It’s been a while since I started getting into the meat of action scenes. This week, I plan on doing a bunch of ‘7 Tips’ lists with each one focusing on a different aspect of hand-to-hand combat. This isn’t any official breakdown, but one to help cover a lot of ground. Let’s handle a question first:
What is ‘Striking’?
For the sake of this post, we’re using this as the offensive moves involving delivering a blow with a part of your own body. Hands, feet, elbows, knees, palms, heels, hips, shoulders, and heads can be used here. The point is that a character is moving a part of their body to damage an opponent. Simple as that, so let’s get to the list.
- There is a correct way to safely deliver these types of blows. Don’t think a person can throw a punch or kick like an expert. People train to do these moves for maximum effect and minimal pain to oneself. For example, you want to deliver a punch without breaking your own fingers or a kick without snapping an ankle. Do some research to get an idea of how these moves work even if you don’t note it in your story. This way, you can get a sense of martial arts skill levels instead of having everyone striking like a master.
- Metal is metal. Bone is bone. Flesh is flesh. This is the hierarchy of what will break starting with the least likely in a fist fight. Unless super strength is involved, a character’s body will shatter long before a metal door or stone wall. This is equally important if your hero is facing someone in armor. Sure, a punch to the helmet can stun the enemy, but bare knuckles will get damaged.
- Legs are stronger than arms. On average, they’re around 4 times stronger, which means kicks can be much more devastating. Legs also have more endurance due to constant use (we walk and stand a lot) and they reach further. All that being said, a kick still puts a person in a position where they can’t move until the blow is done or expose themselves to a counter. So, that is the trade-off, but one should still consider moving beyond punching for a more sensible variety.
- Headbutts always hurt the attacker in reality. Seriously, it still rattles the brain around as long as the person is a humanoid.
- Palms, elbows, heels, and knees are great additions to a brawl. They also involve pressure and impact on the joints. An inexperienced character or one who misses horribly can dislocate or jar the joint to weaken the entire body part. Think about stubbing a toe and how hard it is to move around. Now, imagine stubbing your elbow on platemail armor and you’ll imagine how adding this versatility comes with a downside. To be fair, most readers won’t think of this or the arthritis in the hero’s future.
- The object of a strike will determine to target area, type used, and level of force. Stun shots can go for the stomach, groin, and head with restrained punches. Full force attacks would be used for killing or knocking one unconscious. A character will know that he or she is aiming to break bones and pummel organs unlike weapons, which are all about a quicker death.
- Feel like I should talking about jumping attacks here. They make for good high action scenes, but they might not be the most practically things. All that has to happen is the target stepping to the side and then the hero is exposed. Anyone who uses these will make sure that the odds are in their favor. For example, sneak attacks would be the best time to unleash a flying kick because there is a lower chance of it being dodged.