Tag Archives: grappling

Writing Fight Scenes

I’m deep in edits right now so thought I’d share a post I wrote 2 years ago on writing fight scenes. Enjoy! I’ll let you know how the revisions go when they’re over.

A few weeks ago a writer friend asked me for some help with her fight scene. She gave me her chapter, minus the fight, so I could get an idea of what was happening in the story. The chapter was good, but I couldn’t help her with the scene just yet. I needed more information.

To begin with, I had to know what she wanted to accomplish with the fight. Did she want the hero to knock out the bad guy? Maim him? Kill him? What are the hero’s and the villain’s experience and skill as fighters? We’ve already learned from a previous post, Perfection of One’s Character, how important characterization is. Therefore, knowing the Hero’s background is key. A boxer fights differently than a karate man. A karate man fights differently than a grappler. A grappler fights differently from (insert your style of choice here). Do the characters have police or military or combat training? Know your characters!

I also wanted to know what kind of an exchange she wanted to have happen. A quick exchange of a few blows or an all out brawl? If she wanted to knock the guy out quietly, the hero might put the villain in a choke hold until he passes out. If she wanted a lot of action and movement, then she could choreograph a fight scene with punches, blocks, kicks and throws.

Was there a weapon involved? In this case there wasn’t, but remember in a fight anything can potentially become a weapon, even dirt in the eyes to blind the other guy, sticks, garden gnomes, you name it. Just because there is no obvious weapon like a gun or knife doesn’t mean you can’t improvise one. More on improvised weapons in this post.

What is the setting? Is it day or night? Are they indoors or out? What is the lighting? The weather? The terrain? Take all these things into consideration when planning your scene. If your characters are outside a home, they can throw each other into the side of the house, a tree, a car parked in the driveway, the rose bushes, a swing set. This is your chance to create an exciting and unique fight scene. Have fun with it.

Pay attention to the character’s distance from each other. If they are further away, they might use kicks (See Melinda’s post on different types of kicks). When in striking distance, they can punch and block and slug it out (See Melinda’s post on punches). If they are in very close, they can uppercut under the chin, into the neck, into the solar plexus, or into the groin. Maybe a character takes the other guy down and they start grappling (wrestling). Arm bars, locks or chokes can be used either on the ground or standing. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.

Just remember that a fight scene needs to be important to the story, not gratuitous. The fighting must be within character and believable. And if you aren’t sure something will work, get out of the chair, find a willing partner and experiment with your fight choreography together.

~KM Fawcett

Same Mat, New Martial Art

I’ve mentioned before that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be a good martial art for women to learn. It’s all about using leverage, enabling a smaller person to successfully defend against a larger individual. I recently had the opportunity to try the sport out for myself. I’ve only been to two classes, but so far I’m having a great time. Even in just two lesson I’ve seen how a smaller person can use this martial art to their advantage.  The class is mostly men with the exception of Melinda and myself so it was inevitable that I would have to practice with one of the guys. It’s really cool and a confidence booster when you perform one of the techniques on a male partner and, woohoo, it works.

One of the first things you’ll have to do before you step foot on the mat is set aside all of your personal space issues. With Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you are going to get up close and personal with both friends and probably a few strangers. You will get sweat on, have to wrap your arms and legs around someone and vice versa, pin, and be pinned. If having your personal space invaded in this manner freaks you out, BJJ may not be for you. But, if it doesn’t bother you you can have a blast.

It’s interesting to go from one martial art where you work mostly from a standing position to one where you spend the bulk of the time rolling around on the floor. You engage a whole different set of muscle and employ a somewhat different mind set. For me, karate is almost like a dance. Learning a kata is like learning the choreography of a dance routine. The movements of the various techniques flow. One rolls into the next then into the next. BJJ is much different. You really can’t flow. The movements are much less artistic, especially since you’re twisting each other like pretzels. In our last class, we focused on passes. They are exactly what they sound like techniques that allow you to move past your opponent and they turn the tables on them. All of these techniques start with your partner in the closed guard position. In closed guard, you are flat on your back with your legs wrapped around your opponent and your ankles are locked together behind them. So there I sit with Melinda’s legs wrapped around me (and we thought we were close before. LOL!). I’m now expected to break the grip of her thighs using the pressure of my elbows, hook my arms under her legs, bend her in half, duck under her legs and pin her to the mat in side mount position. Easy right. HA!  I kept forgetting intermediate steps and wind up in the wrong position. It was often comical and less then graceful, but I eventually I got the hang of it. Sort of. I did discover that it’s easier to work the techniques on a person larger then you then smaller then you. An opponent with a slighter build can be much tougher to maneuver because it’s much harder to brace against them.

The instructor ended class by grappling with some of the advanced students. It’s really fascinating to watch.  It’s much slower paced then I would have expected. With karate it’s fast pace, fast reaction the whole way through. With BJJ it’s periods of quick movements interspersed with periods of slow adjustments as you set up for your next move. There is also an unexpected gentleness to it. I know it sounds like a contradiction,  but it’s true. When the instructor and his assistants grapple they aren’t slamming into each other or using brute force. It just goes to prove the point that you don’t have to be the biggest or strongest, you just need to be smart and use your body to your best advantage.