Hand-to-Hand Writing: 7 Tips to Grappling

Sasuke from Naruto

Welcome to Day 2 of martial arts writing aspects.  Again, this is a personal categorization that I came up with to cover as much ground as I could.  On Monday, we went over strikes and now we’re going over grappling.  Like before, I’m going to give a general definition to put us on the same page.

What Do I Mean by Grappling?

Unlike strikes, these moves involve holding onto your opponent.  There’s no brief contact to cause damage, but restraining your opponent for a variety of reasons.  It could be to stop them from moving, breaking a limb, or knocking them out.  All of these moves share the fact that they need time to work and involve a battle of strength for them to reach their conclusion.  So, how can you use them?

  1. Size is important, but brains can win the fight.  A bigger, stronger character always has an advantage in grappling because their grip is harder to break.  A barbarian getting a halfling with a bear hug will likely win.  Yet, another essential aspect is the character knowing where and how to hold.  That same barbarian could lose if the halfling uses pressure points and manages to get into a spot where they aren’t easily dislodged.  It isn’t perfect and requires setting up the situation, but it can help allow weaker heroes to survive a grappling fight.
  2. Speaking of pressure points, they are helpful to know for both locking in and breaking holds.  If a character is able to press on a spot that causes extreme pain then they can escape a hold or weaken whoever they’ve grabbed.  Do some research about this to find the weak points of the human body.  This can be done with a blow too like boxing the ears or hitting the groin.  Many martial arts focus on these points, so you can find guides to help.
  3. The type of grappling will depend on the goal.  If a character is trying to stop an enemy from moving then the legs will be the target.  Stopping a fight without rendering the target unconscious could be a focus on the arms.  Choke holds are perfect for knocking someone out as long as the hero knows how to do it.  Of course, this will also determine how the character gets the hold in place.  Some require sneaking up on an enemy while others are more direct.
  4. As I said, time is needed for these to work.  Even catching a limb and snapping it at the joint requires a second or two.  Part of the reason for this is because the enemy should have some resistance or even lean into the hold, which can start a battle of strength.  If a character is incredibly strong then it’s easier and needs less time, but it’s not as instant as when a fist hits flesh.  This is truer for choke holds because the target needs to be held until they pass out, which takes time.  Factor this into your character’s actions because they wouldn’t do it if they have multiple enemies since a hold leaves one open to other attacks.
  5. There is one way to handle multiple enemies when grappling is involved, which I failed to mention earlier.  A grapple can be turned into a throw or slam.  Once the target is locked into the other’s grip, they can be manipulated.  So, a hero can throw one person into another or out of the fight to focus on others.  This is a quick move compared to breaking bones, restraining, and knocking out.  It’s almost like a middle ground between strikes and grapples because you’re moving fast.  Of course, this also requires strength and a sense of leverage since most people will try to avoid getting thrown or slammed.
  6. A strike can help to set up a grapple.  Stunning an enemy leaves them open to getting grabbed, so consider your characters having a combination.  Even if they only know a few basic strikes, it increases their chance of getting to their specialty.  It also causes some initial damage, especially if it’s a precision strike to the limb that one wants to break.
  7. Yes, it would make it harder to fight back if a target is lifted off the ground while being held.  They have less leverage to break out.  Of course, they’ll also be squirming around and trying to escape.  This means the person with the hold has to split their attention and strength on maintaining their grip, keeping their enemy aloft, and avoiding any flails that are on target.  So, it’s not the most practical method to use unless we’re talking about a person with superhuman strength.  This is why taking a target to the floor and pinning them would be smarter.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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6 Responses to Hand-to-Hand Writing: 7 Tips to Grappling

  1. A tremendous second episode, Charles.


  2. L. Marie says:

    You are a wealth of knowledge! I always learn something when I read your posts.


  3. Another fun post. You’ve obviously spent some time on this.


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