This is for a story set in a Renaissance-era type society but with improved scientific knowledge from spirits / divination or some such with common elemental magic (Earth, Wind, Fire, Water...) and Alchemy (Chemical Element Transmutation...)

In Counterpart-Europe, how long would it take to train a village girl (around 12 years old), into a swordsgirl good enough to kill a charging boar.

She uses a titanium shortsword and shield... or whatever setup is the best fit for her to fight boars with... No BFS-es here... unless they work somehow?

Assume she learns from her village guards? And she spars against people... unless there's a way for her to spar with animals... I guess a way would be to send her out into the forest with a chaperone that kills the wolf or whatever other animal she's sparring with if she can't handle it?

The kingdom is well patrolled, bandits are really rare if they exist at all...

I guess there's a minimum level of violence for a Renaissance-society... Is there any way that the minimum violence level is at modern levels? If so, then use that...

Clarification of the above idea:


I'm sure someone can summarize that better than me...

If possible, try two cases:

  1. She spends all her time learning swordsgirlship


  1. She has to learn in her spare time, like on only Sundays, or in small sessions, like 2 hours a day... 1 hr/day?, in the morning or at night? Her parents approve.
  • $\begingroup$ From several of the back and forth comments, I have a question I'd like resolved: is the goal to have her be a "swordgirl," which implies some level of skill with the sword, or is the goal to have a woman who can take down a boar with some weapon under controlled circumstances? $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 20:10
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think killing an animal like a boar is at all a good measure of fighting ability, and sword+shield is a poor weapon for that anyway. Also I suspect titanium is a poor material to make a weapon out of - the density is too low, so it's not good for swinging. $\endgroup$
    – Fhnuzoag
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 2:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Malandy you've changed this question in substantial ways. Victorian is rather different than medieval, and when I saw it earlier today it was about boars, not rock golems. I'm going to review these edits and possibly roll back to an earlier version; once a question has answers, it's not really fair to those people to keep changing the question. You are welcome to ask a new question about a different era, of course. Thanks. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 3:07
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    $\begingroup$ quantumchymist.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/… $\endgroup$
    – Fhnuzoag
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 7:56
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    $\begingroup$ 4 hours a day is a long training session for anything. Most people that in fact train martial arts today in a non-professional setup (aka don't make a living ouy of it) train around 6 hours a week. $\endgroup$
    – Mermaker
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 16:24

5 Answers 5


I'm sorry this is such a rant in advance. It's such a broad and complicated topic that the real answer is "anyways between 1 month and 30 years." Given such an unsatisfactory answer, I've tried to pin down a few details which I think help shape that answer into something more usable for your use.

It's hard to pin down a time, because the definitions of "swordsgirl" are so tricky. If you try to train her to be a swordsgirl in general, and are using the ability to stop a charging boar as your benchmark, the answer is longer than if you are training her simply to stop charging boars with a sword.

The latter, interestingly, is more limited by how long it takes to truly understand how a boar thinks than it is limited by the ability to wield a sword.

I would fall on the classic answer of 7 years. It's not very specific, but it's probably a good foundation for your story. There is a strong popular opinion that "mastering" a skill takes 10,000 hours. If you dedicate your life to that skill (40hr. week), but allow some room for family time and vacations, that comes out to taking roughly 7 years to do. It is believed that that 10,000 hours number is related to how the brain adapts and grows, though the actual method is not known to us at this time. It just seems to be remarkably coincidental that so many guilds claim that to be how long it takes to master their skills.

For another point of view which might be helpful, consider the Japanese ranking system which grew popular in the 1600s and remains to this day. They have two types of ranks: dan (which is often translated as "step"), and kyu (which I have trouble finding a translation for, but "grade" is often used). Dan ranks are considered "master" ranks and kyu are considered "student" ranks. The flow is a bit interesting: you start with a high numbered kyu (like 30 kyu). As you get better, you move towards 1 kyu (so your first promotion is to 29kyu, then 28, and so forth). Once you are 1 kyu, you can become a 1 dan, then a 2 dan, and so forth. There is a limit to how far one can go in this way (in Kendo, nobody can proceeed past 8 dan, that's the highest they will measure).

I bring up this unusual grading scheme because their chosen scheme fits rather interesting with the topic you are looking for. 1 Dan is not thought of as a "master" in many arts. They are thought of as "minimally competent of the basics." They'll be allowed to teach and such, but it is assumed they are just starting their "steps" towards mastery.

More pointedly directed at your questions on swordsmanship, many schools of sword-arts in Asia have adopted this scale and have a rule "you never touch a real sword until you are 1 dan." Up until that point, you only use training weapons. In the most traditional Judo, the black belt was seen as the "first step" on your Judo journey, and was actually the first belt you were awarded!

From the same article, a quote which is curiously in range with the 7 year viewpoint:

On their initial interview, Matajuro asked Tsukahara Bokuden, "How long will it take me to master the sword?" Bokuden replied, "Oh, about five years if you train very hard."

"If I train twice as hard, how long will it take?" inquired Matajuro. "In that case, ten years," retorted Bokuden.

However, all of that is with regard to Asian martial arts, which have a general pattern of "train until you are ready." European arts open up a different path, because they're more likely to send someone out to lean quickly in real combat. Fewer years separate starting training and entering the field.

As a result, there is more focus on tactical exchanges in European arts, little logical bits that are easier to fit into a coarse combat. It might only take a year or two to be ready to fight a beast in this way. Much shorter than the Asian approach.

However, there is a sneaky catch: the 7 year rule still holds. When facing a boar, you are facing a wise and powerful adversary. You still need 7 years of training to be able to understand it well enough to not be surprised by the boar (a fatal mistake in many cases). However, European arts can take advantage of society in different ways. A girl in a village assaulted by boars on a regular basis will literally be brought up from a young age to understand how boars think. They may be taught to garden in specific places, and not others. They may be taught how to run away from a boar, or seek high ground. All of these help a child understand the mind of a boar, long before they pick up a sword.

Accordingly, if you want her to become a swordsgirl fast, make sure the rest of the culture is steeped to train her to understand how a boar thinks. Once that is in place, you'll be able to train her faster than otherwise possible.

  • $\begingroup$ Wow... 7 years for mastery... mmm... Bit too long... for what I want... How about Expert, instead of Master? Or even just plain Talented? ... What would be a good benchmark for such achievements? Any quotes on how it takes to get to 1st Dan? $\endgroup$
    – Malady
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 18:36
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    $\begingroup$ Those benchmarks may reflect the needs of the town. A master could do anything; but skill levels below that would focus on one aspect. Someone might focus on the ability to deal with boars on favorable trrain during the night watch (which is tiring). Another may focus on how to use snares to trap them, etc. Its easy to kill an animal when you can put it in a disavantageous position (i.e. traps). Its much harder to be invulnerable to them in all situations because you mastered your art $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Malandy, a person can be taught to swing a sword in seconds. They can be taught to block in hours. Not stabbing themselves is another issue. The problem is definition - does she need to be able to engage an opponent that is aware of her location and intends to kill her? Multiple opponents? How good is good enough? Is this for hunting, or soldiering? These are different skill sets. $\endgroup$
    – user8827
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 18:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Malandy it sounds like something you might see in a Japanese training session or a military boot camp where the goal is to completely break someone so that you can build them up from scratch. Consider, a half-marathon usually takes about an hour, and it is a test of endurance of someone who has trained to do nothing more than put one foot in front of the other without tripping. To take on opponents for an hour like that, you have to be MUCH better than your opponents because can't even begin to exert yourself aginst them. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Malandy : Consider Karate Kid. If Fate is interceding, she could keep getting all sorts of inadvertent training throughout her life. e.g. She has to butcher some pigs for some reason, and so learns to wield a knife and some basic anatomy. Her little brother breaks his arm in front of her teaching her how to snap an arm that way in the process. Worried that she'll never marry, her mother teaches her to dance, improving her footwork. Somebody discusses tactics around her. The specific events wouldn't have to repeat, though the lessons often should. $\endgroup$
    – The Nate
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 9:20

From all accounts (I have not tried it myself, you understand) no one is going to kill a charging boar with a sword, nor have much chance of surviving. The boar will run right up the sword and take you down before it dies. That's why boar spears have crosspieces: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boar_spear

  • $\begingroup$ The most recent dept. ag. brochure on slaughtering pigs tones down the warnings compared to the one that raised my eyebrows. Now it words things far more like missing is simply undesirable because it might not stun the pig. The older one had an extra warning at that phase: "Place the barrel between the eyes and pull the trigger. It should drop immediately. If it does not, leave the enclosure..." and went on to explain that angry swine are extremely dangerous. (If I can find it---sadly, I doubt it; been decades---I'll try to post a scan of the old one.) $\endgroup$
    – The Nate
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 5:06

I'd like to come at this from a different angle, but it's not going to make you happy. We'll assume that our girl is freakishly big and strong, even as a child.

1) In a medieval village, at age 12 she's a full-time worker. She doesn't have 4 hours a day, let alone full time, to mess around with weapons. Unless, maybe, you can get her some sort of religious dispensation - the local warrior priest has a vision, for instance.

2) In spending this amount of time training with weapons, she's knocking herself out of the marriage market. Medieval husbands simply have no need for swordgirl wives. Running a household is a full-time job, and being pregnant/nursing is going to put a major crimp in her training. So why in the world would her parents approve? She and her siblings (if she has any) are the ones who will take care of them in their old age. There's no Social Security, you know. Not only that, because she's freakishly big and strong her parents are not going to want her to waste time being unproductive.

3) I notice you've changed the target challenge from wolves to boars. And you're not getting much support for that, either. Well, there's a reason for that. Swords are for killing people. They, basically, suck as hunting weapons. So if you want your story to make internal sense, you're going to have to figure out a way for her to go after people. Not only that, if she's going after people she's either going to have to learn sword and shield work or figure out how to avoid those patrollers who keep down the bandits. Certainly they're not dumb enough to fight without shields. She's also going to have to figure out how to get hold of some armor, and armor was expensive back then.

  • $\begingroup$ Oh man! Now I see what people meant when they had people that said a good answer, but not for the question that they asked! Gonna see what they said to do on Meta... $\endgroup$
    – Malady
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Malandy, the question itself was a little broad. You have a vision of the character that may need a little more hand waving than you would like, and we're just helping you isolate problems. How old did your character need to be to make it all come together, as you see it now? $\endgroup$
    – user8827
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 20:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Malandy - Well, I said you wouldn't like it.;) The thing is, medieval villages weren't suburbia with tunics but no TV or internet. Equal rights for women was not only far in the future, the whole idea would have been sacriligeous - and they took religion very seriously indeed. And your claim that "there's a minimum level of violence for a Renaissance-society" is really not terribly restrictive. By modern standards, Renaissance societies were snake pits. Everybody went armed, and it wasn't just a fashion statement. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ @WhatRoughBeast - Mmm.... well, they have Phonographs that are old enough to be called Antique and Printing Presses such that a medium-sized town/city can have guidebooks for tourists... but no cars... I really need to change the era to match that... it should be Victorian? ... Were there only a few bandits in the Renaissance? When did banditry become a rare profession and why? ... Maybe I need to listen to Pinker again... $\endgroup$
    – Malady
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ Oh boy, that's a few questions. Banditry. Renaissance was ~1300 to ~1700 AD. Italy during the first half was infested by condottieri companies that were often indistinguishable from bandits. Banditry flourishes under lawless conditions. Strong central governments suppress bandits (a cynical view: governments don't like competition), Short form answer: banditry pretty much withered away by the end of the Renaissance as city-states consolidated into nation-states, the number of border wars declined, and the national governments began effective rule. No lawless areas, no bandits... $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 3:01

You are coming at this from the wrong angle. Hog hunting with knives is a thing. So it doesn't require really much training at all beyond some basic competence with a knife, knowledge of hog anatomy, and some practice. Could probably be learned in a month or less.

The real problem is physical. A 12 year old village girl is gonna be need to be a burly heavy set girl to have a realistic chance of grappling a boar long enough to get in a fatal stroke. But it can be done by an 8 year old boy youtube video so it certainly isn't impossible given the correct circumstances. Is this a wild boar that has already been chased and pinned by dogs (otherwise it is unlikely a human could even catch it in the wild) or is this some sort of arena fight with a boar specifically raised to fight humans in some way? The former greatly favors a human with a little skill and lots of gumption, the latter is more like a bull fight, which is largely skill. There are child matadors who can kill full sized bulls in their teens after a few years of training.

Combat sword fighting and animal hunting have very little to do with each other beyond a basic level of physical fitness and a similar core natural aptitude set (speed, reflexes, etc). Without an understanding of boar anatomy and their basic movements it is highly unlikely that even a master swordsman can safely kill one. But he could probably learn to do so in just a few weeks or even after watching a few fights. But a total novice would only need a few months of training to take a boar down provided he had the physical capability necessary and the right tools.

  • $\begingroup$ So, basically, I need a better way to define how good my swordsgirl is. What do you suggest? $\endgroup$
    – Malady
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Malandy if she is a swordswoman, seems easy enough to have her duel someone. Blunt edge, to first blood, etc, lots of ways to prove your worth with a sword. Now if she kills a boar to save someone else, someone famous or important, that might be a different matter... $\endgroup$
    – Jason K
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 13:30

Finally an easy question. There is nothing that makes impossible a village girl to be a swordsgirl. Is she health? Has all the limbs? Can walk without fall face down to the ground?

What she need is an instructor! And time! A specially designed sword could help because a girl need a killer but lighter sword.

All I have read in old cloak and sword books point to anything around two years.

This good movie is an example. It is based upon a novel by Rafael Sabatini:


But what she could need more is training. Without training with different partners from time to time she could loose all the vital sword skills she has.

improved scientific knowledge from spirits / divination or some such with common elemental magic (Earth, Wind, Fire, Water...) and Alchemy (Chemical Element Transmutation...)

Do you know the "improved scientific knowledge" part of the above text have destructed any sense of logic?

It is magic or it is science, not the two.


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