Fight Write: Watch the Whole Body

The way a trained combatant watches someone, whether it’s a potential attacker or just a friend at the bar is different from how an untrained person does. This is to be expected, when the writer is a practitioner who knows what they’re doing. But I’ve seen it skipped over often by other writers. I do understand why, of course, this is actually a very difficult thing to do if you haven’t been trained to do it, told what to look for, or spent a significant amount of time in the sparring arena. So, let’s talk about a trained fighter’s ability to track movement, tells the body exhibits before a strike, and what your character will notice before they’re even in the thick of it.

Watch the Chest: You can see the muscles moving in the chest, beneath even a heavy coat, before they ever reach the shoulders or the arms. It’s a much better method of identifying which hand the attacker is going to lead with than just watching their hands or their shoulders. The muscles in the chest provide a clear view of the torso, straight down to the hips, which is where the lead in for a kick always begins. When you know what they’re going to do, it becomes easy to avoid it. Over time, a character will check for this automatically without even thinking about it.

Watch the Eyes: The eyes telegraph, they telegraph a lot about what a person is thinking or feeling before they even begin to think about attacking. You’ll see a lot of trained fighters scanning an area as they walk to the car or enter into a busy bar, getting a layout of their surroundings, and checking out and noting each of the faces, how long they hold their gaze, etc. Humans are also animals and what the eyes say about dominance and submission will often tell a lot about the way an individual will react. Staring into someone else’s eyes for a length of time can be a sign of dominance, dropping your gaze quickly can be a sign of submission. Staring into someone else’s eyes for any length of time during a fight can have a somewhat hypnotic, uncomfortable effect on the opposing individual.

In a fight, the eyes often drop to the strike zone the attacker is intending to hit. This can be faked of course, but that’s unusual. The split second where someone is trying to remember where they put their weapon, be it on their belt is an opening. If they aren’t watching you, this gives you an opening to attack. I was once told by a woman, who heard it from a cop, that there’s a disturbing trend among young women who consider it rude to say no when someone asks them the time. Stop and think about this:

A man comes up and asks “Excuse me, do you know what time it is?”, the woman like so many now a days, doesn’t wear a watch and her phone is in her purse. She says, “sure, just one second” and reaches into her purse or pocket to get her phone, her eyes leave the man, he clocks her over the head and drags her off into the bushes.

It can happen that fast.

Wide Peripheral Vision: Martial artists have a habit of having very wide peripheral vision, this is also true of soldiers. They are trained that way and are used to blocking strikes that come from outside their field of vision.

Training Means You React Faster: Someone who is trained will react faster than someone who is not, they will react along the lines of how they’ve been trained. They see the shoulder in the beginnings of a punch, they will react with a block, the vector of the strike and their training will determine what kind of block it is. After the block, there will be some sort of counter.

We’re talking the time it takes for your brain to realize something is wrong, that information to reach your hand or leg and for the muscles to react. For a trained combatant this will be a matter of .5 seconds as opposed to a full 2 to 5 seconds. It’s important to note that some variations of Martial Arts training like Krav Maga specifically work to bring the speed of reaction down to around .25 seconds through drills and widening the student’s field of peripheral vision.

So, how does this translate into your writing?

When your character is out and about, even if they’re filled with concerns about their own life or in the midst of an intense conversation, throw in a sentence about what they notice in the world around them. They may not even really notice that they’re doing it, but for the audience it will be a tell.

It’ll go something like: ‘Thought’, the guy over there has his hands on his hips, could be a knife. ‘Thought’, the girl he’s with is too invested in her book to notice. ‘Self-absorbed thought’, rain on the ground makes it muddy, finding my footing will be difficult, should I go over there? ‘And so on.’

Description + choice= action. Always remember that when a character takes action, they are also taking the responsibility for that action onto themselves.

Before the first punch or kick is even thrown, have them notice the movement in the chest and torso, notice where another character’s eyes are looking, or even just have them be aware of the posture of the other character’s in the room. This doesn’t require lengthy description of every little detail, just a throwaway line about how someone else is standing, where their feet are, where the weapon is, and where their hands are in position to their face and to the character before the fight happens. You can bury it in a paragraph way on top of the page or on a different page in the buildup. When a fight starts, it should be immediate.

Example:

His chest and shoulder pulled back. Then, he swung. But Alice’s left hand was already moving as she caught his roundhouse with her wrist and drove her right fist into his throat.

-Michi

What do you know about people being knocked out? How much force, how much damage, how quick can you recover?

Being knocked out is by definition brain damage, it’s a concussion serious enough to have caused the brain to essentially take a vacation. I think the limit is about two minutes for a head strike, if your character is down longer than that, then they’re dead.

The best part is that this doesn’t actually require a lot of force. The brain is basically four pounds of warm butter suspended in fluid, it doesn’t take much knocking about before it decides it wants to be elsewhere.

This is why even high school level football claims casualties from time to time and that’s with protective gear.

-Starke

Surprise and mental state would also be important to consider in a trained vs untrained fight. The even an untrained fighter could do a lot of damage with a sucker-punch. An untrained fighter might also do something that a trained fighter wouldn’t expect or be able to defend against. Someone under the influence of drugs or otherwise compromised by rage or other emotions might also be able to shrug off enough damage to severely injure a trained fighter.

Starke:

Surprise is absolutely critical; the rest, not so much.

Here’s the thing, if your untrained combatant is the aggressor, then they’ll need to hit the trained martial artist with overwhelming force before the martial artist can respond. Full stop.

The “before the martial artist can respond” part, is where we get into the surprise range. If your untrained combatant can’t end the fight with the first strike, then the situation will go badly for them.

I should probably point out, what I’m calling a “martial artist” here is ridiculously broad. This isn’t just formal schools, I’m lumping in just about anyone who’s undergone basic hand to hand training here.

When I’m saying “untrained”, I’m actually excluding street fighters, and people who have a fair amount of hand to hand experience but little formal training. They’re an edge case that doesn’t follow the rules consistently.

Untrained combatants tend to fight very predictably, and any martial artist who’s gone through even basic self defense, will have been taught to counter most of an untrained fighter’s repertoire.

An untrained fighter can’t do a lot of damage with a sucker punch. Certainly not enough to incapacitate a trained combatant. The opposite is not true, a trained martial artist, particularly from Karate, can use a sucker punch as a takedown strike against someone who hasn’t been conditioned to tense their abdominal muscles before a hit.

Getting a combatant angry can have one of two results, and again, we’re back to the trained/untrained thing. An untrained combatant will start to lose control (usually) when angry (making them less dangerous). A trained combatant will usually get more brutal.

Here’s a thing worth pointing out, most conventional self defense, and even a lot of non-military training, like police hand to hand, places a premium on the safety of both combatants. Angering a combatant trained in any of these forms (and this includes most martial artists trained as recreation, who’ve had some self defense classes splashed over their training), will at best cause them to start striking more brutally, and with less concern for their opponent’s well-being.

When you’re talking about drugs, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you mean things like PCP, not, say, mescaline. Because if your untrained combatant is tripping balls… it’s funny, but they’re not really that dangerous to a trained combatant.

Things like PCP, where pain response is deadened, and even some fugue rage state change the rules a little, but not enough. Your untrained combatant is going to be sacrificing efficacy for a little more durability… but, here’s the thing, it won’t really help them.

Depending on what your martial artist has been trained in, someone under the influence of PCP can be a legitimate threat. Akido, Judo, and Jujitsu, fighters wouldn’t face any real threat from someone on PCP, while someone trained in Karate (because of the way it’s joint locks work) could be in serious trouble.

Most trained fighters, when confronted with someone on PCP should know enough to break away and get out of the fight. And that actually goes for some circumstances that could apply elsewhere. I was being snarky earlier, but a martial artist, when presented with a firearm, should know enough to get the hell out of there before they get shot.

Michi:

You’ll have a great deal of trouble taking a trained combatant by surprise from a face to face assault, especially if you attempt to sucker-punch to the face or even just the stomach or the groin. This is because they’re eyes and body have already been trained to watch for strikes, they’ll see the motion beginning in someone else’s body and sucker-punches are heavily telegraphed.

If you do connect, they better go down on the first blow. This is hard, especially since for most martial artists and trained combatants the first strike acts more like a wake-up call and their brain and body go: “oh! okay! I’m here!” If you can get them with a knife before they know what’s happening great, the same goes for a taser or a cattle prod.

If they’re the aggressor, then they already have an objective, they already know what they’re going after, and without help, your character won’t be able to regain control of the fight.

For a trained combatant, surprise and anger just trip the brain over into a more focused place. They feel the rush of the adrenaline and they settle, the world becomes clearer, then they act. They’ll do this in any panicked situation. This isn’t true for untrained combatants, they tend to lock up in a fear response, anger makes them lose control and they become less dangerous.

You might be able to get a trained combatant from behind, but even this is hard. Martial artists tend to be very aware of anyone entering their personal space, even from behind. I once had a moment with my now ex-boyfriend in high school where he came in for a hug from behind and he surprised me, so I elbowed him in the gut. It was an automatic response. He hadn’t even touched me yet, but it happened anyway.

A combatant has been trained for their body to respond automatically, they train against other people who have also been trained, and I’ll be honest, watching an untrained combatant is like looking at someone fighting in slow-motion. It’s a strange, surreal experience for me.

It’s also important to point out that most of the aggressive “jock” responses you get from untrained male combatants, aren’t what you get from trained ones. The over-aggression comes from insecurity, like any bully, but usually a martial artist knows what they are doing, how to do it, and are confident and secure in their ability to protect themselves. They don’t need to prove their mettle in a fight because they’ve already proven it to themselves.

This is an important tell, by the way, in a character noticing the difference between someone who knows what they are doing and someone who doesn’t.

I think we’ve covered the bases here. I hope that answers the question.

when would the person who isn’t a trained fighter win against a trained one?

Shotgun. When they bring eight or nine of their friends along to help. When they start by running somebody down with a car. The action needs to be premeditated for them to carry it off successfully. If they are within grabbing distance and they don’t have the advantage of some kind of weapon (a gun), they’re pretty screwed. It’s important to remember that while most trained combatants can stop a crowbar and they can definitely stop a baseball bat (weight distribution on the baseball bat makes it very easy to block), they’ll have a hard time stopping a bullet. This is actually part of the reason why some self-defense experts suggest keeping a gun in the home in the case of home invasion.

Anyway the break down is: numbers and superior force (gun or car or something similar). In the case of a medieval era, a horse will work if your character knows how to ride.

-Starke

Fight Write: Some Thoughts on Height and Weight

“She’s taller than me, heavier too. She’s got the height and weight advantage.”

This sounds good, doesn’t it? It sounds right and reasonable, like the character knows what they’re talking about. Except, they don’t. Assume for a second that the character who says this is maybe five foot six and the girl who says this is maybe five foot two, and that seems like a big difference. It certainly is visually, but the two have a difference of maybe twenty to forty pounds between them. That’s not actually a lot, even if one was to knock the other over. So, when does weight matter? When is height important? The answer is not often and not a lot, depending on training. An untrained fighter is mostly at the mercy of their opponent’s brute strength, so height and weight start to become very important. But what about for the trained fighter? The approach varies, depending on the style and the size of fighter.

With the exception of a few, pertinent points, height and weight actually matter a lot less than you might think they do. So, let’s talk about the advantages and the disadvantages of these two. Maybe, we’ll even debunk a few preconceptions along the way.

Small versus Tall:

It’s important to say when I talk about height and “short” on this blog, that we say short as the descriptor for anyone under 5”10 or around 6”. This may sound strange for some of you, because that relegates most women to the position of “short” even when they’ve been considered “tall” their whole lives. I could say this has to do with a median of male heights and most fighters in America being around six feet, but the truth is it has nothing to do with a person’s actual height at all. The difference is a mental one and small versus tall is reoriented into “advantaged” versus “disadvantaged” fighters. This is where the male versus female outlooks become relevant. Male versus female is not so much a difference in body type as much as a difference in how they see the world around them and shift their combat style accordingly. Tall, male versus short, female is usually how many martial artists break it down. However, because these are learned skills that doesn’t mean that the outlook cannot be adopted by a student of either gender, regardless of how physically tall or short they are.

This is where things get complicated. Most of the common wisdom about fighting that gets spread in society has zero basis in reality, the mind, how it sees the world, and what it’s been prepared for is actually much more important than a character’s physiology or their body type.

Remember, like any weapon, it’s the mind that wields the body, not the other way around. How someone sees themselves is more relevant to how they fight than what shape their body is.

There are only two questions you should really ask when your character is facing a taller or shorter opponent (someone who is taller or shorter than they are): what has my character been trained to do? Have they been trained to deal with opponents who are taller or shorter than themselves?

Most fighters who have trained to think of themselves as “tall” will discount a shorter opponent if they have no experience fighting them. A character with a “short” outlook will tend not to discount anyone on the basis that they’re used to being the smallest, weakest thing in the room and they have to fight harder to prove themselves.

On the physical side:

A character who is lower to the ground will have a lower center of gravity, this means that they won’t have to bend their legs as far to reach a stable stance to keep themselves from being knocked over. This also means that when dealing with a heavier opponent (while standing), they have more time to adjust for the weight before they drop so low that their knees can’t support them anymore. They will also have a better sense of balance, if they’ve been trained for that.

On the whole when we’re talking about women (in the physical sense only), the female body is more compact than the male one. Everything is just a little tighter and more evenly proportioned. This doesn’t mean women can’t be lanky, but they are usually less so than men. This affects their sense of balance and their ability to adjust under the weight of a heavier opponent, it’s true that a woman usually will be unable to develop the brawn of a man but they counter that by having better coordination and control overall.

Weight:

There’s some confusion about weight and fighting, for this I blame Hollywood and our “health” culture. It’s important to keep in mind that being on the heavier side, particularly for women, isn’t necessarily a sign of being unhealthy. On average, most fighters are ten to twenty pounds heavier than someone who works out primarily as a weight loss system. It’s rare to find a female fighter who is under 125 pounds. Even the thinnest female fighters have a habit of averaging out to about 130 to 145, even up to 150-160, without any significant difference in what they look like visually, this is because muscles are heavy. In fact, they are much heavier than fat, though they take up less space.

Then, some people are just built more heavily than others and no matter what they do, will just be heavy. If combat was something only skinny people could do, the world would probably have been at peace a long time ago and the Viking tribes of Northern Europe wouldn’t have conquered half the globe. Sometimes, weight just happens as we get older. So, it’s important to remember that muscle can be built up underneath fat, it can exist under fat, and if the person in question (male or female) is heavier than others in the class this isn’t an immediate detriment to their speed, flexibility, or power. It can be if they don’t have the muscles to support their body or if they’ve just started building those muscles.

I doubt anyone in their right mind would tell me that Sammo Hung, an old friend of Jackie Chan cannot fight.

Heavy Fighters: It’s important to remember that though heavier or even overweight fighters are not necessarily impeded by their weight, that there are some things they have to adjust for. But they have their own advantages too.

Balance: a heavier fighter is carrying around more mass than a light weight one, that’s not necessarily more power that they can generate, but they can build up more momentum once they get going. Again, strength in combat is related to speed more than physical strength. A heavier fighter can be like a freight train and you don’t want to be in their way once they start moving. Still, as in physics: the faster you go, the harder it is to stop. If a heavier fighter misses, it’s going to be slightly more difficult for them to readjust and reorient, so they have to moderate their speed. A heavier fighter’s kicks will still be very effective, but they may find their mass getting in the way if they try to kick above the waist. More weight also means more strain on the knees, so a heavy fighter will have to spend a lot of time learning to adjust their stances and footwork to compensate for their bulk. But the differences between “thin” versus “fat” fighting styles are so minimal that I usually forget to mention them. This isn’t to be exclusionary, it’s more that on a basic level it doesn’t matter and when it does, the positives outweigh the negatives.

Natural Armor: Fat provides the body with natural armor. It covers the muscles and provides some small measure of padding for the fall. Armies don’t want their soldiers weighing in at 300 pounds, but martial artists aren’t normally army. Fat also has a nice side effect of covering up the body’s pressure points and keeping them from being visible. On a physical level women have a natural coat of fat that covers the muscles and keeps the definition from showing (except in certain circumstances of muscle development), this is why it’s difficult for women to learn pressure points when they practice with each other. An overly muscled individual provides nice targets on their arms, chest, and legs.

When fat absorbs some the impact, it can be more difficult to damage a heavy opponent.

On the Ground: On soft areas like in muddy rivers or on the ground weight is king, especially if the fighter is used to adjusting for their weight. When lying flat on the ground or even just kneeling, the natural advantages of a shorter fighter are nullified. This is because it’s harder to adjust for the weight of a heavier person without the use of your legs, relying only on your arms, hips, and your ability to disrupt their position. Fighting is hard for women on the ground, because against men, they are usually dealing with an opponent who has at least forty pounds on them, while this difference is negligible while standing, the ground is an entirely different story. Greater weight + gravity = killer.

When Does Weight Matter? From the standing position it only starts to really matter when you’re facing an opponent that has between eighty to hundred pounds on your character. This isn’t a killing blow, it’s just important to note, especially if they get themselves into a situation where they are putting all their weight on top of the smaller person. You can adjust to handle the weight, of course, but there’s always the possibility that they will sink down far enough that your character’s knees will bend too far. The added momentum only helps them if your character is unable to block or they connect solidly, but it’s not going to be that much worse than if they were hit by someone of equal size and weight.

It’s also important to remember that even a tall, heavy character with a good stance can be difficult to bring down if your characters try to fight them like they would anyone else. The answer? Don’t fight them like you would anyone else. Start low and work your way up.

The exception to this rule, of course, is street fighting. Street fighters don’t really know what they are doing and so the weight and size of another fighter really start to matter there. All this advice is for a character who already knows how to fight.

Greater Reach:

I’ll be honest, greater reach only really matters in two places: when you’re on the defensive and when you’re working with a longarm such as a staff or a sword. The theory for greater reach is this: it will be harder for your opponent to hit you, while it’s easier for you to hit them because you don’t have as far to go.

This isn’t going to matter when there’s only a difference of a few inches. This isn’t even really going to matter if the smaller individual has been trained to fight against larger opponents. And it’s really, really, not going to matter if it’s just hand to hand with no kicks involved. The reason is that legs are longer than the arms and kicking involves leaning backwards instead of forwards with the punch.

The only time in my life I ever remember being really frustrated with a height difference was when I was five or six years old as a yellow belt out on my first sparring experience against our much taller second-degree black belt African-American Instructor, Alan. Alan was in his early twenties, well over six feet, and had very, very long legs. I was four foot nothing and my tiny legs could not reach him, while his were excellent at hitting me. It was very frustrating, especially since I had no clue what I was doing. (He did let me hit him a few times, but my little legs could only reach mid-way up his thigh.)

Speed is actually much more important than reach, being able to get in and out fast while taking minimal damage is when things start getting impressive. Outside of that, it’s not really a big deal.

Professional Fighting:

This is where you really hear the terms height and weight bandied about and they say it exactly like that, on repeat, over and over. Why? It sounds good. An announcer’s job is to drum up the excitement of the crowd, to get people yelling, to get them betting. The height and weight advantage can create a very clear picture in the eyes of the audience for who has the longest odds (if that’s the case). The goal is to convince the audience and the compulsive gamblers to bet on the loser, creating the ideal of the tough, scrappy underdog that people want to succeed. Not because they will, no, in the eyes of the tournament, they don’t have a chance. But they will have succeeded in taking the audience’s money by convincing them that the longshot might very well just be a sure thing. Or, alternately, it makes for a good show. Remember, professional fighting is as much about showmanship as it is about sportsmanship.

MMA fighters, boxers, and kickboxers are all broken up into separate class distribution based on weight. With these guys, we’re talking a difference of five to forty pounds (maybe, but usually not). That’s not actually a very big difference.

-Michi

i literally love your blog and your posts because they’re so detailed~! and esp the ones regarding female fighters. coming from a bit of martial arts background myself, and being a girl, i fully appreciate everything you’re saying because i’ve felt/encountered a lot of it, i and hope more people pay attention to those points you’ve made! so, yeah, all in all, this is fabulous, and i’m definitely going to reblog a lot.

Thank you so much!

I spend a lot of time having to work back from what was normal for me growing up and what isn’t common knowledge for most people. Then, it has to get translated into an explanation that’s easy for someone without the background to understand. I’ll be honest, until we did the street fighting post, I had no idea what an untrained fighter looked like. For my entire MA experience, I’ve always been surrounded by people who knew what they’re doing. Starke’s helpful for that though, he’s spent a lot of time around people who don’t. We had several long conversations that involved me going “people really do that? Why? …wow…that’s embarrassing…”. And then I had to go to YouTube to look at the homemade street fighting videos and I was all…WTF is that?

So, I’m glad the stuff we’re putting up is helping. Us female martial artists have to stick together!

-Michi

Fight Write: “Learn To Fight Like A Woman”

When most martial artists utter this phrase, they don’t mean it as an insult. That may surprise some of you, but in most of the martial arts community (at least, the part of it I grew up in) women are actually well-respected. A smart male martial artist knows that women martial artists bring a different perspective to the table and that it’s one that cannot be discounted. Some of this is what I came up with while working on a post talking about height and weight, but since I might not be able to get that up today, I thought I’d leave you with this.

I’m going to break this down into two aspects: mental and physical. The mental aspects work across the board, some may see the physical part as exclusionary. But when talking about martial arts, we have to discuss both the body and the mind in equal measure. The body cannot function without the mind and the mind cannot fight without the body, both are important. This is going to be general information, this is because fighting is subjective based on the individual practitioner. Everyone fights differently and how they fight has more to do with who their instructor was, what they were trained to do, and how they see the world around them than it does with gender or body type. Your character will learn to make use of what they have, because they won’t really have the option of anything else.

Mental:

It’s important to note that many smaller male martial artists I’ve known have talked about the advantages of having a female instructor. This is because women, on the whole, learn to fight from a disadvantaged position. The vast majority of women will almost always be faced with a larger, usually male, attacker and they have trained themselves to fight with that knowledge. So, they’ve learned to make use of what they have. This begins with the way they see the world.

It’s important to remember that when I say “larger attacker” we’re usually talking about a difference between eighty to a hundred pounds and a height difference of several inches. From a mental standpoint, facing someone larger and taller than yourself can be intimidating. It’s easy to become afraid and petrified by that fear. “He’s bigger than me, he’s larger than me, he’s going to hurt me, and there’s nothing I can do because he’s stronger”. In America we’ve been conditioned to believe that bigger is better, more over less, and the largest opponent always wins.

Women have to actively work at getting over all the social programming that tells them how they should behave and how they should see themselves in relation to the men around them. Female characters who start training between the ages of four and seven will be less prone to this, but the intimidation level is still a hurdle they have to master. It requires an active approach to problem solving, learning how to get in first and fast, and overcome the fear of facing a larger opponent or a male opponent even when the physical differences have little bearing on reality.

The way we see the world is the way we approach it and in a world that seeks to actively strip women of both their power and their confidence, developing a solid base to work from is much harder than it sounds. But for a female fighter to be successful, she must first prove to herself that she can do it and then, she has to fight hard in her training to make it a reality.

It’s important to remember, then, for your own characters that a female fighter or “action hero” is never a passive player. If they trained from a young age, then they’ve already fought against all the reasons why they shouldn’t be doing this and if they still are, then they won. Even if they are insecure about some aspects of social life, they will have a strong basis in who they are and the skills that got them here.

After all, to fight like a woman is to fight like an underdog and all those battles are hard fought and hard won. There’s nothing like adversity to build character.

Physical:

There are a lot of different body types out there in the world and there’s no way we can cover all of them. Women lack a man’s capacity for brawn in the upper arms and shoulders, but they come with a different set of advantages. We already talked about hips and power in the “Women Are Not Weaker Than Men” post, so I’m going to skip over that.

On the whole women have a lower center of gravity, better coordination, more natural flexibility, and better balance than men because their bodies are more compact. Women tend to have shorter torsos, shorter legs and shorter arms than men. This doesn’t mean they are more in tune with their bodies, that comes from training. But it does mean they can combine their lower center of gravity with their better sense of balance and coordination to be more precise in their attacks. While they lack the ability to brute force their way through situations, this actually makes them better and more adaptable fighters. When male martial artists say: “fight like a woman”, they mean: don’t rely on your brawn, learn to understand your body, and learn to let gravity do the work for you.

Women have more to lose from having sloppy technique, so they tend to spend more time investing in the study of body mechanics and gravity, over just developing their muscle strength. Speed is important yes, but it’s the precision that’s the killer. Knowing where you want to go and where to put your body to make it happen, where the human body is vulnerable and the places people don’t think it’s vulnerable (but really is) are all important.

Women tend to be quicker about dispatching their opponents and they spend less time playing around. They’re also, on the whole, more serious and more devoted to their studies. Any good female fighter knows that she won’t get far by coasting on natural talent and that she has more to lose in a real life situation if she does.

Just some things to think about.

-Michi

The Speculative World: Unusual Martial Art: Street Fighting

The Speculative World: Unusual Martial Art: Street Fighting

Thug picks Fight With MMA Fighter. (by Brandon Ryan)

Since we’ve been talking about trained versus untrained on this blog, I’ll share a clip from a local news station in Memphis where a guy picked a fight with the security guard. It’s a real world fight, but there’s no blood or broken bones. It’s just a good example of the difference between someone who practices and someone who does not, and what that means in a fight.

The security guard is certainly not the best fighter out there, but a visual example is always helpful for writers and it’ll help some of you grasp the concepts we’ve been talking about a little better.

I don’t intend to make a habit of this though. Warning for language and real world violence.

-Michi

how does a person fight if they are only depending on instincts? no training, not even a fighter, just a person trying to defend themselves from harm.

It sounds cruel to say this, but essentially? They flail.

Unless they’ve been raised in a cave, they’ll be affected on some level by what they’ve seen work around them, be that the local militia or television. There’s going to be a fair amount of hair grabbing, if their opponent’s hair is long. They’ll push at their opponent, though if their opponent is larger it’s not going to do them much good. An untrained person, for the most part, is at the mercy of someone larger and heavier. They just don’t know what to do with the weight and it’ll crush them. They’ll flail against it, but again, they won’t know how to do harm so the lasting damage they can put out is minimal.

They’ll smack at them, either with slaps or some variation of closed fists, but they’ll be using their upper body, for the most part only their arms and shoulders. Which, again, won’t do them much good. They’ll go down, usually on the first or second solid hit.

Human instincts are shit on their own, I’m sorry. A human gets caught between their fight or flight response and usually against a tougher opponent, their first instinct is going to be “huddle up in a small ball and wait for it to be over”. This is true of both men and women, by the way. There is no magical genome in the human body, buried in our ancestral memories that can tell us how to save ourselves in a bad situation.

I don’t know if that helps.

-Michi

Advice and suggestions for writing fight scenes.