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The following is said immediately after the protagonist wins without having to fight, as he previously stated he would:

闘わずして勝つってな

I said I'll win without fighting.

I would have expected the English translation to be expressed in Japanese as 「闘わずに勝つってな」or 「闘わないで勝つってな」. In fact, I find the use of する there somewhat confusing. Is する referring to the actions leading up to 勝つ or is it referring to 勝つ itself, or is it simply grammatical and lacks a concrete meaning?

Could someone please explain how 闘わずして勝つってな and 闘わずに勝つってな differ in overall meaning?

Also, if it is simple and for my information, when would you use 戦う rather than 闘う?

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「 Verb in 未然形{みぜんけい} ("Imperfective Form") + ずして

is simply a literary way of saying:

「 Verb in 未然形{みぜんけい} ("Imperfective Form") + ないで or ずに

All of these phrases mean "without (verb)ing"; therefore, 「闘{たたか}わずして勝{か}つ」 means "to win without fighting". 「ず」 means「ない」. You are doing B without first doing A.

「して」 here is a conjunction meaning "and then"; You should not be looking at it as the te-form of 「する」(even though that is where it etymologically comes from).

Believe me, you have already "seen" this 「して」 hundreds of times in the other conjunctions 「そして」 and 「そうして」. Hope things are starting to make sense for you.

Could someone please explain how 闘わずして勝つってな and 闘わずに勝つってな differ in overall meaning?

There is no difference in meaning -- none. As I said above, the former sounds more literary. The latter sounds more vernacular and plain.

Also, if it is simple and for my information, when would you use 戦う rather than 闘う?

Generally speaking, 「戦う」 tends to be used to talk about a physical and/or armed combat. 「闘う」 tends to be used to describe a mental fight as in persevering through difficulties or deseases.

When used in novels and such, however, the author may make the unexpected kanji choice for his own aesthetic reasons.

  • Just to supplement this excellent answer - it's perhaps worth noting that this phrase in particular is much more often seen as 闘わずして勝つ than 闘わずに勝つ because it's something of a well-known set expression (I think it may originate as a quote from Sun Tzu's The Art of War). Indeed, the ってな in the given quote could just as easily indicate "as they say" / "as the saying goes" instead of "I said". – Ben Roffey May 22 '18 at 8:29

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