Category Archives: Writing and Martial Arts

The Flesheater

No, I’m not referring to zombies.

Flesheater Combat Knife
Photo courtesy of Jim Hammond’s website

I’m talking about this fierce looking combat knife called the Flesheater. It was designed by world renowned martial artist and retired USMC Master Sergeant AJ Advincula, and custom made by knife maker Jim Hammond.

It’s also the knife alpha gladiator Max uses in my sci-fi romance, Captive (Book #1 in the Survival Race Series). This 14 inch knife with its nine inch re-curve blade was designed for one thing, combat. And Max knows how to wield it in a fight.

I own this knife (though my husband mistakenly believes it’s his, but let’s not open up that can of worms) and train with it. Let me tell you, it is one serious weapon. You can cut a limb off with this thing! Don’t believe me? Watch the ten second video below.

Relax, no humans were hurt in the video. We simply took a rolled up tatami mat and soaked it in lake water (we were at karate camp at the time. Uh yeah, karate camp isn’t your typical camp, folks). This dense, waterlogged tatami is supposed to simulate the muscle of a human arm. I suppose if you wanted to simulate bone, you’d add a dowel to the center of the mat. Anyone can cut through tatami with a sword, but you need to have good technique with a short blade. Play the video clip and watch me hack off a limb what this awesome knife can do. *Warning* Don’t do this at home kids.

If Max could see me, I hope he’d be proud.

For specifics on the Flesheater knife, its history, and design, including the unique four grip handle, I encourage you to click over to Custom Knife Maker Jim Hammond’s website.

To see Max wielding the Flesheater combat knife, read Captive, and enjoy the adventure!

~K.M. Fawcett

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Fight Scene Technicalities

How technical should an author get when describing fight scenes?

The answer may depend on who your readers are. Fans of military thrillers might have a different level of fight knowledge than fans of women’s fiction or YA. An author would be wise to take reader expectation into account when writing.

Regardless of genre, though, I would advise against getting too technical. You don’t want your fight scene to read like a training manual. Describing your fight choreography in minute detail will also slow down the action and pacing.

Karate-Kid-CraneIf you want to showcase a particular technique in the final battle scene, explain it or refer to it earlier in the story; perhaps in a training session. For example, in the original Karate Kid movie, we saw Mr. Miyagi practicing the crane technique, Daniel asked about it and we learned that, “If do right, no can defend.” Daniel practiced it on his own, and when he got into the crane stance in the final scene, we knew this awesome move would make him a winner. How about the five-point palm exploding heart technique in Kill Bill? If these techniques weren’t explained until they were used in the story, the pacing would slow, and the significance would be lost.

Fights are fast, so fight scenes should be quick reads. You want the reader to feel they are a part of the fight or at least watching it, not reading a commentary. This will help elicit the correct emotional response from the reader. He/ she should feel the excitement of the fight, not confusion over the words used to describe it, or boredom from it taking too long.

Do you have any favorite techniques from books or movies you’d like to share? Have you read any books where the fight scene reads like a how-to manual? How about books with awesome fight scenes that were handled flawlessly? I love hearing from you. Please leave your comments below.

~K.M. Fawcett

Fun with Unusual Weapons

Today, I went to karate class looking for the usual, an awesome workout that forces me to pay 100% attention to what I’m doing and therefore clears my head. But I got more, so much more.

Just like any other class, we started with a thirty minute kick-my-butt workout.  Sensei thinks of the most interesting ways to make my muscles hurt for days.  After the conditioning part of class was over, sensei brought out some weapons.  I know! Fun!

He made a pile of wooden sticks, knifes, and holy smokes – a machete.

The beautiful thing about kenpo karate is that everything a student learns builds and is used in other ways.  I’ve never trained with a machete before, but we train in Modern Arnis (stick fighting) in our curriculum.  The reason? Techniques and movements that work in stick fighting transfer to other weapons, such as knife and machete. So, even though this was my first time training with machete, I did much better than I expected.  Here is a short video of Modern Arnis. Pay attention to the weapons. You’ll see single stick, double stick, stick & knife, plus machete used with similar movements.

Now one question remains. How in the world do I work a machete fight scene into a book? Any suggestions?

_____ is Like Boiling Water

IMG_0003Learning through practice is like pushing a cart up a hill: if you slack off, it will slip backwards. – a Japanese proverb.

Back in June, I wrote a post (The Difference Between Men and Animals) on the first principle of Gichin Funakoshi’s Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate. Today, I wanted to discuss the eleventh principle, which pertains to everyone, not just martial artists.

Karate is like boiling water: without heat, it returns to its tepid state.

The book explains that continuous study, concentration and diligence is the hallmark of success. Random practice is not sufficient.

This is true of any life pursuit. Go ahead and fill the blank in for yourself.  _______ is like boiling water: without heat, it returns to its tepid state.

banner300x300In the event you filled in the blank with the word WRITING, then perhaps you’d like to know of another opportunity for you to continue your writing training: the Liberty States Fiction Writer’s Conference in Woodbridge, NJ on Saturday March 16, 2013. This conference is for writers AND readers. Not only did I find my agent through this conference, but I also received a publishing offer (I ultimately signed with a different house, but still…magical things do happen in NJ!) There are plenty of workshops to continue craft and a book signing too.

No matter what you filled in the blank with, make sure you keep practicing it. Since this is the time of year to reflect on 2012 and prepare for 2013, this is a good time to think about how you will continue your practice.

What did you fill in the blank with?  What are you planning to do to continue practicing it? I love hearing from you! Please leave a comment below.

~K.M. Fawcett

Going For The Groin

Erik and me on Tsuken Island (Okinawa – 2011) Click the picture to fully appreciate Erik’s expression. 🙂

A while ago, I had received an entry back from a writing contest. The judged submission included a scene where my hero and heroine were caged together to breed gladiators for the Survival Race–a blood sport where the last man alive wins. My hero was eager to mate. My heroine…not so much. In fact, Addy fended off Max’s advances with a knee to the groin.

Addy’s knee-jerk reaction (sorry bad pun) was quick and effective. I liked it. The judge didn’t. Her comment was that my heroine “wouldn’t have been able to knee the hero in the groin because men protect that area all too well.”

What! Was this judge serious?

Was she really suggesting that a woman shouldn’t target the groin? Ever? Apparently she has:

  • Never taken a self-defense class. I don’t know of a self-defense instructor who doesn’t teach how to strike the groin. It’s a great target for a woman to strike because it doesn’t require strength to cause debilitating pain thanks to sensitive nerve endings.
  • Never practiced a martial art. Not only do martial artists learn how to protect their groins, they learn countless ways in which to strike them too. Seriously, it’s almost an art in and of itself. You can strike it with your heel, the ball of your foot, a knee, a shin, a hip, a punch, an uppercut, a back fist, an elbow, a ridge hand, and a slap just to name a few. We haven’t even talked about weapons yet. Oh, and don’t forget the grab and squeeze! A Chinese woman actually killed a man earlier this year by squeezing his testicles.
  • Never heard of the no hitting below the belt rule in sports. Even in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), a fighting sport that lets you get away with a lot, doesn’t stand for that. I found 31 fouls in the rulebook on the UFC website. Number seven is no groin strikes of any kind.
  • Never heard of a protective cup. Again on the UFC website, the first piece of protective equipment required is a groin protector for the men. Not to mention companies insuring martial arts schools require them too.

If men “protect that area all too well” then why is it necessary to make safety rules, and hard plastic or steel shields? Hello! The reason is because you only need a small amount of pressure to create a lot of hurt. A finger flick can make a member sore.

Granted that the groin may not be the opportune target every time. Men can and do protect that area. But not always well enough, and not when they least expect it (the latter was the case in my scene). If they protected themselves 100% of the time, there wouldn’t be hours of footage on YouTube and America’s Funniest Home Videos with surprise hits to that most tender area.

Needless to say, I didn’t change that scene. It’s a good thing too, because my editor’s comment upon reading it was, “Good Girl. Ha!”

So what do you think? Do you agree with the judge or the editor? I love hearing from you. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

By the way, if you’re interested you can read this scene in my debut novel, CAPTIVE, available now for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Captive releases electronically April 1st and in print April 2nd.

~K.M. Fawcett