    • Hi Aly,

      I’m really glad you posted. I hear what you’re saying and, to your point, if your character is wearing armor, any blade gently resting on her shoulder wouldn’t hurt her per se — doubly so if it’s a vampire.

      But I hope you’ll consider a couple of things. First, it’s not obvious (at least, not to me) that your character is wearing armor. It appears to be a cool costume, for sure, but not metal. Second, people who are familiar with sharp weapons know that it’s harmful to the blade to rest it on any surface. The character looks inexperienced with weapons.

      As for the Hayes picture, it’s actually problematic in a few ways. I only picked on the one issue. You have a good point about the wonder factor — you’d want to capture that and Hayes sort of does. But the elevation is weird. It’s not the angle that you’d want to see it as a swordsperson. Perhaps it’s the angle your *audience* would want to see, but not the sword bearer. There ought to be a creative meeting ground, I think.

      Thanks so much!

      All the best,

      Maria

      • You should still take his picture down, as he didn’t give you permission to use it on your website. I’ll also be emailing the other artists to let them know, so that next time maybe you will ask permission.

      • E.L.

        According to the law, this is fair use. I do not need permission.

        http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-fairuse.html

        “Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports.”

        Here is what MIT legal says:

        http://libguides.mit.edu/usingimages

        If they would like to be identified, I’d be happy to do so if they request it.

        Thanks!

        Maria

      • Here is a better excerpt directly from the law itself (17 USC Section 107):

        “the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

        “In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;…”

        Emphasis is mine. Of course, this is not at all for commercial use.

        But I’m glad you brought up the issue in case others were wondering.

      • How do you deduce from Aly’s image that the character looks inexperienced with weapons? That’s a little bit of a stretch.

        I paint people with swords every now and then too – and I will try to be as accurate as I can… as I want it to be and sometimes I might get it wrong and also may tweak ‘reality’ for the sake of a bit of artistic license.

        Yes you can use images to illustrate points without copyright infringement – but you really really should make a habit of crediting the artist who took HOURS of their time to create the art (regardless of whether you like it or not). I say that on behalf of all my fellow artists.

      • Manon,

        I’ve already answered these questions in other comments and in the blog post itself. But I will point out one thing. The word “attribution” can also be a synonym for “outing” and “public shaming.”

        Example: Much earlier this year, an artist acquaintance on Facebook was finishing his first short film and he posted the title card online. Everything looked beautiful but for a nitpick: there was a stray comma in the copy. I said exactly that in a comment. Just a tiny thing, in my mind. Except that he had a complete, multiple Facebook message meltdown…OVER A FUCKING COMMA. Sometimes artists (and that includes writers) can be incredibly fragile and we don’t know it.

        Sure, YOU might not mind someone criticizing your work with your name on it, but many other people do. You can only speak for yourself. I like giving people the option because, even though I’m not commenting on the actual talent of the artist or photographer, this sort of thing can be really challenging.

        And, incidentally, Aly is a very talented artist. I hope she does more research so that she understands this subject better.

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  15. I can’t tell you how I totally agree with this! I’ve seen not only women holding swords wrong, but men as well (DeviantArt is flooded with these things). As an Iado student and an artist who has a character that uses swords, it can be rather frustrating…or in some cases, when a badass chick is pictured holding a sword wrong and the caption is “Don’t mess with me” – I always think…no, I’ll mess with you…lol!

  16. While I’ve written a few blog posts on painting characters handling swords myself, I’d like to disagree on the Michael C. Hayes piece and others similar in concept. Not every piece showing someone holding a sword is depicting a combat situation and not everyone is just carrying their sword like you would.
    His painting clearly depicts someone showing off the weapon, marvelling at how amazing it is while drawing it from a scabbard.
    Just look at her expression, the way she’s holding it and notice the angle we’re watching the scene from. All made to inspire awe.
    (a very similar scene is found in Kill Bill when Uma Thurman gets her katana.)

  17. If you liked 😉 Stella Angelova, enjoy Yvonne Strahovski (yep : CIA agent Sarah Walker, from “Chuck”. The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Xena, Chuck… great references there !) in Fitness>Martial arts workout: Secret agent slim-down : http://www.self.com/fitness/workouts/2008/05/forza-body-toning-slideshow
    And I will stop here, eventhought my iaido pals and I have found hilarious stuff on YouTube, that I won’t bother digging up from our Facebook secret ninjas group archives. Search for keywords with things like fitness + sword or katana.

  18. You mentioned Alex Kingston’s Boudica and Roberta Brown, and slammed The Walking Dead, in the same post.

    I think I love you now.

    Don’t get me started on how stupid people in the speculative genres are about swords. Especially medieval European swords. Their knowledge of East Asian weaponry like katanas is at least marginally better.

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  20. Excellent article – I’ve been known to hurl abuse at tv shows that demonstrate clear stupidity with swords. Have to admit the only sword experience I have is via aikido and it’s a bit of a mishmash of kashima shin ryu and other things, but holding the sword properly is pretty important in all of them 😉 I’ve only once done something with a live blade (wakazashi) which was an aikido disarm – I’m under no illusion that if it were RL against someone competent with a blade, I’d have no chance, but as an exercise in focus and awareness – very worthwhile. Also, terrifying. But I came out of it with all the fingers I started with, so… the lack of respect for very sharp things this kind of thing endorses is really kind of horrifying.

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    • Ah! Zombies are special. Here are some things to consider when using a katana against a zombie, either slow or fast.

      How and with what you hit the zombie depends upon what kind of hit it takes to kill them. If bashing in their head is the way to dispatch one, a sword is NOT the way to go. A bat — preferably a cricket bat, although a baseball bat is great, too — is the better weapon.

      If cutting off the head is the means of destruction, then a sword is the proper weapon. However, you must hold it correctly for it to work reliably and effectively. Sure, if you’re strong enough, you can power through but it’s much harder to cut through something using a katana when your hands aren’t placed correctly.

      In the testosterone-soaked videos from Cold Steel, even though most of the wielders don’t have the best cutting form, notice how they place their hands on the tsuka for best leverage. (I’m sort of embarrassed to even link to that video, but hey! They’re cutting pig carcasses! That’s kind of like cutting zombies. Sort of.)

      Some could argue that a naginata is the best zombie-killing blade. Check out the reach!

      • Henry VIII had Anne Boleyn executed with a broadsword and a specially trained executioner because it was reputedly a cleaner kill. He was a lot less nice to Catherine Howard. She got the axe.

        Either would probably make a fine anti-zombie weapon. Or anti-Immortal weapon a la Highlander.

  22. I mostly agree with you, but it’s not just women that bother me, its Hollywoods treatment of the sword in general. Real combat with real techniques form the manuals looks just as good if not better than the fake nonsense they’re passing off to the public. Yes, it takes a little more time but really now, its totally attainable.

    • I agree. It’s really not that hard to choreography safe “real” swordplay. Instead, we get the crashing and bashing, blade on blade, of light chrome or even plastic swords. Or we have someone muscle-bound guy grunting as he picks up some ten-pound display piece. It’s annoying.

      • One reason that stage combat professionals have to use light aluminum weapons is because of the long hours that they have to perform these choreographed pieces during repeated takes. It’s just not possible most of the time to find someone who has the acting chops AND the ability to sling a full-metal sword. Think of what that would have done to a movie like Rob Roy. Also, when you pick up a lighter weapon, it allows you to focus on your technique. I’ve experienced this many times in Shinkendo. It’s one of the reasons we practice with the bokuto most of the time rather than the iaito (although we do use it). When you’re trying NOT to hit the other person but make it look like you’re hitting them, technique and precision are key to safety.

      • Personally, I think this is an excuse. We practiced with full-weight bokken in Aikido all the time. Swords aren’t *that* heavy. I think it is a bad idea to learn technique with a blade that is not the right weight because that affects your technique adversely. A major point of the exercise is to learn how to deal with the weight.

        As for movies like “Rob Roy,” that movie was just plain silly and I doubt they thought very long and hard about the technique on it. It’s not as though the plaid was accurate, so why would the swords be?

        Also, I think Liam Neeson was quite capable of handling a Great Sword of three or four pounds. And as I recall, Tim Roth had a much lighter rapier (though real rapiers can be pretty heavy, especially in the tip).

        I can understand that most actors don’t have much in the way of fighting skills, even stage-fighting, but it still doesn’t make taking props and skills intended for the stage and translating them pretty directly to the big screen look any better.

      • In my experience, the extra three to four pounds makes a tremendous difference on the wear and tear of the body, especially if you’re shooting for 12+ hours. Also, keep in mind that safety is the first consideration of stunt work. A heavier sword can injure more effectively than a light-weight replica. Film is in the business of creating illusion and telling stories. If there’s a safer way to create an illusion or tell the story, that’s the way people will go. I’m not an expert at all on Great Sword, but based on the period books on small sword work, I found Bill Hobbs’ choreography pretty spot on. (That is, I believe Tim Roth was wielding a small sword rather than a rapier.) That’s a weapon I studied privately for a while, with study including 17th century instruction manuals.

      • It’s only an extra three or four pounds for the Great Sword. A regular sword is maybe a kilo, which is under two and a half pounds. I’m with Michael. It’s simply not necessary to do on film all the flourishing and whatnot that they do with stagework. Realistic swordplay is just as safe and just as flashy when you do it right. And that includes the wear and tear of practicing and filming it.

        It’s been a while since I saw “Rob Roy” (didn’t care for it and especially don’t now after living six years in Scotland and actually having been to the Trossachs), but there’s no way Tim Roth’s character would have been able to survive a fight with a Great Sword using a “small sword.” Not to mention that the choreography for that would involve a lot of stabbing, since that’s what “small” swords (under thirty inches) are mainly for. And he wasn’t doing a lot of stabbing. As I recall, it was more sabre style.

      • He used a few different techniques because he was fighting against someone with a much bigger weapon. Also, while the European small sword had a triangular blade for creating its classic “unhealable” stabbing wound, the edges were fine for slashing and other techniques, some of which are shared by other one-handed weapons such as the sabre.

        This is just a Wikipedia but for more information it’s an okay reference point for the European small sword (aka smallsword).

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_sword

        It’s the weapon referenced, for example, by Sir William Hope in The Compleat Fencing Master published in 1692. You might enjoy taking a look at that. As the small sword evolved from the rapier, the fighting techniques changed in interesting ways.

        I strongly disagree about “realistic” swordplay being just as flashy and safe. I know that it might be contrary to what makes sense, but it’s my experience especially that is is not at all as safe. I had to unlearn a lot of safety techniques from stage combat training to handle a real katana properly. I occasionally struggle to this day, as those safety techniques were well ingrained. (This is a PSA to people reading this who might try it out.) And with the small sword, for example, movements were typically very fast and very small. To create a fight that translated to film for that weapon, movements have to be bigger and maybe even a touch slower. Otherwise, it’s just a blur. There’s a reason the fight industry works the way that it does. Moving from theory to practice alone requires adjustments.

        Thanks!

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  24. Hey, man. That fern needs to be protected from vegetarian zombies…

    Love, love, love the article. Bonus points for Alex Kingston Gettin’ Shit Done.

  25. This seems to be exactly what happens with depictions of “musicians” in art or advertising…ooopsie I am holding the cello backwards and I have 6inch red nails.hmmm

    • Macy’s recently had a newspaper ad where the guy was holding the trombone upside-down. The person who spotted it was an old high school friend and former fellow band geek who’s now a professional musician and band instructor. We’re now into the broader issue of “Do the research, dammit!” 🙂

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  27. while I agree with most of your observation, I must say the 90% of the screen sword play is nonsense. A sword duel is a deadly thing and economical AND not good to look at. movie goers are not taking fencing classes. they just want appealing visuals. it is equally silly to insist doing it THE RIGHT WAY. same as a battle scene. in real modern battle, you hardly see the enemy as the range of modern rifle is nearly 2000 meters.
    Btw, I am a fencer too, and a medal winning one at that, though only on regional level. so, at least I should know what I am saying.

    • Thanks for your message, Hitomi!

      If you take another look at the article, I’m not really insisting that people do it “the right way” for the sake of doing it “the right way.” If you’ll read my followup article linked at the end, it’ll further clarify this point. I’m insisting that they do it “good enough” so that it doesn’t look like women are trying to decapitate themselves, stab themselves in the foot, or generally hurt themselves. This blog post’s thesis is stated here: “Instead of looking dangerous, the women look endangered as they mishandle weapons.”

      Endangered. Not “wrong.” Not “could be better.” ENDANGERED.

      Obviously, I know the difference between stage combat and real combat, as I’ve stated my credentials up front. Fencing is neither. It’s a sport. It’s a great sport, and I’m glad women are engaging in it, but I would think that fencers would understand as well as anyone that when an opponent looks properly threatening, he or she is probably not holding the foil at a goofy angle that points at their own foot.

      And that’s where this discussion ends.

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