Go Easy

I don’t know whether I’ve told this story before but back when I was actively competing in the martial arts, the highest-ranked woman black belt in the country at the time worked out in the same dojo that I did. I competed against her many, many times. My sensei, realizing I could and would clean up the mat with her unless told otherwise, directed me to go easy on her. I, of course, complied. She always beat me.

My experience is the source of my misgivings about women physically fighting with men, especially hand-to-hand.

Using weapons is a somewhat different story. When I was practicing kendo, a martial art in which men and women compete against each other on equal terms, one of our female black belts could go toe-to-toe with our best male swordsmen. Other than Sensei, of course. He’d reputedly been head kendo instructor for the Imperial Army and was unbeatable.

13 comments… add one
  • michael reynolds

    I find myself bridling a bit at on-screen depictions of 95 pound women taking on 225 pound men in physical combat. You can leap around and somersault off the walls all day long, but unless the 225 pound dude is just standing there like a lump, you are not going to take that man down.

    Then again, we’ve had many decades of guys armed with a revolver managing to take on six guys with submachine guns in a fight and prevailing. Every bit as unlikely a scenario.

    I’ve always held myself to the standard that “if they can’t win, they don’t win.” Which explains the body count I’ve racked up in my work. I find fight scenes that suspend the laws of physics boring (unless suspending the laws of physics is part of the world building.) I like what Greengrass did with the Bourne movies. The fights are highly improbable, but not impossible.

  • I find myself bridling a bit at on-screen depictions of 95 pound women taking on 225 pound men in physical combat

    If it were to be depicted realistically, the woman would be seriously injured which would probably not be popular. I don’t think that such scenes should be depicted at all. They have the danger of producing unrealistic expectations in young women, particularly those who’ve never encountered men who have no inhibitions about injuring women.

    Defending oneself when facing multiple opponents is an entirely different subject. It’s extremely difficult even for the most skilled. I’ve done it successfully myself in real life but I was young, highly skilled, in peak condition, and reckless. Most people aren’t aware of it but one of the cardinal teachings in the Japanese martial arts is that people who are heedless of their own safety make deadly opponents.

  • TastyBits

    You have said that which must not be said. The only reason a woman cannot beat a man is because we live in a misogynistic society. Evolutionary biology has not contributed to this situation. Apparently, somebody needs sensitivity training.

  • michael reynolds


    It has nothing to do with sensitivity. It’s about money. It’s about female readers and female moviegoers.

    But again, unrealistic depictions of male action stars are every bit as absurd. Unless you think a man with six bullets in a revolver can take down half a dozen guys with machine guns. Or that men in neolithic times somehow found the food supply, the fully-equipped gym and the steroids to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. You’ve been fed a lifelong diet of ridiculous male fantasy, (as have we all) so only the female version seems silly.

    It’s all fantasy, dude. And we’re still at about a 100-1 ratio of absurd male fantasy to absurd female fantasy.

  • Jimbino

    Same situation in chess, STEM, econ, cabinetmaking, filmmaking, haute cuisine, haute couture, etc ad nauseam. Women beat men in babymaking, nursing, child care, kindergarten teaching, secretarial skills, welfare, divorce settlements and child support.

  • Or that men in neolithic times somehow found the food supply, the fully-equipped gym and the steroids to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    Other than the sheer mass involved bulging muscles aren’t much of an asset in actual hand-to-hand.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    I meant Dave.

  • ...

    I’ve actually seen dumber things than the fight scenes described. Recently one of the big sports sites on the web (I forget which one) came up with a list of female athletes that could play big team sports. One of their suggestions was that Ronda Rousey (Women’s MMA Champion in the UFC at 135 pounds) could play middle linebacker in the NFL because of her toughness and meanness.

    Yeah, some sports writer actually wrote that. When was the last time they had a middle linebacker in the NFL who was 5’6″ tall and weighed in at between 145 and 150 pounds? (She cuts to make weight, like all fighters in America.) Probably never, and certainly not in any of our lifetimes.

  • Andy

    Not sure if anyone is watching the experiment with women in the Marine Corps – A handful of women passed the enlisted infantry course and, so far, none have passed the officer course.

  • Out of how many applicants?

  • michael reynolds


    So long as everyone gets to try out on an equal basis, I’m fine with only a small percentage of women making it in. That’s as it should be. Equal standards, equal opportunity, whatever results.

  • Andy

    14 women tried the officer course. The officer course normally fails about 1/3 to 1/4 of men. For the enlisted course, which is easier, 53 of 173 women passed so far. I’m not sure about the failure rate for the enlisted course, except I’m pretty sure it’s less than the officer course.

  • TastyBits

    Years ago, I was in the Marine Corps School of Infantry (not sure what it is called now), and it made boot camp seem like a boy scout jamboree. I do not recall anybody dropping, but it was a gruelling six weeks.

    We wore boots, utilities (cammies), deuce gear (canteens), backpack, flak jacket, helmet, and weapon. The NCO were not supposed to run us, but as soon as the officers were out of sight, we were double timing. We were a heavy weapons platoon, and we carried those as well.

    After training, some of the infantry regiments have reputations to uphold, and they can be worse.

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