Saturday, June 9, 2012

Writing the Fight Scene Part 5 (Understanding the Trained Fighter Part 4)

The final type of fighter we will explore is the "gym fighter." By this term I am lumping in all the boxing gyms, the studios, the dojos, and any other type of fight training school that lasts for more than a few months of training. Generally speaking, no matter the style, the gym fighter is a man or a woman who may have started to train to fight for self-defense, to get off the street, or because of the exercise and eye-hand coordination. Whatever their reason, they trained and trained and may have even competed. They went past the level of training someone who would have taken the training for standard self-defense would have gone and have moved in to that insane level of perfecting their ability and knowledge. These people have chosen the narrow, rocky, and demanding road called "the warriors' path."

If you think I am trying to make these people (and myself) out to be something beyond normal, let me use a cliché: Someone enters a karate school to check it out. They ask the head instructor, "How long does it take a normal person to become a Black Belt." The instructor answers, "Normal people do not make it to Black Belt." The same adage could be said with boxers, fencers, and all other trained fighters who have spent years and continue to train every day. We are not super human or anything. What gives us our edge in a fight (especially, if we train in street fighting or other combat outside of the sport ring) are:
  1. Endurance Training--we are trained to make it through several rounds thinking, fighting, talking, and breathing. Each round can last roughly two minutes (depending on the style). Ask a normal person to do jumping jacks and hold a conversation for two minutes--watch the results.
  2. Strategy training--Because we constantly train and face a new fight every time (even if it is someone we faced before), we are forced to adapt and change our approach. We are forced to think moves ahead--like a chess master must think far ahead in the game to win.
  3. Hours of simulation-- In the military and within the police, they spend hours simulating and training for possible events. Fighter pilots spend time fighting in dogfights in simulators as well as flying. Cops spend time on shooting grounds that have "civilian and bad guy" targets to learn not to shoot the wrong one. Gym fighters have the ring. We will face more hand-to-hand combat situations in one hour of training than a normal untrained fighter will see in their lifetimes. Not only does this improve our endurance and strategy training, but it also improves our ability to read the opponent like a poker player watching for "the tell" in his opponent. It improves our dexterity and reaction time. Because we can read the other person, see their tell and predict what is about to happen, it makes us look faster than we really are. The reason is our time to react is extended because we know what you plan to do.

In my next set of blogs, I plan to explore the various kinds of training in more detail and then will eventually go into weapons use, disarmament, and the psyche behind the fighter.

Thank you for reading and please visit and Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.


  1. Which reminds me - to get off my rear end and get out my shinken and go practice some kata...

  2. Hi David. I wondered if you might have any insight regarding hand-to-hand combat with a female protagonist.

    I recently read somewhere that a woman cannot "take on" a man, period. No way, no how.

    I know that upper body strength is an obvious issue, but wonder if there are certain things she can optimize, use to her advantage, or take advantage of in a male opponent, etc. And I don't mean basic self-defense either. I'm thinking equivalent to a trained, female soldier.

    Appreciate any thoughts.