Femme Fatale

Drawing the katana Photo Credit: John Dingman

My dad surprised me with a plastic sword from Disneyland when I was young. I also had a retractable lightsaber… You know, just all the girly essentials. I would sit in the back seat of the vehicle and look through the karate weapons catalog that my dad got in the mail every year. I would circle the prettiest swords, sais, nunchaku, escrima sticks, and bo staffs. Pageants just aren’t my thing, guys! I sought to learn more about the strong women warriors in ancient legends and emulate their good qualities. Let’s explore some of the most famous swordswomen that impacted history.

One of the earliest swordswomen, Yuenu (“Lady of Yue”) from Zhejiang Province, China lived around 496-465 BCE. She learned archery and the art of the sword from her father, who took her hunting regularly. She impressed the King of Yue and ended up training his army in swordsmanship. Her art of the sword is one of the earliest recognized and has influenced martial arts. Although she didn’t know it at the time, her instruction has been immortalized and succeeded in traversing time itself.

Legendary warrior of the 15th century, Saint Joan of Arc, started out as a peasant who had no money, no sword training, and no military strategy lessons. She attained each of those things with much passion and her inspiration from God. She wielded a banner and sword in battle, mostly giving out strategic advice to the warriors. She obtained her sword of from the church of Saint Catherine of Fierbois, which is rumored to have previously belonged to Charles Martel. Contrary to popular belief, she is known for her short-fused temper and volatile speech, but did not kill any Englishmen. The English ended up burning her at the stake and she died from smoke inhalation.

Tomoe Gozen was a samurai woman from 12th century Japan. She is known for her exceptional bravery and loyalty during the Genpei War at the Battle of Awazu. She was beautiful, skilled in the sword, masterful in archery, and able to handle unbroken horses with expertise. Another game changer, Nakano Takeko was a Japanese Warrior of the Aizu Domain during the 19th century. She trained in martial and literary arts from a young age and specialized in bladed pole and one-sword fighting. She had killed 172 samurai before she got shot with a bullet to the chest and died in the Boshin War.

I believe that anyone can do whatever they set their mind on. If someone wants to learn the sword, they will practice the techniques repeatedly until the actions becomes second nature. Not surprisingly, most female warriors from Japan wielded katana. If you want to learn more about the katanas used in feudal Japan, give my previous post a read. Also check out this young woman warrior, Karate Kid Jesse Jane McParland, performing with her katana at WAKO 2018 by WAKO Kickboxing YouTube Channel.

Thanks for reading! If you like the sword arts and culture please subscribe and leave a comment!

Kammi

Photo Credit: John Dingman

2 Comments

  1. This is my favorite blog post of yours! I love this and was also obsessed with swords as a kid. Thanks for sharing your cool lady warrior info, too! Nice to have some female heros formgirls to look up to.

    Like

    1. Thank you, Karin! Agree! Besides the plastic swords, I also used to shoot a nerf bow from Mulan with foam arrows. They had such epic toys in the 90s! Now I’ve upgraded to the real deal.

      Like

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