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I’m writing a story where a 16 year old female assassin beats (not kills) a 43 year old man in a fight. How do I make that seem believable without invoking magical powers or seriously nerfing the man’s strength?

Asked by BB8ISGREATMATE (35points) August 9th, 2022

This is a question centered around a pseudo-realistic fantasy novel I’m currently working on.

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19 Answers

canidmajor's avatar

She has technique and training, he doesn’t see a 16 year old as a threat. Really, it’s not so far fetched.

ragingloli's avatar

I would suggest a paralytic or sedative poison, and then just play for time, keeping distance, until it takes effect.

gorillapaws's avatar

If she has the element of surprise, then there are certainly believable scenarios where a young woman could defeat a much older man in a fight. If she uses poison as @ragingloli suggested, or something disabling like pepper spray, tear gas, a strong blow to the head causing a concussion and confusion—possibly even vomiting. Attacking a different vital point from surprise, like the throat, or testicles (if you’re willing to go there) would also be believable. Taking advantage of technology or some kind of mechanical advantage (like a simple lever to crush their hand or something).

The 16-year-old being a trained assassin is the part that stretches believability. Who is training young girls to kill people? Why so young and not older? Would a girl that age be mentally equipped to deal with taking life as a career? It feels very cartoonish. That’s the bigger verisimilitude issue that I would work hard to address.

Caravanfan's avatar

I’m with @ragingloli. Have the poison hidden in a needle in, say, a fake ball point pen.

@gorillapaws Watch Hanna starring Saoirse Ronan (not the excreble Amazon series) and you can see how a 16 year old can be trained as an assassin.

Zaku's avatar

If she’s an assassin, she’s probably not going to fight him face to face, or at least not with any warning, and she’ll probably use something effective such as poison and/or a very sharp blade to someplace like the carotid artery.

Or, in a kitchen, a large pan full of boiling liquid, followed by a cleaver and/or knife while he’s writhing in agony.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Caravanfan I’ll check it out.

I’m not saying it’s impossible for a young girl to be a trained assassin—just one that requires a lot of thinking to get right and feel believable.

ragingloli's avatar

She could use the element of surprise. Some well aimed darts into his eyes to blind him, severing the tendons just above the heels to make his legs collapse, stabing his ears to destroy his ear drums to deafen him, (and if the ears fill up with blood, cause vertigo). and a classic chop to the throat to choke him.
But again, this should be all done as a surprise attack, because if you are small and weak, relative to your opponent, regardless of gender, you do not want to get into an open fight with them.
And it fits with being an assassin.

elbanditoroso's avatar

KIck him in the scrotum.

kritiper's avatar

Finding some object, like a short piece of pipe.

LostInParadise's avatar

It seems to me it would be sufficient to have the 16-year old trained in martial arts. It does not seem that unlikely that she could have trained in karate or judo for the last three years. With an added element of surprise, I don’t see why she couldn’t get the best of a 43 year old man in a fight.

Caravanfan's avatar

@ragingloli I would go for an “accidental” drop in front of him in the airport. When he bends to help pick up the dropped item she helps him and jabs him with the needle and then moves on. The poison takes a few moments to work and by that time she will be safely away and can observe from a distance.


She was trained by her father to kill the current greedy king of one of the nations in my world. The brother is super jealous of the fact that he wasn’t made king despite being born only a few seconds after him and he has indoctrinated his only daughter (who’s mother died during the birthing process) into believing that his death would birth a new age of peace and harmony for the kingdom. She started her training at the age of 5, has only had like 30 days worth of time off for 11 years (and almost all of that time was spent eating her 3 daily meals) and if she fails to kill the king in the middle of the night, it’s of no consequence to her father since he’ll be out of the kingdom during that time.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
filmfann's avatar

Lye in a squirt gun.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

I think we need more details about her opponent. Is he an ordinary 43 year old man, or does he also have some sort of special training? An ordinary man is probably nothing special against a highly trained 16 year old. And even if he does have special training, a 43 year old man in a pseudo-realistic setting could still have back problems, knee problems, shoulder problems, etc. Bodies just don’t hold up that well over time, and it could be even worse if he’s been overworking himself.

I went to college with a woman who was attacked by an older man when she was in high school. She was 17, and he was in his 30s. One kick to the knee had him on the ground. He wasn’t in great shape from what I know, but she wasn’t an expert fighter either. I’m sure there was also some luck involved, but there always is in a fight. There’s actually a term for this in boxing: the “puncher’s chance.” It refers to the possibility of a fighter who is completely outclassed to still win the match by landing one or two really good hits.

WhyNow's avatar

So we know she must not take a hit. Training or not. She will need some armor,
forearm guards at least. You will have to do some research, I would start with
Krav Maga. Not a sport, but a way to show her how to move. One of three disciplines
of Krav Maga you must learn about is ‘reach.’ This why you would spend years of
training, the Romans knew it.

So… she could stay just out of his reach and still administer a punishment!
Let the fun begin.

Strauss's avatar

There are numerous tales of children being trained as assassins. The one that comes to mind most immediately is DC Comics’ _League of Assassins-(sometimes%20renamed,books%20published%20by%20DC%20Comics. I’m sure there are other examples, especially in the realm of Sci-fi/fantasy. I think the idea of a strong young (teenage) female protagonist is spot on and very marketable.

Also, her father’s training would, I think, have to have been very disciplined.

Entropy's avatar

A woman CAN beat a man if she has a substantial enough skill/experience advantage. There was a MMA fight awhile back where a very prominent woman MMA fighter fought a male MMA fighter who was…not bad, but more of a regional big deal than a worldwide big-deal. The male was small by male standards, but still larger than the woman. He had a size and reach advantage, but not a huge one. She was one of the best female MMA fighters.

He kicked her a—.

But could she have beaten a ‘regular joe’? Or a BAD MMA fighter? YES! The disadvantages a woman has in these situations are real, but they’re not infinite. You could have your female character surprise the man and injure him right at the start enough that it evens the odds. Or maybe the gap in skill is THAT large. Maybe the man has a pre-existing injury?

Or maybe he underestimates her. This is a very real thing, men underestimating women is definitely a thing that happens. This would allow her to strike a vital area (avoid kick to the groin…too cliche) to even the odds. Perhaps she’s well armed, and he’s not? There are ways to make this work.

Now all of that is if you’re trying to make it a RELATIVELY fair fight. If it’s not…I mean, anyone can slice a carotid artery if they know where to cut. Put a blade through a lung and collapse it…that person’s not going to fight well afterwards. Cut an achilles tendon?

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