So today I’m finally gonna talk about a few resources on the Internet that writers can use for realistic fight/self defense scene information. My blog pal Hart first suggested it (Confessions of a Watery Tart), and pal Ben (EveryDay New Year) told me that yes, there’s lots on YouTube that can help, and that he’s studied three martial arts so far. Ben, you are so much more ambitious than I am.
But back to Hart and also Ciara (Ciara Knight) for their enthusiastic support for Buffy the Vampire Killer. After watching a few more episodes, I got a feel for the fight scenes and enjoyed most what I saw. But let’s start first with the slightly down side …
Some of the Buffy’s fighting techniques seem more theatrical than practical, which makes sense considering the show’s premise (high school girl fights vampires and other evil creatures). Thus there are the widely thrown, swooping punches, which look great, but more often a direct fist back/fist forward (and put your whole body into it) can not only be more effective but crushingly faster. As I’m always being told in fencing when I start to swashbuckle, the quickest way between two points is a straight line, so make it fast and clean. Buffy and her foes also use lots of aerial movements and kicks when maybe more peppering of small jabs and crosses could be effective, and a few times Buffy pauses to climb up on something or whatever to get a better angle for her next attack. That’s when the action seems to lose its pacing.
But on the upside, a lot of what Buffy does is practical and smart and she knows how to adjust herself in each fight. She’ll use spin kicks in tight spaces to give her kicks enough power. She’s smallish so her moving up in aerial kicks can level the playing field. Her punches go for the vulnerable face and not a guy’s strong chest, etc. She’s also often up against evil human-looking beasties who need to be smashed and so she smashes them; no girly, hesitant fighting on her part, and if a vampire needs to be staked she doesn’t hesitate to stake away.
Finally, there are a couple deadly techniques that (so far) I’ve never seen Buffy use, but considering her audience and the producers’ responsibilities, they shouldn’t show them. I’m talking about chops and kicks to the throat, and of course the throat strike/tiger claw (as in taekwando) to the throat. Since I’ve watched little kids act out what they see on TV or in movies, you don’t want them learning stuff like that. On the other hand, in grown-up movies like the Jason Bourne ones, it’s the deadly and realistic fight scenes that can be exciting for us grown-ups.
Here’s a really handy website I found on the Taekwondo Throat Strike or Tiger Claw. As the guy demonstrating it says, this is only for taking out a guy (“…jack him”) in a serious situation involving protection of yourself or loved ones – or for us writers, for our characters who have to do as much.
As you can see, this website is called TAEKWANDO ANIMALS, and I personally think it’s a great resource for writers. Notice the Table of Contents on the left-hand side. If you click on the different topics, such as Punches & Strikes, you’ll bring up lots of definitions and descriptions under that topic, and for several of the topics, each definition will bring you to a video that demonstrates the specifics. Like the difference between the jab, the cross, the upper cuts, etc. and how TKD is the same as boxing in this respect. I loved the spinning back fist video, and the Defense Against the Side Kick techniques look like something Buffy would use, like climbing up on the guy.
A lot of these videos are also on YouTube, but this one website brings them together and organizes them in a very smart, convenient way. For example, the link on “Kicks” brings you to a list with 14 different kicks, the definition of each, and one to several videos for each. The filmed instructors give specifics that can make all the difference in a fight scene, from where the foot is pointed to taking a hop forward to add momentum to an attack. In fact there’s so much on this website I’m still exploring it.
Also, for real-world fighting techniques, go to YouTube and type in Krav Maga. You’ll find plenty of videos that break down specific attack/defense tools, such as “defense for bear hug from behind arms” and “knife to throat defense.”
For more advice, I’m going to steal shamelessly from Ben by quoting from his comment to me:
Youtube has thousands of helpful videos. If you want martial art mechanics, then the Youtube channel Submissions 101 is helpful for takedowns and Jiu Jitsu, Expert Village teaches step by step moves. If you’re looking for ideas for fight scenes, type in “Martial arts” or “Fight scene” or “Fight scene choreography” and watch a ton of videos, taking the best moves from each video you like to create a realistic yet adrenaline pumping fight scene. Readers don’t like a description of every move, though, so only a few are necessary to make it feel realistic. Fight scenes are best written (I have found) with thought narration, overview of the fight (i.e. John dodged a flurry of punches) instead of details of each punch being thrown… but, I have found Youtube to be quite helpful in my writing of action scenes.
So there you have it. Hope you writers have some helpful resources now. If any of you know about others, I’ll be happy to shout them out.