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View Full Version : How long does it take to train a melee warrior?



efreysson
06-30-2010, 02:35 AM
My pre-industrial fantasy writings have a lot of violence and a lot of characters with different backgrounds and different fighting skill levels. What I need is a basic idea of how much time and effort it takes to shape someone into a skilled warrior badass.
I mean, martial artists apparently take years to learn their skills, but modern army training only takes months. What gives? What is a realistic training period?

Here are some specific examples from my works, and the ones I really need to figure out:

-A warrior class that is trained from early childhood in swordplay, knife fighting, stealth, thrown weapons and hand-to-hand as a sort of ninja/commando type

-A teenager with some moderate skill in various kinds of fighting, who then receives intense personal training from a supremely skilled teacher, day in and day out for months. The main focus is the bastard sword, hand-to-hand and stealth, but the goal is to make him a very flexible and diverse fighter.

-A character who enters into a sort of super soldier program in her early teens. She's mostly trained with a big claymore-like sword (to take maximum advantage of superhuman strength), but also learns to use a smaller backup weapon and learns grappling as well as fighting from horseback.

CACTUSWENDY
06-30-2010, 02:51 AM
Hum. This almost sounds like a RPG of City of Heroes. No idea how you would take it for real life, but in the game you build your powers not in time but in ability to master something. I would guess that each of them would grow in power according to their level of being willing to train. Since it only takes a few months for the modern day solider to master some things it still takes OTJ (on the job) to make it perfect. It's your story and you should be able to have some leeway or freedom to have them advance as you see fit. I take it that there is nothing super-natural or magic about them. This is just IMHO.

efreysson
06-30-2010, 10:32 AM
Hum. This almost sounds like a RPG of City of Heroes. No idea how you would take it for real life, but in the game you build your powers not in time but in ability to master something..

Huh? I'm not talking about literal skill levels in video game terms. I'm just talking about proficiency.

Maraxus
06-30-2010, 02:38 PM
Even if I had more then dangerous half-knowledge, these information are not enough for me to place my bets on any of them. ;)

Some random points:

As a general guideline, I would estimate "fighting badassness" as log(skill) + physical might.
Logarithm means the steps of "is significantly better then" are:
No training - few days - some weeks or few month - few years - a lifetime.
"Trained by a master" or a sport-scientific super-soldier program can somewhat reduce the time needed, of course.

Skill training in the early childhood is mostly meaningless. Training is about muscle memory and when you grow big and strong it is of no importance, to know how a small, weak boy has to fight. Childhood training will thus only serve to have the boy grow strong fast.

When skill is about equal, the physical might matters a lot. When one fighter is a teenager and one is a woman, I'd vote for the warrior-class guy, if he is a man in his mid-20th. (Unless the super-soldier stuff includes genetic modifications or stuff like that)

GeorgeK
06-30-2010, 06:07 PM
A big part of all of this is simply proprioception. Some people innately know where every part of their body is at a given time and will learn simple skills quickly while not underestanding why others have problems with it.

Lhun
06-30-2010, 07:54 PM
I mean, martial artists apparently take years to learn their skills, but modern army training only takes months. What gives? What is a realistic training period?It's the difference between training a soldier or a warrior. Soldier training takes only a few months, or even just weeks, because that's adequate for fighting in a military fashion. Taking years to make them masters of whatever weapons are used does not significantly increase effectiveness in a battle. If you're part of a pike wall or in a cavalry charge, there's very little use for individual heroism.
No different in modern times, soldiers don't need olympic level accuracy.

-A warrior class that is trained from early childhood in swordplay, knife fighting, stealth, thrown weapons and hand-to-hand as a sort of ninja/commando typeNo real ninja/commandoes ever existed, so there's no realistic data to set a baseline. The closest medieval warfare ever got to commando style units were probably the vikings, and they did that mostly by being the biggest, baddes and most vicious guys around. Against bigger group of militia, with some pikes and cheap armour and a few weeks of training how to hold a pike and how to follow orders, they'd still be slaughtered, as individual training and capability in battle is much less important than in duel, and much less important than euipment and tactics.
For example the spartans, renowned mostly for being bred for war and constantly trained to be the perfect warrior in ancient greece, got their asses kicked in a direct confrontation against the thebans, renowned mostly for being gay.
Warrior castes in history were generally drawn from aristocracy, since the aristocracy didn't really have anything better to do. If the only real duty you have is to fight in the case of a war, you might as well train for it in the meantime.

-A teenager with some moderate skill in various kinds of fighting, who then receives intense personal training from a supremely skilled teacher, day in and day out for months. The main focus is the bastard sword, hand-to-hand and stealth, but the goal is to make him a very flexible and diverse fighter.Teenager what age? Big difference between thirteen and seventeen. But keep in mind that adulthood at 18 or even 21 is a very modern concepts. In medieval times, adulthood was closer to 15 than to 20. Training at a young age is important to build up muscle mass and simply experience. For a weapon which needs a relatively high degree of skill, such as a sword, you can expect a few years of training to be necessary to be sufficiently proficient.

-A character who enters into a sort of super soldier program in her early teens. She's mostly trained with a big claymore-like sword (to take maximum advantage of superhuman strength), but also learns to use a smaller backup weapon and learns grappling as well as fighting from horseback.Again, no historic baseline for supersoldiers. Go with whatever you need for the story.

Drachen Jager
06-30-2010, 10:13 PM
I mean, martial artists apparently take years to learn their skills, but modern army training only takes months. What gives? What is a realistic training period?

Muskets, when they were first coming in to use were no more effective, and perhaps even LESS effective than longbows.

But good longbowmen needed to start training as children and you could get musketeers trained within a few months.

Also, modern military BASIC training takes several months (10 weeks in my experience) but then you split off into trades. They then go on to about 4-12 months of additional training depending on the speciality, and that's just for a private. As they attain higher ranks the soldier needs to go back for more training.

But really only small portion of that training is dedicated weapons training.

efreysson
07-01-2010, 10:51 AM
No real ninja/commandoes ever existed, so there's no realistic data to set a baseline.


I know, I was just thinking of the Hollywood ninja stereotype. How long does it take to train modern commandoes? The types who sneak behind enemy lines to sabotage and slit throats?



Again, no historic baseline for supersoldiers. Go with whatever you need for the story.Well, I got the superhuman stuff covered. What I need to know is how long it would take to learn the other skills that they have (claymore, arming sword, advanced riding, unarmed striking), and at what age they might realistically graduate from the program.

GeorgeK
07-01-2010, 03:04 PM
I know, I was just thinking of the Hollywood ninja stereotype. How long does it take to train modern commandoes? The types who sneak behind enemy lines to sabotage and slit throats?

Well, I got the superhuman stuff covered. What I need to know is how long it would take to learn the other skills that they have (claymore, arming sword, advanced riding, unarmed striking), and at what age they might realistically graduate from the program.

A friend of mine was in a "commando" unit in the vietnam war. They used a particular card from a deck of cards as their calling card. He thought that card did more damage than any of them. Morale matters. He said it really took 6 months of training together for them to work as a unit, and that was when it started to get scary. There were night hunts and trophies and when he realized he needed to get out of it, he also realized that he couldn't tell any of them or he'd be a trophy.

"The first tour was fun...the second, I re-upped for comaraderie...The third, I was scared... and the fourth, well there was no fourth because I didn't re-up. I didn't tell any of them either. They all thought I was on R&R. I just never came back.

Hallen
07-01-2010, 08:53 PM
It's been pretty well covered. Instead of comparing to modern military stuff which uses completely different weapons, I would instead look at athletics. How long does it take to become proficient at a difficult sport. Pro baseball is a good example. A typical top prospect will spend 12 years from age 6 to 18 getting the basics down. Then, they go to the minors where they will spend 3 more years on average honing their skills. Then they'll normally spend the next year or so in the majors adjusting to the best pitching.

Combat is a different turkey. If you face somebody who's better/lucky, you're dead. End of game. To gain real combat experience and survive you either have to be really good or really lucky. No amount of training fully prepares you for actual combat, nothing can. But the best training will give you a much better chance of gaining the real experience that you need.

veinglory
07-01-2010, 09:00 PM
Generally a rank and file pre-industrial soldier becomes bad-ass by being in a lot of battles and not dying. After being taught how to stand in ranks and which end of the weapon is pointy it was most a matter of listening to veterans and learning fast.

pilot27407
07-01-2010, 11:54 PM
Superwarriors are myths. Starting with Goliath, history’s full of examples where they got licked by less experienced opponents. As technological marvels enter the battlefield the SW is likely to be creamed by a nerd in front of a screen, punching a button. Our military (best trained and equipped in today’s war) is decimated by illiterate Afghans and Iraqis who cross two wires and blow an IED.
In fiction you have a wide range of options, take 007 for example.
For what you have in mind almost anything (with a doze of moderation) should work.
Give 3-4 years of bodybuilding, another 2 of sword training and voila, you got yourself a superwarrior.

efreysson
07-02-2010, 01:57 AM
A friend of mine was in a "commando" unit in the vietnam war. They used a particular card from a deck of cards as their calling card. He thought that card did more damage than any of them. Morale matters. He said it really took 6 months of training together for them to work as a unit, and that was when it started to get scary. There were night hunts and trophies and when he realized he needed to get out of it, he also realized that he couldn't tell any of them or he'd be a trophy.

"The first tour was fun...the second, I re-upped for comaraderie...The third, I was scared... and the fourth, well there was no fourth because I didn't re-up. I didn't tell any of them either. They all thought I was on R&R. I just never came back.

Are you seriously saying that they would have murdered him for wanting to leave? Was it unit loyalty gone insane or were they just . . . insane?

Seriously, that's insane.


Superwarriors are myths.


Yeah. But they make for fun fiction. :)



For what you have in mind almost anything (with a doze of moderation) should work.
Give 3-4 years of bodybuilding, another 2 of sword training and voila, you got yourself a superwarrior.Hmm. Can anyone else chime in on whether this is a reasonable time frame?

And I'm (mostly) not thinking of superwarriors. Just wondering how long it takes to learn these kinds of physical skills to the point of proficiency. I hate it when characters master a skill in a few weeks.

Elhrrah
07-02-2010, 04:48 PM
I'd try asking on the ARMA forums (http://www.thearma.org/forum/index.htm); they'd have the most historically accurate response.

The real benefit that long-term training gives is reflexive action. It's one thing to know technique, but it is something else entirely to be able to use it without thinking, and where that comes into play is when the person is in a less-than-ideal physical/mental state. It's the seasoned soldiers who survive, because they know what to do without having to think about it; they've done it all a hundred times before.

hammerklavier
07-02-2010, 06:07 PM
Super warriors are not a myth, history is full of examples of them. Like Capt. Brian Chontosh, for instance: http://www.snopes.com/politics/military/chontosh.asp

Yes, they can be killed as easily as anyone, but they don't lose their heads in battle and they shoot straight (many soldiers shoot wildly under the influence of fear or adrenaline).

They stick to their training... as was said of the Roman Legions, "they were never so much to be feared as when they had the most to fear."

GeorgeK
07-02-2010, 06:12 PM
Are you seriously saying that they would have murdered him for wanting to leave? Was it unit loyalty gone insane or were they just . . . insane?

Seriously, that's insane.

.

That's what he told me. I got the impression that the unit had gone to the darkside and were getting into warcrimes situations. He only would ever talk about it in the vaguest terms.

JoshEllingson
07-26-2010, 09:53 AM
No real ninja/commandoes ever existed, so there's no realistic data to set a baseline. The closest medieval warfare ever got to commando style units were probably the vikings, and they did that mostly by being the biggest, baddes and most vicious guys around.

Well, you are partly right. the ninja were real, but most of the truth has been lost to the realm of legends. and the vikings were not the bad asses everyone made them out to be. their method of warfare was simple. one row of fighters with 2 or more rows behind that. the first row gets tired, they fall back, the next row replaces them. what made them scary was the 'elite' soldiers, the berserkrs (yes that is the correct spelling): unarmored ax wielding lunatics with no concern for their own safety (or that of others).

as far as time frame for training, it depends on the skill level you are going for. most ancient cultures were handling weapons from very early ages (some, such as the mongols before they even walked).

Xelebes
07-26-2010, 10:08 AM
the berserkrs (yes that is the correct spelling)

The plural is berserkr, not berserkrs. If you want the s, use the English spelling: berserkers.

efreysson
07-27-2010, 02:53 AM
as far as time frame for training, it depends on the skill level you are going for. most ancient cultures were handling weapons from very early ages (some, such as the mongols before they even walked).

Well . . . how does one define skill level? Numbers don't cut it.

Xelebes
07-27-2010, 10:58 AM
Well . . . how does one define skill level? Numbers don't cut it.

Who they are able to defeat.

rosiroo
07-30-2010, 03:25 AM
For example the spartans, renowned mostly for being bred for war and constantly trained to be the perfect warrior in ancient greece, got their asses kicked in a direct confrontation against the thebans, renowned mostly for being gay.

Minor nitpick- the Spartans were gay, too. :) They slept with each other in the army and only regarded male-female sex as for procreation rather than pleasure. In fact on wedding nights the bride had to shave her head and lie in the dark so as not to seem too different to a male partner!
/rant