Being Lucky is important

Another consideration of writing about fighting is fight progress in general.  When your fighter acts to do something and surprises their opponent they might get off their first attack as planned, after that it is far more instinctive.  Yes fighter go into fights with plans, but general ideas like, “Stay away from his left hook, or Don’t go to the ground with him” but you cannot plan “moves” because nothing goes the way you want it to. If it does, you’re lucky.

Fighting is instinctual, training or experience gives you choices, but your responses are based on what feels best at the moment. You can plan responses to specific situational attacks such as a bear hug, however any competent martial artists or street fighter will tell you no one response is sufficient, it might not, probably won’t, work on first attempt. The trained person is less prone to panic because they have more things to try. When you run out of choices, then you panic.

So again in writing, how experienced and trained are your characters. Again if you lack experience run your scenes by someone, or several someones who do have experience.  Be aware of martial artists who give pat responses such as “When someone throws a jab I do X”. There is a big difference in thought between “I do X” and “I would attempt X.”

Experience also plays a huge role in response to failure. Those with little experience, but fortitude, can only try the same thing again.  Those with experience (or long training) and fortitude, try something different.

I highly recommend watching not just martial arts classes, but sparring and fights. How much abuse a person can take is really quite remarkable.  It is also instructive in what techniques people use and don’t use. I think back the 1970s when I was doing a brief stint in karate. We learned the very rigid blocks practiced them extensively.  Then I watched a PKA (Professional Karate Association) fight on television, guess how many of those block they used. Zero. Why? Because the blocks we were taught and most people in Karate learned were not practical for a free form fight. (Why not is a very long discussion indeed) Be very careful of this problem when writing fight scenes. There are thousands of martial arts “techniques” not all are practical or realistic in a fight.


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