Toughening Up

on August 9, 2011 in Misc

So FINALLY I’ll finish telling you about those self-defense books I got from the library.   When I was in line to check them out, a big guy behind me saw their manly-man covers and asked me if I was studying to be a bouncer.   I told him it was a profession to which I have always aspired.

Seriously, I have a friend who was a part-time bouncer in his student days.  He worked at a young people’s nightclub (a fancy 3.2 beer place).  He had naturally quick reactions, months of intensive Tae Kwan Do, and was freakishly strong.   One night a group of out of town rednecks decided to start a fight.   They had knives.   He had nothing.   They couldn’t hurt him while he put two of them in the hospital.  When the police arrived, they took one look at the melee and put on riot gear.  Then things really got fun.

My friend also had to take down a woman one night.  What?  He hit a woman?  Hell, I would’ve whacked her.  The evil goth nutcase repeatedly tried to bash him over the head with a heavy beer pitcher.  He ducked a couple times before giving her an elbow to the face.  She went down and the police came to haul her away.

By the way, your elbow can be an essential weapon in defending yourself, according to several of those books.   Not only does it make for a hard, bony weapon, it may be the only part of you able to deliver a blow to the face or throat of an attacker when he’s extremely close to you.   There are also head butts, bites, and eye gouging.   And if he’s got you on the ground but you have one leg free, you can whip that limb up and wrap it around his head and push him back.

Isn’t this fun?

You know, when I was writing a couple fight scenes in The Compass Master I had to rely on my imagination, ‘cause it’s not like I’ve spent my life getting in and out of fist fights or martial arts take-downs.  For Layla’s violent encounter, I have her in the open, hence her movements can be large (kicks, evasion, and she uses her knife when the bad guy gets her on the ground).   But for Zach (Layla’s main man), he has to fight an attacker in the confines of a car, so we’re talking sharp fast fists to the attacker’s head (ineffective, like hitting a bowling ball) and his face (much more vulnerable).

Two of the library books were about Filipino stick and knife fighting, as you can tell by the title of one:  Pananandata Yantok at Daga.    As I wrote last time, the influence of fencing (“escrime”) on this “eskrima” martial art gives me an edge.   But I really need to get a DVD ‘cause the photos were too static for conveying the speed and power of the moves.

Same thing with the other books, like No Hold Barred Fighting – Savage Strike (“850 Photos!”) and H2H (Hand to Hand Combat).   Page after page of guys on top of each other or in bear hugs can only do so much for me.   Still, I was able to cull some helpful tips that I can use in writing and for self-defense.   A few basics:

1.  Act rather than react
2.  Lead rather than follow
3.  Use offense rather than defense
4.  Strike rather than block
5.  Stay mobile, don’t be stationary

And from fencing I’ve learned to attack attack attack, and do it with extreme speed.

Finally and because it cracked me up, the photos here are from a book I couldn’t resist checking out:  Savate – French Foot and Fist Fighting.   Hey, 70’s hair  and mustaches and guys in tight clothes jumping around like they’re in a Parisian musical – you gotta love it!

2 Responses to “Toughening Up”

  1. Hart says:

    Such great stuff for writing these scenes. Have you watched any pop-culture stuff to see who gets it right? Like say… how unrealistic is Buffy? (she does use a lot of elbows and head butting) Does YouTube have any videos? It seems like a lot of this ought to be there…

  2. Helena says:

    Hart — I think this is a good idea for me to list some movies/shows under realistic/are you kidding me? and have links to YouTube for lots of videos. Thanks so much!