Hi everyone, I’m afraid this is a recycled blog post from a while back in my writing career. It’s by FAR the most popular thing I ever wrote on my writing blog…a blog which has died a gruesome death since I jumped webhosts and needs rebuilding into something that actually works.
So while I’m alternately praising and cursing PHP and HTML, I thought I’d put this blog up. There are a great deal of fighting myths around on the net and some of them creep into people’s fiction.
I’ve tweaked the article a little, but it’s mostly still the same article. I hope it helps you write your fight scenes.
Here are ten of the most common myths I’ve seen used by writers in fight scenes:
1. You Can Kill Someone by Shoving Their Nose Back Into Their Brain
This one’s been around for a long, long time. Since Imperial China in fact. The idea is simple enough: a powerful blow with the heel of the hand to the base of the nose drives a splinter of bone into the brain of the victim…and they die.
Except that they don’t. You might break the cartilage in their nose, and it certainly hurts (I’ve broken my nose so many times I can just crunch it back into place*) but you can’t shove a bone back into someone’s brain because there are no bones there.
Yes, I know it happened in The Last Boy Scout. That movie is full of lies.
It is possible (theoretically) to kill someone by striking just above the bridge of the nose, but the amount of force required is astronomical. You could have a super powered character killing this way, but even for them it would be far easier to just break someone’s neck. For a normal person to manage it without a sledgehammer is unlikely at best.
The other reason this is so unlikely is that people just don’t hold still in a brawl, the precision required for this sort of blow is beyond anyone except professional fighters and true martial arts masters.
2. Getting Knocked Out Is No Big Deal
We get this in fiction a lot. Batman spends so much time unconscious you have to wonder if he just likes taking naps on the job.
Sadly the reality is that being knocked out, whether by a blow to the head or being drugged can easily kill you. In fact it’s far easier to accidentally kill someone while trying to knock them out than it is to keep them reliably unconscious for more than a minute or so.
Secondly, concussions are cumulative. Have a look at boxers as they age. The ones whose style involves getting smacked in the head a lot often develop degenerative brain conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease and Pugilistic Dementia. Our brains are sensitive instruments and they only shut down when they have absolutely no other choice.
I’ve been knocked cold twice. Each time when I came to I immediately felt intensely ill and it took me several minutes before I even knew where I was. If it had happened in a street fight I would not have been leaping to the attack at that point unless you count vomiting on someone’s shoes an opening gambit.
3. Pressure Points Work In Real Fights
Nope. Sorry but this just isn’t true. Yes there are pain compliance points on the body that can cause you a lot of grief if someone puts pressure on them. The problem is that you have to hold very still in order for these to be effective.
The second problem is adrenaline. If you try a pressure point attack on someone in a fight, they might not even feel it because the adrenaline will dull any pain they should be feeling. Adrenaline will also affect you ability to apply anything that requires fine motor movement as that part of your brain that handles fine motor movement goes into shutdown the moment you get scared or excited.
There are however structural weak points on the body, and attacks on these do work in real fights. A hard punch to the point of the jaw will knock most people out. A kick to the liver hurts so much it will incapacitate the receiver for several minutes (if you don’t believe me find a local Thai boxing gym and take a kick to the liver from one their fighters). Joint locks like kneebars, kimuras** and choke holds all attack parts of the body with structural weaknesses. These really do work but take some skill to apply.
4. A Kick To The Groin is Game Over
While a hard blow to the groin does tend to end fights if it lands cleanly, it’s not the combative panacea it’s made to be. First of all, most people really do not want to be kicked in the groin and they will go to quite extreme measures to protect that area of themselves.
Secondly even after a very hard shot, most men get between three and five seconds before the pain sets in so badly they’re incapacitated. Pretty much every athlete that plays contact sports will know this and can keep working until the pain sets in. Guys who don’t know about the three seconds they have often go down the moment they get hit because even the initial pain is frightening.
There are also some guys who for whatever reason are predicting they are going to take a shot to the groin at some point, and they buy a groin guard. Great if they’re a good person doing good things, not so great if they’re bad guys who’ve thought ahead.
5. A Kick To The Groin Is Just Painful
Actually a hard kick in the nuts can seriously injure a full grown man. It’s played for humour in fiction but what’s almost never shown is just how bad a groin shot can be.
While it’s true that a kick to the groin isn’t necessarily the end of the fight (see above) if a man does take a kick from a strong, trained opponent then the sheer shock of the pain caused is enough to send that man into shock. While it’s rarely fatal it can cause the testicles rupture, at which point they have to be removed.
If your characters get struck in the groin, make sure there are consequences. It can’t just be shrugged off in a few moments, if it’s a hard hit it will be some time before they can do anything except pray for death.
6. Grappling Beats Everything
Er…this one’s harder. It’s not true but there’s an element of truth to the idea that grappling trumps all other fighting styles. It comes partly from the first UFC competitions where a slight Brazilian man name Royce Gracie ran rough shod over his much larger opponents using his families grappling art Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
As a grappler (mostly) I can say that if you’re an experienced grappler fighting someone who doesn’t know how to fight on the ground, or stop you from taking them to the down, then it’s going to be very hard for them to beat you even if they’re larger than you.
However, this assumes that they’re unarmed, alone and don’t know enough stand up grappling (wrestling, judo etc) to keep the fight standing so they can knock you out. It also assumes you’re standing on a surface that’s safe to roll around on.
In my experience grappling is awesome, and a lot of fun, but it needs to be supplemented with other styles.
7. Grappling Is Useless In Real Fights
Despite what I’ve said above, don’t discount grappling as an option for your characters.
The myth says that a good street fighter will either knock a grappler out before the grappler can take them down or use dirty tricks to hurt the grappler before they can be choked unconscious or have a bone broken.
I can say from my own personal experiences that this just isn’t true. Before I studied grappling I tried my hand against a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter who consistently beat me to the punch (and kick) before I could hit him. I was hardly a hard hitter at that point but I was very quick and I still couldn’t hit him before he took me down.
Once I was on the ground I never had a chance to use any dirty tricks because he held me in positions that gave me no chance at all to fight back. If I’d tried to eye gouge or bite him I would have been handing him my arms or throat to attack before I could have hurt him. Plus of course there would have been no reason he couldn’t have gouged me back if he’d wanted to.
8. You Can Punch People In The Head With Impunity
If your hero punches an opponent in the head without either some from of hand protection or a serious amount of training and conditioning, then chances are they’ll break their hand.
Your hand is full of small bones and the human skull is basically one huge bone (more so for some than others). Punches generate a lot of force if thrown correctly and if you hit one of the harder parts of the head (like the forehead) it’s easy to fracture those little bones. In fact it’s so common it’s known as a boxer’s or brawler’s fracture.
If you hit someone in the mouth then you easily get a bit of tooth lodged in your hand. This not only hurts (trust me) it can get infected really easily because human mouths are basically nightclubs for various kinds of disgusting bacterium.
This can add some nice detail to the aftermath of your fight scenes and even if you ignore the injuries you can at least add realism by hanging a lampshade on it.
9. Complex, Esoteric Martial Arts Are Better
All things told one of the best martial arts out there is boxing. Boxers are fit, conditioned to fight, used to getting punched and hit harder than you would believe possible.
I’ve done a lot of different martial arts over the last twenty years (God I feel old) and I can say that the only ones that have helped out at all when I’ve been fighting have been boxing, Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) and the BJJ/wrestling hybrid I’ve been taught.
Everything else failed me when it counted and I took a beating.
It’s not true for everyone; there will be Kung Fu masters who are badass and masters of even more esoteric styles that can really fight…but there also plenty of football players that can really fight despite never being taught how to throw a punch.
Simple, repetitive moves are easy to remember even when you’re under stress. That punch you’ve thrown forty thousand times in training will be the one that comes out when you get mugged.
10. Martial Arts Guarantee A Win
I wish this was true but it just isn’t. All martial arts can do is improve your odds of defeating someone you didn’t have a chance against before. A bigger person can still knock you out with one hefty punch. Someone who’s armed can cut you to ribbons or shoot you dead before you can fire a kick off.
Even if you’re better than they are, anyone can be surprised. I’ve been punched in the back of the head by people I never even knew were standing there.
If you need to humble your hero this can be used to great effect in your story. Have them surprised by a weaker opponent, or simply overwhelm them with numbers. No one martial art can guarantee you’ll come away from a confrontation unscathed.
Not even the ones made by Smith and Wesson.
You Tell Me
What martial myths have you seen? Do you disagree with me on any of these (history would suggest I’m wrong about at least one of them)? Let me know in the comments.
* Sadly a lot of my broken noses have been user failure rather than enemy action. I’m amazed I can keep breathing without injuring myself.
** A kind of bent arm shoulder lock
Skyla Dawn Cameron says
We have “Ask Dr. Dina” for a medical series–I propose “Ask Sensei Andrew” for a combat one.
Andrew Jack says
Perhaps “ask the guy who’s been beaten up a lot…”
Vivian Zabel says
May I please use your article about ten most common myths about hand to hand combat? I write a newsletter column for Writing.Com, am the head of a writing group, and the head of a small publishing company. I would love to share this with all of them under your name.
Please let me know.
How about “rapier beats broadsword but you’d better know how to dodge”?
As a collegiate fencer just a few *cough* years ago I got into a debate with a local SCA fiend as to point v. edge weaponry (there may have been alcohol involved). We finally geared up and marched out to the backyard and took our fighting stances. He was just completing his backswing when I nailed him right in the breadbasket with a textbook lunge… and his “oof” and collapsing follow- through nearly knocked me goofy (Since we had been smart enough to swap headgear for safety I just got my bell rung).
Andrew Jack says
That’s a really good point, and it ties into a common myth is movies: that the guy you just hit/shot/stabbed is out of the fight.
D. E. Wyatt says
Which would have been useless to you if he was wearing any appreciable armor (seriously, the “Armor Piercing Rapier” myth is one that just needs to die).
Stanley Rutgers says
Is it a better idea to hit someone with your palm as opposed to a closed fist?
Andrew Jack says
It’s one of those ‘it depends’ things. If you’re hitting them in the head, and you’re not a well trained puncher (even if you are there are risks to closed fist hitting to the head) then yes. You can smack a wall with the heel of your hand a bunch of times and it’ll be fine, but hitting a wall with a closed fist is asking for trouble. Hitting a person isn’t exactly like hitting a wall, but it’s close enough that I would recommend heel of the hand over closed fist for most people.
Probably better to hit them with an elbow, head, or knee.
Andrew Jack says
I love a good elbow. Headbutts are awesome but they can horribly wrong (I’ve very nearly knocked myself out). Knees are great too, especially out of the clinch.
Yep, the oft-said “it depends” applies. But a good general rule to follow: No hard-to-hard strikes. Use hard-to-soft (e.g. fist to body), or soft-to-hard (e.g. palm to face).
I’ve been in fights and didn’t feel a nut-shot until the next day. Personally. I’ve seen people go down form some, and people immune to it until long after the fight’s over.
I know of people who were stabbed and didn’t know it, winning the fight before discovering they’d been stabbed multiple times. You never can tell with adrenaline or drugs.
The nose to the brain is something you didn’t cover completely. The only one I know of requires two strikes: One across the bridge of the nose (which is actually the bone the rest of the cartilage is attached to), and then the second is a heel to the nose (the bits of bone are supposed to come from the bridge).
I also have been in fist fights and have not every had a pugilist break or chunk of tooth, and know people who are constantly fighting, who don’t get pugilistic breaks, or bits of broken tooth in their fists. There are a lot of brawlers out there who just like to fight. Nothing is guaranteed.
In “real fights” there are elbows thrown, knees, brass knuckles, chains, knives, rocks, combs (you’d be surprised), shoes, sticks, bricks, and anything available.
We totally agree on the head trauma. One can get hit in the head and die and not even know it for hours.
Andrew Jack says
All good points Rich. I’m yet to meet anyone totally immune to the groin shot if it connects cleanly but I’d not thought about someone who could shrug it off until the next day, which is possible. Adrenaline and combat focus are weird, weird things.
The strike across the bridge of the nose as a fatal blow isn’t one I’ve come across, I’ll check it out. I suspect the fatal part still isn’t from the bone there though as it’s just not that long and that if if someone did die it was from the force of the strike causing a brain hemorrhage. That said I’m now not 100% sure, so I’ll go and check it out.
You’re absolutely right in that nothing is guaranteed, and there are always people who defy the statistical risks. But those risks are real, and the boxer’s fracture is common enough that it’s odd it doesn’t come up more often in fiction when untrained people go punching each other in the head.
I’m yet to come across a comb but it’s definitely not the weirdest thing I’ve heard of being used in a fight (weirdest thing: furious wildlife).
How do you know they wouldn’t know if they died?
CE Murphy says
Natasha Richardson (Liam Neeson’s wife) who died a few years ago of a bad hit to the head in a skiing accident is an excellent example of somebody who had died and just didn’t know it yet. She was lucid after the impact and refused medical treatment, got a headache a few hours later, ended up in critical care and died of a hemotoma the next day. It’s possible it didn’t have to go down that way, but since it did, it’s the best example I can think of where somebody was walking dead.
jim mcleod says
My biggest one is how everyone in films can fight, fight, fight, and fight without any sense of exhaustion. It’s bad enough when the “hero” is a trained fighter, but even worse when it’s a for want of a better word normal person.
Andrew Jack says
Absolutely true and a good point thanks Jim. I think people underestimate just how tiring working at maximum capacity whilst also being jacked up on adrenaline can be. I got so wound up before my first MMA fight I was tired walking out to the ring.
The fights that disturb me most are the “one-against-many”. (See: Gladiator) Yes, a highly trained gladiator/street fighter/martial artist can defeat several relatively untrained opponents, but one gladiator will not beat six not-quite-as-good gladiators. NGH.
While I overall agree with your point that “one gladiator will not beat six not-quite-as-good gladiators” if you are referring to the “Are you not entertained?” scene from Gladiator in that particular instance it was a case of the world heavy weight champion vs 6 club amateurs 3 weight divisions below him who couldn’t even organise to fight as a team.
So yes while still Hollywoodised the entire point to that scene was to show that Maximus was ridiculously outclassing his competition, but his skill alone was not enough to get him out of the backwater sticks and that he would need to learn to entertain the crowd to get to the Colosseum.
Andrew. Great post. I taught Okinawan martial arts *mumbles* years ago. Invariably, my experience is that a poorly-trained street fighter will kick a moderately (and sometimes a well) trained martial artist’s backside. Martial artists are used to pulling techniques and fighting for points. They almost always hesitate at the first sight of blood (a normal reaction). A seasoned street fighter fights to win, by any means, and will ignore casual bloodletting, even their own.
Another thing is the style involved… Many martial arts (yeah, Tae Kwon Do, I’m talking about YOU) are fancy and look good and score “points” in tourneys, but are freaking useless in street situations.
I recall, many years ago, taking a short cut through the basement of my college gymnasium and spotting some workouts by an intramural TKD class. The guy was teaching someone to stand on one leg, bring their leg up above their head(leaned over for balance) and whack the opponent in the face with the top of their foot. Bad enough(the groin is totally exposed to a half dozen of the strongest arm blows in martial arts), but THEN they were supposed to stop the motion, and bring it back for a heel kick…. To the face!!
If the first blow had any power at all behind it (unlikely, yes), then their face should be two to three feet away. If not, they are hardly likely to not already be well into a dropping dodge that probably involves multiple power shots at your groin which hasn’t moved much in the last two seconds which is an eternity in a fight…
This idiocy could ONLY work in a tournament where groin shots were totally outlawed…
And how you train tends to be how you fight. If you practice lots of stupid high kicks, you’re going to TRY to do high kicks… Which are almost always too slow in a fight.
Douglas Gonce says
sorry. I disagree. A seasoned street fighter can be a driven ruthless bastard who won’t stop til the job is done. He can also just be a lucky ass who had wimps for opponents. There is no formula for “Street” anything. Some are good, some are lucky, some few are a combination of good, lucky and smart. But no one is a bad ass just because they are in the bar fighting.
Excellent article. You definitely touched on most of the major points that annoy me when i see them in writing.
I will say that i was taught that groin shots are actually intended to target slightly above/into the groin, not actually the nuts/genitalia. I have actually used what was probably a groin kick effectively, so my training can’t be too far off. (I say probably because i was stil busy dealing with the second guy. All i know for sure was that i did a push kick and one guy was out of the fight for a while.)
Additional myths that bug me:
All gang members/ street thugs are trained fighters. (They’re not, although one still needs to take them seriously and consider them dangerous)
Martial arts=self defense (martial arts can be used for self defense, but many martial arts instructors seem to completely ignore the mental/psychological training needed for effective self defense.)
Fights that go on just about forever. (Not unless you’re talking about highly trained endurance athletes.)
Steve Smith says
Yup. This. Especially the notes about head trauma.
A couple of points:
* Grappling is all but useless against multiple opponents. While you’re ripping assailant A’s arm off, assailant B can kick a field goal with your head. Not good.
* Most schools teach martial arts and not self-defense. Big difference. On the street, you don’t have regulation uniforms, a mat, two judges, a referee, and a timekeeper.
* “Real” fights are over very quickly. 30 seconds is a long fight. The fact that your opponent is overweight, out of shape, and sucking down cigarettes means nothing.
* An attack to the groin, eyes, or throat changes a fight into a *real* fight. Also most men can guard their groin well. You won’t land a groin kick without training.
* “A fourteen-year-old with a revolver can take out six Black Belts in six seconds.” — Chuck Norris
Robert Knotts says
Informal fights don’t involve video-game health meters, they’re often won by the first person to make a solid hit, with most attacks being tests of the opponent rather than actual committed efforts to hurt the opponent. This is one of the reasons informal fights end up as grappling: if one fighter can’t land a solid hit, getting in close to his opponent will can prevent either of them from landing a solid hit.
A deciding factor in many fights isn’t the size, anger, or determination of the fighters, but simply their experience in dealing with pain. Many injuries are more crippling than necessary because a painful inury will cause panic as well. Athletes, soldiers, even heavy laborers can learn to resist the panic that comes with sudden pain. This is equally true of men and women, and while healthy adults are best suited to managing pain, children, teenagers, and elders who can manage pain will still have an advantage over those who can’t, despite age differences.
A woman after puberty would likely be a candidate for ignoring such pain. Every month (and it’s not just me) she has cramps that are like having her insides torn out between her legs (essentially, that’s what happens). The pain can double you up, make you faint, make you sick, give you migraines, and other extra pain effects. (Ibuprophen was a godsend to me!)
Great piece. But it does ignore that often in fights the person is playing a character who IS at the top of their game… A jason statham char is usually some guy who WAS the absolute best, and retired.
Jason bourne has taken enhancement drugs which make him not just a high-trained badass, but an UBRR high-trained badass.
Even your example of The Last Boy Scout, Bruce Willis is supposed to be a really really GOOD agent. And that movie is a live-action cartoon anyway…
And for most other movies, if it’s Joe Schmo doing fantastical shit, it’s probably a comedy…
P.s. you missed Uma Thurman’s ” Five fingered death punch” 🙂
Andrew Jack says
I am deeply saddened I missed the Five Fingered Death Punch. *hangs head*
D. E. Wyatt says
Pretty much EVERYTHING to do with swordsmanship and Late-Medieval armor; 6 pound longswords (they rarely weigh more than 3lbs), or plate armor is cumbersome (it’s actually less so than a modern soldier’s combat gear).
Also, the longsword as a one-handed sword. It’s not; the longsword is by DEFINITION a two-handed sword.
I love seeing guys in full plate armor and shields. When you’re head-to-toe in solid steel, a shield is just dead weight, and offers no better protection than going without it.
Andrew Jack says
Interesting, I hadn’t thought about the shield thing but you make a good point.
D. E. Wyatt says
Yep. That’s why heavier arms such as the halberd, polehammer, and longsword became more prominent as plate armor became more common. The shield was no longer vital for protection, so two-handed weapons became more widespread.
Oh, another one that absolutely kills me is the notion that the Europeans didn’t have codified martial arts, and it was all just a bunch of guys clumsily bashing at each other.
Andrew Jack says
I’ve seen some very interesting medieval combat manuals that showed armed and unarmed fighting techniques out of Italy, Germany and Britain. There absolutely were both codified systems and individualized arts present at the time.
D. E. Wyatt says
Quite a few of the fencing manuals have survived, particularly out of Germany and Italy (sadly the French, English, and Spanish record of the late-Middle Ages/early Renaissance are much more fragmentary. However what’s known of the English schools of defense definitely suggest a relation to the Germans and Italians, so this was likely the case in the areas of French and Spanish influence, as well). The main problem groups such as ARMA and HEMA encounter when reconstructing the art is understanding what the manuals are telling them.
Johannes von Liechtenauer’s work (which is the foundation of at LEAST the German schools, if not the ancestor of ALL Western European swordsmanship from the 14th Century forward — there’s evidence that Fiore dei Liberi, who occupies the same position for the Italians, may have been a student of Liechtenauer) is only known from merkverse, and requires the interpretation of later masters such as Ringeck to decipher. And even then, there’s a lot that’s subject to interpretation since we lack an unbroken tradition like is available for Japanese swordsmanship, so there’s no one to SHOW what was meant. Medieval artwork being what it is, the illustrations in many of the manuals aren’t much help since it’s often abstract.
Most SCA fighters I’ve seen in the lists have either leather armor or chain maille. Nobody uses metal armor, not even gauntlets or helmets. There is lots of padding used in order to stand up to bludgeoning. And everyone wears a codpiece. Every man, anyway. For a woman, it just hurts to be kicked down there, period. A codpiece isn’t going to help.
They do have shields, but they are made of leather and wood. Lightweight as possible.
D. E. Wyatt says
That’s SCA. I’m talking about REAL combat, which should never be confused with the SCA’s glorified LARPing (and I’m saying this as a member of a boffer group that I do in addition to studying the real thing with ARMA). SCA is a strictly codified sport with no basis in ANY historical martial art.
John simcoe says
Another one that gets me is that unexpected falls are fricking devastating in a fight. Falling unprepared on a hard floor, pavement or lumpy surface will knock the energy right out of you. People criticize aikido for being fake and performance art, but if you catch a dude unprepared and mash him into a cement floor, he’s done for. That’s what a lot of the throwing arts do … They use the floor as a weapon.
Andrew Jack says
I’ve often said that in Judo you get to hit people with the planet.
I’ve seen a lot of movie fight scenes where a roundhouse kick is thrown to the head and successful.
This is not true, and it isn’t a good martial arts form. Even Bruce Lee, king of roundhouse kicks to the head, says not to do it. He says in his Jeet Kun Do book to use the longest reach for the shortest distance. So most likely your longest reach is your leg, and your shortest distance is often the opponent’s leading knee, foot, or shin.
Also it’s a balance thing, too. Staying low to the ground gives you more balance than standing on one foot and reaching out high with the other. And this is often why a woman can be better than a man at martial arts to a certain extent because women are built with a low center of gravity, generally.
Andrew Jack says
I agree headkicks are not a great plan in a street fight…and yet I can’t quite write them off. They’re certainly extremely high risk and I wouldn’t suggest them to anyone who wasn’t already an expert kicker, but putting shin to temple can be a quick end to a fight. With that said I also think you’re right about the low line kicking being a better idea.
Liam O'Keefe says
Excellent post. I wish more writers actually trained and learned what fighting was about BEFORE they wrote a fight scene. I don’t know how many weird fight scenes I’ve read. I really like it when the woman kicks the guy in the jewels and he goes down.
One of my first kickboxing instructors was ranked in the old PKA. We had a college soccer player in and he was trying to get her signed up. She said that she didn’t need to learn kickboxing, all she had to do was kick a guy in the groin and it’s over. Being an alpha male that he was, he responded, if you kick me in the ball and I don’t go down, you sign up. She agreed. He stood there in a horse stance, legs wide open. She stood there and prepared for a long drive. She drove a hard shot right up the middle, he went up, came down. “Are you ready to sign up?” She turned five shades of red. Her and her friends signed up.
Groin shots are harder to pull off (no pun intended) than you may think.
Darren Baguley says
Great post. Referring to point 9, I’m curious whether Krav Maga was one of the martial arts you have tried.
Andrew Jack says
I haven’t done any properly, although I’ve sparred a few times with Krav Maga practitioners and we’ve swapped a few techniques.
David VanDyke says
I’ll second the idea of hard training, in any form, trumping mere technique. Long ago I spent time in an Army unit with a kid who was a Junior Golden Gloves champion (middleweight? he was about 160) and other than films of Chuck Norris’ real fights or maybe Sugar Ray (either one) I’ve never seen someone move so fast, so instinctively and hit so damn hard. His many fights in the ring and a few in the bars usually ended with one punch to the head within the first twelve seconds. Not one in a thousand of us paratrooper “tough guys” could touch him.
Years later. in the early days of ultimate-style fighting that evolved into today’s sanctioned MMA, I watched a Muy Thai fighter take apart kickboxer after kickboxer. Why? Because nobody trains harder to take more pain and land more telling strikes than a Muy Thai fighter. Does that make Muy Thai the best martial art? Only in the sense that it emphasizes hard, realistic training.
Andrew Jack says
Good boxers are a nightmare to deal with. They only do one thing, but they do it WELL.
John Grigsby says
I have personally seen a group of four Air Force load lifters with no martial training go up against six Green Berets and the GBs came away worse for the wear. It happens. Now, load lifters are not small guys. They toss heavy pallets around for a living, but still, they had no formal training beyond basic self-defense and still managed to not only hold their own, but best a group of trained warriors.
While everything you have said is true, it is also possible for one guy with a lucky punch to end a fight before it begins. I’ve seen it happen.
The thing that gets me is an 85 lb hollywood starlet beating a room full of 180 lb professional mercenaries with nothing but a stick or a bungee cord.
I don’t care how well that pencil-armed starlet has been trained or how often she fights 2 ton killer robots. I don’t even care if she can ‘anticipate’ blows with jedi reflexes or has her pain receptors turned off or is running with insane adrenaline. Size matters. muscular response time matters. Muscle density matters.
Chyna at her strongest and most anabolically-enhanced MIGHT have been able to take a less-trained man in her own weight class, but as a women’s self defense instructor I always tell my students that EVERYTHING I teach them is a way to get away from a male that likely outclasses them in every fighting sense, to where other men (or someone that is well armed) can improve the odds.
Patrick Samphire says
I’m not in any way a fighter, but I will note that for most people who aren’t used to fighting, the shock of being hit has far more affect than actual pain. If your character has hardly been in a fight before, any hit is likely to stop them fighting back at least for a few seconds.
Jarod Anderson says
This all rang true for me. I boxed in college and currently study BJJ. Before college, I mostly floated between styles of karate. When I got into boxing, I thought my karate blocks would be relevant. They weren’t. I got punched. A lot. Later, when I went to BJJ, I thought I’d be alright based on size, strength, and some experience in wrestling. I was not okay. I got trampled by a sixteen year old who weighed 80lbs less than me. In short, I continually bought the fighting myths I had seen in movies and fiction and continually got humbled as a result. I often wonder what is going on when I see these myths repeated so often.
Hi. Very interesting your blog!! I’d like to know how stop someone under drug effect (eg. cocaine). Is it possible to KO him/her punching the head or drug inhibit KO?
If not the idea could be to block the motion, right? Breaking the knees? But how? It’s hard in a real fight to hit the right point I suppose..
Andrew Jack says
It’s certainly possible to stop drugged up people but it can be much more difficult that someone who isn’t hopped up. A straight KO will still work (hard shot on the point of the jaw or temple), but if someone is high enough they won’t stop for anything less (people who are high on meth are the worst I’ve ever come across, although I’ve never fought anyone on PCP as far as I know and I’ve heard that’s even worse) so if your character is going for KO, they will have to put a drugged up opponent COMPLETELY out to finish the fight. Drugs can inhibit a knock out, but apply enough blunt force trauma in the right place and it won’t matter.
You mentioned stopping their motion, which can work but again if someone is sufficiently high pain isn’t going to stop them, you’d have to break a bone or joint in such a way that they could no long bear weight on it at all (attack the structure of the body) and usually that’s going to mean breaking a leg in some way. The only other truly effective ways to stop someone that boosted up from normal run a high risk of killing them. Things like crushing the windpipe (again, not an easy thing to do) or slamming their head onto concrete, so unless your character has a reason not to fear a visit from the Police I’d probably leave those alone.
Something that can work if help is coming and your character isn’t dealing with multiple opponents or weapons (they’re trying to control a friend for example) is good positional grappling (BJJ, Judo, Wrestling et al). So a good throw or takedown followed by a control position and calling for help from the Police or other people. That’s got its own risks attached of course but it’s better than bludgeoning a friend into the floor.
Thank you very much Andrey for your interesting answer!! I really like this blog!!
When I talked about stop motion I meant exactly to break a leg. I think that’s the best way to stop an attacker under drug without kill him and at same time avoiding to use grappling (veeeery dangerous in a street fight because 99,9% of times enemies never alone!!).
So my ultimate question is: What’s the best technique to break a leg?
Surely break bone is harder than break joints so: low side kick to the lateral knee?
I read in some forum to break a knee it’s easier to kick the side than the front, is it true?
I’m not directly involved in it, I’m just curious and I remember an interview to a discoteque safety guard: he tried to stop an affray started by a guy under drug and he punched his face many times but every time drug fighter went back up and tried to fight against him the safety guard. The guard told he was psychologically destroyed after 2/3 punches without stop him (and the guard is giant!!!). So ultimately break a leg with a side kick is the best way in those situations?
But I also watched many side kick fighters on rings during matches (MMA, Muay Thay, kickboxing..) they broken their leg kicking the opponent so it’s a risk to break own leg trying to break that of drug fighter!! What solution?? 🙁