Writer's Guide: Hand to Hand Combat
Your character is unarmed and all they have left to fight with is their bare hands. If they hope for the enemy to catch their hands, you will have to write an effective scene. So how can we write a good hand to hand combat scene?
Most Common Moves
Now, I'm not going to list 30+ martial arts moves. Most of your characters will not be masters of kung fu or mixed martial arts. Most people who get into fights are novices.
Punch: a punch is probably to go to strike. Try not punch anybody in the face because one, they will expect it and two, it will hurt your hand. If you can aim for the soft parts of an opponent, kidneys or gut.
Kick: Kicking isn't pretty but it is effective. A good swift kick to the back of somebody's knee will fold them like a lawnchair.
Go for the groin: Man or woman getting kicked in the nether regions is no picnic. A good swift kick with your foot or your knee can incapacitate your opponent. Its not the most honourable of moves but it works.
An Elbow strike is effective: The elbow is your strongest point of attack. Drive it in to a windpipe or a gut and you can but yourself valuable time to retreat or stall your opponent from answering back.
Eyes: they are weak points. Jab somebody in the eyes with a thumb and they will stop in their tracks.
Throat: You can end any fight by going straight for the throat either grasping it in a headlock or jabbing it with a fist which can collapse the windpipe.
Bite: If you are unable to snack your opponent, use your teeth. The human bite is perhaps not as strong as a hyena's but it is strong enough to shorten your opponent by a finger or two.
How to Escape from Grips and Holds
Pinned from behind with your arms pinned: You have to stop your opponent from getting to a headlock. Move your hips to one side and strike backwards toward the groin or gut. This should weaken the hold of your opponent. Once the grip is loosened, turn toward your opponent and snack them into the nose with the heel of your hand.
Held from behind: Bend forward as far as you can making it more difficult for your opponent to lift you. Jab with your elbows back into your opponent's chest or face. Turn toward your opponent once the grip loosens and strike at the face or the groin again to subdue your opponent.
Headlock: If your opponent has you in a headlock, DON'T STRUGGLE. You could break your own neck. Turn into your opponent's side as close as possible. With your hand that is furthest away, hit your opponent into the groin or gut.
Pinned down on the ground: Most likely your opponent is using their own hands and weight to keep you down. If you can move your knees, try to jab them in the side or the groin to unbalanced them.
Things to Remember
1. The whole 6-10 minute bout only happens in films or controlled sporting events. Fights are usually over within a few minutes. (when writing effective fights, keep the pace short.)
2. Girls are vicious. I've worked in nightclubs and broke up a fair few fights. Boys will knock the shit out of each other but girls will tear shreds out of each other. I have known grown men to break up fights between guys but nobody wants to break up a catfight.
3. One wants the fight to end quickly. If you keep slugging at each other, you'll get tired pretty fast. Have your character try end the fight as soon as possible.
4. Nobody emerges from fights unscathed. Even winners may come out with black eyes, broken noses or at very least a broken lip. If you punch someone, you will likely bruise your knuckles if not split them.
5. If your character is fighting to survive, they don't have to stick to etiquette. They will have to do anything to survive even if it means doing something unpleasant like fishhooking or hairpulling.
6K notes · View notes