Tag Archives: fighting

Make It Work!

581865_4881958959508_1434331787_nWhen teaching his students, Sensei Advincula can be heard saying, “Make it work.” This means that sometimes an individual needs to adjust a basic, effective principle or concept in order to make it work for them. This could be as simple as blocking and countering with groin strike rather than a strike to the throat if you are much shorter than your attacker. Why would I reach up when my target of opportunity (the groin) is closer?

Adjusting, adapting, and overcoming doesn’t only apply to martial arts, it applies to life. And writing…

Each year Scott and I send for Sensei Advincula to come stay with us for a weekend of martial arts training. During one of our sessions this year, Sensei taught us knife-fighting techniques with the Flesheater, the combat knife he designed.

Something during our training session (Perhaps the mention of reaming?) sparked a question about a technique I used in my book, CAPTIVE. When I asked Sensei about it, I learned I goofed up my sword fight choreography. That night, over a cup of tea at the kitchen table, I read the scene to him and learned something important about Claymores.

A Claymore is a long sword with a heavy, straight blade that was used in Scotland, especially in the Highlands, during the 15th – 17th centuries. The word Claymore was derived from a Celtic word meaning great sword. Its average length was 55 inches. Because of its weight (5 – 8 pounds), it had a long hilt for a two-handed grip. I’d learned all this from my research. However, I had imagined the hands were positioned one on top of the other like you’d hold a baseball bat. Sensei explained this wasn’t the case. The hands are positioned further apart to give leverage to hold and maneuver the weapon.

Hand position makes a difference when writing about how the weapon is used.

Sensei explained Claymores were wielded mainly against multiple opponents with sweeping and slashing movements. The weight could penetrate through armor. It was not typically used for thrusting or piercing or fighting one-on-one.

Fortunately, my futuristic gladiators used sweeping and slashing techniques to try and kill each other. Unfortunately, they were fighting one-on-one and also used thrusts.

Okay. No big deal. I’ll just adapt and change their weapons to broadswords instead. The art on my book cover already displays a sword with a smaller hilt. (Side note: I think the art department cut the length of the Claymore’s handle in order to downplay the Historical feel to the cover. See version 1 and 2 below.)

1st draft

1st draft

Final cover

Final cover

After Sensei left, I researched some more and got myself confused with all the conflicting information I read. It appears to me that broadswords don’t have quatrefoils (the four circles on a Claymore’s cross guard) like you see on CAPTIVE’s cover. And that broadswords have basket hilts. Yikes! I don’t want to ask my editor if the art department can redo my cover because I goofed up. Who wants to be known as that author? I also don’t want to keep a mistake in the book. Now what?

MAKE IT WORK!

I decided to make up my own name for the sword so it can look like what’s already on the cover and do damn well what I want. After all, I’m writing fiction. If I want my gladiator’s weapon to be a long, one-handed sword with a Claymore inspired design, than so be it. 🙂

Now I just need to come up with a name. I thought about Gladmor or Gladimor. It’s a shortened form of the Latin words gladius mortis, which (according to Google translate) means Sword of Death. I like that it kind of still sounds like Claymore. But my husband thought it sounded too happy.

Then I thought about one of the moves in our kata and suggested Dragon Tongue.

What do you think? Do you like Gladmor, Gladimor, or Dragon tongue? Or do you have a better name for this sword? I’d really love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

~K.M. Fawcett

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Posturing

When in a confrontation, a cobra makes itself larger by rising up and spreading its hood to intimidate its prey and prepare for a swift attack. A mongoose rises up and makes its fur stand on end to appear larger to intimidate its opponent. Both animals show their fangs/teeth and make noise.

Many animals posture instinctively. People need to train for it.

Posturing is making yourself appear confident, strong and intimidating to your attacker so they lose their will to fight before the confrontation even begins. It is both a fighting position and attitude.

Perhaps you’ve seen someone about to get into a fight stand a little taller, puff out his chest, stick out his chin, shout, swear or flat out take a fighting guard. This is posturing. And it could help you defend yourself.

Sensei Advincula tells a story about a two hour self-defense class he gave in which he taught a woman what to do if grabbed: “Jump back, scream and get into a position and act like you know what you’re doing. Give them your meanest look.” In other words, posture. The next day in an airport a man grabbed this woman. She jumped back, screamed and postured. The man ran away. Why? Because an attacker is looking for a victim not an opponent.

Remember an attacker fears two things: getting hurt and getting caught.

A fighting stance and attitude may be all it takes to avoid an attack – for your characters or for you.

~K.M. Fawcett

Would You Fight Back?

Erik and I on Tsuken Island (Okinawa)

Recently, I had read a post on another blog about self defense, and something a commenter said struck me with surprise. She felt that if attacked, she could never fight back, as she could never hurt another mother’s son.

Wow. That’s a pretty noble statement.

Now she didn’t state her reasons for this. It could be her religious belief, or her moral code, or perhaps she recently gave birth and couldn’t imagine hurting another mother’s child. I don’t know. But it did make me think…

And my conclusion?

Yeah…umm…no…I could never be that noble.

While I’d like to believe I have high moral principles, I know absolutely, without a doubt that if I were attacked or threatened, I’d fight back. There is no turning the other cheek for this girl. I’d punch, kick, claw, bite, poke out eyes…anything to get away. No, I’m not normally a violent person..really…but if the situation comes down to my life versus the assailant’s, you can be sure I’ll fight for mine with everything I’ve got.

So my question for YOU is…would you fight back or not? If you would fight back, is there anything that you wouldn’t do (like biting or poking out eyes)? If you wouldn’t fight back, why not? I’m curious to know your thoughts, and whether or not you have martial arts or self defense experience.

Stay Safe!

~K.M. Fawcett