Girls Who Play With Knives

3 min read

Little girls are not encouraged to carry or play with knives. While our brothers got Swiss Army Knives or Leathermen for their birthdays, we got Barbie Dolls. And those dolls were so encased in plastic that we had to ask our brothers to use their new blades to cut the poor things loose.

Some women, however, have broken the Blade Barrier. These are women who fight with blades, entertain with them, throw, swallow and chop wood with them. These are girls who play in the boys’ yard, compete with them and win.

With that in mind, I present here twenty of the most spectacular Girls Who Play with Knives – in no particular order, and in all their glory.

Baroness Mischa, Sword Swallowing Enchantress

Our first blade-happy babe is Baroness Mischa. This little slip of a girl starts her act by running a wide, flat blade across her tongue and then slowly inserting all three feet – THREE FEET – of it down her throat.

With the blade in her, she then leans over in a stiff, exaggerated bow. She licks the blade, she runs it across her face, she caresses it, and after she pulls it out of her body she gently cups her lips over the sharp tip in a coy pucker. The blade is her lover, and she mesmerizes with it.

Shana Martin, Lumberjill

Move over, Paul Bunyan. Make room for this beautiful blonde girl. Yes, she has abs you can slice cheese on, and shoulders that look like she power-lifts Volkswagens on her lunch hour, but she is not exceptionally big or rough-looking. And she’s a lumberjack.

Shana Martin is a competitive lead in the Lumberjack World Championships, where rolling logs, chopping wood and climbing trees are what it’s all about. Shana is a veteran of several extreme sports and is a fitness model.

Shana began rolling logs at age 7 in her hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. She is former gymnast, a pole vaulter, and holds a black belt in Karate. But Lumberjack sports are her favorite.

I bet when Shana goes out into the backcountry, she carries one of those Bark River Knives with her. You can read more about Shana here.

Babes With Blades, Stage Combatants

Babes with Blades is a theatre production, a show that revolves entirely around beautiful muscular women in a wide variety of costumes, dancing, leaping, and fighting with swords and other weapons. It is a cornucopia of sexual and animal energy.

The women are stunning, their costumes historically correct and the weapons real. They are both talented and frightening at the same time. Babes with Blades is based in Chicago and bills themselves as a “diverse ensemble of artists working together to expand opportunities for women in the world of stage combat. We celebrate the historical role of the woman warrior and her modern evolution.”

Here’s hoping they come to a stage near me, soon. And that the Tony Awards soon includes an award for “Best Actress in a Leading Role With a Knife”.

You can see more of the babes here.

Queen Boudica, Longswordswoman

One of Britain’s most iconic historical figures is Queen Boudica. Boudica was the wife of a “king” (actually an elected chief) of a region in Britain during the years of Roman rule. When the king died, he left his half of his land to Rome and half to his wife and two daughters.

Some legends hold that Boudica had druidic training. Her hair, in most accounts, was fiery red. When Rome decided they wanted all of Boudica’s land, she resisted. To teach her a lesson, the Romans whipped Boudica and raped her daughters. The result was a decade of gruesome warfare with Boudica’s army slaughtering nearly 70,000 people, both Romans and Roman sympathizers.

Boudica and her soldiers fought primarily with long swords. It was the difference between blades that ended Boudica’s bloody rule, as the Romans eventually overcame her army with short swords, javelins, and organized fighting tactics.

Boudica ended her own life with poison. She was deeply mourned and indeed later Queen Victoria considered herself a reincarnation of Boudica.

Ng Mui, Shaolin Master

Move over, David Carradine – make room for Ng Mui, Shaolin Master.

Not only was Ng a master of the Shaolin martial arts, she also mastered Wudang, Wing Chun Kuen, Dragon Style, White Crane, Five-Pattern Hung Kuen and Yuejiaquan martial arts. This woman was someone to be reckoned with!

According to historical records, after the Shaolin temple was destroyed by Qing forces, Ng fled to the White Crane temple where she meet a 15-year-old girl who was trying to escape being forced into marriage. Ng taught this girl a unique distilled method of martial arts that blended several elements and could be learned quickly and applied expediently.

Ng Mui was a pioneer – a woman who invented the martial arts training method of balancing on upturned logs (something we can only see these days in movies starring Jackie Chan).

Ng’s story is fascinating and worth studying. Michelle Yeoh made a movie called “Wing Chun” in which her character’s teacher was based on Ng Mui.

Caroline Haerdi, Knife Thrower

Many professions are male-dominated, but it may surprise you to learn that knife-throwing is one of the most male-dominated professions in the world. This skill is almost exclusively practiced by men.

Caroline Haerdi has broken that mold. She is one of the only female knife-throwers in the world. Caroline is a tall, statuesque Swiss with shiny blonde hair. She often wears ankle-length evening gowns and poses holding handfuls of long, gleaming blades.

In the past she performed with The Risk Ladies, alongside target girl Claude Chantal Blanc. These days, Caroline Haerdi currently has her own show, called Steel and Fire, and she works in partnership with a male thrower named Arno Black. In her show, Caroline is the thrower and Arno the target.

For more on Caroline, see her website.

Joan of Arc, Warrior & Channeler of God

It would be negligent to write an article about women who play with knives and not mention Joan of Arc.

Of course a great deal has been written about Joan. However a common misconception is that she did not actually engage in any fighting. In fact she did — she was active in several battles.

Joan was hit in the neck with an enemy arrow and even took a blow to the helmet by a cannon ball while climbing a flaming ladder, leading her troops on an assault. She was armed and all portraits of her show her with a long sword. Joan was no figurehead — she was a warrior.

Rumiko Hayes, Ninja

Next we take a look at Rumiko Hayes, one of the Kunoichi. The word Kunoichi is represented in kanji for “woman” and for “nine and one”. It is the word for a female ninja.

Ninja are broken into Shinobi, male ninja, and Kunoichi, female ninja. Kunoichi begin their training at a young age. Traditionally, the head Kunoichi would travel around the country finding orphaned girls, then raise them in the ways of the ninja.

The weapons of a Kunoichi are many, and they include beauty, mystique, disguises, the use of poisons, hair pins that are actually needles, knives hidden in a kimono sleeve, and a Kunoichi favorite, the neko-te, also known as the Cat Hand. The Cat Hand was an a set of iron claws, often dipped into poison, attached to leather straps that can then secure the claw to the Kunoichi’s hand.

Rumiko Hayes, one of the most well-known modern-day Kunoichi, holds a black belt in ninjutsu and is the wife of famous martial artists Stephan Hayes.

Mochizuki Chiyome, Ninja

Mochizuki Chiyome is perhaps the most famous Kunoichi of all. She created an all-female Ninja gang in the 16th century.

Mochizuki was the wife of a Samurai warlord who was killed in battle. After her husband died she was left in the care of the Daimyo Takeda Shingen. The Daimyo (Territorial Overlord) tasked Mochizuki with recruiting women and creating an underground network of Kunoichi to be used as subversive agents to move forward the Daimyo’s agenda.

Mochizuki accepted the challenge, setting up her operation in the village of Nazu. She began by recruiting orphans, prostitutes and other marginalized women in the area. She earned a reputation for being a charitable woman who took in misfortunates, but in reality she was creating a small army of killing machines.

Hey Hollywood, are you getting all this?

Laura Flessel-Colovic, Fencing Champ

Not all women who play with swords are killers or even warriors. Laura Flessel-Colovic is the number one all-time Olympic winner of épée fencing.

Laura is a French woman, a wife and a mother. She was on Time’s list of 100 Olympic Athletes to Watch in 2008. At thirty-six years old, Laura has an aggressive fencing style that has earned her the nick-name “Wasp”. A native of Guadeloupe, Laura has won twelve World Championship medals.

Grace O’Malley, Pirate Queen

Grace O’Malley, who had the Irish name Granuaile, was the Pirate Queen of Connacht in Ireland, and was also a well-known and feared sword-fighter.

Grace’s pirating ways started on her father’s ship. Her father, a Clan Chieftan, not only allowed her to sail with his crew, but he let her wear her hair short and help on deck. On one voyage from Spain, returning to Ireland, the ship was attacked by an English vessel.

Grace’s father ordered her below deck, but she defied him and saved his life by leaping onto the back of her father’s attacker. It is said that Grace “invented” the back-leap-attack, but surely that particular technique predates her.

Still, she was a feared swords-woman and legends of her exploits abound.

Edessa Ramos, Arnis Practitioner

Now here’s a lady I would want on my side in a bar fight.

Edessa Ramos is a Filipino Martial Artist, a student and master of Modern Arnis, a form of martial arts that emphasizes the use of blades.

Edessa is a little dark-haired woman with large expressive eyes. She holds a third degree black belt in Modern Arnis and a second degree black belt in Combat Arnis.

The blades that she poses with are about a foot long, wide and flat blades. They look almost as scary as Edessa herself.

The Great Cindini, Knife Thrower & Escape Artist

The Great Cindini is another modern-day blade-lovin’ lady. Born Cynthia Morrison, she performs in her own sideshow “Lethal Injection” at festivals and on-stage.

Cynthia was mentored by knife-throwing legend The Great Throwdini (these folks could seriously spend more time coming up with stage names).

Cynthia was an extra in the movie “Body Heat” from 1981 and has been in other films as well. In 2009 she was featured as the Knife Thrower in the independent film “The Big Top”.

A blonde beauty who likes to dress in pink, Cynthia not only throws knives with the best of them, but she’s a stunt artist who breaks out of jails, performs underwater stunts and has landed on “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.”

You can read more about The Great Cindini here.

Penthesilea, Amazon Queen

Who can think about women with blades without thinking about Amazons? Yes, Wonder Woman recently had a make-over, but her Amazon character still lacks what an Amazon would have certainly carried – a sword.

Amazons were a nation of all-female warriors featured throughout Greek mythology. However, they have a basis in true history. Arguments persist over whether they originated in Asia Minor, Libya, the Steppes or Ukraine. It is unlikely that they lived on an invisible island. Sorry, Wonder Woman.

Roman history records various accounts of Amazon raids in Asia Minor. According to myth and what history has been uncovered, no men were permitted to live in Amazon country, but Amazons would make an effort once or twice annually to mate with men from other areas or men who were taken as slaves.

If the result of that union was a baby girl, she would be raised to hunt and wage war. If the result was a baby boy, he would be given away or left to die in the wilderness. The weapons of the Amazon were bow, spear, and axe. They are almost always portrayed wearing only one earring.

Penthesilea, one of the most celebrated Amazon Queens, fought alongside the Trojans in the Trojan war. She prevailed in that one but eventually was slain by Achilles.

Lisa Lou, Knife Juggler & Thrower

When I think of juggling, I think of balls – maybe oranges and the occasional bowling pin. But knives? That seems unnecessarily dangerous. After all, isn’t juggling hard enough with adding a sharp blade to the mix?

Meet Lisa Lou, who not only juggles knives, she juggles enormous knives while balancing on a loose rope suspended in the air.

Are Lisa’s knives sharp? Does it matter? They’re big, flying through the air and then coming down right toward her head. Somehow Lisa always manages to catch them, which is a good thing.

Of course, women jugglers have juggled knives for years. Luminary performers include Lottie Brunn, Trixie LaRue and Selma Braatz. But Lisa gets bonus points for throwing her knives as well. Wait a minute, is that a Fallkniven A1 I see her juggling? Nah, probably not.

You can find Lisa, and even hire her, here.

Anonymous, Chef

Not all girls who play with knives are legendary or famous. In this video, a young Chinese chef does not even know she’s being taped until she turns to see the camera and bursts out laughing, her cheeks slightly blushed by her embarrassment.

For nearly a full minute she twirls razor-sharp kitchen knives, first one, then the other, then both at the same time, while listening to music on her headphones. She seems almost to fall into a meditative state, entranced by her thoughts and by the spinning silver of the knives.

Captain Kathleen Wilder, Green Beret

Not many people know, or perhaps not many wonder, that there are no female Green Berets. It’s true. However, there has been one – only one – woman who became a Green Beret, although she was never allowed to serve actively as one.

Captain Kathleen Wilder is the United State’s only female Green Beret. Capt Wilder attended and completed Green Beret School in 1981. Among other things, Green Beret school teaches the use of blades of various kinds for defense as well as assault.

GI Jane

Capt Wilder was an intelligence officer assigned to a Special Forces Group in North Carolina. She wanted to become a Green Beret and because there were no specific regulations prohibiting women, she enrolled and attended the course. Unfortunately, she had to sue in court in order to get her certificate of completion.

After the Capt Wilder suit, regulations were put in place to keep women out of the Green Beret program.

Queen Artemisia, Warrior & Blade Expert

We flash back to the past now, with a look at Artemisia, Queen of Halicarnassus in 480BC. Artemisia was an ally of the Persian king Xerxes during his invasion of Greece.

By all accounts Artemisia was a brave warrior who not only launched five ships against Greece from her home state, but also fought in combat and was lauded for “fighting like a man”.

She was also an astute strategist who knew when enough was enough and she later advised Xerxes to leave Greece and return to Asia.

Artemisia’s weapons included short blade, spears, a variety of axes and knives, and always a shield.

Amira Mor, Belly Dancer & Sword Balancer

In the realm of Slightly Weird, we have Amira Mor, a belly dancer who teaches other young women the perfect balance required in the traditional movements of belly dance.

How does she teach this? By balancing razor-sharp scimitars on the girls’ heads. If they drop the sword, not only are they chastised by Amira, the task master, but they risk a nasty cut or worse.

Amira’s videos are compelling in their graceful, beautiful bizarreness. Her pledge is “I am not happy until you feel fabulous!”

She also sells scimitars. Go figure.

Check out Amira’s site here.

Anne Bonny, Pirate

Playing with an épée or a paring knife might seem somewhat genteel, but most women who wield blades are in no way genteel. Anne Bonny, for example, was one of history’s most famous female pirates.

Born the illegitimate daughter of a lawyer and his household maid, Anne had a rough start and life just got rougher. Anne was a fighter from the get-go. At the age of fourteen, she was rumored to have killed another young woman. The same year she beat to near-death a young man who tried to sexually assault her.

At the age of sixteen, she fell in love with a no-good sea captain named James Bonny. She and James moved to Nassau, a veritable pirate’s den, where Anne grew tired of her husband and took up with a wealthy man who, for the first time in her life, showed her a taste of fine living.

When that romance soured, Anne disguised herself as a man and took to the seas. She had a reputation as a vicious fighter, skilled with a cutlass. Anne was legendary for fighting with her men until the fight was over. “Over” as in dead.

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