Women get a bad rap sometimes from men because of the way they fight. Sometimes men are stupid, this is one of those cases.
The slap is not the most powerful attack in a fighter’s arsenal, in fact, it’s rarely in a fighter’s arsenal at all. Let’s talk about why:
1) It’s a very visible strike
Much like a haymaker or a roundhouse punch, a slap winds up from within an opponent’s field of vision, because it draws back inside our peripheral vision and the motion behind it is so large, the opponent knows it’s coming. A strike that takes a long time to wind up takes more effort from the fighter but is easier to block. This is why the roundhouse punch and the wild haymaker come at the end of the fight or are delivered when the opponent is off balance.
2) Slaps are low damage
The open palm strikes sideways, across the face, it aims for the cheek as opposed to the eye, the nose, the upper lip, or the temple. Slaps are stunning blows, they knock the opponent off balance and force them to back up. They hurt, often causing swelling in the cheek, but the chances of bones breaking are low and the chances of the attacker harming themselves with the strike is much lower than a punch.
One of the main reasons why the slap is a favored tactic of wife beaters (other than it being easy to deliver) is that while most of them are interested in punishing their wives, they are not interested in damaging them long term, thus it’s easier to hide from others so long as their victim acquiesces.
So, what are the advantages of the slap?
1) It’s a fast strike
2) For the untrained it can be performed with minimal risk to themselves
Because the force of the blow is distributed across the palm or the back of the hand, it’s unlikely that the blow will break the smaller more sensitive bones in the hand. The bitch-slap allows someone to use their knuckles without risking them to a break.
3) If the strike succeeds, it can be used to create openings in the opponent’s guard to open the way for a strong follow-up
Pain is a method of distraction, pain induces usually a fear response in the opponent, giving one fighter an advantage over the other. Distracting an opponent with pain in one part of their body, leaves them vulnerable to being struck somewhere else. Remember, fights are as much about tactics as they are about speed and power. Block, distract, finish.
4) It carries a fairly low energy cost, allowing a fighter to fight longer with less effort
Yes, it’s a low damage strike that won’t finish the fight fast, however, a feint that saves your character energy is energy they can apply later or use to get away. In the realm of strikes, a slap is cheap and it can be performed many more times in short succession than a punch or a kick.
Protip: Don’t confuse the slap with a more traditional open palm strike. The palm strike hits with the lower meaty portion of the palm and they come in straight to the nose, throat, or solar plexus. A palm strike can crush the throat or connect with the nose and force the broken cartilage up into the brain. This is a killing strike, but one that is often overlooked. The palm strike rarely appears in movies for this reason, it’s also not very cinematic.