Hand-to-Hand Writing: 7 Tips to Defense

Cowboy Bebop

Here we are at the final entry and component of writing a fight scene.  As before, I’m going to note that this is a personal breakdown of aspects.  So, it’s all opinion, which means you might not agree.  We’ve done strikes and grapples.  On to:

What Counts as Defense?

Seems like a simple question, but people can get tripped up.  The reason will be the first tip, which I will get to soon.  For the sake of this post, defense includes blocking, dodging, and parrying.  That third option is similar to the first, but it has a very specific component that we’ll get to.  Let’s begin.

  1. Everyone has their own defense preference.  This is why authors and readers may have different perspectives.  Some prefer dodging while others blocking.  It’s the same with characters.  Those who can take a hit will be more inclined to put a body part in the way to stop the blow.  A character who is less durable may dodge and jump around looking for an opening.  Consider their body type, style, and mentality to make sure their defensive preferences fit.
  2. Parrying is a great way for a character to go from defense to offense.  You block and then you strike.  In fact, defending yourself is a great way to go on the offensive.  If you block, your opponent is momentarily stopped.  At least, they are if they don’t immediately follow up with another move.  If not then there is an instant where the defender can become the attacker.  This would be a parry, which is something to keep in mind.
  3. Predicting an attack is a key component of defending, especially if the opponent doesn’t easily telegraph their move.  Better reflexes allow for faster dodging and blocking, which is what a character would need to train in.  Yet, it doesn’t help if they aren’t able to predict the move.  Establish that a defensive fighter is both a thinker and observer, which is what keeps them alive.
  4. Just as striking can cause some damage to the attacker, a blocker will not escape unscathed.  You are still putting your body in place of a blow, which will deliver some force.  Bruises and cuts are possible even if the injuries aren’t enough to slow or stop a person.  This is why speed and agility based characters are more prone to dodging than blocking.
  5. Blocks are typically designed more to deflect than stop a punch or kick cold in its tracks.  Remember physics where objects in motion stay in motion unless equal or greater force is applied.  The defender would need to block with equal or greater force than someone who has acted first.  It’s not impossible, but difficult.  Of course, you probably won’t have many people asking about this since its cinematically cool for a blow to get stopped dead.
  6. Dodging requires energy and space.  The longer a character runs around, the more tired they will become.  The hope is usually that the attacker will wear down faster because they’re exerting more energy.  As far as space goes, you need it to move around or you get cornered.  It is believable to use a tight area to help with dodging by bouncing off walls and staying within the swing area of the attacker.  Yet, it does come with greater dangers.
  7. A lesser method of defense is grappling.  What I mean is that a character get catch or dodge a move then turn it into a flip or throw.  This goes back to the physics aspect where momentum and force can be used against an attacker.  Of course, this requires training and timing.  It does allow for a smaller and weaker opponent to handle a bigger and stronger one though.  For this, I would highly recommend doing a little research to avoid halflings flipping ogres with ease.

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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9 Responses to Hand-to-Hand Writing: 7 Tips to Defense

  1. L. Marie says:

    Great info that I can use since I have fight scenes in my WIP. So all of your hand-to-hand posts have been extremely helpful. 😊😊😊


  2. I think you make a great point about blocking a blow completely. Hard to do. These are all great, Charles.


  3. This was a great series. Really enjoyed it.


  4. Great post on this! I have some minor experience with wrestling and kickboxing, but more experience with fencing foil and saber. A solid parry followed by a riposte is definitely a good way for the defense to become the offense.


    • I was foil and epee back in high school and college. Epee was my favorite, so I tend to think in that style. Parry, riposte, and everything is a target. It definitely helps when trying to think of a battle where the defense and offense switches back and forth.


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